Thursday 20 September 2018

Paisley begs voters for forgiveness over free holidays worth €56,000

DUP MP Ian Paisley. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA
DUP MP Ian Paisley. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA

Richard Wheeler

The DUP's Ian Paisley begged his constituents to retain confidence in him during an emotional apology in the House of Commons for a major breach of UK parliamentary rules.

The North Antrim MP has faced calls to quit and the prospect of a by-election after a parliamentary watchdog recommended he be suspended for 30 days for failing to register two family holidays funded by the Sri Lankan government.

Mr Paisley said it was with "profound personal regret and deep personal embarrassment" that he had to make a statement as he acknowledged he failed to declare and register the two trips.

But he denied he had any "ulterior motive for that genuine mistake" in 2013, adding he accepted his "total failure" and offered another unreserved apology "without qualification".

His voice cracked with emotion as he said: "I say sorry and apologise for the failings that were identified in the Standards Committee report."

Mr Paisley said his constituents have given him "unwavering support" since 2010, adding: "I hope they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future."

The Commons Standards Committee outlined the sanction for Mr Paisley, son of late DUP founder the Rev Ian Paisley, saying he had committed "serious misconduct" and his actions "were of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute".

It found that the hospitality he accepted may have been worth "significantly more" than Mr Paisley's £50,000 (€56,000) estimate, with the holidays including business-class air travel, and accommodation at first-class hotels in Sri Lanka for him and his wider family.

Irish Independent

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