Friday 19 July 2019

Parliament watchdog urged to look into Paisley's luxury breaks


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

Rebecca Black

A parliamentary standards watchdog has been urged to reinvestigate Ian Paisley after another series of claims about luxury foreign holidays.

Politicians from both sides of Northern Ireland's community divide urged the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone to examine the allegations levelled against the North Antrim MP.

His DUP party leader Arlene Foster acknowledged that "serious issues" had been raised in Tuesday night's BBC 'Spotlight' programme about Mr Paisley's trips to the Maldives.

The programme claimed one of a number of undeclared luxury family holidays Mr Paisley reportedly took was paid for by a former minister in the Maldivian government, while another trip had also been complimentary.

Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons in 2018 for 30 days for "serious misconduct" after failing to declare two family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013.

He survived the British parliament's first ever recall petition.

Ms Foster said the fresh claims would be investigated by party officers.

"As you know, Ian was suspended for 57 days last year by the party," she said.

"He is now back in the party under sanction and those sanctions still exist.

"But we will look at that and deal with those serious issues that have been raised by the 'Spotlight' programme."

Philip McGuigan, Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim, urged Ms Stone to investigate. "Another tearful mea culpa apology from Ian Paisley just isn't going to be enough," he said.

"These allegations are gravely serious and they need to be treated as such by the authorities and Ian Paisley's own party."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who also referred the issue to the commissioner, called on Ms Foster to act.

Irish Independent

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