Disgraced Paisley faces recall push

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A petition is set to be collected to recall north Antrim MP Ian Paisley following a finding by the Westminster parliament that he improperly accepted holidays from the government of Sri Lanka valued in excess of 100,000 pounds.

He accepted the holidays while supporting and lobbying on behalf of a regime which abuses the human rights of its Tamil population.

Paisley has so far defied calls to resign after the Westminster Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards recommended his suspension from the House of Commons for 30 days, as punishment for his breach of the code of conduct.

While appearing to hold back tears in the House of Commons, Paisley offered a “profound apology”.

“I believe in a politics - and I believe in politicians - that can admit human frailty, that can apologise, can mean it, and can move on - because that’s what real life is all about,” he told fellow MPs.

“It is often said that it is how we respond to these challenges in our lives that defines who and what we are, and defines our character - and demonstrates to us where the true source of our personal strength rests.

“The eighth century prophet Isaiah said ‘You were angry with me; that anger has turned away. You comfort me.’ I hope to learn that lesson.”

An itinerary for one of the Paisleys’ two holidays within a four-month period in 2013 included instructions for the family to be provided with a Mercedes Benz on arrival, a luxury van, top of the range hotels, multiple helicopter trips, a shopping trip and a visit to a national park.

Mr Paisley’s memory of the vacations is very sketchy, but he has insisted that a tour by himself and his family to an elephant orphanage was “very much a working visit”. He said he was invited to Sri Lanka due to his “well-established knowledge of terrorism and post-conflict activities”.

It is the latest in a series of financial and political scandals involving the son of the late Ian Paisley Sr, the former DUP leader. In 2013, he also ran up a staffing, travel and accommodation bill of #232,000 in 2013 which he insisted were “legitimate expenses”.

Although Paisley’s current financial scandal is dwarfed by others involving his party, such as the #1bn NAMA property deal and the #500m RHI cash-for-ash scheme, MPs are under strict rules to declare the benefits they receive.

Sinn Fein’s Foyle MP Elisha McCallion called on Paisley to step down and resign with immediate effect.

“If he is not prepared to do the right thing then the DUP must demand his resignation,” she said. “If Ian Paisley or the DUP do not do the right thing then it is entirely legitimate for the electorate of North Antrim to exercise its right to force a by-election.”

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