DUP ‘accountable but not responsible’


Two unionist-controlled councils donated thousands of pounds to the DUP’s Ian Paisley in the latest financial scandal to hit the party and its already disgraced MP for North Antrim.

Council officials who paid for a table at a dinner hosted by Paisley have claimed they thought it was a business networking event, and not a DUP fundraiser, despite the event being advertised as such.

A special meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council heard it handed over 1500 pounds after the North Antrim MP telephoned. The dinner took place in September 2017 in Ballymena, County Antrim, and was attended by hard-right Tory Michael Gove.

In a letter, the council said the “spend level” was too low for councillors to be involved in oversight. At a subsequent meeting, the local authority’s director of leisure, Richard Baker, explained the decision to hand over the cash was taken after Paisley had phoned the council with “an invite”.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane said the council must try and recoup the money.

“It’s disgraceful that the council could use ratepayers’ money to favour one political party at what has been described as a prestigious fundraiser for the DUP,” she said.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council admitted it provided Paisley with a similar level of sponsorship, without any explanation whatsoever.

In a statement last week, Mr Paisley said he was “content to wait for the outcome” of an inquiry by the Electoral Commission.

It is part of a rolling process of investigations into Paisley and the DUP, which have so far had no tangible effect.

Earlier this month, a recall petition to force Paisley out as an MP over his corrupt links to a Sri Lankan regime fell 444 signatures short of the necessary 10% of the electorate. In response, Paisley boasted that he had the support of the 90.6% of the electorate who did not make their way to the three petition locations in the constituency.

The DUP’s chief officers, meanwhile, have been involved in a prolonged stonewalling exercise at the public inquiry into the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI), which operated as a ‘free money’ racket and a wink-and-nod heist of public funds.

Party advisors, openly appointed in a cronyist, illegal manner, were lauded at the inquiry by DUP leader Arlene Foster for their educational qualifications. They revealed only a talent for dissembling, bullying and selective memory loss, confirming the deep dysfunction at the heart of the party and the Stormont regime.

The DUP leader herself presented a new ‘Fosterism’ to describe her own role in the scheme which led to the collapse of power-sharing government, and which is set to cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

When pressed about an adviser’s possible criminal conduct she declared, amid a welter of obfuscation: “I’m accountable, but I’m not responsible.”

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