Shameless Paisley further exposed as MP for hire


Attention has returned to the issue of corruption in the north of Ireland after it emerged that DUP veteran MP Ian Paisley could be suspended from Westminster for a second time over his lavish foreign-funded vacations.

A new television documentary has exposed details of Ian Paisley’s relationship with the government of the Maldives, which had been criticised by the UN over allegations of human rights abuses.

It’s almost a year since the DUP MP tearfully delivered the “profoundest of all apologies” to his constituents after the Westminster standards watchdog found he had failed to reveal two luxury holidays in Sri Lanka paid for by its government before performing “paid advocacy” on behalf of the regime.

Now it emerges the north Antrim MP also neglected to mention two very expensive luxury vacations to the tropical island resorts of the Maldive Islands. The vacations cost some $1,500 a night, which was paid for by a Maldives government minister after he lobbied on behalf of the regime there.

Sinn Féin’s representative in north Antrim, Philip McGuigan, has confirmed that he has asked for a formal investigation into the latest allegations. He also criticised the failure of the DUP leadership to discipline Paisley despite repeated scandals over his links to foreign governments.

“I have called on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate the claims but Ian Paisley’s own party leadership should also end its silence and confirm what action it intends to take in light of this latest scandal.

“The DUP announced in December that it was investigating the first wave of Maldives allegations but we have heard nothing since then about what actions have been taken to discipline their shamed MP.

“Another tearful ‘mea culpa’ apology from Ian Paisley just isn’t going to be enough. These allegations are gravely serious and they need to be treated as such by the authorities and Ian Paisley’s own party.”

By defying pressure to resign over the Sri Lanka affair, Paisley has already entered the history books.

In addition to an unprecedented 30-sitting day suspension, the sanctions imposed by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards included triggering the first recall petition in Westminster’s history. That offered an opportunity for Mr Paisley’s constituents to force a by-election if ten per cent of the registered electorate signed at one of three centres across North Antrim.

After six weeks, however, the number of signatories in the staunchly unionist constituency fell 435 short of the required 7,543.

Mr Paisley described the outcome as a “miracle”, while others pointed to the limited number of venues available for constituents to sign the petition, a figure which contrasted with the ten centres opened in an English constituency for a similar process.

So far, Mr Paisley has refused to comment on the latest allegations, but it is thought another suspension, and possibly another recall petition, will be the result.

Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said the latest revelations raised “serious questions”.

Last December, DUP leader Arlene Foster pledged that she would examine the claims made about the 2016 Maldives family holiday “soon”.

“I expect and the public expect high standards of those of us who are in public life,” she said at the time. Ms Gildernew added: “The DUP and Ian Paisley cannot continue to treat the public like fools.”

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