20/09/2018

Ian Paisley Keeps Seat After Recall Petition

Mr Ian Paisley has kept his seat as an MP in Westminster after less than 10% of constituents in North Antrim signed a petition that would have forced a by-election.

The MP, who has also been suspended from the DUP, failed to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Mr Paisley welcomed the outcome.

Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA said: "As I stated last week public confidence in politics has collapsed and there is clearly no appetite for a by-election in North Antrim. I respect that outcome. However I would caution Ian Paisley not to see this as some sort of victory or endorsement of his actions in acting as a paid advocate for a foreign government and bringing North Antrim and the House of Commons into disrepute.

"Rather I would urge him to use the time that he has been suspended from Parliament and the DUP, to reflect on the severity of what he has done and the embarrassment he has brought on Northern Ireland. He should demonstrate some humility."

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said he was disappointed.

"Obviously, we are disappointed that the requisite number of signatures was not secured to oust Ian Paisley from office but the issues at the heart of this scandal remain unchanged.
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"The result should also not be taken as an endorsement of Ian Paisley's actions but rather as an indictment on the Electoral Office who did not do enough to facilitate the people of North Antrim who wished to sign the petition.

"They had the option of opening as many as ten locations where people could sign the petition, yet they inexplicably opted to go for just three in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle.

"A number of parties – not just Sinn Féin - expressed concerns that many people did not feel comfortable attending some of these locations because it would be obvious that the only reason they were there was to sign the petition.

"The lack of an effective public awareness campaign and the restrictive opening hours of the signing centres were also major factors.

"Nevertheless, the issues raised by this scandal are not going away and neither are the questions for the DUP leadership.

"Ian Paisley was given the most severe sanction handed down by that parliament in 70 years.

"He was suspended over his links to the notorious Sri Lankan regime. He accepted lavish holidays from the Sri Lankan government and then lobbied to prevent the UN investigating the mass murder of Tamil civilians by that same government.

"Despite this, Ian Paisley's party leadership have yet to condemn these actions or to confirm whether or not he still has their support as MP for North Antrim.

"That is a failure of leadership. They need to come out of their hiding place and address the very serious issues at the heart of this scandal."

The DUP is currently carrying out an internal investigation.

(CD/CM)


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