29/02/2008

Ian Junior Back On Property Development Trail

Ian Paisley Junior is again getting involved in property development issues.

The politician is to meet US tycoon Donald Trump's officials next month amid continuing uncertainty over the future of the millionaire's plans for a luxury golf resort in Scotland.

Despite it being just days since Mr Paisley stepped down as a junior minister in the Stormont Executive, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Assembly member is now to travel to New York to meet with the Trump organisation.

Mr Paisley Jr resigned following the disclosure of his association with a property developer’s controversial plans to win a contract to build a privately owned visitors’ centre for the world-famous Giants Causeway.

Paisley admitted only that he "knew of" the developer, Seymour Sweeney - a member of the DUP - when the controversy first arose, but it emerged that he had purchased a house in Bushmills, Co Antrim, from the developer.

While Mr Paisley Jr insisted that he paid its full market value, there was further controversy over why the property remained registered in the name of Mr Sweeney's wife.

He also lobbied Tony Blair, while he was Prime Minister, on behalf of the Giants Causeway development in the margins of the 2006 St Andrews agreement negotiations, which led to Mr Paisley going into government with Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein.

The North Antrim MLA, whose father the Rev Ian Paisley met Donald Trump in New York last December as Stormont First Minister, confirmed he had spoken to a senior executive after Mr Trump expressed disappointment that a public inquiry was ordered in Scotland into a proposed £1 billion golf resort in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.

Mr Paisley revealed: "I have spoken with the senior executive of the Trump organisation in New York and I've expressed to him my concern that their plans for development in Scotland have been set back by a public inquiry.

"I assured him that Northern Ireland is still an area open for business and would welcome representatives of the Trump organisation including Donald Trump at the Northern Ireland/USA investment conference in May.

"There is no doubt that Scotland's decision to delay the Aberdeenshire development provides an opportunity for this part of the UK to provide the Trump organisation with inroads into European development via Northern Ireland.

"I intend to meet with Donald Trump and his team of executives later next month in New York and to be updated on the projects they are currently considering after the visit of the senior executives to Northern Ireland earlier this year," he said.

While a cloud of uncertainty hung over the Scottish development, a top Trump organisation aide visited Northern Ireland last month on a scouting mission for possible locations for a golf resort.

See: P45 For Paisley Junior

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