Belfast Telegraph

70 attend meeting to back Paisley and organiser says DUP 'will support' MP

Clockwise from top: North Antrim MP Ian Paisley with some of this young supporters (including his daughter Emily, second from left) last night
Clockwise from top: North Antrim MP Ian Paisley with some of this young supporters (including his daughter Emily, second from left) last night
Young DUP supporters provide tea for the Press
The MP and his supporters leave the meeting
Ian Paisley with John Finlay who organised the meeting in Gracehill
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A DUP councillor has said he is certain his party will back suspended MP Ian Paisley if he is forced to fight a by-election.

John Finlay organised a meeting in support of an apologetic Mr Paisley last night near Gracehill which was attended by around 70 people, including all the DUP councillors for Ballymoney and Ballymena, as well as his daughter Emily.

He said he was confident Mr Paisley would be endorsed as a DUP candidate if he faces a by-election, and that there would be no disciplinary action for party members who attended last night's meeting.

"It was a very well attended meeting. We were blessed that Ian was very conciliatory in the meeting - he apologised for his mistake," Mr Finlay said.

The North Antrim DUP has been suspended from his Westminster seat and the DUP after he failed to declare two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

A recall petition is currently open to constituents and Mr Paisley may soon be forced to defend his seat at the polls.

In contrast to the sombre tone he struck during his last speech to the House of Commons, a smiling Mr Paisley last night posed for pictures outside the meeting venue.

Taking a leaf out of the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson's book, reporters were offered cups of tea by some of the North Antrim MPs younger supporters wearing DUP Paisley hoodies. Mr Finlay said he had no concerns over whether he and his fellow councillors would be penalised for organising the meeting. "No, there was no talk about that whatsoever. No matter what happens you can be certain Ian Paisley will remain the MP for North Antrim," he claimed.

Asked if he knew if Mr Paisley would be endorsed as a DUP candidate in the event of a by-election, he said: "That's a matter for the party officers, but I'm confident that will be the case."

Yesterday, the Alliance Party raised concerns that many people felt afraid to sign the petition for fear of being identified.

DUP MP Ian Paisley's supporters meet to show their support.
The North Antrim politician is currently suspended by the House of Commonsafter he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government..
DUP MP Ian Paisley's supporters meet to show their support. The North Antrim politician is currently suspended by the House of Commonsafter he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government..
Alderman John Finlay welcomes Ian Paisley to the special meeting.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 13/08/2018 DUP MP Ian Paisley's supporters will meet on Monday to show their support. The North Antrim politician is currently suspended by the House of Commonsafter he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. The DUP MP apologised in the Commons, but will face a by-election if 10% of his constituents sign the petition. He is also suspended by the DUP "pending further investigation into his conduct". Young demrocrates of the DUP offerAlan Lewis of the press tea or coffee.
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including John Finlay (centre) meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, left, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, centre, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, left, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, centre, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, left, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, centre, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, left, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com
Press Eye - 13th August 2018 - Suspended MP Ian Paisley's supporters including Mr Paisley's daughter Emily, left, serve tea to journalists as supporters meet in Ballymena to show their support to the North Antrim politician who is currently suspended by the House of Commons after he failed to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. Picture by Matt Mackey / Presseye.com

"I haven't come across anything like that at all. That's a matter for the electoral office. Ian Paisley hasn't been involved in that at all," Mr Finlay said.

"The people were very supportive of Ian at the meeting. I knew that would be the case as I've been out and about and I can tell you the overwhelming majority of DUP supporters in North Antrim still support him."

He added: "Knowing Catholics and Protestants across the constituency, people are very thankful for the work Ian does."

Mr Paisley declined to comment last night.

The DUP were also contacted to ask if they approved of the meeting but have yet to respond.

Local SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan accused the DUP of double standards over "elements of the party" organising last night's event. "The SDLP have been clear that though encouraging constituents to sign the recall petition we are not playing party politics, but rather we want to see integrity reinstated to political office," he said.

"It is only right and proper that the DUP should not lend support to Paisley until his suspension has ended.

"Our party will be taking a message of integrity to the doors of North Antrim and by doing so, ensuring the electorate that it doesn't have to be this way."

Sinn Fein MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan said the DUP had questions to answer. "They refuse to say how long he is suspended for, or to give any details of the investigation they have announced into his conduct," he said.

He also called on the party to declare if they would endorse Mr Paisley as a DUP candidate in a by-election. Mr McGuigan added: "Do any DUP members, including Ian Paisley as a suspended member, have the party's endorsement to attend this event? Every day that this saga continues, the questions mount for the DUP leadership and they show huge disrespect for the electorate in North Antrim by refusing to answer them."

The recall ballot is under way at three centres in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle.

The Recall of MPs Act 2015 requires a petition to be signed by 10% of the 75,478 eligible registered voters.

The Paisley family at home in 1988. From left to right Ian Junior, Cherith, Rhonda, Kyle. Pic Pacemaker
The Paisley family at home in 1988. From left to right Ian Junior, Cherith, Rhonda, Kyle. Pic Pacemaker
Ian Paisley hurdles a fence during canvassing for 2010 election. Pic Charles McQuillan Pacemaker
Ian Paisley with Donald Trump. The North Antrim MP has supported the US president.
Ian Paisley and Ian jnr eating buns in the campaign trail in March 1982.
Ian Paisley at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena after retaining his seat in the 2015 general election
Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98
Ian Paisley MP at a Remembrance Day commemoration in Kenya
Pacemaker Belfast - Archive Ian Paisley Jnr with "Justice for the UDR Four " at his Ravenhill office. 19-12-90 1053-90-BWC
Ian with Arlene Foster after she was made DUP party leader
9 / 6 / 17 PACEMAKER PRESS Ian Paisley Jr celebrates with his son Matthew and wife Fiona after winning his seat for North Antrim in the UK Parliamentary Elections. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER PRESS
Ian Paisley Jnr, whose father founded the DUP in 1971, says, 'everybody hates us but we've got the cash' [Photo: Marc McKormick, www.independent.co.uk]
Ian Paisley with his late father. Credit: Stephen Davidson/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST. Ian Paisley and Ian Junior in Studio. 16/8/94. 704/94/bwc
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 14/1/2011: Ian Paisley Junior pictured at the Adelaide Racer awards at the Ramada hotel PICTURE BY CHARLES MCQUILLAN
Paisley with Miss North West 200 Jillian Frew
3/5/2010. PACEMAKER BELFAST. IAN PAISLEY JR POSES FOR THE OFFICIAL ELECTION ARTIST, SIMON ROBERTS WHILST CANVESSING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OUTSIDE BALLYMENA THIS AFTERNOON. PICTURE CHARLES MCQUILLAN/PACEMAKER.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 22-03-2013: Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Jr, MP is the Member of Parliament for North Antrim and member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Democratic Unionist Party and an author. He is the son of the DUP's founder and former leader, Ian Paisley. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Ian Paisley Jr met Amari Wijewardene, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, in Parliament to discuss a post-Brexit trade deal
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 11/7/2018: North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley at motorcycle racer William Dunlop's funeral at Garryduff Presbyterian church outside Ballymoney. Dunlop was killed in a crash during practice for the Skerries 100. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/04/2017 Ian Paisley speaks to the Irish Times at Stormont Hotel in Belfast, about his father. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ian discusses the legacy of his father Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Ian Paisley
Pacemaker Belfast 18-06-2007: Junior Minister Ian Paisley Junior pictured at photocall at Stormont where ministers were encouraging people to cycle to work.
PACEMAKER BELFAST. Copy pics from the book about the early years of the life of Ian Paisley. 13/8/86. 1197/86/bw
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/5/2015:DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena . PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
A picture posted by Ian Paisley (right) of Arron Banks (second left), Sammy Wilson (second right) and Leave.EU campaigner Andy Wigmore
Pacemaker press 21/4/15 The Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian paisley Junior launches election manifesto at Wrightbus in Co Antrim. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Paisley with Melania Trump
Ian Paisley Junior
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/5/2015:DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena . PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena in the May 2015 General Election. Picture Stephen Davison Pacemaker 8/5/2015.
PACEMAKER BELFAST. Ian Paisley and Ian Jnr.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/5/2015: DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena by singing the National Anthem. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/5/2015: Ian Paisley arrives at the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena with his wife, Fiona. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
9 / 6 / 17 PACEMAKER PRESS Ian Paisley Jr celebrates winning his seat for North Antrim in the UK Parlimentary Elections. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER PRESS
3/5/2010. PACEMAKER BELFAST. IAN PAISLEY JR AND IAN PAISLEY SR IN HARRYVILLE, BALLYMENA. PICTURE CHARLES MCQUILLAN/PACEMAKER.
Pacemaker Press 8/5/2017 DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr during the Launch of the DUP's General election campaign launch at the Castlereigh Hills Golf in East Belfast on Monday, ahead of the election on the 8th of June. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 8/5/2015:DUP's Ian Paisley celebrates his victory in the North Antrim constituency count in Ballymena . PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Pacemaker Press: 22th December 2017: Ian Paisley Jr pictured with his new and old Passport Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Ian Paisley
Pacemaker Press Belfast 31-03-2014: Launch of North-West 200 road races at Titanic Belfast . Pictured at the launch Ian Paisley, Jr. and Arlene Foster, MLA Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. PICTURE BY: STEPHEN DAVISON
Pacemaker Press Belfast 31-03-2014: Launch of North-West 200 road races at Titanic Belfast .Pictured at the launch Ian Paisley, Jr. and Arlene Foster, MLA Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. PICTURE BY: STEPHEN DAVISON
9 / 6 / 17 PACEMAKER PRESS Ian Paisley Jr celebrates winning his seat for North Antrim in the UK Parlimentary Elections. PICTURE MATT BOHILL PACEMAKER PRESS

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