Belfast Telegraph

Hotel confirms Paisley event payment

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The hotel at the centre of a controversy around an event hosted by DUP MP Ian Paisley has confirmed it received an electronic payment from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Earlier this week the Electoral Commission confirmed it was investigating a payment of £1,500 made by the council to sponsor a table at a DUP dinner.

The event held at Ballymena's Tullyglass Hotel last September was hosted by Mr Paisley, the MP for North Antrim, and featured Environment Minister Michael Gove as a guest speaker. Gus McConville, the hotel's managing director, said: "This dinner is now subject of an ongoing investigation by the Electoral Commission. However, we can confirm that £1,500 was paid directly by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to the hotel by electronic transfer."

The hotel's statement corroborates the assertion from Mr Paisley and Mid and East Antrim Council that the payment was made directly to the hotel by electronic transfer.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission confirmed it has "opened an investigation into the donation from Mid and East Antrim Council to Ian Paisley MP."

It added: We can't go into further detail as this is now a live investigation."

Mr Paisley said: "I can confirm that the Electoral Commission is continuing its investigation into Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's purchase of a table at my constituency dinner last year. I look forward to them concluding this matter soon."

Under Electoral Commission rules, councils are not considered "permissible donors" and money from such bodies must be returned.

Belfast Telegraph

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