Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley attacks Irish government in first public appearance since fresh holiday claims

Ian Paisley speaking at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Credit: Parliament TV
Ian Paisley speaking at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Credit: Parliament TV

Ian Paisley has attacked the Irish government for not engaging on alternative customs arrangements in his first public appearance since fresh questions were raised over a number of trips he reportedly took to the Maldives.

The North Antrim MP is facing allegations that a trip he took to Maldvies was paid for by a former minister in the Indian Ocean nation's government. Mr Paisley has yet to addressed the latest claims.

Mr Paisley, speaking at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning, questioned members of the Alternative Arrangements Commission Technical Panel, an independent body set up to look at how to avoid a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

Shanker Singham, chair of the Alternative Arrangements Commission Technical Panel, said that the Irish government refused to meet the panel to discuss how the border problem could be solved.

Bertrand Rager, also a member of the panel, said that the EU had instructed member states not to engage with the UK on discussions about alternative arrangements.

Mr Paisley said: "The Irish government are not talking to yourselves as independent experts, they are not talking to the French and they are not talking on this customs issue.

"It is very alarming, because there is an awful lot more riding on this for the Republic of Ireland's trading position than there is probably for Northern Ireland's trading position, given that most of our trade is internal within the UK."

He added: "So much for calls that they don't want a hard border, when they have got hard headphones. They don't want to hear or talk. It is very dissapointing."

Mr Paisley said that "politics" had polluted the discussion on how to deal with customs issues, which he said was a purely economic issue.

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