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Ian Paisley: Hard worker or disgrace to unionism... Ballymena split over under-fire MP

 

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Ian Paisley on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament

Ian Paisley on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament

Jean Fullerton

Jean Fullerton

Neil Nixon

Neil Nixon

Margaret Kilpatrick

Margaret Kilpatrick

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Ian Paisley on the terrace at the Houses of Parliament

As the petition of recall opened in North Antrim yesterday, shoppers in Ballymena town centre were deeply divided on Ian Paisley.

Some were angry with their MP over the Sri Lanka holiday scandal, but it wasn't a make-or-break issue for others, who believed he served his constituents well.

"I think Ian Paisley should be forgiven," said Jean Fullerton.

"We all do things that are wrong and he has apologised. That should be enough.

"He's been very good for Ballymena. He always stands up for local people, Catholic and Protestant. Your religion doesn't matter to him."

But Billy Donaldson from Ballymoney was scathing about the politician and believed he was a disgrace to unionism.

"Our Government gives millions of pounds every year in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to help the country's poor people.

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"Then we have Ian Paisley jetting off on free luxury holidays. I find it all sickening. There aren't many people around here who have holidays like that. I saved for five years to take my wee granddaughter to Florida."

Mr Dondalson said it wasn't the first time Mr Paisley had been in the headlines, and referred to his links with property developer Seymour Sweeney.

"I don't buy all this stuff about how hard-working an MP he is. I'm a loyalist, and I've no time for him," he added.

Margaret Kilpatrick from Ballymena was prepared to support Mr Paisley because he was "a good MP" and his father had been kind to her family.

"More politicians than him take free holidays, he just got caught," she said. "My son Justin was very ill in hospital in Belfast 11 years ago. Dr Paisley sent a car down to the Royal to take myself and other family members to his home.

"We had tea with him and Eileen and Rhonda. It was a lovely personal touch, which we appreciated so much."

One woman, who didn't wish to be named, said she was totally disillusioned with Mr Paisley. "My husband lost his job in Michelin after 30 years and it's very tough for us. I know what we're going through and then I see Ian Paisley jnr jetting off on £100,000 holidays and it makes me angry," she said.

"The closures of Gallahers and Michelin have really hurt this town. There isn't the money there once was, and that affects small businesses as well."

However, Neil Nixon thought Mr Paisley's critics were "making a song and dance" about his luxury holidays. "These trips were five years ago, so all this fuss is rubbish. He's a good MP and I think he's all right," Mr Nixon said.

Another woman, who also didn't want to be named, backed the MP. "I used to work with Ian and always found him to be straight and open. I feel sorry for him, as I'm sure he's not the only politician to have taken a free holiday," she said.

A man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he hoped Mr Paisley would remain as MP. "As a nationalist, I say keep him on as long as possible. It works far better for us than having somebody elected with a bit of wit."

Martina Fyfe also wanted Mr Paisley to survive, but for different reasons. "I don't really know if he did wrong or not, but he's been very good to people I know. If DLA is taken off somebody, he's great at getting it back."

Staff in Mr Paisley's advice centre in Church Street wouldn't comment when the Belfast Telegraph called in yesterday, but they reported being "as busy as ever".

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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 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 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 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 at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena after retaining his seat in the 2015 general election

Kevin Scott / Presseye

Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98

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

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

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

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

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 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

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. 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

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

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.

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.

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

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, 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

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 discusses the legacy of his father Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press

Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley

Getty Images

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 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. 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

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

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

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

Paisley with Melania Trump

Ian Paisley Junior

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

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.

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. 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: 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

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

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.

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 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, 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.

Pacemaker Press: 22th December 2017: Ian Paisley Jr pictured with his new and old Passport Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Ian Paisley

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

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

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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The Paisley family at home in 1988. From left to right Ian Junior, Cherith, Rhonda, Kyle. Pic Pacemaker

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