Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley supporters call meeting 'to show the world that his friends stand behind him' following suspension

Ian Paisley's party affiliation has been changed on the UK's Parliamentary website to 'Independent'. (PA)
Ian Paisley's party affiliation has been changed on the UK's Parliamentary website to 'Independent'. (PA)

A DUP councillor has called a meeting to "show support" for Ian Paisley following his suspension from the House of Commons.

Last month the North Antrim MP was suspended for 30 sitting days for failing to declare family holidays in Sri Lanka, breaching rules on paid advocacy and breaching rules on registration of interests.

Mr Paisley was also suspending from the DUP in the wake of the scandal, with the party saying it would conduct an investigation.

Now DUP councillor John Finlay, who represents Ballymoney on Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, has written to supporters of Mr Paisley to organise a meeting with the MP on Monday August 13 at 8pm in Ballymena.

In the letter, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Cllr Finlay said he had been following the "media frenzy" around the House of Commons Standards Committee judgement against Mr Paisley "with great sadness".

He said: "I trust also that you will have been saddened by the subsequent torrent of condemnation and abuse our friend has suffered since the issue became public. Sinn Fein of course have led the charge, proudly proclaiming in the Irish News: 'Sinn Fein Vows to unseat Paisley'.

"Many see this as their opportunity to oust Northern Ireland's most gifted voice in Parliament on Brexit. They also see it as an opportunity to rid themselves finally of Paisley's voice in defence of the union and on the Biblical moral issues such as same sex marriage and abortion."

Cllr Finlay said that this is why a few of Mr Paisley's friends had decided to call a meeting with him "to show our support and hear from him first-hand how we tackle the future."

He added: "Let us show the world that the friends of Ian Paisley still stand behind the man they believe in, good times and bad."

Mr Paisley could face a by-election if he is recalled under the terms of the Petition of Recall Act 2015.

The law gives constituents the power to recall their MPs, with an election triggered by at least 10% of the electorate in the constituency signing a petition.

With 75,478 constituents in Mr Paisley's North Antrim constituency, 7,547 signatures would be required to trigger a by-election.

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