Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley: What constituents think of Sri Lanka travel scandal

By Leona O'Neill

The Paisley name is sacred around Ballymena. The late Lord Bannside - better known as Rev Ian Paisley - is revered in these parts.

His son, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, always had big shoes to fill.

But yesterday in Ballymena, the world was in peril of shifting off its axis due to the amount of eye-rolling occurring when Ian Paisley jnr's was mentioned.

Many did not want to put their name to their opinion, preferring to state that they "admired" the man.

Others said he has done "great things for Ballymena", and the latest news - that a standards watchdog has recommended he be banned from the Commons for 30 days for failing to register two family holidays funded by the Sri Lankan government - is just "a storm in a teacup".

But many others seemed exasperated that life for him could continue as normal "because of his family connections" and the "love Ballymena people have for him".

Thomas McKeown (50) from Ballymena said Mr Paisley should resign over the matter.

"I think that it is a disgrace," he said.

"I think it's about time he resigned. The majority of the town are DUP voters but I still think people are upset and angry about this.

"I certainly wouldn't vote for him. I can't even go on holidays myself. I see people in this town going to food banks for help."

However Vivienne Forsythe (68) said that people should forgive and forget "like the Lord says we should".

"It wasn't very nice but he has apologised and said that he was sorry," she said.

"I would be a DUP voter and this wouldn't change my mind.

"I don't think he actually meant it until he realised it afterwards.

"Most people who vote DUP will think the same as me. We can forgive and forget.

"That is what the Lord says we should do.

"I think we should forget about what happened and just concentrate on the really great work he did and continues to do."

Pat Brown (50) said that "people are fed up with politicians".

"I just think that the party will follow their procedure and they will make a decision and it is up to them.

"In my part of the world I do know that Ian has been involved helping retain services for the general public, so therefore I do like him. I think he has been really helpful.

"I think that people in general are fed up with politicians.

"With regards Stormont, I think that they should get together for the good of the people and work together."

Paul Rankin (22) from Co Londonderry said that people's opinion of Mr Paisley may be affected for a week or two but after that it will be "back to normal".

"I think originally he had thought that he had done nothing wrong," he said.

"But he has admitted it. I think as long as he admits it and doesn't do that sort of thing again, we can forgive him.

"I would be a DUP voter in East Londonderry, so I don't get to vote for Ian Paisley, but I probably would if I lived here.

"To be fair to him, if you go to him with an issue he will always try and help as best he can. He is very well thought of in these parts.

"In the short term that maybe might change, but in the long term I don't think the overall opinion of him will change. When it comes to voting, they will still vote for him."

Patricia McKendry (51) from Ballymena said she has no faith in politicians.

"Our politicians are getting paid for sitting on their backsides in Stormont anyway, they are on a big holiday," she added. "What's the difference here?

"I don't vote at all. I don't have any faith in any of them.

"I wouldn't start voting for Ian Paisley now because I never have."

Patrick Frew (48) said there "is nothing the ordinary people on the street can do".

"I'm not surprised, I think that plenty of politicians would have went for it also," he said.

"Half the time they don't realise that they are doing wrong.

"I think that's what the problem is with a lot of our politicians.

"I don't know anyone who is asking for his resignation, they are just saying that is the way it goes. At the end of the day we get no say in what goes on. What goes on above our heads goes on and that's the way it is. I think other politicians will fall into the same trap."

John Patterson (29) said that the issue doesn't affect him or his family.

"We don't really follow much to do with politics, it doesn't really bother us," he said.

"It wouldn't really annoy me too much. I don't vote.

"My personal opinion is that they are all pretty useless so I don't think it makes much difference.

"If I was to vote in the future I wouldn't vote for Ian Paisley.

"If he is doing that type of thing, he is not doing himself any favours."

Anna Tyther from Carrickfergus said that politicians need to be more careful.

"I don't think it is good in terms of what he is trying to do for the people from a political point of view," she said.

"I would say that the majority of people in this town do not agree with what he has done and he is still looking for people to back him no matter what.

"Sometimes when you do something you need to think about the consequences. And when you're in a position like his, you need to be more careful."

Adele Black (53) said that she will never vote for Mr Paisley again.

"He shouldn't be involved in these things," she said.

"I won't be voting for him again.

"I would have done before but never again. I think that the people here are angry about what has happened and if they are not, they should be.

"Who needs £100,000 holidays? People are struggling to pay their bills. He may not get voted back in again. He will be very lucky if he is."

However Rachel Neeson (39) from Toomebridge said that Mr Paisley will "probably be voted back in again, regardless".

She said: "I wouldn't make a mistake about a £100,000 or £50,000 holiday or for anything else of that value.

"I imagine he has got a very strong following in Ballymena and he probably will get voted back in again."

Belfast Telegraph

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