Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley: What constituents think of Sri Lanka travel scandal

Ian Paisley celebrates another victory at the polls in Ballymena
Ian Paisley celebrates another victory at the polls in Ballymena
Vivienne Forsythe
Paul Rankin
Pat Brown
Rachel, Erin and Enya Neeson
John Patterson
Leona O'Neill

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.

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 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 at the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena after retaining his seat in the 2015 general election
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
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
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 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, 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
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.
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 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 Paisley
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, 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
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
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
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, 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
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.
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 Press: 22th December 2017: Ian Paisley Jr pictured with his new and old Passport Picture By: Arthur Allison.
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
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

"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."

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