Belfast Telegraph

Politicians call on Ian Paisley to resign from position

By Suzanne Breen

Politicians from across the divide united yesterday in calling for Ian Paisley to immediately resign his Westminster seat.

SDLP, Alliance, and Sinn Fein representatives, along with TUV leader Jim Allister, described the DUP MP's position as untenable. They also challenged the DUP to take action against him.

Mr Paisley is facing a suspension of 30 sitting days from the House of Commons after failing to register two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Only the Ulster Unionists declined to call for his resignation, saying it was a matter for Mr Paisley and his party,

But Sinn Fein Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said the DUP must demand that their MP step down.

"This is an issue of integrity in government and in public office," she said.

"There is an onus on the DUP to act decisively when wrongdoing has been exposed, as is the case with Ian Paisley jnr.

"He should step down and resign with immediate effect.

"If he is not prepared to do the right thing, then the DUP must demand his resignation."

Ms McCallion added: "If Ian Paisley or the DUP do not do the right thing then it is entirely legitimate for the electorate of North Antrim to exercise its right to force a by-election."

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said: "The SDLP will be seeking a recall petition to dismiss Paisley from Westminster, and should this trigger a by-election in North Antrim, Mr Paisley should not challenge the seat again."

TUV leader Jim Allister said Mr Paisley had let himself down and left North Antrim with no voice nor vote in Parliament at a critical time for Brexit.

"If any key vote on Brexit is lost because of Ian Paisley's antics, then that will be his shameful legacy for all time," he said.

Mr Allister suggested the DUP MP could show "genuine remorse by refunding the value of the holidays to the Sri Lankan government".

He continued: "It now falls to the DUP, having said it would await the outcome of this investigation, to demonstrate where it stands on such disreputable actions by one of its MPs."

Alliance Assembly member Paula Bradshaw said that at a time when public trust in politics was at a low ebb, Mr Paisley had let both himself and his constituents down.

"He needs to take on board the overwhelming public response to this matter and consider his position as MP for North Antrim," she said.

"It needs just over 7,500 constituents in North Antrim to sign a petition calling for their MP to step down.

"If he does not make that decision himself, I'm sure there will be enough voters to make it for him."

Ulster Unionist leader and North Antrim Assembly member Robin Swann described the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards finding as "very serious".

Mr Swann said: "This is embarrassing for North Antrim and I'm sure many people there would agree with me that this is not what they expect of their MP.

"The Standards Commissioner has made her recommendations and I wait to see what action is taken by the DUP in light of this."

When asked if Mr Paisley should resign, Mr Swann said: "It's up to Ian Paisley and the DUP to make that call.

"It is not for me to decide what is the right thing for them to do."

Belfast Telegraph

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