Belfast Telegraph

Widespread calls for Ian Paisley to resign over Sri Lankan holidays

There have been calls for DUP MP Ian Paisley to resign his position after a Commons probe found him guilty of "serious misconduct".

The report from the Commitee on Standards also found Mr Paisley to have "brought the house into disrepute" after he failed to disclose two family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013 paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

The North Antrim MP admitted that he received over £50k worth of hospitality on the trips.

Mr Paisley was also found to have breached rules on paid advocacy when he lobbied then Prime Minister David Cameron on a UN resolution concerning Sri Lanka.

The Committee has recommended that Mr Paisley serve a 30 day suspension from the House of Commons as punishment for the offence.

It would be the longest suspension handed out to an MP since 1949.

Following the publication of the report into Mr Paisley's conduct both unionist and nationalist politicians have called for him to step aside.

TUV leader Jim Allister said that he had "brought shame on himself" and "left North Antrim with no voice and vote in Parliament at this 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," the North Antrim MLA said.

"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."

Sinn Fein Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said that if Mr Paisley would not stand aside then the DUP must demand his resignation.

“This is an issue of integrity in government and in public office," Mrs McCallion said.

“Therefore there is an onus on the DUP to act decisively when wrongdoing has been exposed as is the case with Ian Paisley Junior. There should be zero tolerance of abuse of public office for personal benefit.

“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 South Down MLA Colin McGrath said that the SDLP would be seeking a recall petition to dismiss Mr Paisley from Westminster and that if a by-election is called he must not stand.

“It absolutely beggars belief that it would slip the mind of a member of parliament to forget to declare two luxury holidays, paid for by the Sri Lankan Government, stacking up to the tune of £100,000," Mr McGrath said.

UUP leader Robin Swann said that the findings of the report were "very serious" and he would wait and see what action was taken by the DUP.

The DUP have said that the findings of the Committee will now be considered by party officers.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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