Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Ian Paisley is pushing DUP loyalty to the limit

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

Editor's Viewpoint

A whiff of scandal has accompanied DUP MP for North Antrim Ian Paisley jnr on all too frequent occasions over the past decade and it seems that there are some within even his own party who have lost patience with him over the latest embarrassing allegations.

A glance at his record shows why there is this sense of exasperation. In 2008 he resigned as a junior minister at Stormont over dealings with a property dealer friend. Even fundraising dinners in his constituency attended by leading UK politicians caused controversy when a local council was said to have sponsored a table to the tune of £1,500.

But these paled into less significance to the allegations last year that he did not register luxury holidays in Sri Lanka for him and his family. He was suspended from the House of Commons for a record period of time even after apologising profusely for what he called an oversight.

Now the BBC Spotlight programme claims an undeclared luxury holiday in the Maldives was paid for by a former minister in that country's government. This has led to calls by all local political parties for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate Mr Paisley again.

The MP narrowly avoided having to stand for election again following the Sri Lankan revelation and there is no doubt that the Paisley name and his constituency work has earned him great loyalty in the constituency, but even there questions are being asked over this latest embarrassment.

It would be a very foolish politician who took his or her constituents for granted and even the most loyal can switch allegiance if they feel their representative is not living up to the standards they expect of him or her.

Mr Paisley's father, the founder of the DUP, was adored by the majority in the North Antrim constituency for his hard work. Some saw him as a divisive figure politically but no one ever levelled any allegation regarding his personal probity. That is the standard voters expect.

Some might believe that his son has lost the run of himself somewhat and that forgiveness is not a given. Constituents expect him to give his version of events quickly and openly so that they can judge if the latest allegations have any substance. His parliamentary colleagues and senior figures within the party have similar expectations.

If the allegations stand up, paid for luxury holidays may be in short supply in future.

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