Northern Ireland news

Event in support of Ian Paisley was 'not a DUP meeting' says organiser

Councillor John Finlay said Monday night's event in support of Ian Paisley was 'not a DUP meeting'

MONDAY night's gathering for supporters of shamed MP Ian Paisley was "not a DUP meeting", according to the organiser.

DUP councillor John Finlay said the meeting where the suspended North Antrim MP addressed around 60 supporters was a "private event".

Speaking yesterday, Mr Finlay said Monday night's meeting "went well and was well attended".

He said those present were "very courteous and supportive" of the North Antrim MP.

Asked if he feared any disciplinary action from his party for hosting the meeting in support of Mr Paisley, the Ballymoney councillor responded: "It was a private meeting – it wasn't a DUP meeting".

Mr Paisley, who is currently facing an internal DUP investigation into his conduct, did not speak to the media.

Last month, the former first minister's son received an unprecedented 30 sitting days suspension from the House of Commons for failing to declare two luxury family holidays to Sri Lanka, paid for by its government.

Mr Paisley subsequently lobbied on behalf of the south Asian island's regime, writing to then prime minister David Cameron in 2014 urging him not to support a United Nations investigation into human rights abuses.

His suspension triggered the first recall petition in UK parliamentary history, with three venues across North Antrim open over the coming weeks to enable constituents to sign.

If 10 per cent of registered constituents – 7,543 people – sign the petition then Mr Paisley must resign his seat and contest a by-election.

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