Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin criticise DUP silence over Ian Paisley retweet row

Ian Paisley retweeted a post featuring notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile 
Rebecca Black, Press Association

Sinn Féin has criticised the silence from the DUP over a retweet on Ian Paisley's Twitter account which appeared to link Jimmy Savile with Remain voters.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has been criticised on social media after his official account retweeted the post from an anti-EU page on the social media site.

The post linked to an article headlined "Ouija Board confirms Savile would have voted Remain", complete with a picture of the disgraced BBC TV presenter who died in 2011.

As part of the retweet, a message added: "Explains BBC coverage."

It sparked criticism with Alliance leader Naomi Long describing as "truly shocking".

Mr Paisley's account has been deactivated since the incident at the weekend. He is understood to have deactivated it himself.

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has questioned why the DUP has remained silent on the matter.

"This was a grossly insensitive and offensive attack from Ian Paisley but it doesn't surprise me that his party leadership are staying silent on the matter," he said.

"We saw a similar approach from the DUP hierarchy over the various scandals he has been involved in and we can only imagine what it's going to take before his party takes definitive action against an MP who is a constant embarrassment and an occasional disgrace."

The DUP was still declining to comment on the matter on Tuesday afternoon, despite multiple media requests over a number of days.

Mr Paisley is currently banned from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days for failing to declare two 2013 family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The House of Commons Committee on Standards found a year after the luxury holidays, Mr Paisley lobbied then prime minister David Cameron not to support a UN probe into alleged Sri Lankan human rights abuses.

Mr Paisley apologised to the House of Commons saying he had made a "genuine mistake".

The DUP suspended Mr Paisley following the report.

The party announced it had readmitted Mr Paisley just hours after a recall petition to oust him as MP for North Antrim failed.

The petition needed 7,543 signatures - or 10% of Mr Paisley's constituents - to force a by-election.

It was signed by 7,099 people.

Mr Paisley said then he was delighted with the result and thanked his constituents for their support.

Earlier this year, Sinn Féin's West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff resigned as a result of a controversy over a Twitter video in which he appeared to mock the victims of the Kingmill massacre.

At the time, DUP leader Arlene Foster described Mr McElduff as "unfit for public office".

Meanwhile, South Down MLA Jim Wells has been suspended by the DUP since May after criticising the party in an interview with a newspaper.

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