Northern Ireland news

Ian Paisley petition and Barry McElduff by-election cost £420,000

The DUP's Ian Paisley, and Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff

A WESTMINSTER by-election held after Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff resigned and a recall petition faced by DUP MP Ian Paisley had a combined cost of more than £420,000.

The West Tyrone poll after Mr McElduff stood down as MP cost £254,632, while the recall petition following Mr Paisley's suspension from parliament cost £165,644.

The by-election spend included £195,581 carrying out the vote and £59,051 on candidates' mailing costs, according to newly published government figures for the 2018 polls.

Mr McElduff resigned as West Tyrone MP following outrage after he posted online a video of himself balancing a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill atrocity.

The Sinn Féin representative said he had not realised the connection, but Kingsmill victims' relatives rejected his apology.

The by-election was held in May last year, with Órfhlaith Begley retaining the seat for Sinn Féin. In May earlier this year, Mr McElduff was elected as a councillor for Omagh.

In July last year, Mr Paisley received a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons after failing to declare two luxury family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013 paid for by its government, for which he later lobbied.

The MP had urged then prime minister David Cameron not to support a United Nations probe into human rights abuses on the south Asian island.

Mr Paisley's suspension prompted the first recall petition in UK parliamentary history.

It was open for six weeks for North Antrim voters to sign, but it fell short of the 10 per cent of voters required to trigger a by-election.

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