Ian Paisley supporters gather to back MP
SUPPORTERS of Ian Paisley are to meet today to show their backing for the under-pressure MP.
The DUP politician is facing a possible by-election after he was suspended from Westminster for 30 sitting days for failing to declare two luxury family holidays to Sri Lanka, paid for by the country's government.
Mr Paisley has also been suspended by his party "pending further investigation into his conduct".
A recall petition to unseat Mr Paisley - the first in British parliamentary history - opened last week.
If 10% of North Antrim constituents sign the petition, the MP will face an election.
DUP councillor John Finlay has organised today's meeting in support of Mr Paisley.
The MP will attend.
The BBC reported that in a letter to activists, Mr Finlay said Mr Paisley had received a "very severe punishment".
"I think we can all agree with the Speaker of the House, Mr John Bercow MP, when he said it was 'a regrettable state of affairs'," he said.
"I trust also that you will have been saddened by the subsequent torrent of condemnation and abuse our friend has suffered since the issue became public."
Venues in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle have been opened where voters can sign the recall petition.
Mr Paisley, who has been the MP for North Antrim since 2010, has already said he will fight any by-election.
- Ian Paisley is suspended from Parliament for 30 days over free Sri Lanka trips
- Ian Paisley suspended from the DUP over Sri Lanka holidays scandal
- Ian Paisley: 'I have never run away from an election in my life and don't intend to now'
Sinn Féin North Antrim MP Philip McGuigan criticised the DUP leadership's handling of the Paisley scandal.
"They refuse to say how long he is suspended for, or to give any details of the investigation they have announced into his conduct," he said.
“They have also refused to say whether he will be endorsed as a DUP candidate in a North-Antrim by-election if the recall petition to unseat him is successful.
“Now we learn that a support event is to take place locally and again the DUP leadership have not said if this is done with their approval. Do any DUP members, including Ian Paisley as a suspended member, have the party’s endorsement to attend this event?
“Every day that this saga continues, the questions mount for the DUP leadership and they show huge disrespect for the electorate in North Antrim by refusing to answer them.”