Ian Paisley claims recall petition result 'miraculous'

DUP MP Ian Paisley said it was a 'miracle' that rivals failed to get enough signatures to force a by-election.

IAN Paisley has claimed the inability of his rivals to gather enough signatures to force an election in the first recall petition in Parliament's history was "quite miraculous".

The North Antrim DUP MP was speaking in his first indepth interview since the recall result last month.

The petition fell short, after being signed by 7,099 people when 7,543 signatures - or 10 per cent of Mr Paisley's constituents - were needed to force a by-election.

It was called after Mr Paisley and his family made two trips to Sri Lanka in 2013 as guests of the country's controversial regime without declaring them.

The following year the North Antrim MP signed a letter to the British Prime Minister in relation to the government's policy on Sri Lanka, lobbying on behalf of the country.

The Commons standards committee later ruled that by failing to declare his trips, Mr Paisley "breached the rule against paid advocacy" and suspended him for 30 days.

Speaking BBC Talkback Mr Paisley said the inability to achieve the correct number of signatures "whatever way you analyse that is quite miraculous".

"I was certainly prepared for an election, I had arranged my advertising campaign, I had arranged my slogan, I had prepared my election literature.

"I was amazed I declared it a miracle that the petition was not successful".

Following the result Mr Paisley changed his Twitter profile declaring he had been "returned with highest recorded vote in NI" saying he had 90.6 per cent "support from recall petition".

When asked about this claim he said "social media is social media, and at times it can be quite poisonous, but the fact of the matter is 90.6 per cent of the people for their own reasons decided not to sign the petition.

"We can argue the toss on that, but, if it had've went (sic) the other way, if 90.6 per cent had affirmed the resolution you would have been saying that I just over 10 per cent support."

He said it indicated "very strongly that it was the resolution of the people not to sign the petition".

"I know I let myself down by not making the declaration. I know I let my family down. I know I let my friends down. I let my supporters down and I know I let the people who have the opportunity to vote for me down, and that's why I apologised, I got it wrong", he added.

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