Northern Ireland news

What did the lavish Sri Lanka trips cost?

The Hilton Colombo where the Paisleys stayed

The cost of the Paisleys two luxury holidays was £100,000, according to the Daily Telegraph – a figure disputed by Ian Paisley.

There were two trips at the heart of the investigation – on the first in March-April 2013 he was accompanied by his wife Fiona and four of their children, while weeks later he travelled with his wife and two of their children.

The Sri Lankan government paid for business class tickets for Mr Paisley and his family on Sri Lankan Airlines.

During their stays they were taken to attractions including: 

  • a national park
  • a Buddhist temple
  • an elephant sanctuary

 with the costs of the excursions covered by the government.

During the first trip, the North Antrim MP and his family were given

  • a suite at the Hilton hotel in Colombo
  • before being accommodated in the five-star Heritance hotel near Galle in the south of the country 
  • and the Amethyst resort on its east coast

On the July trip they stayed at another five-star Heritance hotel, with a pair of rooms costing £208 and £254 for two nights.

Over the two trips there were seven helicopter flights. This included:

  • a 50-mile helicopter trip to the city of Kandy
  •  where they were put up in the five-star Earl's Regency Hotel
  • and given free access to an elephant orphanage an hour from their hotel

The North Antrim MP employed a management consultant to cost the trips, which his accountant subsequently assessed.

In correspondence with the commissioner he said: "The calculations I have set out show the combined visits would, using a high-end tour company, taking account of a car and driver hire, and at least 7 helicopter lifts and an excursion come to a combined total of £51,441."

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