Northern Ireland news

Ian Paisley suspended from the DUP over Sri Lanka holidays scandal

 Ian Paisley has been suspended from the DUP

Ian Paisley has been suspended from the DUP after he failed to declare two free luxury family holidays to Sri Lanka.

In a statement, the DUP said its party officers would investigate following Westminster's decision to suspend the North Antrim MP from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days.

"The party takes this report and the matters contained within it very seriously," the statement read.

"The party officers have decided to suspend Mr Ian Paisley MP from membership of the party pending further investigation into his conduct.

"The party does not intend to make any further comment on these matters during the course of the above outlined process."

Ian Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons after he failed to declare two free luxury family holidays to Sri Lanka.

MPs supported the punishment recommended by the Committee on Standards during a Commons debate this afternoon. Mr Paisley was not present in the chamber for the debate.

Sir Kevin Barron MP, chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said: "We concluded that Mr Paisley had committed serious misconduct and that his actions were of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute, which is a further breach of the code of conduct.

"Because we regard this as an especially serious case, we have recommended that Mr Paisley be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days, starting on the fourth of September."

Read more:

 Ian Knox cartoon July 24 2018 - Unlike the Commons which is expected to impose a severe punishment on Ian Paisley, his party, according to one spokesman, considers he has been "punished enough"

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said Mr Paisley's colleagues in Westminster have overwhelmingly voted to impose the most serious sanction handed to any MP since 1949.

"When you consider some of the sleaze, corruption and criminal scandals that have engulfed the British Parliament during that time, that is quite extraordinary."

DUP leader Arlene Foster told the BBC last week she had received a personal apology from Mr Paisley, but declined an invitation to express her "full support" for him, saying it is now a matter for party officers.

However, Mr Paisley's colleague Sammy Wilson said at the weekend the North Antrim MP should not face any additional sanctions from his party.

Asked what action the party should take, Mr Wilson said his party colleague has been "punished by the House of Commons".

"He has apologised to his constituents, to the party and to parliament. I don't think there should be any additional sanctions imposed on him. That should be the end of the matter," he told the BBC.

"The reason why he has got a massive majority is because people know he works hard for them."

He also said Mr Paisley "deserves to be a candidate" should a by-election be called.

Voters in North Antrim will now be able to sign a petition to trigger a by-election.

Mr Paisley has already said he will contest any election.

He told his local paper, the Ballymena Guardian, he deeply regretted his actions.

He added: "There are also some who would have me booted out of Parliament and a by-election called to fill that vacancy.

"They are opportunists, some with questionable motives, and I can tell them that I have no intention of going quietly into the night.

"If a petition leads to a by-election make no mistake about it, I will seek re-election as I have never run away from an election in my life and don't intend to do so now."

Read more:

Ian Knox cartoon July 20 2018 - Ian Paisley apologises to parliament, party and constituents, but not to Sri Lankans

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