Northern Ireland news

Calls for DUP to break silence on Ian Paisley Maldives probe

Complaints have been made to Westminster's standards commissioner about Ian Paisley's activities. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

SINN FÉIN has called on the DUP to "end its silence" on the party's latest internal probe into the activities of Ian Paisley.

The call from North Antrim MLA Phillip McGuigan came as it emerged that the Sinn Féin representative has received correspondence from Westminster's standards watchdog regarding a complaint about Mr Paisley's complimentary luxury family holiday to the Maldives.

Just weeks after the DUP MP returned from an unprecedented 30-sitting ban from the House of Commons last year for failing to register two luxury holidays in Sri Lanka paid for by its government, it was revealed that Mr Paisley and his family had travelled to the Maldives in 2016.

The DUP MP said he paid for part of the holiday and the rest was paid for by a friend, whose identity he has declined to disclose.

After details of the trip were revealed by BBC Spotlight in December, the DUP said it planned to investigate the "very serious" claims.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who like Mr McGuigan wrote to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone about Mr Paisley's overseas activities, has also received a response from the watchdog.

However, both representatives have been warned against revealing details of the correspondence as they could be in breach of parliamentary privilege.

Under new rules the commissioner is prevented from revealing details of her inquiries, including naming MPs under investigation, until the probe is completed.

Mr Eastwood labelled the lack of transparency a "disgrace".

Mr McGuigan, who confirmed that he has called on Ms Stone to investigate Mr Paisley, said the DUP also needed to break its silence about the party's internal probe.

"The public is entitled to know who paid for this holiday and why Ian Paisley had not registered the trip with the authorities at Westminster," he said.

"Questions also arise about Ian Paisley's relationship with the government of the Maldives, which had been criticised by the UN over allegations of human rights abuses."

The DUP did not comment on its investigation.

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