Northern Ireland news

DUP's Ian Paisley says email on Stormont contact tracing was 'jocular'

DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, and inset, his emailed comments
Brendan Hughes

IAN Paisley accidentally sent an email reply to hundreds of MPs saying he "wouldn't let any government, least of all the NI Executive, track and trace me and my movements".

The DUP MP quickly clarified his remarks, saying he was responding in a "jocular manner" and that he supports government measures to protect people's health.

Mr Paisley was responding to a member of the public who had emailed numerous MPs about contact tracing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The North Antrim MP replied: "Mate, I wouldn't let any government, least of all the NI Executive, track and trace my movements."

It was followed up with a second email shortly afterwards.

"Oops, was replying in a jocular manner to a friend and obviously sent you all an email by mistake," Mr Paisley wrote.

"Of course I support measures to protect the health of the nation by our government and NI Executive.

"Hope you saw the funny side of that. Ian."

The email exchange was reported by a Sunday Times journalist on Thursday evening.

The original email from a member of the public said the government should be focused on contact tracing, and called for responsibility to be "devolved to local health centres who can be trusted".

Mr Paisley told the BBC he did not know the person who sent the initial email.

He said he was trying to respond to another MP, but inadvertently replied to everyone in the chain.

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