Politicians call on Parliamentary Standards Commisioner to examine latest claims about North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley pictured at an election count in Ballymena

POLITICIANS in North Antrim say claims in the latest BBC ‘Spotlight’ programme about local DUP MP Ian Paisley need to be examined by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister said: “Even by Ian Paisley’s standards, the latest BBC Spotlight revelations are shocking. Hardworking people in North Antrim, who pay their own way in life, are unlikely to be impressed.

“There is clearly now much more for the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to examine, not least the information that the secret benefactor was a Maldives Government minister. In addition, there are now two further trips to be investigated, none of which were ever declared.

“Whatever Ian Paisley’s attitude to transparency, surely, his party cannot ignore this further Spotlight expose, or can it, as nothing seems to have resulted from the investigation promised 6 months ago?

“My wider concern is the further damage done to Unionism PLC. Such self-inflicted injury is not what we need or expect from a Unionist MP.”

Sinn Fein North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has asked for a formal investigation into the latest allegations.

He also criticised the failure of the DUP leadership to discipline Ian Paisley.

Mr McGuigan said: “The latest media expose of Ian Paisley’s relationship with the government of the Maldives, which had been criticised by the UN over allegations of human rights abuses, raises more serious questions for the DUP.

“This is the same MP who was suspended from the British House of Commons after breaking paid advocacy rules when he lobbied for the Sri Lankan government – a regime with a notorious record of human rights abuses.

“It has now been alleged that a government minister in the Maldives paid for a lavish family holiday for Ian Paisley after he advocated on behalf of the government there.

“I have called on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate the claims but Ian Paisley’s own party leadership should also end its silence and confirm what action it intends to take in light of this latest scandal.

“The DUP announced in December that it was investigating the first wave of Maldives allegations but we have heard nothing since then about what actions have been taken to discipline their shamed MP.

“Another ‘mea culpa’ apology from Ian Paisley just isn’t going to be enough. These allegations are gravely serious and they need to be treated as such by the authorities and Ian Paisley’s own party.”

On Tuesday night, Mr Paisley had not responded to the programme’s allegations.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said on Wednesday: “Serious issues have been raised.

“Those matters will come before the party officers. As you know Ian was suspended for 57 days last year by the party. He is now back in the party under sanction and those sanctions still exist.

“But we will look at that and deal with those serious issues that have been raised by the Spotlight programme.”

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