Ian Paisley Jr.
By Anthony Neeson
The DUP leadership has suspended North Antrim MP Ian Paisley from the House of Commons in Westminster for a period of thirty days.
The suspension has also been applied by the House of Commons itself.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
It had been recommended that Mr. Paisley be suspended for this time after he failed to declare two family holidays paid by the Sri Lankan government in 2013. The House of Commons standards committee report put the value of the hospitality at £50,000.
The Sri Lankan government has been accused of human rights abuses. Mr. Paisley lobbied then British Prime Minister David Cameron on their behalf after returning from Sri Lanka.
In 2014 Paisley wrote a letter to Mr. Cameron to “lobby against a proposed United Nations resolution setting up an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.”
The parliamentary watchdog recommended the suspension while Mr. Paisley, who has a majority of more than 20,000 in his constituency, could also face a by-election if ten percent of the eligible electorate in the North Antrim constituency sign a petition.
Mr. Paisley has indicated that he would stand in any by-election, if it is called.
“In view of the seriousness of this matter, we recommend that Mr. Paisley be suspended from the service of the House [of Commons] for a period of 30 sitting days starting on 4 September 2018,” said the Commons Standards Committee.
Mr. Paisley is likely to miss a number of crucial Commons’ Brexit votes. British Prime Minister Theresa May won a Commons vote last week with a majority of just three so Paisley’s absence could be significant.
Speaking in the Commons Mr. Paisley apologized “with profound regret and deep personal embarrassment.”
Fellow DUP MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, said before the suspension decision that Mr. Paisley “is entitled to have his case heard.”
“We are a democratic party – the clue is in our name – and this matter has been referred to our party officers.
“They will consider the report prepared by the standards committee, they will consider that has happened and they will come to a decision.”
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said Mr. Paisley should not face any “additional sanctions.”
“He has apologized to this 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.
“The reason why he has got a massive majority is because people know he works hard for them.”
Back in January, Sinn Féin MP for West Tyrone, Barry McElduff, resigned as an MP after being suspended by the party in the wake of the Kingsmill loaf Twitter video.
The DUP was only too aware of this precedent as they considered what to do with Mr. Paisley.
The 30-day suspension is thought to be one of the longest periods any MP has faced in seventy years.