‘Electorate has spoken’ – Ian Paisley survives petition as Sinn Féin say he should've been sacked
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‘Electorate has spoken’ – Ian Paisley survives petition as Sinn Féin say he should've been sacked

IAN PAISLEY has retained his seat as MP for North Antrim after a recall petition failed to gather enough signatures.

His suspension from the DUP has also been lifted, however Sinn Féin say the unionist party should have sacked the politician.

Mr Paisley had been suspended from the House of Commons for failing to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

It resulted in the first recall petition in British parliamentary history, which would have led to a by-election had 10 per cent of Mr Paisley’s constituents signed it.

It ultimately garnered 7,099 signatures, some 444 short of the required 7,543.

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'Hallelujah'

Mr Paisley appeared to see the result as an endorsement of himself, saying ‘the electorate has clearly spoken’.

"The electorate was asked to pass judgment – 90.6 per cent have accepted my apology,” he said in a statement.

“The electorate has clearly spoken.

“I would like to thank my true friends, family, the electorate who have stood by me with unwavering support. Hallelujah.”

The politician appeared in jovial mood on social media following the result, sharing a picture of him mocked up as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

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Following the two family trips to Sri Lanka in 2013, Mr Paisley wrote to then Home Secretary Theresa May in support of Sri Lanka over a proposed UN resolution.

The Commons Standards Committee found that these actions amounted to “paid advocacy” and said Mr Paisley had brought the Commons into disrepute.

The MP apologised in the Commons in July for his failure to declare and register the trips.

He added that there was no “ulterior motive for that genuine mistake”.

'Lack of integrity'

Following the recall result, Sinn Féin’s Vice President Michelle O’Neill criticised the DUP’s decision to lift Mr Paisley’s suspension.

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“Ian Paisley received lavish holidays from the Sri Lankan regime and then lobbied to prevent the UN investigating war crimes against the Tamil people by that same regime,” she said.

“He displayed a gross lack of integrity in public office through these actions.

“Despite this, there was no hint of an apology from the DUP to either the people of North Antrim or the Tamil population.

“Instead, he has been welcomed back into the DUP fold.

“That represents another failure on behalf of the DUP and is an effective endorsement of his actions.

“The DUP is very fond of pontificating to others but when it came to dealing with its own wrongdoing, it failed to take the appropriate action, which would have been to sack Ian Paisley.”