Paisley should not be celebrating victory, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said Ian Paisley should not be celebrating a victory after retaining his seat as an MP.

Mr Paisley will not face a by-election after just under 10 per cent of North Antrim constituents signed a recall petition calling for his resignation after he failed to declare two paid for Sri Lankan holidays. He subsequently lobbied against the UK supporting a UN resolution on human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan Government and was suspended as an MP for 30 days.

“In any other part of the UK, Ian Paisley would have had to resign in disgrace,” said Ms Armstrong.

“But the fact he was allowed to get away with his actions relatively scot-free shows many people here are still too focused on the divisions in our community at the expense of everything else. As long as that remains the case to the detriment of proper standards of government, we will continue to have scandals such as this, RHI and Nama.

“Alliance registered as an official campaigner during the recall petition period, encouraging people to sign. It is therefore disappointing to see it has not been successful. However, the narrative from some that Ian Paisley would be automatically returned in any by-election was unhelpful, as it made many people think it was pointless. That was not the case and indeed, the DUP may have been forced to go up against him in any poll.

“In any case, this is not a victory for Ian Paisley. Talking about his ‘endorsement’ from the electorate shows he may not have learned anything but the fact is he remains an MP – a disgraced one. He has nothing to be proud of and should show some humility from this entire sorry episode.

“This was the first recall petition opened in the UK. These should be important methods of accountability, especially when political parties are incapable of self-policing. It is important lessons are learned from this first exercise in implementation.”

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