Two North Antrim MLAs have spoken out criticising MP Ian Paisley following a recent investigation by the Electoral Commission into a DUP fundraising dinner.
Ian Paisley was fined £1,300 by the Electoral Comission after they ruled that donations from two councils were deemed as ‘inadmissible donors’ and which the MP had failed to return within thirty-days of being recieved.
Sinn Féin MLA Phillip McGuigan has said he ‘welcomes’ the conclusion to the investigation into a DUP fundraising dinner by the Electoral Commission.
Speaker following the decision North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said:
“The Electoral Commission has today announced that North Antrim MP Ian Paisley will be fined £1,300 for a ‘failure to return impermissible donations’.
“This is the latest in a series of scandals involving the North Antrim MP.
“The fine relates to a DUP fundraising dinner in which the party failed to declare that East and Mid Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens Councils had purchased a table at the event.
“It was frankly unacceptable that local councils used ratepayers money for what was essentially a party political fundraiser.
“I called on the Electoral Commission to conduct an investigation into the matter at the time and welcome that has now been concluded.
“Local councils should represent everyone. It is equally unacceptable that the DUP consciously or otherwise failed to declare this donation.
While the TUV leader and North Antrim MLA has criticised the MP saying ‘Yet Another Paisley Scandal’.
Speaking the TUV leader Jim Allister said:
“It is of course nothing new for Ian Paisley to find himself in the middle of a scandal. Over the years in which he has held office either as a junior minister or MP it seems that the scandals come one after another and that when one report is completed we are just waiting for the next one to appear. So it is today with the findings against him by the Electoral Commission into the Tullyglass dinner. Whether there will be a further report from the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to on overseas trips remains to be seen.
“Having read the information released by the Electoral Commission a number of pertinent questions remain unanswered. For example, did Mr Paisley directly receive the monies paid by Mid and East Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens councils? (If so, why would councils agree to such an arrangement?), or is he being deemed to have received it as a beneficiary? How much of the money was actually paid to the hotel? Did the Commission have to instruct Mr Paisley to pay the monies back to the councils, was there a time limit on him doing so and if there was did he meet it? Indeed, it is even unclear if the monies have yet been paid back.
“These are all questions which Mr Paisley needs to address. The fact that they have to be asked at all is testament to the damage being done to Unionism and the standards expected of an MP.”
The Ballymoney Bubble contacted MrPaisley for comment.