North Antrim MP Ian Paisley.
NORTH Antrim MP Ian Paisley is under the 'Spotlight' again after last night's (Tuesday) BBC programme alleged that a family holiday at the luxury Coco Bodu Hithi resort in the Maldives was paid for by a Minister in the Maldivian Government.
Spotlight obtained a statement from a Director of Sunland Hotels, the company that owns the resort where the Paisley family stayed in the Autumn of 2016, claiming that Mohamed Shainee, a Maldives cabinet minister at the time, requested the accommodation and subsequently paid for it.
This is something Mr Shainee has denied and Mr Paisley himself has yet to respond to the allegations.
Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan has confirmed that he has asked for a formal investigation into the latest allegations.
Philip 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.”
A FRIEND PAID
It was revealed last December that Mr Paisley, his wife and sons stayed at the luxury resort for five days in the Autumn of 2016.
According to the programme this was eight months after Mr Paisley visited the country and lobbied on its government's behalf.
At the time he said the holiday did not need to be declared; that a friend had paid for it.
Spotlight claim the evidence they have obtained suggests that Mr Shainee was in fact this mystery friend.
Last year Mr Paisley was suspended from Parliament for 30 days after the Parliamentary Committee on Standards concluded that he was in breach of the Code of Conduct in relation to visits he and his family made to Sri Lanka in 2013.
However Mr Paisley survived a Petition of Recall in September that would have forced a by-election.
Responding to these developments, the DUP have released a statement saying: "We note the serious issues raised in the programme. The party officers will consider these matters within the context of our disciplinary process and any other relevant authority.
"Ian Paisley MP was suspended from the party for 57 days in 2018.
"He was readmitted to membership, with conditions. Amongst other sanctions, was a ban on holding office in the party for 12 months. That ban is still in place.
"We require high standards from our elected representatives.
"Discipline is an internal party matter. We do not give a running commentary."