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DUP must come out of hiding following Paisley petition - McGuigan

20 September, 2018 - by Philip McGuigan

Now that the North Antrim recall petition is over, the DUP leadership should ‘come out from its hiding place’ and clarify the party’s position on Ian Paisley’s conduct, Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has said.

The North Antrim MLA commented:

“Obviously, we are disappointed that the requisite number of signatures was not secured to oust Ian Paisley from office but the issues at the heart of this scandal remain unchanged.

“The result should also not be taken as an endorsement of Ian Paisley’s actions but rather as an indictment on the Electoral Office who did not do enough to facilitate the people of North Antrim who wished to sign the petition.

“They had the option of opening as many as ten locations where people could sign the petition, yet they inexplicably opted to go for just three in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle.

“A number of parties – not just Sinn Féin - expressed concerns that many people did not feel comfortable attending some of these locations because it would be obvious that the only reason they were there was to sign the petition.

“The lack of an effective public awareness campaign and the restrictive opening hours of the signing centres were also major factors.=

“Nevertheless, the issues raised by this scandal are not going away and neither are the questions for the DUP leadership.

“Ian Paisley was given the most severe sanction handed down by that parliament in 70 years.

“He was suspended over his links to the notorious Sri Lankan regime. He accepted lavish holidays from the Sri Lankan government and then lobbied to prevent the UN investigating the mass murder of Tamil civilians by that same government.

“Despite this, Ian Paisley’s party leadership have yet to condemn these actions or to confirm whether or not he still has their support as MP for North Antrim.

“That is a failure of leadership. They need to come out of their hiding place and address the very serious issues at the heart of this scandal.”

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