Ian Paisley suspended from Commons and DUP

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has been suspended from the House of Commons. Credit: PA

MPs have backed the suspension of the DUP’s Ian Paisley from the House of Commons for 30 days, while the North Antrim representative has also been suspended from his party.

The unprecedented 30-day Commons suspension had been recommended by the Committee on Standards over a major breach of parliamentary rules.

It was supported during a debate in the chamber on Tuesday, for which Mr Paisley was not present.

The suspension, which will take effect from 4 September, comes after the senior DUP politician failed to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

In March 2014, he lobbied against a proposed United Nations resolution to investigate alleged human rights abuses during a civil war on the Indian Ocean island without citing his financial benefits.

Following Tuesday's decision in the Commons, the DUP confirmed that it was also suspending Mr Paisley “pending further investigation into his conduct”.

A statement said: “The Officers of the Democratic Unionist Party have considered the report of the House of Commons Committee on Standards on Ian Paisley MP.

“The party takes this report and the matters contained within it very seriously.”

Mr Paisley, one of 10 pro-Brexit DUP MPs helping to prop up Theresa May’s minority Conservative government, will miss a number of key Brexit votes due to his suspension.

He has faced calls to quit and could face an election if 10% of his constituents sign a petition.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said: “Ian Paisley’s colleagues in Westminster have overwhelmingly voted to impose the most serious sanction handed down to any MP since 1949.

“When you consider some of the sleaze, corruption and criminal scandals that have engulfed the British parliament during that time, that is quite extraordinary.”

Patrick Corrigan, head of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said the victims were those killed in Sri Lanka.

“Mr Paisley saw fit to lobby the Prime Minister against a UN investigation into gross human rights violations, including the mass killing of civilians at the end of the Sri Lankan war, for which no adequate investigation has ever been carried out,” he said.

“Mr Paisley’s intervention – which the House of Commons has found to be a breach of the rules on paid advocacy - was a moral disgrace, serving the interests of an abusive regime, not its victims.”