Ian Paisley Jr

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley Jr[1] (born 12 December 1966) is a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician. He has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Antrim since the 2010 general election. Previously he was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Antrim from 1998 to 2010. Paisley is a son of the DUP's founder Ian Paisley.

Ian Paisley Jr

Member of Parliament
for North Antrim
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byIan Paisley
Majority12,721 (28.9%)
Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
In office
8 May 2007  26 February 2008
Serving with Gerry Kelly
Preceded byJames Leslie
Succeeded byJeffrey Donaldson
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for North Antrim
In office
25 June 1998  21 June 2010
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byPaul Frew
Personal details
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley Jr

(1966-12-12) 12 December 1966 (age 54)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partyDemocratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s)Fiona Paisley
ParentsIan Paisley
Eileen Paisley
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

MPs voted to suspend Paisley from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days, beginning on 4 September 2018, because he broke paid advocacy rules by receiving hospitality from the Sri Lankan government without declaring that to the Commons. Following his suspension, the Recall of MPs Act 2015 was invoked for the first time since it received Royal Assent. That triggered an abortive recall petition, the first such petition in British parliamentary history. His membership of the DUP had been suspended between 24 July and 18 September 2018, during internal investigations by the party into his conduct.


Born in Belfast in 1966, Paisley is the youngest child of the Reverend Ian Paisley and his wife Eileen Paisley. The younger Ian, along with his twin brother (Kyle) and his three elder sisters (Sharon, Rhonda and Cherith), was brought up in a large detached house on Cyprus Avenue in east Belfast.[2] Being the younger of the twins, he was named after his father who was the younger of two brothers.[2] He regularly attended the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (where his father preached) from a very young age.[2] In August 2007, he was the subject of the third episode of the BBC Radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In in which he talked about a happy childhood and secure family life, despite the Troubles.[2]


After leaving primary school, he was educated at Shaftesbury House College, and then in the sixth form at Methodist College Belfast, before gaining admission to Queen's University Belfast.[2] There he read Modern History and Irish Politics, gaining respectively a BA (Hons) and MSSc. After finishing his postgraduate studies, he worked for his father as a political researcher and parliamentary aide.

Political career

In 1996, Paisley was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for North Antrim. He was returned for the constituency to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998. He is one of three DUP members who have taken their seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board, and is also the party's justice spokesman and press officer.

Paisley successfully ran to succeed his father as the MP for North Antrim in the 2010 UK general election, winning 46.4% of the vote share.[3] Upon his election as MP, he resigned his seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Although there were rumours that Paisley Jr was positioning himself to become leader of his party, he denies any such ambition: "I've no ambition for that at all. I've never had any ambition to get anywhere beyond where I am today. Some people sought to put the knife in, in order to stop me, because they were concerned about me wanting to be leader. Well, they misjudged me completely."[3]


For the 2011–12 financial year, Paisley's total expenses claim was the seventh-highest of all members of parliament.[4] His expenses for the 2012–13 financial year were £232,000; the highest of any MP that year. The costs covered travel and accommodation for Paisley himself and his constituency staff.[5] In an interview with the Ballymena Times, Paisley stated "None of this money goes to me as MP ... They are legitimate expenses signed off by IPSA and paid directly by the Parliament".[4] He had the second-highest expenses claim in the 2013–14 financial year. For the 2014–15 financial year, he was again the second-highest claimant, receiving £227,000 in expenses.[6] During the 2010–2015 Parliament, Paisley claimed a total of £1,112,667 in expenses.[7]


Paisley strongly supported "Vote Leave" in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and was a supporter of the Eurosceptic campaign Leave Means Leave. While rejecting calls by Republican party Sinn Féin for a referendum in Northern Ireland on a unified Ireland, he advised his constituents to get a Republic of Ireland passport if they were eligible.[8]

Electoral Commission fine

In September 2020, Paisley was fined £1,300 (€1,400) by the Electoral Commission for accepting a total of £2,600 from two local councils to purchase tables at a fund-raising event at the Tullyglass hotel in Ballymena in September 2017. Paisley also agreed to pay back the money.[9]


Views on homosexuality

In 2005, Paisley came under some criticism for his beliefs about same-sex marriages.[clarification needed] Upon learning that David Trimble's aide, Steven King, had married his partner in Canada, Paisley was quoted as saying, "It is really astounding that David Trimble should have had a man such as this giving him advice – and must surely cast grave doubts on his own political judgement. I think these sorts of relationships are immoral, offensive and obnoxious."[10][11]

Paisley caused further controversy in May 2007 when, in an interview with journalist Jason O'Toole in Hot Press magazine, he said that "I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society. That doesn't mean to say that I hate them – I mean, I hate what they do."[12]

In 2011, Paisley said of his previous comments: "I think I have grown up since then. I have strong Christian beliefs and moral viewpoints, but you have to realise that while sin is black and white, life is a lot of gay."[13]

University Graduation

Paisley was unable to graduate from his MSSc in the summer graduation period, due to having exceeded the word count on his dissertation and instead graduated in the winter period of 1994. The summer of 1994 was the last year Queen's University Belfast played the British national anthem.[14] Paisley responded by playing the anthem on a tape recorder during his winter graduation.[15]

Property developers

Paisley had been linked in press reports to local property developer Seymour Sweeney when, in 2007, Sweeney admitted that Paisley had lobbied on his behalf regarding plans for a private visitors' centre at the Giant's Causeway, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Paisley strongly denied that he had any financial relationship with Sweeney, although he admitted that he had gone deep sea fishing with the developer socially.[16]

Paisley had been involved in the commercial development of the north Antrim coast and strongly supported Alistair Hanna's controversial Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort and Spa proposal, an 18-hole golf course and hotel complex at Runkerry, adjacent to the Giant's Causeway.[17] There were a series of public blunders and further controversy in February 2008, following scrutiny on the employment of family members by politicians after the Derek Conway scandal, when it emerged that Paisley was on his father's payroll as a researcher in the constituency of North Antrim in addition to his roles as an MLA and a junior minister.[18] As a result, Paisley resigned his junior minister position on 18 February 2008.[19]

Dissident republican comments

Further controversy occurred in August 2008 when Paisley, speaking after a number of attacks on the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said that dissident republicans should be "shot on sight".[20]

2013 Sri Lankan hospitality, and lobbying for a foreign government

In September 2017, The Daily Telegraph alleged that Paisley received hospitality from the government of Sri Lanka for two visits there in 2013 without declaring it, and pointed out that he had been involved in securing a post-Brexit trade deal with that country.[21] However, Paisley stated that the claims were defamatory and that he had referred the matter to his solicitor.[22]

In July 2018, the House of Commons Standards Committee recommended that Paisley be suspended from the Commons for 30 sitting days, for not declaring visits to Sri Lanka paid for by the Sri Lankan government, and for breaking the Commons rule banning paid advocacy. The Committee concluded that Paisley's actions amounted to serious misconduct. The Committee suggested that Paisley's failure to register his visit to Sri Lanka occurred because he was conscious of the potential embarrassment that would be caused to him were it to become publicly known that he had accepted very expensive hospitality, for himself and his family, from a foreign government accused of serious human rights violations.[23]

On 24 July 2018, MPs voted to suspend Paisley from the House of Commons for a period of 30 sitting days, beginning on 4 September 2018. His salary was also to be withheld for 30 days. The DUP released a statement confirming that the party officers had decided to suspend him from the party until an internal investigation were held into his conduct. The Speaker of the House of Commons confirmed he would write to the Chief Electoral Officer in Northern Ireland to initiate the MP recall mechanisms, as specified in the Recall of MPs Act 2015. A recall petition opened on 8 August.[24]

On 20 September 2018, the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland announced the recall petition had fallen 444 votes short of the number needed to spark a by-election.[25] Following this result, the DUP announced that it had lifted Ian Paisley's party suspension on 18 September, but had banned him from taking any party office for a year.[26]

Paisley visited Sri Lanka twice; the first occasion was from 30 March 2013 until 5 April, and the second occasion from 2 July 2013 until 11 July.[27] In their family visa application submitted to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London, all six who travelled declared that the purpose of their visit to Sri Lanka was "official".[27]

Criticism of journalist

In September 2019, following the publication of an analytical article written on the DUP's ongoing negotiations in Stormont in the Belfast News Letter by journalist Sam McBride, Paisley criticised McBride online, calling him "despicable", "immature", and "simplistic". In response, the National Union of Journalists condemned the remarks as an "unwarranted personal attack" on the journalist. Following further criticism, Paisley apologised, stating that he "expressed [himself] badly".[28]

Personal life

Paisley married Fiona in 1990; they have four children. He is a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.[29]


  1. "Who's Who". ukwhoswho.com.
  2. "The House I Grew Up In, featuring Paisley Jr.". The House I Grew Up In. 20 August 2007. BBC Radio 4.
  3. "Ian Paisley Jr: 'I've always been proud of dad – and proud to bear his name'". The Independent. London. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  4. Black, Rebecca (13 September 2013). "Ian Paisley defends having highest expenses claim by any MP". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  5. "DUP's Ian Paisley Jr had highest expenses claim". BBC News. 12 September 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  6. Monaghan, John (11 September 2015). "DUP MPs top UK parliamentary expenses table". The Irish News. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  7. McBride, Sam (11 April 2015). "Election Diary: NI's MPs cost £15.6m since last elected". The News Letter. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  8. Payton, Matt (25 June 2016). "Ian Paisley Jr urges Northern Irish citizens to apply for Republic of Ireland passports". The Independent. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  9. "Ian Paisley jnr fined over breach of political donations rules". The Irish Times. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  10. Belfast Telegraph, 31 January 2005.
  11. Paisley censured for homophobic comments RTÉ News, 3 February 2005.
  12. Row over 'repulsive gays' comment BBC News, 30 May 2007
  13. "Ian Paisley Jr says he has 'grown up' over anti-gay views". Pink News. 13 May 2011.
  14. "Belfast's Main University Drops 'God Save the Queen'".
  15. Robin Sheeran (28 September 2007). "Politics Show – Student Politics". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  16. "Runkerry golf resort plan gets green light". BBC News. 21 February 2012.
  17. Paisley Jr on father's MP payroll BBC News, 6 February 2008
  18. "Paisley Jnr resigns as minister". BBC News. 18 February 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  19. "Paisley defends lethal force call". BBC News. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  20. Newell, Claire; Malnick, Edward; Smith, Nicola (7 September 2017). "The MP, the £100k gifts and the Brexit trade deal: Questions over Ian Paisley Jr's register of interests after Sri Lanka trip". The Telegraph.
  21. "Paisley Jr says Telegraph claims defamatory". RTÉ News. 8 September 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. "House of Commons Committee on Standards, Ian Paisley, Third Report of Session 2017–19" (PDF). House of Commons. 17 July 2018.
  23. McCormack, Jayne (16 August 2018). "Ian Paisley recall petition opens". BBC News. BBC.
  24. "DUP's Ian Paisley adds recall petition result to Twitter biography". Belfast Telegraph.
  25. "DUP lifts Ian Paisley suspension following recall – Sinn Fein's O'Neill says 'he should have been sacked'". Belfast Telegraph.
  26. "Inside story of Paisley family visits and Vaas Gunawardena's ploys". Sri Lanka: the Sunday Times. 29 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  27. "Ian Paisley apologises for criticising journalist". BBC News. 21 September 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  28. "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.