The Secret IRA Meetings: Paisley has no regrets after exit

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The Independent Online
THE REV IAN Paisley had no regrets yesterday after he was ordered out of the Commons for five days after accusing Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, of lying, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

'I am not embarrassed,' the Democratic Unionist leader said as he was escorted from the Palace of Westminster by police and officials. 'I had to make an issue of it.'

MPs voted to suspend Mr Paisley after he was 'named' by Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, during Sir Patrick's statement on government contacts with the IRA for refusing to withdraw the accusation or leave the Commons for the rest of the day.

The 25 MPs who supported him were the nine Ulster Unionists, who would have been anxious not to bolster the political capital to be made by Mr Paisley on his return to the province, and mainly left-wing Labour MPs. Mr Paisley insisted that people in Northern Ireland would ask why he did not stand by what he had said outside the House. Government whips were privately furious with Miss Boothroyd for pressing the issue, handing Mr Paisley a golden publicity opportunity.

The 'naming' of an MP is used in the last resort if an MP disobeys the Speaker and refuses to leave the chamber. Miss Boothroyd specifically banned Mr Paisley from the precincts of the Palace of Westminster, meaning that he will be barred by police and security staff should he attempt to enter. Mr Paisley was named twice before, both in 1981, the last time for calling the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, a liar.

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