North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley.
NORTH Antrim MP Ian Paisley has hit back at reports he claimed almost £6,000 to fly first class to New York at a charity’s expense.
Last February, according to his parliamentary register of interests, Mr Paisley claimed back £5,925.11 after attending the event, organised by Cooperation Ireland, a charity aimed at peace building which encourages dialogue and collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
After requests from the Chronicle's sister paper, Ballymena Guardian, Mr Paisley responded: “All the travel costs were pre approved by Cooperation Ireland.
“I was asked at the last minute by Cooperation Ireland to speak at this event as another speaker had unexpectedly become unavailable. I was asked to attend just a couple of days before travelling.
“Initially I refused as I could not make the time work as I was in parliament the day before and the day after the ‘event’ and I had unbreakable engagements in my constituency.
“The organisers said they would fly me in for my speech and fly me back immediately. I was there for 24 hours.
“I understand that all the costs were met by the charity sponsor of the event and not from charity funds. I certainly did not bill for my services.
“The organisation paid for the travel directly and agreed everything in advance. I put myself out to be there for less than a day to help complete their conference panel.”
*Full story in this week's Chronicle*