North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has deactivated his Twitter account after he sparked controversy by retweeting a post which linked notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile to the EU Remain campaign.
The DUP man, an outspoken Brexiteer, was widely criticised on social media after he retweeted a post from the Stop the EU Twitter account which linked to an article headlined ‘Ouija Board confirms Savile would have voted Remain’, complete with a picture of the disgraced BBC TV presenter, who died in 2011.
As part of his retweet of the link, Mr Paisley wrote: “Explains BBC coverage.”
The retweet sparked a furious backlash on social media, including many calls for the North Antrim MP to resign.
However, some have defended Mr Paisley, saying his retweet was “an attempt at humour” and suggested those who were offended were being “too sensitive”.
Alliance leader Naomi Long branded Mr Paisley’s retweet “obscene and offensive”, later tweeting: “I’m repulsed. It’s dangerous, inflammatory rhetoric which has no place in politics. Utterly despicable.”
Mr Paisley’s account, which has more than 17,000 followers, was later deactivated.
While there were calls from some for Twitter to take action against the MP, a DUP source said they understood Mr Paisley had taken the decision to deactivate the account himself.
South Belfast SDLP MLA Claire Hanna later wrote: “Appears that at least for now Twitter has taken action & removed Ian Paisley’s account. Pity DUP wouldnt be so decisive despite his behaviour reaching a new low of joking about a child abuser. He makes Donald Trump look classy & his being in a position of power is very disturbing.”
The row over the controversial retweet follows Mr Paisley’s 30-day suspension from the House of Commons after he failed to declare two family holidays to Sri Lanka, paid for by the country’s government on whose behalf he lobbied at Westminster.
Despite an apology from Mr Paisley, the scandal prompted the opening of a recall petition which could have triggered a by-election in North Antrim, but ultimately it fell more than 400 signatures short.
The News Letter has contacted the DUP and Mr Paisley’s office for comment.