IN FULL: Ian Paisley apologises in Commons speech

DUP MP Ian Paisley has offered a “profound apology” for failing to declare two luxury holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

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In a statement to the House of Commons this morning, the North Antrim man said:

Thank you Mr Speaker and thank you for allowing me to make this personal statement at this time.

It is with profound regret and deep personal embarrassment that I have to make this statement.

In 2013, Mr Speaker, in the course of my first parliament I failed to properly register and properly declare two overseas visits.

I had no ulterior motive for that genuine mistake. I do recognise how serious a mistake it was.

As a member of parliament I know I have personal responsibility to seek to be above reproach. I acknowledge that registration of such matters and subsequent declarations must be adhered to diligently. I accept my total failure in that matter.

I have given an unreserved apology to the House and to colleagues and I take opportunity to do so again from my place here and I do it, Sir, without qualification.

I say sorry and apologise for the failings that were identified in the Standards Committee report. I am disappointed that I was not able to persuade members of the committee of the weight of my arguments on some of the major matters of mitigation, especially on the issue of paid advocacy.

However, I accept the report, but I do so regret its sanctions.

I have apologised to the House and to colleagues and I understand that subject to the decision of this house I may from September be subject to a suspension lasting 30 days.

I take my duties, Mr Speaker, as member of parliament seriously. I believe I conduct myself with colleagues with integrity, with openness, and that is why I have such remorse about the matter as I believe it goes against the grain of who I am. Especially how it is portrayed.

It is to my constituents who have sent me here since 2010 that I make the profoundest of all apologies.

They have honoured me with unwavering support to be their voice and I hope they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future.

Mr Speaker, we all in this chamber know that in public life if you make mistakes they are amplified and rightly so.

That is the nature of the job all of us do and all of us understand.

But I believe in a politics and I believe in politicians that can admit human frailty, that can apologise, can mean it and can move on - because that’s what real life is all about.

It’s often said it’s how we respond to these challenges in our lives that defines who and what we are, and defines our character and demonstrates to us where the true source of our personal strength rests.

The eighth-century prophet Isaiah said: ‘You were angry with me, that anger has turned away, you comfort me.’

I hope to learn that lesson.