“I am delighted at the fantastic news for County Antrim that Ryanair have today announced a huge investment in their operations at Aldergrove airport.
Ryanair have today confirmed they will be investing in three new aircraft to be based here and intend to run 4 flights daily to Gatwick as a result.
The company anticipate carrying over 1 million passengers in their first year of expanded operations and will bring 750 new jobs to the aerospace industry here.
The increased number of flights will not only benefit this industry but those of the business, tourism and hospitality sectors as well.
It is wonderful to see that the negotiations, which have been ongoing for a considerable length of time now, have resulted in success for both Ryanair and the Northern Ireland economy.
We have a very proud aerospace industry here in Northern Ireland and it is very much engrained in our manufacturing heritage with the likes of Shorts Brothers, now Bombardier, having been established in Northern Ireland since the end of the Second World War.
We have gone through an extremely difficult 18 months in County Antrim with the announced closures of both the JTI Gallaher tobacco plant and the Michelin tyre factory bringing about almost 1800 redundancies and this investment is a huge step forward in finding new jobs and new opportunities for the people of this area.
Ryanair’s investment of £300 million will boost our local wage economy enormously and all of our local businesses and town centres will reap the benefits as a result.
Ryanair are also in discussions with Tourism Ireland to explore the possibility of introducing five new routes and I have every faith that Tourism Ireland and all other sectors who would benefit from such an arrangement will do everything they can to ensure its successful delivery.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that Cabinet Ministers will be free to campaign on either side of the EU Referendum campaign. Mr Paisley said it was a sign of how close the referendum campaign was likely to be and that it would allow for a more honest debate on the issue.

Mr Paisley commented, “Speaking to MPs in Westminster the strength of feeling is clear on the question of our membership of the European Union. It has been obvious for some time that many Cabinet members would wish to speak freely and campaign in the referendum for the UK to withdraw from the European Union, and to have effectively ‘gagged’ these Ministers would have either seen many resignations or stifled debate within the campaign.

With such restrictions removed it will allow for a better assessment of where attitudes truly lie in what appears will be a very close-run result. The Prime Minister’s final decision may have been bowing to the inevitable, but it will also increase the stakes in his negotiations with other member states.

There can be little doubt that the European Union of today is a far cry from either the initial vision of European countries working together, or even the arrangement entered into by the United Kingdom so many years ago. We have been adamant for some time that the British people should have their say and it is now very clear that this debate will dominate UK politics for some time to come.”

“Today I welcome the total vindication of Duncan McCausland and Terry Donnelly.”

“I welcome the long awaited news regarding these two prominent gentlemen. I believe the way this case was handled from the very start was an exercise in total mismanagement.

“The investigation appeared to have been brought forward on the strength of gossip and jealousy and had nothing to do with serious police work or the crucial factor of evidence.

“I was appalled to learn of the vast amount of money spent on this case in terms of surveillance powers used, undercover snoops prowling their homes and offices. In fact, I understand that the police and Secretary of State signed off over one million pounds of police money into this investigation that resulted in the arrests. Yet today the police and prosecution authorities have NOTHING to show for it.

“The potential and actual damage to reputations and personal hurt caused by the investigation are irreparable and frankly I hope the two gentlemen take the authorities to the cleaners for compensation.

“In the past I have witnessed too many overly eager police investigations based on gossip and a false hunches leading to deadlock and resulting in no prosecution. I have seen individuals and families’ lives ruined and I am appalled at how long and how much money such extravagant hunches by some zealous and jealous police officers cost the public.

“These two men deserve a full public apology by the authorities and I look forward to them receiving the same.

For the record I have known the two men for over twenty years both professionally and personally and am happy to stand by them in any case.

DUP Member of Parliament for North Antrim Ian Paisley has responded to the latest NIO assessment of the security situation in the Province. In a statement presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, the NIO stated:

• The threat from attacks by dissident republican terror groups remains SEVERE, that is to say, an attack is highly likely.
• There have been sixteen national security attacks by dissident republican terror groups.
• Tackling terrorism remains a Tier 1 risk for the government: the highest priority level.
• The threat which peaked in 2008 from dissident groups is being stemmed (sixteen attacks last year as opposed to forty in 2010.

Ian Paisley MP said:

“The DUP has consistently pressed the government for greater investment in the battle against the dissident republican criminal gangs. Over the course of the last five years an additional £231million has been allocated to the PSNI to take the fight to those who would seek to drag our Province backwards into the dark old days. A further £200 million has also been secured as a result of the recent Fresh Start agreement and there is now a routemap in place to put paramilitaries out of business.

I welcome this statement from the government which shows that investment is delivering a positive outcome. The dissident republicans crime gangs are being squeezed and boxed in by the legitimate forces of law and order. This is reflected in the falling number of national security incidents attributed to these gangs. This should be a welcome statement for all law abiding citizens in Northern Ireland.

There can be no let up in the battle against dissident republicans and I urge the government to continue this wise investment in protecting the people of the United Kingdom from these criminals”, said the DUP MP.

Ian Paisley MP questioned the Secretary of State this week on the role that the government should play in covering the legal costs of evidence and allegations made against retired police officers.
Currently the Ministry of Defence have a system in place where they cover any legal costs of any cases against British soldiers, but this is not the case in the police service.
Mr Paisley expressed his disappointment at the level of scrutiny retired officers come under as a result of legacy enquiries when in so many cases service men and women are left in huge debt covering legal costs simply to have their names cleared. “Former police officers are currently subject to being held to account by Police Ombudsmen, PSNI Legacy hearings and inquests. So they’re subject to being criticised and having their reputations ruined and soiled by such enquiries whether they be witnesses or have allegations made against them.”
Speaking in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee the DUP MP added “Here on the mainland if you’re a British soldier and you’re a witness or you’re going to be charged on an issue to do with legacy the MoD pays all legal costs, for police officers that is not the case and I think that is wrong.”

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers responded “I recognise the difficulty here and I can understand there is an awkward contrast between their position as former servicemen and women. This is however an area that now falls squarely in the devolved arena.”

Mr Paisley did criticise the current system and said such legal overheads will undoubtedly hinder the development of the PSNI in the future. “Do you really think its good enough to say to our Chief Constable ‘here is your budget, spend this budget on lawyers dealing with the past.’ I don’t think that’s fair on him, his calculations on preparing for recruitment and how he polices the current and future force.”

Ms Villiers acknowledged Mr Paisley’s concerns concluding “I have discussed this with representatives of the retired officers and also with the Chief Constable. The responsibility tends to lie with the PSNI on these matters. The Chief Constable recognises the sensitivity of this issue, but he is constrained by affordability. He gave me his assurance that this is actively being considered.”

Paisley supports FCO and ABTA campaign to highlight importance of adequate travel insurance

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley today warned constituents about the dangers of travelling uninsured when hitting the slopes this winter, with new research from ABTA showing that nearly a third (31%) of all UK travellers do not check whether they have the correct insurance to cover winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.

Mr Paisley is supporting a campaign run by ABTA – The Travel Association, in partnership with The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), urging holidaymakers in North Antrim to be prepared for their travels abroad and ensure they have bought suitable insurance cover.

ABTA’s research shows that the problem is even more widespread in Northern Ireland, with two fifths (40%) of people across Northern Ireland failing to check whether they have the correct winter sport insurance cover, far exceeding the national average. This is particularly concerning with winter sport holidays becoming ever more popular.

Taking out the correct winter sports insurance is more important than ever. There were 45 British deaths from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the FCO in the last three years, with thousands more having suffered injuries both on- and off-piste. To help raise awareness, ABTA and the FCO have also teamed up with former British Olympic skier, Chemmy Alcott, to provide the latest travel advice from pre-departure to après ski.

The North Antrim MP said: “Winter sports holidays are popular with many of us, as they provide an opportunity to combine a holiday with something more active. However, medical costs arising from uninsured accidents abroad can be very significant indeed. In addition to the worry over a sick or injured relative, it is often families who are presented with the bills, and the added stress of covering these. It is crucial when we do travel overseas, we are covered in case of something going wrong. Travel insurance really is a travel essential – that is why I am very happy to support this campaign and urge all my constituents to take out travel insurance this winter.”

DUP MP Ian Paisley today challenged the Prime Minister to divulge the information regarding the nature of the terrorist plots that have been foiled by UK security forces since the rise of ISIS.
Speaking during a statement from the Prime Minister ahead of the imminent vote on whether to take military action against the terrorist network, Mr Paisley asked “Will the Prime Minister share in more detail the nature of the attacks, the targets that were potentially on offer, the city and the spread of those attacks and how serious they were for the whole of the United Kingdom?”

In response Prime Minister David Cameron was reluctant to go in to any further detail but commented on the series of attacks inspired by IS propaganda. “The reason for such enhanced concern is how their nature has changed to much more planned and thought through attacks.”

Mr Cameron continued “That combination of desperate psychopathic killers combined with the higher element of planning that the Paris attacks showed, that is one of the reasons why we have to act and we have to act now.”

Speaking after the debate Mr Paisley commented “It is of great importance that ahead of any votes on military intervention, we are well informed of the threats posed against us and that we as MPs are assured of the strategy which our military will adopt, that their objectives are clearly defined and details of how the end goal of such action will be successfully achieved.”

The Open Doors UK group held a seminar in the Houses of Parliament today to highlight the persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
The event discussed a number of different serious humanitarian issues that face Christians in Nigeria, with a particular focus on the terrorist movement Boko Haram.
The speakers at the event included Father Atta Barkindo who discussed the transformation of the terrorist organisation who have now been described as the most deadly terrorist organisation in the world after a recent report revealed that the group were responsible for more murders last year than their ‘allies’ Islamic State.
Father Barkindo spoke of the ‘invisible’ signs of extremism that are common place in countries such as Nigeria. ‘Writing on walls, signposts only in Arabic proclaiming ‘Muslim only’ areas as well as the education system are all part of the underlying manifestation of extremism.’

The Open Doors team help the Nigerian Special Olympics team every year at local, national and international level.

The Open Doors team help the Nigerian Special Olympics team every year at local, national and international level.

Speaking after the event Ian Paisley MP commented ‘Local scholars in Nigeria can teach anything up to 400 children at any given time and their work is totally unregulated. These teachers are completely unaccountable for what they are teaching. It is in areas such as this where we face real challenges to try and stamp out radicalisation.’
The Open Doors group commented “Thousands of Christians have been killed or abducted by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group who claim to have established a ‘caliphate’ (Islamic state) in northern Nigeria.
It was revealed at the event that the number of people driven out of Nigeria by Boko Haram is over four times the number of migrants who have fled to Europe this year.
Mr Paisley concluded ‘The plight of Christians in countries such as Nigeria against this terrorist network perhaps falls under the radar of the western world as we don’t appear as ‘directly’ affected. It is in the interests of peace on a global scale that we as developed nations act to assist in conquering this brutal organisation and I would call upon this government to lead the way in rising to this challenge.’

Ian Paisley MP led an Adjournment Debate in parliament this evening with regards to the Michelin Factory Closure in Ballymena.

Speaking in Westminster the North Antrim MP said “The scale of this job loss to Northern Ireland equates to 30,000 jobs being most on the mainland of the United Kingdom.”
The government Minister responding was the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Anna Soubry MP and she agreed with Mr Paisley that had this announcement occurred in other parts of the UK, it would have been a ‘huge story’.

The DUP MP made reference to the 1000 jobs that were lost in Ballymena just last year with the JTI Gallaher tobacco factory announcing they would close their doors in 2017.
“North Antrim used to make up 22% of Northern Ireland’s entire manufacturing sector, by 2018 that will have fallen to sub 20%, that is absolutely catastrophic to this area.”
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson raised the issue of Caterpillar who also announced job losses in Northern Ireland this week whilst South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan asked questions about the energy costs being imposed on Michelin.

Ian Paisley called for a 'national response' from government to the Michelin factory closure

Ian Paisley called for a ‘national response’ from government to the Michelin factory closure

Quoting a letter from the Stormont Executive’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment from October 2013, the then Minister Arlene Foster confirmed that the Executive had asked HMRC to continue the reduced rate of the Climate Change Levy on gas supplies to Northern Ireland manufacturers but HMRC rejected the request.

“This closure together with the Gallaher factory will take £100 million per annum out of our local wage economy. Money that goes into local shops, local restaurants, local traders is now gone, that is why I have used the term apocalyptic when referring to this factory loss.”

Mr Paisley also praised the efforts of Invest NI commenting “I salute the efforts of Invest NI and its Chief Executive, an organisation that always get it in the neck from the usual suspects. They have worked tirelessly to attract business to County Antrim and are constantly trying to push a boulder up a hill fighting for jobs in what is a very crowded place.”

“Following today’s agreement at Stormont we will have Corporation Tax reduced to 12.5% by 2018. Moving forward this is of course positive news. What we now need is support from the Prime Minister, UK Trade and Investment and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by pulling with us, battling around the world to bring jobs to Ulster. I’m calling on the government to step up to that plate and tell us what they will do.”

Key political figures in Northern Ireland are casting aside politics for a day on 25th November to participate in the prestigious Hope For Youth Northern Ireland Speedo Charity Swim Gala Dinner in London.

Now in its 27th year, the swim will include famous faces like Ian Paisley Jr, Sport Minister Tracey Crouch, and a number of world-class UK swimmers, who will don their Speedos to take part in the gala event pitting swimmers from the House of Commons against the House of Lords.

Following the swim and presentations, guests at the star-studded event will be treated to a menu full of Northern Ireland’s finest produce, as well as a silent auction featuring prizes such as five star weekends in London and sporting memorabilia.

Sponsored by swimwear giant Speedo, the biennial event will take place in the Porchester Hall in London on Wednesday 25th November. Also taking part will be swimming sensations such as Olympians James Hickman, Kerri-Anne Payne, Michael Jamieson and Steve Parry, as well as Sean Conway, the first man to swim the length of Britain and 2015 World Champion Swimmer James Guy.

The celebrities will be joined by two swimmers from the City of Belfast Swimming Club, Eimear Brown and Iain Chisholm, who will also take part in the event to help raise vital funds for Hope For Youth’s beneficiary organisations in Northern Ireland.

The highlight of the event however will be the House of Lords versus House of Commons heats with Northern Ireland’s own Ian Paisley Jr taking part to show off his skills for a great cause.

Captaining the House of Commons team, Mr Paisley said, “Hope For Youth NI provides vital funds for cross-community youth projects in Northern Ireland and I am delighted to be taking part again this year in the Speedo House of Lords v House of Commons swim. The swim challenge is a great event for politicians to get involved in, as it highlights the wonderful work the charity does in Northern Ireland.”

Delighted to further their partnership with Hope For Youth for a 27th year, David Robinson OBE, Brand President at Speedo added; “The House of Lords v House of Commons Charity Swim acts as an important swim event in the UK, as it not only helps to raise crucial funds for Hope For Youth but also highlights the importance of swimming as a way of staying fit and keeping active. This year’s participants come from a range of ages and backgrounds, from professional swimmers to amateur up-and-coming talent”.

Hope for Youth Chairman, Noel Lamb added; “We are delighted to have the continued support from Speedo for a 27th year. The event has gone from strength to strength and helps to raise much needed funds, to enable Hope for Youth provide grant support to important cross community organisations throughout Northern Ireland.”

Chosen to represent the Northern Ireland clubs who benefit from Hope For Youth’s funds, Eimear Brown, swimmer and coach from the City of Belfast Swimming Club and its dedicated swimming programme for pre and post-surgical scoliosis patients, said, “As a keen swimmer it’s an honour to get in the pool with some of my swimming idols! I’m looking forward to joining guests of Speedo and celebrity swimmers in the relay heat of the Gala and also helping to raise awareness of the great work Hope for Youth does for cross-community organisations in Northern Ireland.”

Hope For Youth NI helps to fund cross-community groups in Northern Ireland that will enhance the lives of young people aged 11-18. Projects supported by Hope For Youth NI have included: Music Theatre For Youth NI, The Youth Lyric, Sport Changes Life – E Hoops, and the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children, amongst others. The charity has been making a difference to young people’s lives for over 40 years with a range of events including the biennial charity swim, now in its 27th year.

For more information on Hope For Youth NI and this year’s charity swim visit www.hopeforyouthni.com or follow on www.facebook.com/hopeforyouthni and @H4YNI