The Hon. Ian Paisley, Jr., MLA (born 12 December 1966 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the Democratic Unionist Party and an author. He is the son of the party founder and former leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley.
In 1990, he married Fiona, and they have four children. He is a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.
He caused further controversy in May 2007, when in an interview with journalist Jason O'Toole in Hot Press magazine, he said "I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society. That doesn't mean to say that I hate them - I mean, I hate what they do". Dolores Kelly, the SDLP equality spokesman called on the Northern Ireland Assembly to censure Mr Paisley, saying "Ian Paisley is a junior minister in the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, the department which is charged with promoting equality and bringing forward the Single Equality Bill. Vulnerable groups who are potential victims of discrimination should be able to look to him for help, not attack". However, the DUP denied that Paisley Jr.'s comments were discriminatory.
Catchphrase host Roy Walker described him on a 2005 NI Celebrity Christmas Special of the show as "the poster boy for legalised abortion". A ruccous ensued where Paisley got the living daylights beaten out of him by "Clonous Cyclone" Barry McGuigan and 's lead singer who feared he might be next if he didn't back McGuigan up.
There was continued controversy over the summer of 2007 over the nature of the relationship between Mr Paisley and property developer Seymour Sweeney. On 11th September 2007 North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay, used parliamentary privilege to name Sweeney as a member of the DUP in the Assembly, and suggested that there was a strong "conflict of interest" between Mr Sweeney's membership of the DUP and a DUP Minister's decision to "be of a mind" to approve Mr Sweeney's application for a Visitor Centre at the Giant's Causeway. Questions were raised during an edition of Spotlight (NI) on 23rd September 2007 as to whether or not Mr Paisley had acted improperly when lobbying for Mr Sweeney regarding the Giant's Causeway visitor centre. It has also emerged that Mr Paisley bought one of a series of houses built in Bushmills by Mr Sweeney (at full market value) after a local councillor and the previous landowner had been told that planning permission would not be granted for a development of more than two houses on that site.
He made a public blunder in an interview in which, after having been asked of his relationship with Sweeney, he said "I know of him." This prompted several prominent media figures to parody the moment. Nuala McKeever, the actress known for her roles in local comedies such as "Give My Head Peace" and her one woman show "Out Of the Box", joked in her Ireland-based touring sketch-show, "It's Not all Rain and Potatoes", "Ian Paisley Jr. is developing a new throat-lozenge. It's called Fisherman's acquaintance. It has no sugar but it has a few sweeteners." This is a reference to the confectionery item, Fisherman's Friend.
The Sweeney controversy took yet another twist in January 2008 when Jim Allister MEP made public a letter from David Hanson to Mr Paisley listing 6 requests by Mr Paisley relating to constituency matters which Mr Allister alleged formed part of the negotiations for the St Andrews Agreement a number of which related to Mr Sweeney, continued funding for the North West 200 being also among the requests. Mr Paisley apologised for any embarrassment he had caused the party but maintained he had done nothing wrong.
There was further controversy in February 2008 following scrutiny on the employment of family members by politicians after the Derek Conway scandal when it emerged that Mr Paisley was on his father's payroll as a researcher in the constituency of North Antrim in addition to his roles as an MLA and a Junior Minister
Paisley resigned his Junior Minister position on 18 February 2008
Further controversy occurred in August 2008 when Paisley, speaking after a number of attacks on the PSNI said that dissident republicans should be "shot on sight."