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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 13:10 GMT
Call for Paisley land deal probe
Ian Paisley Jnr, Seymour Sweeney and Ian Paisley
The 50m deal involved the developer Seymour Sweeney
An SDLP MLA has asked the Assembly's Standards and Privileges Committee to investigate the role of the DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr in a 50m land deal.

The deal involved the developer Seymour Sweeney.

Declan O'Loan said it was inappropriate for Mr Paisley to seek to bargain down the price of 100 acres of government land at Ballee, County Antrim.

Mr Paisley said the SDLP was conducting a "witchhunt" against him and described it as "pathetic".

"I've absolutely no difficulty with any constituency issue I've ever been involved in being investigated by anyone, at any time," Mr Paisley said.

He said he had not tried to argue down the price of the land but had tried to get the matter resolved in 2003, rather than allowing it to become protracted.

The land outside Ballymena was being sold by the Department of Social Development.

Mr O'Loan has highlighted that it was in the interest of the executive, of which Mr Paisley is a junior minister, to make as much money as they could from the multi-million pound deal.

Now he wants both the Assembly's Standards Committee and the Office of First and Deputy First Minister to investigate the matter.

"I've been careful not to criticise Ian Paisley Jnr in relation to the Giant's Causeway and Seymour Sweeney because I believe a member is perfectly entitled to represent the interests of a constituent," he said.

"The extent to which they do that can be judged by the electorate, but it is quite a different matter, it is utterly different in kind when someone operates as a minister.

"And the day that Ian Paisley Jnr became a minister I believe that he should have severed his connection absolutely with this issue."

Ian Paisley Jnr has told the BBC he became involved in the deal after being approached by constituents who originally owned the land at Ballee.

Paisley 'lobbied for land deal'
06 Dec 07 |  Northern Ireland
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19 Sep 07 |  Northern Ireland
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