Paisley finger pointed in wrong direction…

DESPITE what he said previously about possession being nine-tenths of the law, Ian Paisley Jr still doesn’t legally own the house he claims to have bought off controversial property developer Seymour Sweeney (after lobbying for it to be built – and there’s plenty more to come on the extent of Mr Paisley’s lobbying for Mr Sweeney). After describing it as “an administrative hiccup in Land Registry“, Mr Paisley’s cottage still seems to be registered in Mr Sweeney’s wife’s name. The Land Registry seems to think the fault is Mr Paisley’s, as the application “cannot be processed due to the fact that all the necessary documents are not attached”. The agency added: “This particular application has now been scrutinised and same is incomplete and will be returned to the lodging solicitor.” UPDATE: David Gordon reveals the sustained lobbying by Mr Paisley for the Sweeney Causeway centre, which seems to go somewhat beyond the call of duty to a constituent to me.To clear up any confusion about ownership on Mr Paisley’s part, LRNI’s statement said:

“Legal ownership rests with the person who is registered as owner on the Land Register. This is the only person who is able to legally deal with the lands – to sell, alter the property, mortgage or charge the property, carry out any works on same.

“Where purchase monies and keys have been exchanged the purchaser will have an equitable interest in the property, but legal ownership will not pass until registration has been effected.”

Land Registry is an agency of the Department of Finance, which is, of course, run by Mr Paisley’s DUP colleague, Peter Robinson.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has accused the DUP-controlled Department of the Environment’s Planning Service of “using the cloak of procedure” to avoid a freedom of information (FoI) request to publish documents relating to the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre discussions.

The News Letter reported:

The MEP asked to see the report, all other departmental documentation, on the Sweeney application, and any correspondence between Department of Enterprise Minister Nigel Dodds and Minister Foster on the future of the visitors’ centre (as Mr Dodds, also on September 10, withdrew support for a publicly backed venture).

Planning Service accepted “strong public interest” in the matter and the need for transparency and accountability, with regard to decisions by the DoE and minister.

But it also noted there had not been a final decision yet.

It said: “As regards the report from the Planning Service to the minister, I wish to advise you this is an internal document which, in our opinion, falls within the terms of the exception under regulation 12 (4) (e) of the Regulations which states that – ‘a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that the request involves the disclosure of internal communications’.”

The letter went on to say: “It is essential that the minister has the time and space required to fully consider all the issues and advice provided before reaching a fully- formed view on the issue at hand. The department believes that this process would be substantially prejudiced by disclosure of advice and guidance provided to the minister prior to a decision being taken.

“The department is therefore of the opinion that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this time.”

Mr Nicholson said this raised more serious questions.

These included:

– DoE/Planning Service say the minister has not yet taken a final decision on the application. Why then did the minister disclose that she was of a mind to approve Seymour Sweeney’s application?

– If the DoE Minister has not made her mind up – why then did Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds, on the very same day as the DoE Minister made her announcement, withdraw DETI support for the DETI/NI Tourist Board plans for a visitors’ centre at the Giant’s Causeway?

– DoE has said it does not hold any correspondence between the DoE and the DETI Minister on the issue, yet both ministers made announcements on the visitors’ centre almost simultaneously in the Assembly, on the same day.

– Who are the DOE to decide what the public interest is? Just what are the department hiding?

Commenting further, Mr Nicholson said: “The department is hiding behind the cloak of procedure, refused to disclose the information I requested. In light of what has transpired in recent weeks I find this decision completely bizarre.”

  • USA

    Great picture of junior.
    Looks like he’s been out drinking all night and ended up at a gay bar.

  • snakebrain

    And he’s starting to hazily recall what happened earlier in the evening…

    Seriously, I don’t think this’ll be the final straw in this one. Suspicious and irregular though it looks, it doesn’t prove anything. Solicitors mess up all the time, and I doubt IPJ’s will drop him in the soup here.

    I don’t quite understand though why he hasn’t acted to protect his reputation. He could have shown proof of purchase or ongoing mortgage payments to an independent solicitor or other person of good standing and ended all the speculation long ago. His privacy wouldn’t even be particularly intruded upon if he did it that way.

    Of course, he could argue he doesn’t have to prove anything as he hasn’t done anything wrong, but I’d have thought at this stage that the whole affair is damaging his reputation so much that he’d want to clear up all doubt once and for all. If it all is above board of course.

    The other part of that post that intrigues me is that “there’s plenty more to come on the extent of Mr Paisley’s lobbying for Mr Sweeney.” Don’t be coy Gonzo. What have you got? Or are you enjoying the sweet sensation of letting him run on the end of your line for a little longer?

  • BOM

    Snakebrain Paisley’s wife showed all the proof regarding his mortgage etc on the Nolan Show last week.

    Land Registry does take a while to sort but it seems in this case it is the Solicitor at fault. This happens all the time and many people are not registered as the land owner for quite some time after they purchase a property.

    Despite this there are alot of rumours and strange goings on with many developers around North Antrim. A bit of sculldudgery (not sure if that is spelt right) has been going on and it is rumoured that various sites have been passed on between developers as a smokescreen just in case the “Directors” are found out! All a bit strange and it certainly would all add fuel to the fire if it all came out!?

  • snakebrain

    Well I suppose Nolan just about qualifies as a person of good standing…

  • darth rumsfeld

    the land registry is what it’s name implies-a register of owners. I.e. it does not prove ownership per se, though naturally most people accept it as the best standard of proof. There are probably many other bits of paper proving ownership- the contract for one

    I know of someone who has had papers in the registry for 6 years and no land certificate, though the deal is long done, the house occupied, the money handed over. He owns the house.
    I also know of many orange halls with absolutely no title deeds- the ground was given by a local farmer 100 years ago or whatever, and noone ever sorted out title. Of course the lodge owns their hall. Not to mention the thousands of cases of squatters’ title never registered.

    Whatever issues there may be about this house, the state of its progress in the land registry is definitely not one of them, and the hanging of so much of the Spotlight programme on it was unwise

  • darth rumsfeld

    …oh, and if you’re the equitable owner, you’re still the owner- though I mightn’t be keen to buy from you.

    And the land registry statement is just wrong when it claims you cannot legally carry out work to or alter unregistered property- or indeed mortgage it- the concept of an equitable mortgage, by handing over title deeds to a lender, is centuries old.

  • Rory

    Shades of Dick Nixon here. I can just envisage the above photograph of the Boy Wonder with the strapline,

    “Would you buy a used house from this man?”

  • snakebrain

    He looks a bit like that Shoukri guy in that pic..

  • Nevin

    “Don’t be coy Gonzo. What have you got?”

    Snakebrain, Bonar Law has been struggling with this one and fair_deal may not have spotted it:

    “Amused, the Paisleys won’t be amused when they read the yarn about Paisley snr failed to spot the bathroom suite in the piggery.”

    If you click on First Minister you’ll see two familiar faces of the movers and shakers. The transfer of ownership of the railway company might be worth a look.

    Then there’s the matter of the drift net licence: affidavits, crew lists and names of licenceholders and boats since 2000.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    See the update.

  • snakebrain

    Oh dear, I really do think he’s getting shafted in the ass well and truly this time.

    Have fun boys…. 🙂

  • mmmmmmm

    snakebrain

    There is alot of nonsense posted on slugger some masquerading as an opinion but most based mostly on stupidity and bigotry however your post takes the biscuit! – surely in no one’s twisted imagination can Nolan be considered a ‘person of good standing’

    🙂

  • snakebrain

    Off the top of my head, that’s about 8 confirmed sightings of the two of them together. Bit much to say you just know of him at that stage.

    I’ve had girlfriends I’ve spent less time with than that.

  • eranu

    is it just me, or has he been to the same hair dresser as michael stone? 😀

  • mmmmmmm

    In any other democracy in the world he would resign – well actually he never would have made it this far he would have had to have resigned about half a dozen times already, but this one is unreal…….in any other place in the world he would have to fall on his sword rather that screaming for his daddy for help.

  • snakebrain

    Well if it comes down to that, I’m sure he can always get a job as full-time lobbyist for Seymour Sweeney.

    Oh, hang on a minute, he already does that……

  • snakebrain

    mmmmmmmmmm

    Nah, Nolan’s ok. I’ve had pints with him half a dozen times, I’m godfather to his children and I witnessed his will.

    But I can’t really say I know him.

    I just know of him really 🙂

  • steve48

    The David Gordon piece is interesting but raises the question, if all the lobbying and interference had got nowhere over so long what was it that made Arlene and Nigel reverse the Governments position given that neither talked to each other nor to anyone else about the issue. A coincidence of timing doesn’t quite cover it and I for for one don’t believe in telepathy (though Baby Doc appears capable of morphing into Papa Doc when writing letters)

  • Nevin

    As you can see from #9, the Paisleys and Sweeney have been a triple act since at least 1999. The Paisleys are fond of publicity so the paper trail will be very extensive.

  • Nevin

    Steve48, we’re now in a new dispensation. The Chuckle Brothers more or less run the show and one of them is Dodds and Foster’s party boss; the other hasn’t spoken.

  • Thomas Neil

    We couldn’t shame Paisley into doing the right thing 3 decades ago with his fire and brimstone routine just to get power and forget his rightiousness act now so let’s hope the Inland Revenue et al will do a better job.

  • Thomas Neil

    I’m trying to think up of some Peter Mandelson and Paisley jokes about home loans etc. Can anyone help me out? LOL

  • noel adams

    If the complaint to HOC standards is upheld will that make junior the first persion found against BEFORE becoming an MP.

  • snakebrain

    Don’t know if it’s worth anything but:

    1) Sweeney submitted an objection to the Planning Service, marked “RECEIVED 5 JUL 2005”

    “The objection is to the draft plan’s policies for protection of the Giant’s Causeway and its setting. The distinctive landscape setting and the supportive landscape setting are excessively large and the policies for development unnecessarily restrictive.”

    And, from http://www.ipjr.net, 5 Aug 2005

    “I have been made privy to the Tourist Board’s submission. It is clear from that submission that the Northern Area Plan team did not consult the Tourist Board so much so that they have had to launch a scathing objection to several principles contained in the Draft Plan. They object for example to the Giants Causeway distinctive landscape and setting because of its “prescriptive nature”. It is one thing to ensure that the Draft Northern Area Plan is not subjected to pressure from individuals but for the plan to ignore and fail to consult other major sections of the government is a scandal.”

    I just wonder whether the Tourist Board said any such thing, given that the choice of words is so similar to Sweeneys. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother, but he has form for doing this on the Unesco thing.

    Going to make a phone call or two.

    Also amusing about the plan coming under pressure from individuals..

  • BonarLaw

    Noel Adams

    I may be struggling (cheers Nevin!) but the one thing I can say with any certainty is thaty Jnr will not be the next MP for North Antrim. His total lack of candour in this matter has seen to that.

  • BonarLaw

    BTW would some one, anyone, please put the clocks here to GMT- every time I post I think I’m late. I’ve heard of Sandringham time but Slugger time?

  • Nevin

    Snakebrain, here’s another document from 15 June 2005 which I linked to previously but might now be worth further study.

    re. Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre:

    “We believe that tourism can only succeed where the experts are involved and that most certainly includes the private sector. Without their expertise tourism will not grow significantly.”

    And most certainly the private developer involved was none other than …

  • Nevin

    Bonar, I’ve got lots of patience and I’m more than happy to assist you in your ‘struggle’ 🙂

    Remember that the Paisleys/Sweeney ‘triple-lock’ has been in place for at least eight years.

    We need to be a little cautious where we ‘put our money’ as some have more money we do. Think of the fate of Christine Alexander and the abject failure of other politicians to come to her aid.

  • nmc

    IPJ should be hounded over his liberal attitude toward honesty, it’s just a shame that the people in the best position to do it (the one’s we elected) have been neutered by power.

    It’s interesting to see this develop as the driving force behind the stories development has been generated by the voters, who smell a rat but see our elected reps sitting on their hands whistling as though there were nothing going on.

    Just another example (IMHO) of how our government is more of an illusion than anything else. It’s like therapy for sectarian people. Forcing them to sit round smiling and agreeing with one another.

  • Nevin

    nmc, there’s also the matter of the payment of debt. Was Robinson Interiors the only company that struggled to get money owed? It seems to me that Foster needed to look at the developer as well as the development(s).

  • Mick Hall

    “Mr Paisley’s cottage”
    Blimey Gonzo, some cottage.

    I have to admit it can be enjoyable when a politician finds himself in a hole yet refuses to stop digging.
    We now know why the old man was sweet talking Martin McG.

  • Nevin

    MH, the in-laws have a ‘cottage‘ at the other end of the same block.

  • Nevin

    Bonar and MH, it’s interesting to reflect on this piece from Junior’s website:

    “In 2003 when he was re-elected the editor of the Ballymena Times wrote

    “In the past Ian Paisley Jnr has been the butt of unmerited scorn from his political opponents. He was ‘Daddy’s boy’ who was riding on his father’s legendary broad back, they sniped. He was a ’blow in’ who would be here for elections and little else, they jibed.

    The election smashed the first of these myths conclusively. It should be noted that IPJ’s personal first preference vote (albeit under a hugely successful vote management strategy) soared by an amazing 8.9% on his last election campaign.

    “Even the most bitter election opponent of the DUP will have to recognise that such a performance is not just a reflection of party popularity.

    “If truth be told, Ian Junior’s local work on the ground not only snuffed out the ‘blow in’ label, it also laid the foundation for his outstanding result in the elections. In short he did the work, he shook the hands and he reaped the results.

    “He could have sat back and let the party ticket send him to Stormont in economy class. Instead he invested heavily with his time in North Antrim and he must now be regarded as very much a regular in the first class compartment of the DUP locomotive.”

    The owl and the pussycats are all at sea.

  • ulsterfan

    There appears to be so much opposition to any private development on or close to the Causeway that these plans must surely be rejected.
    As I have said on previous occasions let us now be positive and confident that the visitors centre be re built on the original site.
    Should we accept the plans already submitted following the international competition or start again.
    The centre must be built to the worlds highest standards and kept in public ownership.
    There are two battles to fight
    1 prevent private ownership
    2 organise public development of the site.
    There is a danger we could become so obsessed with 1 that we forget no.2.

  • snakebrain

    ulsterfan

    I don’t know that anybody objects to private ownership per se.

    What’s being objected to is blatant cronyism, deliberate lies and misrepresentation from an elected representative, and the risk of an entirely inappropriate facility being constructed as a favour to a friend of the Paisleys.

    How Papa is managing to stay out of the flak escapes me. Surely as First Minister he has a duty to act with integrity, and to uphold the good name of the Assembly by not allowing it to become associated with lies and intrigue. He was side by side with Jr at quite a few of the meetings and fishing trips in question. Surely he deserves some share of the responsibility for this mess.

    Instead we see that blood is thicker than water and he is standing strong with his inept son and allowing the Assembly to become the venue of corruption and damaging the trust that we, as the electorate, are forced to place in it.

    But perhaps the people of NI, sadly, just don’t expect any better of their First Minister and Cabinet…

    I’ll tell you one thing though. I wouldn’t like to be Jr when the old man does his final line dance off this mortal coil. I’d say the knives are already being sharpened for that day, and Jr won’t last 5 mins after it. End of a worthless career…

  • nmc

    allowing the Assembly to become the venue of corruption and damaging the trust that we, as the electorate, are forced to place in it.

    To be honest I don’t understand how anyone could place an iota of trust in the man (Senior that is). How do you get from never, never, never! to pulling rabbit ears on MMG within a year.

    The man has destroyed every Unionist that came before him saying that their lundyism would see an end to the union, only to decide to do what he was complaining others had done in the past.

    This is not to say that the man is not worthy of respect as a politician and an orator, and I say that as a Republican. I should say that I detest the man and feel he is responsible for immeasurable grief, but the man has skills. Unlike Junior who is none of the above, again IMHO.

  • snakebrain

    nmc

    I entirely agree. I was just trying to point out the discrepancy between what he is and what a FM should be…

  • I Wonder

    Blood and water, I think.

  • ulsterfan

    There are some occasions when I believe private development, is wrong and this is one of them.
    The Causeway is unique and has the potential of providing great benefit to our Tourist Industry.
    It makes no difference to me who that developer is but on a matter of principle I strongly feel the the site should be under the control of the State.
    The Causeway should remain in public ownership and those in charge held accountable for their stewardship.
    Lets hear from National Trust and Ballycastle Council who presumably have an interest.

  • BonarLaw

    ulsterfan

    perhaps you have come late to this but:

    1. The Causeway is not controlled by the state, the stones are owned by the National Trust

    2. There is no Ballycastle Council

  • ulsterfan

    Bonar Law

    For Ballycastle read Moyle
    There is no threat to the ownership of the “Stones” as you describe them.
    The NT may not have the power to carry out construction work but they oppose a lot of proposals put forward by others.
    Moyle council has some jurisdiction over the land which was part of the original site.
    My main argument still stands ——- lets get on with the work and hold our MLAs to account!

  • Nevin

    Committee on Standards and Privileges

    The Committee will consider any matter relating to the conduct of Members, including specific complaints in relation to alleged breaches in any code of conduct to which the Assembly has agreed and which have been drawn to the Committee’s attention; and to recommend any modifications to such code of conduct as may from time to time appear to be necessary.

    REVIEW OF THE MEMBERS’ CODE OF CONDUCT

  • ultonian

    The key issue remains, in any normal democracy Ian Paisley jnr would have resigned by now. As perception is 9/10 of reality, regardless of the facts, most people believe something is not right in the land we call causeway. Sadly in our “democracy” – (without any real opposition to hound him) the only way jnr will go is if the first minister sacks him – yeah and his da is going to do that!

    Decency calls for a resignation, in fact the integrity of the Government calls for a resignation but we won’t get one. Arrogance and no sense of public duty will see Ian Paisley jnr through.

  • BonarLaw

    ultonian

    wong, wrong, wrong!

    In any normal democracy Jnr would have been forced out over his gay bashing.

  • USA

    NMC,
    Our assembly “force them to sit around smiling and agree with each other, it’s like therapy for sectarian people”
    Brilliant.

  • USA

    Eranu,
    lol,,,,
    It is a Michael Stone “do” isn’t it.

  • Sean

    Did i see in the newspapers where Sweeney tried to convince the direct minister to expropriate the council land so he could use it for his private development

  • Nevin

    Here’s the relevant quote from the Belfast Telegraph link, Sean:

    “Mr Paisley met another direct rule Minister, Barry Gardiner, in November 2004.

    He argued on this occasion against plans being developed for a publicly-owned visitors’ centre, involving the two key stakeholders at the Causeway – the National Trust and Moyle District Council.

    The thrust of his argument was that “experts” from the private sector should be involved.

    The Deti record of the meeting states: “Ian Paisley suggested that the project could move forward without the stakeholders as the access to the ‘Stones’ was a right of way and that the land for the facilities could be vested.”

    It adds: “He also stated his belief that now was the optimum time to get new facilities in place, as a return to devolution would attract too many ‘new players’ to the project.”

    The Deti account further states that Mr Paisley “presented pictures of a proposal for new facilities by Seaport Investments Ltd suggesting that the new facilities could be built on their and vested MDC [Moyle District Council] land”.

    Could this and other lobbying by the Paisleys explain why Cllr McAllister, a close associate of Sweeney and the Paisleys, is still a DUP member in good standing?

    Did Minister Dodds know of these interventions in DETI affairs and, if not, why not? Do these interventions also explain the alleged delays in the preparation of the public proposal? When was Ciaran McGarrity, Chief Executive, Giant’s Causeway Visitor’s Centre Ltd., transferred to work on other projects? Minister Foster had visited the Causeway on July 18, 2007, to view the proposed development. I understand she was accompanied by Tom Clarke (jpg – on right), DOE’s strategic projects planning manager. Did she meet McAllister or any other members of the ‘Sweeney Lobbying Squad’?

  • In any normal democracy Jnr would have been forced out over his gay bashing.

    Which reminds me (slightly off topic, sorry), he’s in the running for the prestigious Stonewall Bigot of the Year Award….

    http://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/current_releases/1923.asp

    Win it for Ulster Ian!

  • nmc

    On a lighter note…

    http://www.portadownnews.com/19Aug03.htm

    Check out half way down on the left.

  • qubol

    In any normal democracy Jnr would have been forced out….

    That reminds me of Brian Feeneys article last week about how people keep mistakenly refering to our democracy as though it were abnormal – its very normal in fact its what we voted for in the agreement.

  • snakebrain

    There’s a debate there on whether an abnormal society can return a normal assembly. I’d say our (limited) democracy is pretty abnormal. Whether we voted for it or not is irrelevant. All those extra systems and checks in place to make sure it doesn’t fall to bits inside a week are not the hallmarks of a normally functioning democracy.

  • Skintown Lad

    the fact that IPJ hasn’t had his solicitor release a statement to clarify ownership of the house speaks volumes i’m afraid.

  • snakebrain

    Apparently his wife told Nolan it was all above board, so that’s ok then…

  • Sean

    What kind of backwards institutions do you have there?

    In Canada if you buy a piece of property the lawyers hold the money in trust and it is not distributed until such time as the title has been transfered and the bank has its claim to the title arranged with the land titles office.

    Simply put if he was trying this in Canada he would be a bald faced liar but how do they work it there?

  • Nevin

    Kerb crawlers in South Belfast – and now ‘kerb’ developers!!

    “Environment Minister Arlene Foster said she recognised the “public concern on this matter” …”

    Beware, garden grabbers are about. That’s right, its garden not granny!!

  • pith

    Sean,

    Canada must be great. Except for your blog sites obviously.

  • Sean

    it is but its politics are about as interesting as watching the kettle boil

    We have a modern mature democracy where people go to great lengths to tell you how much different they are from their the other guy while in reality the difference is infinitesimal

    I just think its strange that you apparently can get a mortgage on a house you dont have clear title to. And that judging by the amount of remarks on here, its not exactly a unique problem. In Canada the bank would do a title search before it would agree to lend you the money and then the money all gets transfered under trust to ensure that no one absconded with funds. Infact if you were the seller any and all title claims would have to be settled before the vendor recieved the remaining balance. And banks have been known to do title searches during the life of the mortgage to ensure that no other liens or claims have been filed against it. The intial banks mortgage tanks precedence over any sundry claims except for the municipal taxes which take precedence over everything

    or thats my understanding atleast

  • veritas

    just because you have a bank statement showing a mortgage payment each month is evidence that you have a mortgage on a house somewhere,but where?

  • Thomas Neil

    In Ref to #6 above and kerb developers. Aren’t we lucky the Minister of Finance sold of his garden to developers before his colleague passed the legislation – no doubt all others members of the DUP will be following suit now.