DUP MPs back call for new National Lottery game

Royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997
Royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997

A DUP MP has defended his decision to back calls for a new National Lottery game aimed at raising funds for a £120m Royal yacht.

Jim Shannon has signed up to Tory MP Craig Mackinlay’s plans for a new ship to showcase Britain’s “unique soft power and influence around the globe”.

He and fellow DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr are among 50 parliamentarians to have co-signed a letter urging the Government to help “right the wrong” of the Labour’s decision in 1997 to decommission Britannia.

Their support for the plan appears to be in striking contrast with DUP founder Ian Paisley’s fierce opposition to gambling.

During a Commons debate in 1993 on the establishment of the National Lottery, Mr Paisley told MPs: “I am opposed to the principle of gambling. I do not believe that one should offer people something that they could not attain by exercising the proper work ethic.

“After wide experience in pastoral work for more than 40 years, I know something of the results of gambling.”

When asked by the News Letter if his support for a new National Lottery game contradicted the stance of his former party leader, Mr Shannon said: “I don’t see that there is any contradiction at all.

“I am supporting what I believe is a worthy cause. I am not here to tell people not to drink or gamble, as that is their choice. I am concerned when these things become an addiction.

“But there are many people who support the National Lottery not because they hope to win, but because they know they are contributing to good causes.

“The National Lottery has done a lot of good over the years by generating a lot of revenue for many different projects.

“Creating a new National Lottery to pay for this boat would allow people to feel they have a stake in it and I was happy to add my name to this list of signatures.”

The previous Royal yacht – HMY Britannia – was decommissioned 20 years ago, after more than four decades at sea.

The retired vessel is now permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal in Leith, Edinburgh, and has become a hugely popular tourist attraction.