Northern Ireland

Sammy Wilson: DUP block censure motion over 'thug' jibe

Sammy Wilson
Image caption Sammy Wilson was reported to the Stormont standards commissioner after he called TUV leader Jim Allister a "thug" during a committee hearing

The DUP have blocked a censure motion against Sammy Wilson in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Its standards commissioner found Mr Wilson breached the code of conduct by calling TUV leader Jim Allister a thug.

At Stormont on Tuesday evening, 37 MLAs voted to sanction Mr Wilson and 33 supported him.

But the motion was defeated because the DUP tabled a petition of concern meaning cross-community support was required.

Mr Wilson said he would not apologise.

He told MLAs: "I believe there is an important issue at stake here.

"And that is whether or not we, as an assembly, tolerate the interference in the freedom of speech in this assembly by a bureaucrat who wishes to impose his standards on us, rather than allow the freedom of expression which there should be in any debating chamber."

He said he thought his use of the word "thug" was appropriate.

The original incident happened during a session of the social development committee in October.

The committee was holding an inquiry into allegations of political interference in the Housing Executive.

Mr Wilson objected to Mr Allister's questioning of DUP Special Advisor Stephen Brimstone, accusing Mr Allister of "bullying" and describing him as a "thug."

The assembly's commissioner for standards and privileges, Douglas Bain, found that the use of "thug" by Mr Wilson had breached the MLAs' code of conduct.

Three other charges against him arising out of the incident were not upheld.

The Standards and Privileges Committee brought the motion to censure Mr Wilson.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly brought the complaint against the East Antrim MLA.

"Anyone who observed the social development committee's proceedings on the day in which this incident occurred could not but be appalled at the behaviour of Mr Wilson and some of his colleagues in relation to the disruption caused to the work of the committee," she said.

Mr Allister told MLAs that he did not "quibble at all with the rough and tumble of politics".

"I'm probably one who gives as good as he gets. But when a remark is made which conveys that I am of criminal and violent tendency then I do object," he said.

DUP MLAs Gregory Campbell, Jimmy Spratt and Tom Buchanan spoke in favour of Mr Wilson.


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