N. Ireland Politics

Andy Allen: Wheelchair-using MLA in 'stand up' row with Jonathan Bell

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Media captionUUP MLA Andy Allen is a former soldier who lost both his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan

Stormont's only wheelchair-using MLA has expressed offence after an-ex DUP minister said he was going to "stand up" for people in social housing need.

UUP MLA Andy Allen and the DUP's Jonathan Bell were involved in an angry exchange during an assembly debate.

At one point Mr Allen asked Mr Bell, a former enterprise minister, to take the remarks back.

The row began when Mr Bell said: "I'm going to stand up for people in social housing, need not sell them short."

Mr Allen, who represents East Belfast, shouted his objection "as somebody who cannot get up and stand up, I take utter offence at those remarks.

"I would ask you to take them back."

Mr Bell replied: "The point I am making is I am standing up, as you well know, for people in social housing need.

"That was the only meaning I had in that, and I will continue to stand up for people in social housing need."

Image caption Jonathan Bell said his own family had significant experience of disability

Later, Mr Bell said he came from "a family with significant disability within it" and wanted to see more wheelchair-accessible social housing

Mr Allen said he was raised in social housing and would not take any lectures from Mr Bell, or any other MLAs, about the needs of social housing or about "championing" the needs of people with disabilities.

"I think I full well understand the needs of people with disabilities," he added.

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