Wales politics

Presiding Officer Elin Jones warns Senedd over 'personal attacks'

Elin Jones
Image caption Elin Jones said there have been recent exchanges in the Senedd which have been "unfitting and unpleasant"

AMs - including ministers - have been warned not to shout insults and make personal attacks in the assembly by the institution's presiding officer.

Elin Jones said there have been recent exchanges in the Senedd which have been "unfitting and unpleasant".

Ms Jones did not name specific incidents, but Plaid Cymru AM Neil McEvoy said ministers have been heckling him "as a matter of course".

The Welsh Government has been asked for comment.

Ms Jones told AMs at the start of the assembly's business on Wednesday that there "have been exchanges that have been both unfitting and unpleasant".

"I have said recently that I wish to encourage democratic debate that is rigorous and robust, however members should be able to disagree on issues without resorting to personal insults," she said.

"I expect members to show proper respect for the assembly and proper courtesy at all times to other members. This applies to us all including ministers.

"Proper scrutiny should not be met with personal attacks," she said, adding she wanted "no more heckling of members as soon as they get to their feet, no more shouting of insults from a sedentary position and no more attacks on character".

Image caption Neil McEvoy said having ministers shout at him demeaned the positions they occupy

During plenary on Tuesday Mr McEvoy said Plaid would demand the assembly revoke's Cardiff's local development plan - which includes proposals for new homes.

First minister Carwyn Jones called the demand "legal nonsense" and said Mr McEvoy "doesn't like incomers much, does he?"

He added: "It's one of the things that we do notice about him. He doesn't like people coming to live in Cardiff. Perhaps he wants to consider which party he should be a member of, but that's a matter for him."

That led to Mr McEvoy later, in a point of order, to tell the chamber that Mr Jones had suggested that he was "somehow anti-immigration".

But after an interruption, presiding officer told the chamber she did not need "advice" from ministers on what was a point of order or not.

Plaid AM Neil McEvoy said: "The presiding officer specifically mentioned ministers, who have started heckling me as a matter of course.

"In some ways having several ministers shouting at me at the same time is a huge political compliment, it does however demean the positions they occupy.

"We expect better from ministers and I'm glad that was said today."

Mr McEvoy is currently facing a tribunal over allegations he brought Cardiff council into disrepute in his role as a local councillor.

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