Ban on Allister speaking in Assembly

The North Antrim MLA was punished for clashing with UUP Deputy Speaker Roy Beggs last week.

During a debate on the North South Ministerial Council, Mr Allister tried to ask deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness whether alleged non-cooperation by Gardaí over the pending Kingsmills inquest had been brought up.

However, Mr Beggs tried to prevent him from making the query as he said it did not relate to Mr McGuinness’s statement.

Mr Allister did not retake his seat or stop making his point despite a number of requests from Mr Beggs. He later questioned the consistency with which the Deputy Speaker had chaired that item of business.

On Tuesday, Sinn Féin principal Deputy Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin said the TUV leader’s behaviour toward Mr Beggs during the exchange had been among the worst the Assembly had witnessed.

“I know that the Member will try to spin this, but let me be clear: this is all about his behaviour towards the Chair and towards Deputy Speaker Beggs last week. It was amongst the worst that we have seen in the Assembly,” he said.

Mr Allister then tried to interrupt Mr McLaughlin to make a point but was told unless he wanted to make an apology he was not allowed to continue.

Mr Allister is restricted from speaking until 10 November.

In a statement, he said he has been “gagged…for daring to seek explanation of something crying out for such explanation”.

“This is a gross and disproportionate infringement of the rights of those who elected me, but unsurprising for a chamber which has difficulty in coming to terms with anyone who dares to ask hard questions,” Mr Allister commented.

“By such punitive and selective action this morning the Sinn Fein Deputy Speaker, smarting from his rejection yesterday, has further diminished the Stormont Assembly as a credible institution.

“The powers that be may think they have again silenced the voice of TUV within the chamber, but thankfully they cannot silence me outside the chamber, or the people at the ballot box.”

Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
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