Sinn Fein’s Phil Flanagan gagged for Assembly comment

Phil Flanagan
Phil Flanagan

– 03 February 2015

Stormont’s first republican speaker has gagged a member of his own party from speaking in the Assembly.

Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan will not be allowed to speak in debates “until further notice” after yesterday’s ruling.

But Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin said he would review the ban if he apologised to MLAs.

In his first disciplinary decision since replacing the DUP’s William Hay, Mr McLaughlin said he had “no doubt” that Mr Flanagan had challenged the Speaker’s authority.

He was punished for remarks during a debate last week over whether the Union flag should be retained on Northern Ireland driving licences, when deputy Speaker Roy Beggs was in the chair.

Mr Flanagan had complained about other MLAs speaking in their seats as he spoke.

Mr Beggs then warned him if he made a point of order he would call the next speaker.

“This is excellent, nearly as good as Claire Byrne chairing a debate on RTÉ last night,” said Mr Flanaghan, a reference to the broadcaster’s new current affairs show.

Mr McLaughlin ruled Mr Flanagan had been “provocative”.

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