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Allister Responds to Hay’s Gagging Order

27 September 2011

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:


“In the Stormont Assembly you can be a convicted terrorist, a bomber, a killer, and have unhindered speaking rights, but dare to challenge the cosy political consensus and it seems you will be denied even the right to speak.


"I was astounded that having been called to speak I was denied the right to ask my question because I introduced my remarks with some levity, which inexplicably offended the political establishment. Sinn Fein/IRA members are permitted to ramble in Irish before every sentence they utter in the chamber and show total disregard for even the name of Northern Ireland but if a Traditional Unionist makes a joke about McGuinness he is slapped down right away. I regard this attempt to gag me as a slight and attack upon the people of North Antrim who sent me here.


"I seek no favours, but I do expect fair play. And, on the subject of speaking rights in debates I expect Standing Order 17 (5) to be observed when it requires that, "The Speaker shall determine the order of speaking and the number of speakers in any debate having due regard to the balance of opinion on the matter..." It was the ignoring of this requirement last week, in the debate on the absence of a Programme for Government, when only members of Executive parties were called, which sparked my legitimate Point of Order. It has not been adequately answered and I stand over the point made as illustrative of the farce whereby a debate can be held on a Programme for Government with all opposition voices excluded. Such conduct says more about Stormont than it does about me. How any Assembly treats its minority is a measure of its worth. On today's politburo performance, Stormont has a long way to travel."

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NI politics