Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Sinn Fein man who called UUP's Tom Elliott a clampit is reported to Standards Commissioner

Tom Elliott of the UUP

A SINN Fein MLA is in trouble again after he insulted an Ulster Unionist Assembly member by calling him a 'clampit' on Twitter.

Phil Flanagan used the derogatory term – which means hillbilly – to describe Tom Elliott after the UUP man issued a statement in the wake of the flags row at Belfast City Hall last year.

It is the second time a complaint against Mr Flanagan's use of Twitter has been lodged recently – he was forced into a grovelling apology the last time for sharing a vulgar joke about the Duchess of Cambridge.

Now, Mr Elliott  has reported Mr Flanagan to the Northern Ireland Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain once more – although the former UUP leader may have the last laugh.

The term 'clampit' is believed to originate with the Clampett family, of Beverly Hillbillies fame – spelt differently, so the insult may not be as clever as first thought.

And calling an Orangeman a hillbilly might not even be the best way to annoy him.

Many believe 'hillbilly' was coined to describe the Protestant Ulster Scots who settled in the Appalachian hills of the US in the 18th century. And it's believed by some that the 'billy' is actually a reference to King William of Orange.

But an offended Mr Elliott still believes his fellow Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA may have breached the Assembly's Code of Conduct for using "demeaning language" when he tweeted: "I'm not sure who the biggest clampit is. The current leader of the UUP or his predecessor."

While Mr Bain has told this newspaper that all admissible complaints he receives are investigated "thoroughly" he would not comment on the two complaints which have been lodged against Mr Flanagan.

"The law prohibits me from giving any information on any complaint that has been received," he said.

Responding to the controversy, Mr Flanagan said last night: "The referral of a trivial and flippant tweet from a year ago by Tom Elliott to an Assembly Commissioner will be seen for what it is, an attempt to secure a cheap headline."

FACTFILE

A 'Clampett' is a derogatory description of someone considered a half-wit or redneck. The insult is derived from the rags to richess tory of the Beverly Hillbillies, who brought the unsophisticated – but much-loved – Clampett family to American TV screens back in the 60s and early 70s.

The backwoods family struck oil and moved into a Beverly Hills mansion – but brought their old-fashion, backward, hillbilly ways with them. The show was a massive hit, and re-runs are still being shown.

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