Belfast Telegraph

Allister banned over McGuinness dig

Hardline unionist Jim Allister has been hit with a temporary ban from speaking at the Stormont Assembly after teasing his rivals over Martin McGuinness's bid to become Irish president.

The leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice, and its sole Assembly representative, has been involved in a running battle with Speaker Willie Hay.

So when he rose to ask a question of First Minister Peter Robinson, but slipped in a jibe over Mr McGuinness, the North Antrim representative was told he would not be called to speak again "for some time".

Mr Robinson was briefing Assembly members on a recent US trade mission he carried out with deputy First Minister McGuinness, where the pair courted movie executives and Silicon Valley chiefs to invest in Northern Ireland.

By the time Mr McGuinness returned from the US, however, he had been named as Sinn Fein's preferred choice for the presidential race.

Mr Allister was called to ask a question on the trade mission, but said: "I was tempted to ask the First Minister was it something he said or did in the United States that caused his partner the Deputy First Minister to look for alternative employment?"

Mr Allister, whose party opposes the DUP sharing power with Sinn Fein, was called to order by the Speaker.

Mr Hay said: "The Member needs to learn a lesson that in this House there are protocols, standing orders and conventions in this House that relates to him as to any other member in this House."

After exchanges continued between Mr Hay and Mr Allister, the Speaker added: "I am now going to say to the Member directly, the Member will not be called in this House for some time, for any debate."

Mr Allister could be heard saying "this house is a disgrace", as the Speaker repeatedly asked him to remain silent.

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