Belfast Telegraph

Campbell censured by Speaker again

A DUP Assembly member who has derided the use of the Irish language at Stormont has again been censured by the Speaker.

Gregory Campbell was banned from speaking in the chamber for two days after he failed to apologise for his latest actions.

The East Londonderry MP and MLA was rebuked by Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin today for yawning loudly when Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane was addressing the chamber in Irish last week.

"Having reviewed the official report and video footage, it is clear to me that Mr Campbell's behaviour was blatantly disrespectful and contrary to the standards of courtesy, good temper and moderation that are expected in debate in the House," he said.

"Such schoolboy behaviour falls well short of how business should be conducted in a mature, elected legislature. I have to warn Mr Campbell that I will not let juvenile and disrespectful behaviour like that continue."

Mr McLaughlin appeared prepared to limit the reprimand to a warning but he increased it to a speaking ban when Mr Campbell got to his feet to question him. Mr McLaughlin said he would only let Mr Campbell speak if he was going to apologise for his conduct.

When he refused to say sorry and continued to speak, Mr McLaughlin said: "The Member has continued to be disrespectful and discourteous and his conduct is clearly in breach of Standing Order 1(2). I will, therefore, not be calling him to speak for the rest of today or tomorrow."

Last year Mr Campbell angered Sinn Fein members when he began an Assembly address with "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer", in imitation of the Irish sentence "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which translates as "thank you, Speaker". He was banned from addressing the Assembly for a day for failing to apologise.

Mr Campbell later branded Mrs Ruane's yawning complaint "absurd".

"An attempt is being made to censor me for yawning," he said. "The Speaker has every right to make decisions regarding order in the Chamber, however if he is going to enforce when and how people yawn, his workload will increase significantly.

"Given the allegations about Sinn Fein's lack of leadership when it comes to exposing murder and sexual abuse, it is strange that her main concern is my yawning. This shows where Sinn Fein's priorities really lie."

Mr Campbell said he would not be silenced.

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