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Tie-less Sinn Fein MLA gets it in the neck from Speaker

By Noel McAdam

Published 30/09/2015

Without: Phil Flanagan
Without: Phil Flanagan
With: Phil Flanagan

A Sinn Fein MLA is facing a dressing down after failing to wear a tie in the Assembly.

Phil Flanagan was accused of having a brass neck after appearing open-necked during a debate in the Chamber.

Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin got shirty and warned his party colleague he will be returning to tie up the issue in the next few weeks.

Mr Flanagan looked gob-smacked after Mr McLaughlin berated him that when it came to ties, he should pull his socks up.

The Speaker said the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA was well aware of the dress code and of how rigorous he was in ensuring that it applied to all Members.

"You are well aware that it applies to you. I regard your intervention and your speaking as contravening a ruling on this that I gave previously, and I will return to the matter," he said.

Assembly sources said Mr Flanagan flouted the rules both by being tie-less in the Chamber, and then getting up to speak while still under-dressed.

At the point of the reprimand Mr Flanagan was speaking to Basil McCrea, who said the Speaker had been right to pull the republican MLA up.

"Phil Flanagan has been dressing too casually a number of times in recent months and I believe at one point the ushers did not want to let him into the Chamber," the NI21 leader said.

"I think it is appropriate that a tie should be worn in terms of showing respect for the House. It is a Parliament."

Basil also had backing from business figures. Small shops champion Glyn Roberts admitted when it came to ties, he was old school.

"I think it is appropriate that they dress appropriately. The Assembly is a serious parliamentary body and when you see TDs in the Dail wearing T-shirts it very much takes away from it," the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association chief executive said.

And suave, well-groomed PR consultant Joris Minne commented: "Politicians are public representatives and the institutions they belong to define who we are. Turning up at Stormont looking less than appropriately dressed is not on. If they showed up to a wedding or a funeral in casual gear, they'd soon know all about it."

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