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MLA in no-show after Edwin Poots agrees to apologise for 'idiot' comment

By Steven McCaffery

Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots was wrong to say a rival Assembly member was acting as “the village idiot” during a heated debate on patient care, it has been ruled.

But Assembly Speaker Willie Hay revealed the victim of the verbal volley failed to turn up to receive the minister’s apology.

Mr Poots had agreed to offer a face-to-face apology to the Alliance Party's Kieran McCarthy (above) in the Speaker's office following the spat in the Assembly chamber.

But the Alliance Party said Mr McCarthy deserved a public apology and not one in private.

The Speaker said the minister had accepted his ruling on the remark and he now considered the matter to be closed.

The initial clash came as politicians debated a motion last month on concerns over the emergency department at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

After Mr McCarthy attacked decisions he believed had contributed to problems in treating emergency cases, Mr Poots characterised his stance as “that of the village idiot”.

Mr Hay told the Assembly yesterday: “The language used did fall short of the standards I expect and I asked the minister to apologise.”

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