Sammy Wilson’s future as Environment Minister came under further pressure today after a ‘no confidence’ motion against him was passed at Stormont.
The Environment Committee which monitors Mr Wilson and his department passed the SDLP motion by six to four, with one abstention. It is believed to be the first time a scrutiny committee has gone as far as a formal ‘no confidence’ move against an Executive minister.
The SDLP’s environment spokesman Tommy Gallagher, who proposed the motion, said: “If Mr Wilson and his party do not take this seriously they are not taking the structures of Stormont seriously. This is not something they can ignore. It is the first time I am aware of that a committee has gone this far.
“I have been concerned for some time but the ministers’ comments this week on climate change fly in the face of science and are not accepted by the majority of people.”
The move comes as Mr Wilson blocked government TV adverts — warning of the effects of global warning and advising how families can save money — from being screened on UTV.
The DUP minister, who was not immediately available for comment, dismissed the adverts as “insidious New Labour propaganda” — although they can still be viewed on Channels Four and Five and Sky.
Sinn Fein and UUP members of the environment committee today supported the SDLP motion but the four DUP members voted against and Alliance leader David Ford abstained. Mr Ford was also not immediately available. An online petition launched by the Green Party, which is also proposing an Assembly motion calling on DUP leader Peter Robinson to remove Mr Wilson, gained more than 400 signatures over the last few days.
The petition accuses Mr Wilson of “bringing the people and government of Northern Ireland into international disrepute and threatening to damage our ability to attract inward investment.”
Earlier this week Mr Robinson defended the right of Mr Wilson to hold his own views.