Sammy Wilson: I'm not being shunned by DUP colleagues
The DUP's Sammy Wilson has dismissed suggestions he is being ostracised by his party colleagues.
Clashes with party members in recent weeks over fracking and plain packaging for cigarettes have given rise to speculation that Mr Wilson is becoming 'persona non grata'.
And a remark in the Assembly by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was interpreted by Ulster Unionists as a put-down.
The UUP's Robin Swann asked Ms Foster if she still believed the Executive's Programme for Government 40% target for renewable energy was realistic and achievable.
She said: "I do. Last year we hit, I think, 17% for renewable energies."
Mr Swann then followed up by asking if she had been surprised that Mr Wilson had referred to the target as "impossible and economically destructive".
To laughter, Ms Foster responded: "No, I was not surprised at all."
Yesterday Mr Swann said: "Her reply to laughter from her party colleagues tells me that the DUP are officially filing the opinions of a senior member under 'C for Cranky'.
"It was very evident in the Assembly chamber that Sammy Wilson – banished now to the back benches – is being ostracised by his DUP colleagues.
"He has been typically outspoken on renewable energy since leaving office, making statements which completely contradict the policy of the Executive and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment."
But Mr Wilson (below), a former Finance and Environment Minister, said yesterday: "I have not been treated dismissively by my colleagues.
"If anything, it is probably more the other way. But people in the DUP do treat each other with respect."
And the party added: "It's obviously a quiet day in the UUP if this is their top issue.
"Sammy is busy with important issues which actually matter to people. If the UUP focused on such issues they wouldn't have as many members leaving and joining the DUP."