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Sammy Wilson's defiance over 'thug' censure

By Noel McAdam

Published 26/06/2015

Complaint: Sammy Wilson
Complaint: Sammy Wilson

An unrepentant former Executive minister has been rapped over his language at a Stormont committee.

Ex-Environment and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has been censured for breaking the Assembly's code of conduct by calling unionist rival Jim Allister a "thug".

Mr Wilson has refused to apologise because he said any apology would not be sincere. The censure motion is now due to be debated in the Assembly next week, although it could be torpedoed if Mr Wilson's party uses the petition of concern mechanism.

It requires a majority among both unionists and nationalists, and with 38 members the DUP is the only party that can trigger the device.

Mr Wilson's "thug" remark came during a meeting of the social development committee, which was examining a TV programme that investigated allegations of political interference in the running of the Housing Executive (HE). It came after whistleblower Jenny Palmer, a Lisburn councillor, said she was put under pressure by DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone to change her vote on the HE board in relation to contractor Red Sky.

The committee backed Mrs Palmer's version of events and accused Mr Brimstone and minister Nelson McCausland of "inappropriate actions". It was while Mr Allister was questioning Mr Brimstone that an angry Mr Wilson referred to him as a "thug".

The meeting was adjourned, and SDLP member Dolores Kelly then complained to the Assembly's Commissioner for Standards and Privileges, Douglas Bain.

Mr Wilson said he would not be apologising as it would be a "hypocritical apology", and described Mr Bain as a "wimp".

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