Belfast Telegraph

Alliance makes official complaint at 'Je Suis Sammy' Wilson remark

Stewart Dickson condemns "extremely tasteless" remark

By Joanne Sweeney

Alliance chief whip Stewart Dickson has lodged an official complaint against the DUP's Sammy Wilson over his recent 'Je Suis Sammy' Twitter remark.

However, the defiant former Finance minister addressed the deputy speaker this afternoon with "Merci beaucoup, Monsieur deputy Speaker" as he began speaking on a question.

He had earlier defended his Je Suis Sammy remark to the Belfast Telegraph and said: "I will campaign for that freedom of speech to be continued and that's why I said I want people to back the Je Suis Sammy campaign.

"People identify the campaign for free speech with that kind of slogan."

The Alliance MLA called for Mr Wilson to withdraw the "extremely tasteless" remark as he lodged his complaint in the Assembly.

He also written to the Speakers of both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons over, as Mr Wilson is an MP, and raised the matter with the Assembly Standards Commissioner.

Mr Wilson sparked a fierce backlash on the social network last Friday when he tweeted: "Interrogated at behest of Assembly jihadists by watchdog D Bain for being nasty to J Allister. Starting free speech campaign: Je Suis Sammy."

He was referring to being questioned by the Assembly Standards Commissioner over remarks he made last October when he called TUV leader Jim Allister a "thug".

Mr Wilson later downplayed the TUV complaint by saying that he was glad that the Assembly had a debating chamber where robust language was frequently used.

"We have these jihadists who wish to sanitise the Assembly and any time somebody makes a remark they don't like they are running to whoever is in charge," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I'm saying exactly the same in the Assembly context, people should have the freedom to say what they wish."

However, Mr Wilson's Twitter remark was also rounded on by Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott and Jim Allister's TUV party.

The TUV said: "It is already obvious from the reaction online that the public see a vast difference between an MLA being investigated for an alleged breach of Assembly standards - an investigation which was not instigated by the TUV but by the SDLP - and the murder of journalists and innocent civilians in France last week.

In lodging his complaint, Mr Dickson said that the remark was in  bad taste as it compares the Assembly investigation to the recent murders in Paris.

He added: “This remark by Sammy Wilson is extremely tasteless given the 17 people who were murdered in Paris and the ongoing threat by Islamic State in the Middle East.

"The ‘Je Suis Charlie’ phrase became the global response to the despicable scenes in France, so for Sammy Wilson to make his own version for a relatively trivial matter is disrespectful to those who lost their lives at Charlie Hebdo.

“I hope that he will retract this remark and apologise for the offence that he has caused. As an elected representative he should be mindful of what he says. Politicians should be held to the highest standard."

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