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Bid to ban use of 'the North' in Assembly


TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister

Stormont Speaker William Hay has been urged to rule whether Assembly Members should refer only to “Northern Ireland”.

His decision could mean no more references to “the North”, “the North of Ireland” or “Ulster” in the Assembly chamber.

Hardline unionist Jim Allister formally asked Mr Hay to make a ruling yesterday to prevent “slights and slurs” from republican and nationalist MLAs.

It came after Mr Hay last week insisted the Traditional Unionist Voice leader must use the proper names of his MLA colleagues and the correct titles of political parties. His rebuke followed Mr Allister calling Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness an IRA commander, former junior minister Gerry Kelly “bomber” Kelly and instead of just Sinn Fein talking of “Sinn Fein/IRA”.

As yesterday’s short Assembly session got under way, Mr Allister urged Mr Hay: “In light of that ruling, I invite you to consider the logical and necessary extension of that approach to references in this House to the state of Northern Ireland so that the proper name is used on all occasions.

“If it is right to use proper names in respect of parties and what are perceived to be their proper names and in respect of individuals, is it not also necessary to use the proper name ‘Northern Ireland’, rather than the slights and slurs that are used so often? I ask you to consider that and rule upon it.”

Mr Hay said that he had been absolutely clear last week and remained clear “that I expect Members, when they rise in their places, to call Members by their proper names. I also expect Members, when they are speaking about political parties, to call them by their proper names”.

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On the matters Mr Allister raised, he added: “Let me take them away, consider them and come back to the Member.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Allister added: “The Speaker has ruled that IRA/Sinn Fein must not be referred to as such, but merely as Sinn Fein, because that is their ‘proper name'.

“Republicans constantly refer to ‘the North’ without challenge yet members are not permitted to use the title IRA/Sinn Fein because it reminds people of the bloody pedigree of those who occupy seats around the cabinet table in Northern Ireland.

“I trust the Speaker in his ruling will give the same regard to the proper name of our province as other names which have concerned him.”

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