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DUP's Bell withdraws 'mouth from the south' remark

A DUP Assembly member who branded an SDLP colleague the "mouth from the south" withdrew the remark today.

Jonathan Bell used the term to describe Dublin-born south Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt during a debate on double jobbing last week.

Mr McDevitt immediately complained to the deputy Speaker, prompting Mr Bell to claim he meant to call him the "mouth from South Belfast".

After this brought another complaint, this time from the SDLP's Patsy McGlone, the Strangford MLA said members were being "precious and sensitive".

After reviewing the official record of the exchange, Speaker William Hay today asked Mr Bell to address the matter.

"I can understand there are debates that can rise emotions in this house - I understand that - and members on occasion may say things that they should not say but I do believe on occasion members say things that they know exactly what they are going to say and it ends up insulting other members and certainly I would like Mr Bell to address that issue here this morning."

Mr Bell said he would withdraw the comment.

"I am happy enough to withdraw any remarks I've made that could be perceived as offensive," he said.

But the DUP man claimed the SDLP's Dolores Kelly had declared that DUP Environment Minister Edwin Poots "should be locked up" during the same debate.

He added: "I would ask for Dolores Kelly in that spirit of equality to equally withdraw her remarks that the minister of environment should be locked up."

Mr Hay said there was no record of Mrs Kelly, who was seated at the time, making the claim on the official record.

He said while Mr Poots had raised it with him subsequently, no complaint was made at the time.

Belfast Telegraph