Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Sammy Wilson refuses to apologise for 'Je Suis Sammy' tweet as he's reported to watchdog

By Chris Kilpatrick

A senior unionist politician has been reported to the Assembly standards watchdog after he called fellow MLAs jihadists.

A complaint has also been made to the House of Commons Speaker after a tweet posted by DUP MP Sammy Wilson, in which he included the phrase "Je Suis Sammy".

Mr Wilson has ignored calls to apologise for the post on the social networking site, which have been branded "crass" and "insensitive".

And in the Assembly yesterday Mr Wilson shrugged off the controversy, addressing MLAs in French.

Last week Mr Wilson tweeted: "Interrogated at behest of Assembly jihadists by watchdog D Bain for being nasty to J Allister.

"Starting free speech campaign: Je Suis Sammy."

Remarks made by Mr Wilson last October, when he called TUV leader Jim Allister a "thug", were referred to the Assembly Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain.

His latest comments are set to be investigated in a fresh probe after a complaint was lodged by Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson.

Mr Dickson said: "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.

"I have raised this matter in the Assembly and have written to the Speaker and Assembly Standards Commissioner, as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons, as Mr Wilson is also an MP."

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott and the TUV have called on Mr Wilson to apologise.

In the Assembly yesterday, Mr Wilson said: "Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Deputy Speaker. That is the extent of my French, by the way."

Mr Wilson previously told this newspaper he stood by the tweet.

"We have a debating forum in which robust language is frequently used, and I'm glad," he said.

"It shows a bit of colour, a bit of passion, and 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."

Asked about the 'Je Suis Sammy' remark, Mr Wilson 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.

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

Background

Last October a Stormont committee was cut short after TUV leader Jim Allister was branded a "thug" by the DUP's Sammy Wilson. Mr Allister took exception and chairman Alex Maskey asked Mr Wilson to withdraw it. Refusing to do so, the hearing was then suspended by Mr Maskey. Afterwards, the SDLP's Dolores Kelly claimed Mr Wilson had "crossed the line" and said she would be referring the matter to the Assembly watchdog.

Further Reading

Alliance makes official complaint at 'Je Suis Sammy' Wilson remark MLAs go back to school... to learn how to be better politicians Je Suis Sammy...is this an MP who could benefit from taking lessons?

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