Belfast Telegraph

Gregory Campbell barred from speaking in Assembly again after 'yawning loudly' when Sinn Fein MLA spoke in Irish

By Claire Williamson

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has been barred again from speaking in the Assembly after being accused of "schoolboy behaviour" towards a Sinn Fein member.

Today he was accused of "yawning loudly" twice when Sinn Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane was speaking in Irish last Monday.

Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin said Mr Campbell had been "blatantly disrespectful".

The East Londonderry MP has been barred from speaking in the Assembly today and tomorrow.

It's the second time in recent months that Mr Campbell has been barred from speaking following spats in the chamber over the Irish language.

Speaker Mr McLaughlin said Mr Campbell's behaviour was "contrary to the standards of courtesy, good temper and moderation which are expected in debate in this house".

He said:  "Schoolboy behaviour falls well short of how business should be conducted in a mature elected legislature. I have to warn Mr Campbell that I will not let juvenile behaviour like this continue.

"The member is a serious and an experienced parliamentarian in this chamber and Westminster and knows full well he has to respect the rules of this house

"If he continues to be deliberately disrespectful and discourteous to other members then I will have no option but to introduce a sanction against him.

"The member is capable of making serious and valuable contributions to the business of this house and he should concentrate on that."

The DUP have yet to comment.

An Assembly spokeswoman said: “At the start of Assembly business today, the Speaker issued a warning to Mr Campbell following an incident from Assembly Commission Questions last week. 

"The Speaker did not propose any action from this incident but he warned Mr Campbell of the standards expected in the House and that, if he continued such disrespectful and discourteous behaviour in future towards other Members, he would have to impose a sanction. 

"When the Speaker attempted to move on to other business, he made clear that he was only interested in hearing from Mr Campbell if he wished to apologise.  However, Mr Campbell refused to take his seat and continued to speak.

"Standing Order 1(1) is clear that the Speaker’s authority is final, particularly in preserving order in the House.  Standing Order 17(1) makes clear that a Member will not address the Assembly unless called to speak by the Speaker and shall cease speaking and resume their seat if the Speaker is on his feet.

" As Mr Campbell continued to defy the authority of the Chair and was preventing the Speaker from moving on with business, the Speaker was forced to impose a sanction and ruled that Mr Campbell would not be called to speak in the Chamber today or tomorrow.  Ruling that a Member will not be called has previously been used for other Members who defied the authority of the Chair.”

In November Mr Campbell was barred from addressing the Northern Ireland assembly after he did not apologise for mocking the Irish language in a question issued to Sinn Fein culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

Mr Campbell began his query saying "Curry my yoghurt, can coca coalyer", a parody of the Irish sentence "Go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which means "thank you, Speaker" in English.

The ruling however had little impact as Mr Campbell was at Westminster.

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