Belfast Telegraph

MLAs warned over debate standards

The Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker has criticised three MLAs he claims used offensive remarks during a debate on the Police Ombudsman.

William Hay said he would closely watch the behaviour of former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott, TUV leader Jim Allister and Sinn Fein West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan.

He said they would not be called to speak if this approach continued and warned the standard of debate had fallen.

The veteran DUP Foyle MLA said some assembly members felt the only way they could make a contribution was by being offensive to other MLAs.

On Monday Mr Sheehan asked Mr Elliott about the organisation he belonged to, the Ulster Defence Regiment.

"How many of his colleagues had dual membership or was he some sort of Colonel Blimp, didn't realise they were out killing Catholics while he was doing his duty?"

Cries of "shameful" echoed around the benches of the Stormont chamber.

Mr Elliott said: "Those scurrilous remarks of someone who is a convicted terrorist in this province is shameful, shameful against people who were upholding law and order.

"Why doesn't he go to Mr (Martin) McGuinness and tell him to come and give the evidence that he should?

"He hasn't the courage, the way he sneaked behind ditches when he was in the Provisional IRA, is that what he wants to continue to do?

"This is a democratic process here Mr Sheehan, something you may not be overly au fait with, but it is something that we have here. I did not go out and murder people on the streets of Northern Ireland like he and his colleagues did."

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