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I won't be silenced, 'gagged' Jim Allister insists

Jim Allister has vowed not to be silenced after a furious row with the Stormont Speaker.

Willie Hay yesterday imposed a temporary gagging order on the TUV leader but there is the possibility that he may be later suspended for disrespect to the House and questioning the independence of the Speaker.

As Mr Hay told Mr Allister to sit down during proceedings in the chamber yesterday, the TUV leader repeatedly broke in to question the ruling.

He accused Mr Hay of “doing your master’s bidding” and told him “your peerage is safe”.

However, Peter Robinson, the First Minister, raised a point of order.

He said: “He claimed that you were ‘doing your master’s bidding’ and that ‘your peerage is safe’. Those contemptuous remarks need a response, and I ask you to look at them.”

Under standing orders, Mr Hay could use Monday’s meeting of the Assembly to put a motion to the House which would have Mr Allister suspended for five sitting days.

This is the latest skirmish in a long-running battle between Mr Allister and Mr Hay over speaking rights. Last week Mr Allister complained of not being called in a debate on delays in the Programme for Government. Afterwards he and Basil McCrea of the Ulster Unionist Party asked for a ruling on standing order 17 (5). It says that the Speaker must bear in mind “the balance of opinion on the matter” as well as “the party strengths in the Assembly”.

Under Assembly rules, Speakers’ rulings are final, but Mr Allister vowed to fight on. “I will take every opportunity and try to conjure up opportunities to make sure I am heard,” he said.

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