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Sammy Wilson's comments on Scottish National Party's 'tartan terror tactics' referred to Assembly Speaker

By Noel McAdam

An attack on the "tartan terror tactics" of the Scottish National Party by a former DUP minister has been referred to the Assembly's Speaker.

Ex-Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the "nasty face of nationalism already seen in Northern Ireland" had now been witnessed during the Scottish independence campaign.

Principal deputy speaker Mitchel McLaughlin accepted a request from the SDLPs Alex Attwood for a ruling on the comments "as a matter of urgency".

The Sinn Fein MLA is currently standing in for Speaker William Hay, who is recovering from an illness.

Mr Wilson congratulated the people of Scotland for their decision in favour of maintaining the Union "despite the tartan terror tactics of the SNP during a very contentious referendum campaign".

He said the "terror" campaign had included academics being threatened, public meetings broken up, businessmen told that there would be consequences "if they did not keep their mouths shut, and people afraid even to show where they stood for fear of having their property attacked".

"It was typical of the nasty face of nationalism," the East Antrim MLA said. "We have seen it in Northern Ireland, and the people of Scotland witnessed it during the referendum campaign."

Mr Attwood said he would like to think the Speaker would take action over the "tartan terror" description of a party that is "exclusively democratic".

The SDLP man told the acting Speaker that Mr Wilson was aware of the SNP's democratic stance, as he had "sat in the room with it often enough in relation to issues of government and politics".

"I ask you, as a matter of urgency, to rule on that matter," he added.

Mr Wilson said he hoped any review by Mr McLaughlin would also include his illustrations of the "kinds of tactics that were involved during the campaign and which clearly embarrass another nationalist party that has such great ties with the SNP".

Mr McLaughlin said he would consult the official Assembly record and make a decision. He warned: "People should not see it as an opportunity to draw the business of this House into whatever passed in the course of the referendum discussions and remarks or actions by parties that have no part in this Assembly."

Opening the debate, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said that following the referendum: "Let us now go forward proudly and confidently into the inevitable debate that is coming concerning how we build an even better and greater Britain that is fit for the 21st century and a United Kingdom of which Northern Ireland is more solidly a part than ever before."

Alliance leader David Ford said: "Unfortunately, in this place, we have a record of failure to deal with difficult issues. We are currently running through a crisis because of our inabilities and our immaturity, so how could we possibly make a case for suggesting that we should be looking for additional powers until we seek to resolve those problems?"

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