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Unionists in clash over Sinn Fein adviser's pay

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Jim Allister

Jim Allister

Jim Allister

Rival unionists have clashed in the Assembly over a call for public spending to be frozen in protest at Sinn Fein's appointment of a convicted killer as a ministerial adviser.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister urged MLAs to vote down a "supply resolution motion", which authorises all Government spending, because he said the measure helped pay the salary of adviser Mary McArdle. Ms McArdle was part of an IRA gang that ambushed magistrate Tom Travers in 1984, killing his 22-year-old daughter Mary.

DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the tactic would bring the public sector to a halt and accused Mr Allister of trying to play "Pontius Pilate" over the financial measure.

Mr Allister interrupted the minister to ask: "Is it correct that the supply resolution today will, amongst other things, authorise the public salary, public pension and whatever else entitlements of the convicted murderer Mary McArdle as a special adviser in DCAL (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure)?"

Mr Wilson told Mr Allister that he shared concerns over the appointment and said he had ordered a review of the selection of special advisers.

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