Published Tuesday, 12 March 2013
TUV leader Jim Allister has criticised Sinn Féin in the Assembly. (© UTV)
Last week, Mr Allister interrupted west Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan to ask: "How much of the £26m from the Northern Bank robbery did you get?"
The remarks were referred to Assembly speaker Willie Haye, by his deputy who was chairing the discussion on the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous) Bill.
Mr Haye warned Mr Allister that it is not acceptable to make "such serious allegations" against another member.
"While debate can be robust, it is not acceptable for the tone or nature of remarks to come close to discourtesy or disorder here within the chamber," said the DUP speaker.
"Members will know that will not be allowed in any other institution for a member from a sedentary position, or even rising in their place, to make such serious allegations against any member of this House. All members know that it is not in order to make unsubstantiated allegations against other members here within the chamber."
Mr Allister defended his comments, which reference the 2004 heist at the city centre bank.
The TUV leader explained: "When I interjected with the question 'how much of the £26m did you get?' I was referring to the collective 'you' of Sinn Féin, given the inextricable link between Sinn Féin and the IRA whose members robbed the Northern Bank.
"I was asking the question 'how much of the £26m did Sinn Féin get?' which was and is, I believe, a legitimate question."
Sinn Féin MLA Catriona Ruane said the explanation had only made the issue worse.
"What it appears to me he did was actually make it worse and then multiply it by 29 because there are 29 (Sinn Fein) MLAs in this chamber," she explained. "I would ask that the member to withdraw the comments that he made in relation to each one of us."