Wells avoids suspension after vote

Published Monday, 19 November 2012
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A motion to exclude DUP MLA Jim Wells over comments he made to Sinn Féin Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and her former special adviser has been defeated in the Assembly.

Wells avoids suspension after vote
Jim Wells has avoided the suspension. (© Pacemaker)

On Monday, MLAs narrowly voted against imposing the seven-day suspension on Mr Wells.

Mr Wells made the comments last year in the corridors of Stormont after the appointment of Mary McArdle, who was jailed for life for her part in the murder of a school teacher in 1984.

Mary Travers, 22, was fatally shot by IRA gunmen as she left Mass in Belfast, with her father, a judge.

Ms McArdle was released from prison under the Good Friday Agreement, and later appointed as special adviser to Carál Ní Chuilín.

But the move created controversy for the party, when the victim's sister spoke out saying she was disgusted at Ms McArdle's new role.

Mr Wells refused to apologise for his comments and the former assembly standards commissioner upheld complaints made against the MLA.

And on Monday in the Assembly he was unwavering on his remarks.

"If the honourable members opposite are waiting for me to apologise for articulating the views of my constituency about the dreadful murder of Mary Travers and the appointment of her murderer to a £60,000 a year advisory job for the DCAL minister, then you're going to have a very long wait indeed," he said.

DUP Chief Whip Peter Weir has said the motion to exclude the South Down MLA for seven days was a "disproportionate waste of assembly time".

"This was a motion which only ever came before the Assembly because a group of non-unionists saw party political advantage in attempting to censure Jim Wells for reflecting the widespread concern and anger in the community following the appointment of convicted murderer Mary McArdle to the position of Special Advisor to the Culture Minister," Mr Weir said.

"The great offense taken by Sinn Fein when there are reminders of past acts of terrorism stands in stark contrast to their repeated calls for a truth commission. However Sinn Fein simply cannot run away from the fact that by appointing someone such as Ms McArdle to the position they were either blindly unaware of how their actions would be received, or they simply did not care about the victims of Ms McArdle's crimes."

He said it was disappointing the SDLP, Alliance Party and Green Party chose to support Sinn Féin's motion.

But Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane claimed Mr Wells' behaviour was nothing to do with the Troubles.

"This is not about what happened in our conflict in the past, although Jim and his mates might try to dress it up as that," she told the Assembly.

"This is about anti-Catholicism, sectarianism and misogyny.

"The definition of misogyny is hatred or dislike of women and girls. That is what Jim Wells has done and has been found guilty of. What makes it even worse is that it is a mixture of sectarianism and misogyny, a lethal cocktail."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
8 Comments
WTF in Sunning myself in the Bahamas wrote (701 days ago):
Well done Jim Wells......shame on Nationalists for even attempting to censure the truth, but most of all shame on Alliance who really are starting to show their anti unionism on a regular basis.
william in coleraine wrote (701 days ago):
@ryan the DUP dont have murderers working for them! so there couldnt be a scenario similar, nothing wrong with what jim wells done, its an insult to the girls family that she was even appointed! orange order parades are not sectarian also! STOP SECTARIAN HATRED OF BRITISH AND PROTESTANT CULTURE!
Martin in Belfast wrote (703 days ago):
It seems the DUP can say what they like and go unchallenged or unpunished. Nelson McCausland said over the summer that he didnt blame Loyalist rioters for rioting and Unionists in Stormont blocked his being reprimanded and now Jim Wells can be found to have said offensive things and still not be receive his punishment for it
tom in ni wrote (704 days ago):
well said jim wells,disapointing the alliance party sides with a convicted terrorist and the political wing of an illegal terrorist group.The usual patronising response from sinn fein,trying to justify cold blooded murder.
strabane in strabane wrote (704 days ago):
and jim alister wounders why we cant have a opposition in storment if this happen the other way round it would be world war 3
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