Northern Ireland

MLA withdraws McDevitt 'mouth from the south' remarks

Conall McDevitt
Image caption Mr McDevitt (centre) was co-opted to the Assembly earlier this year

DUP MLA Jonathan Bell has withdrawn remarks describing SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt as "the mouth from the south".

Mr McDevitt, who is originally from County Dublin, was a regular media commentator before replacing Carmel Hanna in the Assembly in early 2010.

He complained to the speaker following Mr Bell's comments, claiming that the term could be considered "abusive".

Mr Bell said he was happy to withdraw the remarks which "could be seen as causing offence".

He previously said the reference, made in the Assembly last week, was to Mr McDevitt's South Belfast constituency.

Mr McDevitt told the deputy speaker that he understood "the cut and thrust of parliamentary democracy".

"However, I think that we are entitled to the respect of being addressed by our name, and if not our name, by the name of our constituency, but certainly not by hearsay, tittle-tattle, or terms that some may choose to interpret as abusive."

The deputy speaker said he wanted members to "respect others".

The row erupted as Mr Bell asked Mr McDevitt about multiple mandates held by his SDLP colleague in South Belfast, Dr Alasdair McDonnell.

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