Peter Robinson and Jim Allister row over land remarks

Peter Robinson made the allegations in the Assembly chamber

There have been angry exchanges in the assembly chamber between First Minister Peter Robinson and Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister.

Mr Allister was questioning Mr Robinson about what he termed the DUP's "u-turn" on the Maze peace centre.

Mr Robinson then accused Mr Allister of being prepared to do business with republicans, as executor of a will, over the sale of property in Fermanagh.

Mr Allister said he was neither the executor nor beneficiary of any will.

The exchange took place during a discussion of what would happen to the money earmarked for the stalled peace centre at the former Maze prison.

In a letter to his party last month, Mr Robinson said the centre should not proceed without consensus.

On Monday, Mr Allister told the assembly: "The first minister must be one of few people who doesn't see it as a u-turn.

"I don't think there is any shame in that. Doing the right thing is never something to be ashamed of.

"Could the first minister shed any light, if the £18m which was previously to be squandered on the Maze is not to be squandered there, what is the thinking about where that money might be more beneficially and usefully used?"

Mr Robinson said: "I do understand that he (Mr Allister) does have some sympathy for u-turns.

"This is the same member who comes in here week after week and a man from Mars would think that he was breathing fire on republicans.

"And he chides me for doing business with republicans, but then secretly and, outside of this house, the member as the executor of a will, is selling land to republicans in County Fermanagh to benefit his own family."

In response, Mr Allister said he was neither the executor nor beneficiary of any such will, adding: "What protection exists for members so they are not subjected to such false allegations?"

Jim Allister Jim Allister has refuted the allegations

In response, Speaker William Hay said he would study Hansard.

He then chided Mr Allister for trying to shout down the chair earlier.

This was a reference to Mr Allister refusing to take his seat after Mr Robinson's claims.

The speaker told the assembly he would examine the issue.

Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone Sean Lynch called on Mr Robinson to explain his remarks in the assembly.

"Such comments were wholly unacceptable for the first minster to make," he said.

"This is an office that is designed to represent everyone.

"However, the tone of Peter Robinson's remarks are essentially a signal that it is not OK to sell land to Catholics."

More Northern Ireland stories


Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of

  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news

  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support

  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine


  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.