Northern Ireland

Gregory Campbell, DUP, barred from speaking for two days

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Media captionGregory Campbell yawned loudly when Sinn Féin member Caitriona Ruane had been speaking in Irish

A DUP MLA has again been barred from speaking in the assembly after being accused of "schoolboy behaviour" in a protest over the Irish language.

Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin said Gregory Campbell had been "blatantly disrespectful" after he twice yawned loudly when Sinn Féin member Caitriona Ruane had been speaking in Irish.

The incident happened during questions to the Assembly Commission last Monday.

Mr Campbell was barred from speaking on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr McLaughlin said it was behaviour "contrary to the standards of courtesy, good temper and moderation which are expected in debate in this house".

He added: "Schoolboy behaviour falls well short of how business should be conducted in a mature elected legislature. I have to warn Mr Campbell that I will not let juvenile behaviour like this continue.

'Discourteous'

"The member is a serious and an experienced parliamentarian in this chamber and Westminster and knows full well he has to respect the rules of this house

"If he continues to be deliberately disrespectful and discourteous to other members then I will have no option but to introduce a sanction against him.

"The member is capable of making serious and valuable contributions to the business of this house and he should concentrate on that."

When Mr Campbell repeatedly tried to make a point of order, the speaker barred him from being called to speak on Monday or Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday night, he described the complaint made against him as "absurd".

"The Speaker has every right to make decisions regarding order in the chamber however if he is going to enforce when and how people yawn, his workload will increase significantly," he said.

Mr Campbell added that he would not be "silenced".

Last November, Mr Campbell was barred from addressing the Northern Ireland Assembly for a day for failing to apologise for an Irish language parody.

A row developed after he began his address to the assembly with: "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer".

The Irish sentence "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" translates as "thank you, Speaker" and is used by nationalist MLAs in the chamber.

The speaker said his conduct fell "well short of standards expected from MLAs".

However, the ruling had little impact as Mr Campbell was at Westminster.

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