Northern Ireland

MLAs reject attempt to exclude DUP's Jim Wells

Jim Wells
Image caption The DUP's Jim Wells has refused to apologise

The Assembly has rejected an attempt to exclude the DUP MLA Jim Wells from the chamber for a week.

The sanction had been suggested by a Stormont committee after Mr Wells refused to apologise for comments he made to Mary McArdle, former adviser to the Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

Ms McArdle was convicted for her part in the 1984 murder of magistrate's daughter Mary Travers.

The motion was defeated by 51 votes to 49.

Mr Wells made the comments last year when the controversial appointment of Ms McArdle was in the headlines.

Ms McArdle had been convicted for her part in the shooting of the young school teacher.

Mary Travers, 22, was shot as she left Mass at Derryvolgie, Belfast, with her father, magistrate Tom Travers. Ms McArdle was sentenced to a life term and was released under the Good Friday Agreement.

She has since left the adviser post and been replaced by Jarlath Kearney, a former journalist who has worked as a Sinn Fein policy adviser.

In two separate encounters last summer Mr Wells made his views known face-to-face and vehemently to the minister and her then adviser.

Kieran McCarthy, deputy chair of the standards and privileges committee, said Ms Ni Chuilin claimed Mr Wells behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner telling her 'You needn't think you're going to bring that murderer to South Down'.

Ms McArdle alleged that Mr Wells had confronted her later on the same month - she said that Mr Wells had passed her on the first floor of the corridor in parliament buildings and had said to her, "there's the murderer herself".

Mr Wells admits calling Ms McArdle a monster adviser but denies calling her a murderer.

Last week the former assembly standards commissioner Tom Frawley decided Mr Wells had not shown the women enough respect.

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