Northern Ireland

Fermanagh man wants apology from Peter Robinson over land remarks

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Media captionPeter Robinson made the allegations in the assembly chamber on Monday

A Fermanagh man involved in a land sale row has said the first minister should apologise to him and his relatives.

On Monday, Peter Robinson accused TUV leader Jim Allister of being prepared to do business with republicans, as executor of a will, over the sale of property in the county.

Mr Allister denied he was either the executor or beneficiary of any will.

Now a member of the family said he wants Mr Robinson to withdraw his accusations against the family.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he wants Mr Robinson to withdraw his accusations against the family.

Image caption Jim Allister rejected the allegations made by Mr Robinson

On Tuesday, he contacted the BBC: "I'm appalled that Peter Robinson has sought to make political capital out of our late relative's death. I hope he apologises for the hurt.

"His point of order besmirched the wider family. It is appalling the glee with which the DUP MLAs greeted Robinson's comments about our relative and his will."

The row erupted in the assembly chamber on Monday during a discussion of what would happen to the money earmarked for the stalled peace centre at the former Maze prison.

Mr Allister questioned 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 the farm had belonged to his brother-in-law who died last year leaving instructions it was to be sold after his death with the proceeds divided between six named beneficiaries, one of whom was Mr Allister's wife.

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

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Media captionWillie Hay said he studied the debate closely to investigate if any further action was required.

"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."

In a statement, the DUP said: "As a general principle, it is entirely a matter for any person who they sell their property to.

"Mr Robinson's remarks were directed at Mr Allister regarding the lack of consistency not about the decision itself."

Assembly speaker William Hay said on Tuesday that he had studied the debate closely to investigate if any further action was required.

"It is clear to me that no allegations were made of unlawful behaviour, these were political points being made," Mr Hay said.

He told the house that the debate fell below the standards he expected and reminded all members of a "need for good temper".

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