Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin defends Carál Ní Chuilín tweet criticising fellow MLA

Caral Ni Chuilin and Gerry Kelly in North Belfast [picture by Hugh Russell.

The ULSTER Unionist's chief whip has accused Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín of failing to show "basic manners" in the assembly chamber after she used expletives on social media to criticise a fellow MLA.

During Tuesday evening's debate on the Budget Bill, the North Belfast MLA took to twitter to claim the UUP's Roy Beggs had been "speaking non-stop" about everything except the proposed legislation.

"I can tell I'm not the only MLA who akins his droning voice to fingernails trailing down a blackboard. Make it stop. FFS (for f***'s sake)."

The tweet was subsequently deleted but only after it had been retweeted half-a-dozen times.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson defended the tweet, saying it was Mr Beggs's "prerogative" to talk for as long as he wished in the assembly.

"But when it is a rambling and incoherent monologue, MLAs also have the right to point this out," the spokesperson said.

"There are many important issues, including the protection of public services and defending the most vulnerable in our society, that the assembly could and should focus on."

UUP chief whip Robbie Butler said some MLAs had "some growing up to do" as the tweet reflected badly on Ms Ní Chuilín and Sinn Féin.

"I think the least anyone can expect is for Sinn Féin MLAs to show basic manners to others and some level of respect for the democratic process while an MLA from another party is raising important points about the budget in the assembly chamber," he said.

"You can just imagine the collective howls of indignation from Sinn Féin if an Ulster Unionist MLA was to tweet derisory remarks, using expletives, about Michelle O`Neill or Carál Ní Chuilín speaking in the chamber or the way in which speaker Alex Maskey conducts himself."

Carál Ní Chuilín's tweet was subsequently deleted

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