Northern Ireland news

DUP silent on Sammy Wilson's latest escapade

Sammy Wilson was spotted in Portrush at the weekend

THE DUP was silent last night on fresh calls for Sammy Wilson to be reined-in after the latest in series of incidents that undermine Stormont's public health message.

The East Antrim MP responded to claims that he was spotted in Portrush at the weekend rather than self-isolating by claiming "people who routinely cross the border for essential purposes are not subject to these requirements" – thought to be a facetious reference to covid rules on crossing the border.

Mr Wilson, who throughout the pandemic has been consistently criticised for failing to wear a face covering, had returned days earlier from Westminster.

Ian Knox cartoon 6/1/21 

There are no exemptions for MPs who travel to London from around the UK on parliamentary business.

If arriving into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area, and you plan to remain for at least 24 hours, you must self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days in the same way as international arrivals.

On Monday, DUP leader Arlene Foster voiced her dismay at the large crowds that had gathered in Portrush and Portstewart at the weekend, however, she made no reference to the outspoken MP by name.

She said she had been sent photographs of the crowds in the north coast resorts .

"There were huge crowds gathering together and I really regret that because we have very difficult decisions to take tonight as a consequence of that," the first minister said.

Mrs Foster said ministers were planning to speak with the PSNI about how compliance with Covid regulations could be enhanced.

"At present, the message is very much stay at home," she said.

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said last night that she shared the DUP leader's concern about the "problematic crowds" gathering at weekends in places like Portrush and Portstewart. However, she urged Mrs Foster to stress the public health message to Mr Wilson.

"The first minister should think about communicating that advice to her party colleague Sammy Wilson who has played fast and loose with public health guidance from the start of this pandemic – there cannot be one rule for Sammy Wilson and another rule for the rest of us," she said.

The DUP last night declined to say whether Mrs Foster had spoken to Mr Wilson about potentially breaching guidelines or whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the East Antrim MP.

The PSNI was unable to confirm last night if Mr Wilson was being investigated for alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news