A DUP MP has criticised what he claimed is a culture of “gurning” among some MLAs, after a complaint against his party colleague Edwin Poots over allegedly breaching the Assembly code of conduct was discontinued.
Sammy Wilson was speaking after the Green Party decided not to further pursue the complaint it made to Stormont’s Commissioner for Standards.
The Greens’ complaint had centred on a remark made on Twitter by Lagan Valley MLA Mr Poots on August 10.
Mr Poots had been voicing his view about the fact a magazine called Pink News recently reported that Prince George had “become a gay icon overnight” after a picture of the four-year-old child (above) sparked comments on the internet about his future sexuality.
Mr Poots said: “...making children an icon of sexuality today, pedophilia (sic) tomorrow. Absolutely disgusting”.
This comment then stirred the ire of Clare Bailey, Green MLA for South Belfast, who accused Mr Poots of having made a “grossly offensive” remark which was a “clear breach of the Assembly Code of Conduct” – specifically when it comes to MLAs’ responsibility for “tackling prejudice”.
On Tuesday it emerged the commissioner had sought further evidence that Mr Poots had been acting as an MLA when he made the online remark, and about precisely which portion of code he had allegedly breached.
If these were not provided by September 8, the complaint would be inadmissible.
Since the Green Party felt it had already provided all the evidence it could (noting that Mr Poots describes himself as an MLA on his Twitter account), it said the complaint will not be continued – adding that a “common sense” approach is needed in future over when the activities of MLAs are covered by their code of conduct.
Sammy Wilson said he felt there was no basis for the complaint in the first place, and told the News Letter: “I also am just fed up with the way, like a bunch of children, some people run to the commissioner with every wee complaint.
“Why can they not just be grown up and accept that, look, in the rough-and-tumble of politics, people will say things you don’t like and do things you don’t like and you just have to live with it, rather than running to granda or daddy to reprimand people you don’t like.
“There’s kind of a tell-tale gurning attitude that some of them have. And mostly it’s on the nationalist/left wing side of the Assembly.”
He added: “I think there should be a toughening of the politicians themselves... If she [Clare Bailey] is such a delicate little flower that she feels offended by all these things, then maybe politics isn’t the job for her.”
Ms Bailey responded she had not made the complaint on her behalf, but on behalf of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.
She added that “it’s exactly what a standards and priviliges commissioner is for surely – to check these things out”.