Oral Assembly question on Kingsmills rejected

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister has said that his oral question to the Justice Minister about a palm print in the police probe into the Kingsmills massacre was blocked by the Speaker of the Assembly.

The PSNI revealed last week that they have now found a match to a palm print found on the getaway minibus – a revelation that prompted questions about police competence, given that the print has been known about for some time.

The Chief Constable and Justice Minister have remained quiet in the face of widespread public speculation about the news.

TUV leader Jim Allister tabled an oral question to Justice Minister Claire Sugden for on Monday morning in the Assembly.

However this was declined by the Speaker of the House.

“I am obviously disappointed that a matter of such public importance was not allowed to be interrogated in the Assembly with the Justice Minister,” Mr Allister said.

He said that UUP leader Mike Nesbitt’s question about paramilitarism was also declined.

Mr Allister said that it was “not in the public interest” to have the issue “closed down”.

He said the Speaker – Robin Newton, who was elected to the East Belfast constituency for the DUP in May – is not obliged to give any reasons for his decisions.

Asked about the matter by the News Letter, an Assembly spokesperson said last night: “Like his predecessors, the Speaker is required to take a range of decisions impartially and independently on a procedural basis separately from the considerations which may understandably motivate a member.

“Applications for urgent questions must be considered under Standing Order 20A which requires the Speaker to judge whether a question relates to a matter of public importance and whether it is of such an urgent nature that it could not be dealt with by other procedures – for example, by a priority written answer.

“The majority of applications for urgent questions normally fail to sufficiently address both these criteria.”

The statement added that the Speaker’s decision is final.