THE DUP are rallying their troops to back a stalwart party member who is the next Stormont Health Minister in waiting.
On Monday, a bid to exclude DUP MLA Jim Wells from the Assembly for a week after called a one-time Sinn Fein ministerial advisor a ‘monster’ failed.
Last night, Assembly party colleague Peter Weir rowed in behind the under fire south Down MLA.
In a message on twitter, the former barrister and North Down MLA said: “Something wrong with those who would punish an MLA four wagging a finger but promote those who use their finger to pull a trigger.”
The exclusion bid proposal was made by a Stormont committee after the south Down MLA refused to apologise over remarks he made to Mary McArdle, former adviser to the Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, who was convicted over her role in the murder of judge’s daughter Mary Travers in 1984.
Ms Travers, a 22-year-old school teacher, was gunned down by IRA gunmen as she left Mass at Derryvolgie, Belfast, with her father, magistrate Tom Travers.
McArdle was later arrested near the scene of the shooting and was subsequently sentenced to a life term.
However, she was later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Jim Wells made his remarks last year when the row over Ms McArdle first hit the headlines after it was revealed she was Minister Ni Chuilin’s special advisor,
In two separate encounters last summer Mr Wells made his views known face-to-face and vehemently to the minister and her then adviser.
Kieran McCarthy, deputy chair of the standards and privileges committee, said Ms Ni Chuilin claimed Mr Wells behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner telling her ‘You needn’t think you’re going to bring that murderer to South Down’.
Ms McArdle alleged that Mr Wells had confronted her later the same month.
She claimed the MLA had passed her on the first floor of the corridor in parliament buildings and had said to her, “there’s the murderer herself”.
Mr Wells admits calling Ms McArdle a monster adviser but denies calling her a murderer.
Last week the former assembly standards commissioner Tom Frawley decided Mr Wells had not shown the women enough respect.
Today’s motion was defeated by 51 votes to 49.
McArdle left her post as Minister Ni Chuilin’s special advisor and was replaced by j0urnalist Jarlath Kearney.