I don’t think we covered the original kerfuffle when, last Thursday, the DUP’s Alastair Ross, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Regional Developmnent Committee, “issued a press statement condemning the conduct of the chairman Fred Cobain [UUP]”. Apparently the conduct in question was the committee’s two-day trip to Dublin, which included a presentation to the Dáil’s transport committee. But the aftermath of the subsequent apology is certainly worth noting, as reported by Martina Purdy
Although Mr Ross was absent from the committee when the apology was made, [committee vice-chairman] Mr [Jim] Wells [DUP] expressed regret about what had happened, suggesting it was due to inexperience and “crossed wires”. Mr Wells acknowledged the committee chairman was abiding by the committee’s decisions.
He added: “Could I also apologise for any confusion that was caused by subsequent events after that visit and particularly to the chairman who was placed, I thought, in a very difficult position because of that? “Could I assure the chairman and the clerk we’ll ensure that situation never arises again?”
Ulster Unionist assembly member John McCallister, who had to defend his own conduct when questioned by a BBC reporter, said Mr Ross should personally apologise.
He said his statement had been “dreadful”.
Mr McCallister also claimed it had poisoned the atmosphere and had left a “bad taste in the mouth”.
Sinn Féin’s Cathal Boylan said he too had felt upset and wondered whether the committee should proceed with its visit to Scotland in a few months time.
The SDLP’s John Dallat, who was named in Mr Ross’s statement, said he would also be reconsidering the trip.