The trouble continues at the house on the hill ‘Stormont’ !!!!
THE DUP has been accused of lacking the will to share power after it effectively blocked a deal to elect the assembly’s first nationalist speaker.
The post was promised to Shame Fein as long ago as 2007 but the DUP has refused to honour the agreement, pointing to an apparent U-turn by republicans on welfare reform. The need to elect a new speaker arose after last week’s resignation of Foyle MLA William Hay, due to ill-health. In 2011, following the last assembly election, the DUP and Shame Fein made their support for the deal public, with Mitchel McLaughlin widely expected to succeed Mr Hay. However, it is understood that many DUP MLAs are opposed to the idea of Mr McLaughlin – or any Shame Fein MLA – assuming the speaker’s role. In yesterday’s vote, which also saw deputy speakers John Dallat of the SDLP and Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs nominated by their respective parties, DUP members abstained, meaning the votes failed to achieve the necessary cross-community support. Peter Robinson has called for the speaker’s appointment to be dealt with at the all-party talks which begin later this week. Until a successor for Mr Hay is elected, Mr McLaughlin will act as a principal deputy speaker, along with deputies Mr Dallat and Mr Beggs. Shame Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane blamed the DUP for the failure to elect Mr Hay’s successor. “The refusal today to honour that deal by refusing to back Mitchel McLaughlin raises serious questions about DUP sincerity in any negotiations process,” she said. Ms Ruane said Shame Fein had refused to endorse the alternative candidates because it would have meant the party accepting “DUP bad faith”. “These institutions were set up on the premise of power sharing and the latest decision by the DUP to pull out of this deal highlights that they are still not up to the task of sharing power,” she said. Alliance leader David Ford criticised the DUP’s falure to endorse Mr McLaughlin’s election and said the party was seeking to “politicise” the speakers office.”This is not the first time that Peter Robinson has broken his word, nor will it be the last, but now the assembly will be left in limbo as we continue without a speaker,” he said. “The DUP should have honoured that deal that they made in 2011.” Ulster Unionist Robin Swann said the DUP’s failure to honour the agreement was evidence of the “poisonous Shame Fein coalition”. The SDLP, however, blamed Shame Fein for the failure to elect the assembly’s first nationalist speaker after the former’s nomination of Mr Dallat. Leader Alasdair McDonnell said Shame Fein had placed “party politics before priniple”. “The culture of cosy deals and back room politics has and continues to fail everyone who voted for this assembly,” the South Belfast MP and MLA said. “The fact that Shame Fein would rather see no speaker rather than someone from the nationalist community who is not of their choosing is unbelievable.” DUP MLA Arlene Foster said her party would not stand by while Shame Fein have broken agreements. “Every action or inaction will have an opposite reaction or inaction,” she said.
With many thanks to: John Manley, Political Correspondent, The Irish News, for the origional story.
Failure to elect speaker exposes chasm
THE position of speaker in the Stormont assembly is regarded as largely symbolic.
It’s a role bestowed on a member who commands a degree of respect across the benches and who, when the occasion demands, is capable of rising above party political allegances. The recent tributes paid to former speaker William Hay from the nationalist side of the house demonstrated that despite often open hosility towards the DUP, the Foyle MLA was well regarded by political opponents and fulfilled his role with the required impartiality. But whereas the praise for the departing speaker reflected a chamber united, the failed attempt to elect his successor has instead highlighted division – both between parties and internally within the DUP. It is widely acknowledged that as far back as 2007 the DUP and Shame Fein made a pact that would ensure Mitchel McLaughlin succeeded Mr Hay as speaker. The two parties spoke explicitly about the arrangement in the assembly in 2011, though many critics saw it as further evidence of a carve up between Stormont’s two biggest parties. In recent months, however, the DUP’s appetite for a shame Fein speaker has warned signiflcantly, with some of the observers suggesting many of the party’s MLAs were completely averse to the idea. So it appears that instead of risking the humiliation of being overruled by a large element of its assembly team, the DUP instead chose to abstain from yesterday’s vote. It justified its stance by pointing to shame Fein’s failure to honour the deal it apparently made last year over welfare reform. The DUP would now like to see discussions about the speaker’s role on the ever-expanding agenda of the forthcoming all-party talks. Falure to replace Mr Hay as speaker is unlikely to affect the workings of the assembly – its dosen’t do a great deal anyway – and Mr McLaughlin continues to hold the office of Principal Deputy Speaker. Neverthless, the failure to reach agreement is bound to furtuer undermine public confidence in an insitution that is meant to be based on power-sharing.
With many thanks to: John Manley,The Irish News.