Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Anger over question time truants

Willie Hay interrupted proceedings at Stormont to voice his annoyance at the lack of assembly members present

MLAs who did not go to ministers' question time are to be hauled before the Speaker of the House to apologise.

Willie Hay interrupted proceedings at Stormont to voice his annoyance at the lack of assembly members present during the session. His intervention followed questions to Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry.

He said: "There was quite a few members who were not in their places for question time this afternoon and I don't know any other elected institution where that would be tolerated.

"I would expect these members who have not been in their place this afternoon, that the first opportunity they have, they will come to this house and they will give a reason."

Last year the First and deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness criticised MLAs who had not turned up to ask their questions.

Mr McGuinness described the situation as an absolute disgrace and urged the Speaker to intervene.

A written warning was sent to all 108 MLAs.

The Speaker said MLAs should apologise to the house.

"Members who for whatever reason feel that they can't do that, I can assure members we will deal it, and deal with it properly and procedurally," he added.

"It cannot go on that members just don't turn up and don't give a reason and certainly if it continues I will deal with it, but from here on in I would expect members to give a reason and to apologise to this house."

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