Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Speaker attacks MLAs over no-shows

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly has hit out at MLAs he claims are showing contempt for the chamber

Assembly Speaker Willie Hay has blasted politicians he said show "absolute contempt" for the chamber.

The DUP Assembly member was criticising MLAs for using questions to ministers as a chance to make unscheduled political points.

When he realised a number of MLAs had failed to take seats in the chamber, despite having tabled questions for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, he hit out at their conduct.

"That is another issue I have to say I have to deal with," he said. "It is happening from all parties.

"We have got to understand that departments and ministers spend quite a bit of resources around question time in getting answers for members. But let me say it's totally wrong for members to put down questions and they are not in the House to put forward the question.

"So I am looking at what sanctions I'm going to decide on for a member who just doesn't appear in the House.

"It's treating the House with total and absolute contempt, and it has to be condemned."

He added: "And no reason is given, they never even attempt to give any reason.

"And then, of course, there are members who come up to the table during question time and withdraw questions, they give no reason.

"So all of this is something I am looking at at this minute in time and looking to see what sanctions I can bring to bear on members who deliberately treat this House with total and absolute contempt."

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