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Assembly Speaker strongly warns MLAs against abusing procedures

Published 14/11/2016

MLAs have been warned against challenging the authority of the Assembly Speaker
MLAs have been warned against challenging the authority of the Assembly Speaker

MLAs have been issued with a stern warning against challenging the authority of the Assembly Speaker.

Robin Newton said he would not tolerate any abuse of procedures and would not be sympathetic to representatives who breach the rules.

He said: " It has been disappointing that members, of late, have been frequently breaching our procedures by challenging standard procedural decisions and challenging the authority of both myself and the Deputy Speakers both inside and outside the chamber.

"Indeed, we have had occasion to write to two members who have been challenging the authority of the chair following last week's business.

"As I made it clear to party leaders in a letter of October 21, members who challenge the authority or that of the Deputy Speakers, whether inside or outside the chamber, need not expect me to be sympathetic towards them or future business.

"I have discussed this with the Deputy Speakers and I am increasingly concerned about this issue and members seeking to involve us in issues which are properly for ministers or indeed, party political debate.

"There are indeed many issues being raised with us at the minute but I warn members we will be proactive in relation to any abuse of procedures towards the chair."

The comments come after some elected representatives queried decisions taken by the Speaker's office in recent months.

Last week, Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle used social media to voice concern that his urgent oral question request, which allows matters of public importance to be discussed at short notice, was turned down.

He wrote on Twitter: "At total loss how Assembly Speaker ruled Teacher Strike does not merit an urgent oral question response from Ed Min."

Meanwhile, the Speaker has also been accused of blocking debates on a number of controversial issues including the Nama property scandal and appointment of a new Executive press secretary.

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