Gerry Adams: Bids to discuss arrest of Sinn Fein leader at Stormont are rejected
Two bids to raise issues around the arrest of Gerry Adams on the floor of the Stormont Assembly have been rejected on procedural grounds.
Speaker William Hay did not accept proposals from two unionist MLAs for the topic to be addressed as a 'matter of the day' in the first plenary meeting of the devolved institutions since Mr Adams was arrested in connection with the murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville.
Ukip representative David McNarry and leader of Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) Jim Allister had both tabled prospective topics for discussion that raised concerns about comments made by Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the wake of his party president's detention.
Mr McGuinness had claimed the "dark side" of policing in Northern Ireland had orchestrated Mr Adams's arrest and also indicated his party might review its support for the police if he had been charged.
Mr Adams, who has always denied any involvement in the IRA murder of Mrs McConville in 1972 and that he was ever a member of the paramilitary organisation, was released on Sunday pending a police file being sent to prosecutors for assessment. On his release, the 65-year-old politician stressed that he supported the PSNI.
Mr Hay said the issues raised by the MLAs did not fall within the remit of topics that matters of the day exchanges were designed for.
"I fully understand there are issues which members may wish to discuss in this chamber, however members are also aware that matters of the day are a very restricted procedure which only allows a series of short remarks rather than a fuller debate," he said.
"If members wish to debate any issue under a more appropriate procedural mechanism they can consult the business office for advice and that's what I say to members of all sides of this house - there are other procedures that members can get business into the house and really members continually use or try to use matters of the day for political reasons rather for procedural reasons."
The speaker added: "Members of all sides of this house should not be using matters of the day for political reasons or to attack another political party or also, which is even equally important, use matters of the day to comment on an issue that a minister has raised in this house or outside the house as well.
"That's not how matters of day were ever framed by the committee on procedures."
After his proposal was turned down, Mr McNarry, who objected to the fact that some of Mr McGuinness's remarks where made in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings, said he was "extremely disappointed" the topic was not debated.
"It certainly was a matter of the day and it will be a matter of tomorrow and the next day," he said.
"Unionists are angry - they found Martin McGuinness's remarks demeaning to the PSNI."
Belfast Telegraph Digital