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Sinn Fein walk out of chamber in row over Speaker Newton

By Staff Reporter

The Assembly was left without a Speaker yesterday as MLAs hurled abuse across the chamber.

Following the unprecedented hiatus - after TUV leader Jim Allister said the Assembly had been reduced to a "new level of farce" - Deputy Speaker Patsy McGlone took to the chair and adjourned the sitting.

The bizarre scenes came after Sinn Fein said it would not move a motion of no confidence against Assembly Speaker Robin Newton after the DUP brought in the petition of concern mechanism to block a vote.

Mr Newton had come under fire from all the parties except the DUP after allowing former First Minister Arlene Foster to make a statement to the Assembly on the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme just before Christmas - even though then-Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had not given permission.

Sinn Fein MLAs walked out en masse, but Alliance's Stephen Farry argued that because senior Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy had begun his speech, the motion had been moved "by implication" and perhaps the procedures of the House had been abused.

DUP temporary Speaker Lord Morrow, however, standing in for Mr Newton, said it was clear that Sinn Fein was "not moving the motion".

He then turned down attempts by other Members to raise points of order on the issue.

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