Creating a new speaker role at Stormont will poison the atmosphere in the Assembly and produce new inequalities, MLAs have been warned.
The DUP and Sinn Fein's proposal to share the post of Principal Deputy Speaker will further exclude the minor parties and send the wrong message to the public, the SDLP claimed.
The main parties in the power-sharing administration intend to promote Sinn Fein Deputy Speaker Francie Molloy to the new position before he swaps roles with current Speaker William Hay in three years’ time.
The SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Jim Allister of the TUV tabled a motion proposing that when the role is created it should be shared among the other deputies on a yearly rota. Conall McDevitt, SDLP South Belfast representative, said the hierarchy of equality in the house would “send a negative signal” to the outside world.
But the main parties rejected the arguments outright.
The SDLP, UUP and TUV proposal was voted down by DUP and Sinn Fein members of the council.