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MLAs keen not to get hot under the collar in chamber

By Noel McAdam

Published 30/06/2015

Party mood: Sammy Wilson
Party mood: Sammy Wilson

Temperatures are expected to rise in the Assembly this week.

However, it'll not be due to the final stages of the so-called phantom budget or the impasse over welfare reform - but the expected heatwave over the next few days.

Forecasts of better weather led to a formal request for a change in the official dress code yesterday. Male MLAs, in particular, want to take their coats off to get down to work, the Assembly heard.

But Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin voiced some doubt over relying on weather forecasts.

The SDLP's Pat Ramsey raised the issue, asking Mr McLaughlin at the start of proceedings: "In light of the temperatures that we will have over the next few days, would you be minded to relax the dress code for Members in the Chamber, particularly those male folk who may want to take off their jacket?"

Mr McLaughin said: " I am not sure that I share your confidence in the weathermen. If you do not mind, we will monitor it for the first few hours and then review the situation in those circumstances.

"I know that a precedent exists, but let us see how the weather really works out."

The DUP's Sammy Wilson quipped: "Given the accuracy of the BBC in predicting anything in this country, could we perhaps leave it for a day or two?"

Ukip's David McNarry, referring to Mr Wilson's attack on the Assembly's Commissioner for Standards, Douglas Bain, as a "wee wimp" - a remark the Commissioner is considering - then asked: "Are there wimps in the BBC?"

"Order," interrupted Mr McLaughlin. "I hope that the party mood continues for the rest of today's business."

He then added: "We will keep the situation under review. I am very conscious that, in the past, we have found it necessary to relax the usual code. I will come straight back to Members when it becomes obvious that we need to do something."

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