Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Nesbitt calls for Stormont speaker Robin Newton to stand down

Mike Nesbitt has called for Speaker Robin Newton to stand down over his handling of Monday's business at the special sitting of the Assembly.

Mr Newton faced a barrage of criticism after he allowed First Minister Arlene Foster to address the Assembly over the Renewable Heating Incentive on Monday.

That was despite deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness withdrawing his support for the statement to be made.

Concern has been raised that the move set a precedent by allowing the First Ministers to act independently of each other.

However, Mr Newton said it was a matter for the Executive to determine how ministers acted and that he was responsible for ensuring the rules of the house were followed.

More: Stormont speaker Newton blames Executive Office over Arlene Foster RHI statement confusion

The Ulster Unionist Party leader has written to the Speaker asking him to stand down after Christmas.

In a letter to the Speaker, Mr Nesbitt said the actions risked undermining the joint nature of the Executive Office, "which itself is a fundamental principle underpinning the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

"[This] represents a grave error of judgement on the part of your office.

"On that basis and bearing in mind other incidents... I regret to say you have lost the confidence of the Ulster Unionist Party.

"I respectfully urge you to use the break to reflect on whether you are best placed to lead the Assembly in 2017."

The SDLP also called for the Speaker to consider his position.

"There is an issue of confidence in his role," MLA Nichola Mallon told the BBC.

The Speaker also recently faced criticism over his role with the Social Investment Fund and his role with Charter NI.

More: Stormont Speaker facing further questions over his Charter NI role

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