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What does the lack of a speaker mean for the Stormont Assembly?


MLAs cannot meet in the chamber without a speaker. (Pacemaker)

MLAs cannot meet in the chamber without a speaker. (Pacemaker)

MLAs cannot meet in the chamber without a speaker. (Pacemaker)

The DUP's decision not to support the election of a new Stormont Speaker has serious consequences.

What does the Speaker do?

It is the Speaker's role to chair meetings of MLAs and deal with Assembly business and procedures. They are assisted by a principal deputy Speaker and two deputy Speakers, who also cannot be installed without the main Speaker.

What happens on Friday?

MLAs will first have to sign the roll of membership for the Assembly and confirm their political designation – either "nationalist", "unionist" or "other".

Under Stormont rules, the first item of business to start the new mandate has to be the election of a Speaker. Without a Speaker in place, MLAs cannot take their seats and there will be no functioning Assembly. There can be no election of a First Minister or deputy First Minister without a Speaker, and there can be no debates, committee meetings, Private Member's Bills, or scrutiny of ministers by MLAs in the chamber.

What about the ministers?

Minister who served under the last mandate can continue to oversee their departments in a caretaker capacity, but with limited powers as they are not part of the Executive. Without an Executive, the planned three-year budget, and other initiatives, cannot proceed as there needs to be Executive agreement for this to happen.

What happens next?

This situation will continue until the DUP decide to support the election of a Speaker, or else in six months' time the Secretary of State will be obligated to call another election.

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