NI Assembly Speaker: “They are treating the House with contempt…”

Despite changes to the Standing Orders in June 2009, the Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker was forced to crack some heads together in the chamber today over MLAs’ attitudes to Question Time –  as UTV reports here.

Hansard records what the Speaker, Willie Hay, had to say [permanent link]

Mr Willie Clarke is not in his place for question 1; that is another issue that I intend to deal with. Departments and Ministers spend a great deal of time and resources on Question Time and on getting answers to Members, yet Members from all parties put their names down to ask questions and then do not come to the House to ask them. That is totally wrong, and I am considering what sanctions I can apply to the Members who do that. They are treating the House with contempt, and that practice must be condemned. Furthermore, those Members give no reason for their absence. The problem is becoming more frequent, as is the practice of Members coming to the Table during Question Time to withdraw questions, again with no reason. I am looking at all of that and considering what sanctions I can bring to bear on Members who deliberately treat the House with utter contempt.

[Hmm…  Does that “great deal of time and resources” produce genuinely informative and direct answers? – Ed]  You might well think that, I couldn’t possibly comment.

But if MLAs are treating the NI Assembly with contempt, they can hardly complain when others agree.

Personally, I blame the lack of better informed elected Stormont representatives…

  • Rory Carr

    Not the first time that Will hay has had something to say on the subject of time-wasting:

  • Pete Baker

    Except that it’s not simply about wasting time, Rory.

    It’s contempt for the democratic process.

    But you know that…

  • “Mr Willie Clarke [SF] is not in his place”

    Two UUP MLAs were also named: Leslie Cree and Danny Kinahan.

  • Pete Baker


    Did you miss this part of the quote in the original post?

    “yet Members from all parties put their names down to ask questions and then do not come to the House to ask them.”

  • Pete,


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The Speaker is indeed right to impose certain standards of behaviour. I even find myself agreeing to a dress code.
    Its nice to be nice….so to speak.
    Its simple good manners to be in the Chamber to ask questions when youve tabled it.
    And good manners to be polite to those who oppose you. Overall I find the standard of behaviour rather pleasing.

    But a little shocked to see Mr Jonothan Bell sitting chewing (!!!) on the DUP benches. It showed a lack of respect and looked very tacky.
    I dont know if chewing is actually allowed in the Chamber.
    If it is……it shouldnt be.

  • madraj55

    Pete Baker;
    ‘It’s contempt for the democratic process’

    No, Pete, It’s justified contempt for Stormont. Which is far from being contempt for democracy. Anyway, what would Unionist politicians know about democracy?. Terence O’Neill was NOT A DEMOCRAT. He set off limited reforms in late ’68 ONLY to stabilise the cabal that wernt on there up until then, and for NO other reason. As O’Neill wasn’t a democrat, what does that make the NI Prime ministers before him?

  • Rory Carr


    It’s contempt for the democratic process. – Well bad mannered disregard at least.

    But you know that… – (Hangs head) Indeed I do.

  • Jean Meslier

    whats this emerging story from Co. Louth about rats abandoning a sinking ship?

    Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has said he will not contest his Dáil seat at the next General Election.

    In a statement this morning, Mr Ahern said he had informed his local party organisation in Co Louth that, after 32 years as a public representative, he is stepping down at the next election.

  • Jean Meslier

    Whats happened all the blogadors and the blogadores. Is it because Barca hammered El Special Uno’s mighty Franco Madrid?

    Come on peteb, don’t miss the second huge, political news story of the last four days to emerge from that other land bordering on our wee pravince.

    Lets get a thread.
    You can do it.