Say hello to the new Presiding Officer..

The BBC are reporting that the Assembly next speaker is about to be appointed by the NIO, since Lord Alderdice is otherwise engaged, and in what seems to be somewhat of a party-political trend, that speaker is to be former Alliance Party deputy leader Eileen Bell who has already announced that she will not stand in the next [If there is one – Ed] assembly elections.


  • ingram

    Doubt she will be over worked.


  • Jack Black

    Seamus will be disappointed, overlooked again!

  • Occasional Commentator

    How can the NIO appoint the Presiding Officer? Surely the Assembly itself will elect their Presiding Officer (an election which will be presided over by Ian Paisley)?

  • Jack Black

    The NIO are all powerful – do not question them. At least not if you want a career in quango land anytime soon.

  • C’mon Eileen

    Wonder how many times she’ll tell the MLAs how she is not sectarian because she married a prod – not sure how many times I have had to sit through that, after the 52nd time it does start to grate.

    Plenty of people have married someone from the other community, she ain’t the only one. I’m sure her husband loves being used like this.

  • heck

    Couldn’t the parties have come together and selected someone that was acceptable to the like and elder SDLP or UUP member.

    Why does the NIO keep forcing the alliance party hacks to the front? No one votes for these “naicee” people so they shouldn’t be appointed by unelected bureaucrats to these positions.

    Isn’t British democracy a wonderful thing?

  • heck

    sorry about the typos

    you know what I mean

  • Hopefully they’ll be more ‘cross-community’ than was displayed in North Down recently. I have no doubt young Bell will do a good job, but it seems a bit clichéd to give any oversight job to the Alliance on account of them claiming to be middle-of-the-road. They also happen to be middle-of-nowhere when it comes to getting votes.

    No doubt they have more personnel on quangos via bureaucratic appointment than they have elected representatives. If the Plan B joint-authority comes to pass, let’s hope the two governments don’t appoint some Alliance darling as the ‘non-sectarian’ fuhrer.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Occasional Commentator

    Until today, that’s what I thought too, about the Father of the House calling the election of Speaker as his first act, IIRC.

    However, in actual fact, the legislation also allows the Secretary of State to appoint the Speaker. Someone more knowledgable than me might tell you the circumstances in which this happens, but the SoS apparently has the power to appoint!

    Where’s Warm Storage? He used to know all this stuff!

  • Pundit

    The legal position doesn’t seem to be clear cut.

    Standing Orders 3(1) and 3(2) anticipated a Speaker not being re-elected “for any reason” where for the first meeting of the Assembly following election the “Chair shall be taken by an Acting Speaker, who shall be the eldest Member of the Assembly”.

    Are things ever that easy in NI politics?

    The UUP’s Jim Wilson (the only Deputy Speaker re-elected) appears to have been the nominal Speaker during the Assembly’s suspension. On the face of it – either Rev. Ian Paisley or Jim Wilson may have had a case for taking the Chair. Such a squabble would be all the recalled Assembly would have needed!

    Apart from the confusion add in the real politic. The UUP with 24 of the 59 Unionist seats can just meet the 40% threshold for cross-community consent. Jim Wilson taking the role of Speaker would have significantly adversely affected the power of the UUP – particularly since the joint statement directly mentions cross community consent being essential to the recalled Assembly’s business between 15th May and 24th Nov.

    If Jim Wilson failed to take the Chair (assuming he was the proper person to take it) then the right would undoubtedly pass to Rev. Ian Paisley.

    Now – what happens if Rev. Paisley refused to take the Chair? No provision is made for the next eldest Member taking the Chair. Would that be the UUP’s Rev. Coulter anyway?

    The first business of the Assembly could have unfolded to a farce and come to an abrupt halt.

    Does the SoS have the power to appoint a Speaker?

    He can acquire authority by rapidly passing legislation through Westminster. The suspension of the Assembly provides him with this responsibility – and power.

  • unionist

    Rumour has it that alliance leader David Ford is furious with the appointment. First he knew nothing of it until it had happened and secondly if there is any sort of “real” work at the assembly his already small team is further reduced. It seems that the NIO views the alliance party as a useful bunch of odds an sods who they can use to fill the odd post to avoid any awkwardness. Hardly the image that David is trying to project.

  • troublemaker

    Wonder how Seamy Close feels? Word at Stormont was he was up for it as a consolation prize for Alderdice stealing it from under his feet the last time!

  • Crataegus

    Eileen Bell is a fine person, but I am not so sure that this is the job for her. See is no Betty Boothroyd.

    Suppose this clears her out of the way for Alderdice to stand in North Down, now why would that bother David Ford?

  • By the way who’s succeeded Bell as Alliance deputy leader?

  • Comrade Stalin

    El Matador:

    Hopefully they’ll be more ‘cross-community’ than was displayed in North Down recently.

    Alliance voted for Alban Maginess as the first nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast, and AFAIK they subsequently supported Martin Morgan to the same position some years later. I wish you would try to remember this and other similiar incidents before slinging the mud.

    They also happen to be middle-of-nowhere when it comes to getting votes.

    Hmm, that was kind of the position vis-a-vis the SDLP in North Down. Lack of consistency on your part ?

    Given the total failure of the parties with votes to do a single solitary thing to move politics forward here over the past three or four years, I wouldn’t count on this being the case for long. Alliance is historically at it’s strongest whenver the main parties abandon politics – ie during the Anglo Irish Agreement business.