Hain appoints chairs to his committee

Following the deadlock over who would chair Hain’s Committee, and after a long hard weekend of struggling to find a way forward, the Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland has appointed the two deputy Presiding Officers of the asembly [the DUP’s Jim Wells and Sinn Féin’s Francie Molloy] to chair his committee. Presumably Francie Molloy won’t have a problem with that? [But will they alternate, or chair the meetings jointly? – Ed] Alternate, it would seem. Update What about the legal advice to the Speaker?Peter Hain has also reminded everyone of what the Committee is supposed to do:

“The Committees initial task is to identify the issues that need to be addressed to prepare for government and to refer appropriate topics that need to be publicly aired and debated in the Assembly as part of the preparation process.”

That’s the assembly which is being [selectively] boycotted

Update As Briso noted in the comments below, Peter Hain has explicitly directed the Deputy Presiding Officers to take the chair:

The Secretary of State has directed that the Committee will be chaired alternately by the Deputy Presiding Officers, Jim Wells MLA and Francie Molloy MLA.

Mr. Wells and Mr. Molloy will chair the meetings in their role as impartial Deputy Presiding Officers and not as party representatives.

But, according to the report at the end of last week, there is a letter from the Speaker of the Assembly, Eileen Bell, to the parties explaining that the legal advice given to her was that she, in the Office of Speaker, could have no role in chairing the committee

Another proposal that Mrs Bell and the two Deputy Speakers in the Assembly, the DUP`s Jim Wells and Sinn Fein`s Francie Molloy, should chair its proceedings was also explored.

However in a letter to the parties yesterday explaining how she had sought legal advice, Mrs Bell reaffirmed her view that she could have no role on the committee.

If there’s a copy of that letter available it would make interesting reading.. because, surely if the legal advice given was that the Speaker couldn’t take the chair… then neither can the Deputy Speakers?

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  • Briso

    The NIO statement:
    >Mr. Wells and Mr. Molloy will chair the meetings
    >in their role as impartial Deputy Presiding
    >Officers and not as party representatives.

    Exactly what Eileen said was impossible. DUP victory. Eileen Bell undermined.

    [But will they alternate, or chair the meetings jointly? – Ed]:

    >The Secretary of State has directed that the
    >Committee will be chaired alternately by the
    >Deputy Presiding Officers, Jim Wells MLA and
    >Francie Molloy MLA.

  • Pete Baker

    Briso

    I did mention that Hain’s making it up as he goes along, didn’t I?

  • inuit_goddess

    It means DUP accepting a SF chairperson of the committee is what it means.

    Can’t wait to see the pinstripe boys explain this one to the grassroots!

  • inuit_goddess

    If they’re willing to sit on a committee chaired by Francie Molloy, the DUP are implicitly accepting SF’s right to be a partner in government.

    So perhaps this is one small step to moving this process on to a fully inclusive executive. Really shows up all the DUP bluster for the hollow rhetoric that it is.

  • Stephen Copeland

    It’ll be a real Lannigan’s Ball then for the DUP, won’t it … One step in, and one step out again.

    I think Briso is wrong to see this as a DUP victory. They’re going to have to do some fancy dancing to get around this one. However, sadly, I think they will find some other blocking technique, which will, of course, ultimately lead to their own defeat. Watching the DUP these days gives me an almost guilty pleasure.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The initial SF proposal was to rotate the chair among the 5 largerst parties (obviously Alliance got a sympathy vote) that would have be 20% of the time for each party.
    Mc Crea stated that this proposal was rejected because the fact is that they wanted to deny SF any time in the chair at all.
    This great DUPer victory and example of their negotiating skills now sees SF getting 50% of the time on rotation.

    Even when they say no they make a balls of it.

  • Briso

    I knew she was for it when Paisley started talking about being made to feel like a ‘guttersnipe’.

  • kensei

    I saw they are already taking booking for this years panto. I didn’t know it was actually being already performed.

    Though now a decision has been forced on them, I don’t see it as beyond the DUP to selectively boycott the committee when they aren’t chairing it.

  • Briso

    PMcL:
    >This great DUPer victory and example of their
    >negotiating skills now sees SF getting 50% of
    >the time on rotation.

    Ah, no. Francie isn’t in SF when he’s in the chair. He’s an independent deputy speaker! 😉

    Really, Bell is the only big loser here. If I was her, I’d tell Hain to stuff it.

  • Pete Baker

    Anyone seen the legal advice to the Speaker?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Briso,

    yip, i’m sure a lot of people will be convinced by that argument.

  • Keith M

    On a parallel thread here last week I sugested that any chairperson could take the chair as long as they were neutral and not operating under party instruction.

    Surely Bell’s position is untenable after this. If was her “legal advice” that stopped this solution last week.

  • Briso

    Keith M:
    >Surely Bell’s position is untenable after this.
    >If was her “legal advice” that stopped this
    >solution last week.

    Either her position or Hain’s. Maybe she should take him to court. What a farce.

  • pid

    A farce is what it is.

    But nobody dies.

    Jaw-Jaw and all that.