I’m sorry I haven’t a clue..

The First Minister faced his first questions in the Assembly today and one of the drawbacks of having an 81 year-old leader became clear. He did have a prepared answer for the expected reference to Ian Paisley Jnr’s widely covered comments.. except that, when he produced that answer, it was to a different question entirely.. as this Press Association report points out.From the report

“The office of First Minister and the Deputy First Minister is totally committed to promoting equality of human rights and the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister are completely opposed to any form of discrimination or harassment against any citizens – and so are all in their office,” said Mr Paisley.

The Social, Democratic and Labour Party`s (SDLP) Thomas Burns (South Antrim) had actually asked the First Minister whether he agreed with his son`s comments in the last Assembly that the real reason for appointing junior ministers was so they could “stick their noses into any business the First Minister and Deputy First Minister decide”, and to prevent proper scrutiny of the OFMDFM`s actions.

When he tried to put the question again, the First Minister – with his son sitting beside him on the front bench in the Stormont Chamber – referred back to his original answer.

Eventually the question Mr Paisley had been expecting came from Dolores Kelly (SDLP Upper Bann) during a supplementary question about equality legislation.

She sought an assurance that an Equality Bill would be of the highest standards and that “further to the offensive comments of recent weeks by junior minister Paisley, that minister will have no role in equality legislation in relation to the gay and lesbian community”.

The First Minister responded: “No, I am not in a position to give those assurances – this House is sovereign, this House is Pope.”

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  • Whatever Next

    Is there anyone who isn’t embarrassed by this pitiful charade, Paisley gurning his way through his ‘working’ day? Anyone?

  • parcifal

    And how did the Pope come into it?

  • snakebrain

    I believe Paisley’s been known to desribe the Pope as the Antichrist so what does that say about the Assembly?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Apart from that rather embarassing snafu involving the equality question, I enjoyed watching Doctor Paisley’s performance. I particularly enjoyed his response to a question from a rather foolish Sinn Fein member who asked why his office had not made official contacts with the Irish government, when he replied that due to the election there presently was no Irish government to make contact with.

  • parcifal

    Comrade is there a link where you can watch it?

  • páid

    parci,

    I guess the pope reference was to counterbalance the sovereign.

    Yeah, beats me too.

    Although I have to say the if the Reverend Doctor is going a bit gaga, he is all the better for it.

  • slug

    I also enjoyed watching the Question and Answers session.

  • Briso

    Pete, you think the fact that the FM answered a question he wasn’t asked showed he’s losing it? I thought it was a job requirement!

  • I cant imagine what the response would be if a SF Minister did something like this. This is deeply embarrasing for the DUP. Clearly Paisley is too old for the high pressurised demands of this post.

    The DUP are very good at keeping their private concerns “in house”, but I have no doubt that there will be a few private “conversations” between the Robinson’s, Campbell’s etc… following this debacle…

  • splurge

    Comrade Stalin may have enjoyed Paisley’s comments that there was no Irish government to deal with presently (sic). However he is quite wrong – there is always a Government, even if there is no Dáil. Even a Government defeated in a general election remains the legitimate Government until the Dáil meets and elects a new Taoiseach.