“Let me take this particular issue away..”

When the Speaker informed the NI Assembly yesterday that Peter Robinson had decided to return “to exercise the functions of the office of First Minister”, a point of order from the SDLP’s Alex Attwood – calling for the publication of legal opinion which Peter Robinson has stated clears his name – was met with short shrift, “Those are matters for the First Minister to deal with.” As the BBC noted. However, today in the Assembly, Alex Attwood was back. This time armed with a copy of Erskine May. And he got a much different response from the Speaker. As this clip from BBC NI’s Stormont Live shows. Of course the NI Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward, has already stated that he thinks that the First Minister “has cleared his name.” Although, it’s not clear whether he’s seen that legal opinion…

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  • Seems like a reasonable point and well made.

    The Speaker’s original ruling “Those are matters for the First Minister to deal with. It is not for the House to judge what the First Minister might do now or in the future.” when those matters relate to the conduct of his office does have the suggestion of expediency.

  • granni trixie

    Lets not get Robbo mixed up in his wife’s possible ahem, misdemeanours. If there is a story to do with their relationship with developers it is sure to come out in the other enquiries. I just wish AA would apply himself to the more pressing work of MLAs.

    More to the point – what’s Alex real motivation? (smarting at being passed over? again.).

  • “Lets not get Robbo mixed up in his wife’s possible ahem, misdemeanours”

    Too late I’m afraid GT.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/first-minister-peter-robinson-lobbied-for-developer-who-funded-irisrsquos-lover-14673038.html

  • richiep

    It is an interesting point and is deserving of debate in the Assembly , otherwise P.R. expects us to accept as an act of faith that he’s in the clear, rather like his declaration that God had forgiven the missus.

  • Hogan

    Alex made his point well, with restraint and dignity.

    It makes me genuinely sad that in the same time that he beavered away in the library researching his point SF advice centres probably filled out another two DLA forms for his constituents.

    Until the general public start to hang on every word in the Assembly trying to convince people how clever you are at procedure & process simply is not what will deliver Alex the type of turnaround in electoral fortune that the SDLP require in his constituency.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    And one assumes that Paul Maguire, QC’s opinion was paid for by the taxpayers ? Or out of Robbo’s crock of gold ? If the former, then we paid for it and we have a right to read the whole opinion, not the edited P R version. And even in the latter case, if there is nothing to hide. One wonders how narrow the remit/instructions were.

  • Pete Baker

    GFASupporterButRealist

    Indeed.

    And then there’s the issue of the Assembly’s confidence in the Speaker given his dismissal of the same point of order yesterday.

  • granni trixie

    Pete and others: after the moral ambiguities flowing from the GFA (hold yer nose and vote yes;let em get out of jail etc )for expedience sake I can take this from the Speaker – I want the Prog for Gov to be inmproved and for MLAs to put their shoulder to the wheel.

    As I indicated previously, all possible misdoings (corruption etc) are all likely to come out in the wash. Remember we are in revealing mode,a tide noone can hold back.

  • Pete Baker

    With all due respect, granni trixie

    You appear to be missing, or ignoring, the significance of this in regards to what follows for this and subsequent administrations.

    Perhaps you think it doesn’t matter what the Speaker does now?

    It can be rectified later?

    Think again. You can’t redo a Speaker’s ruling.

    This Speaker is tasked with setting the standard for those who follow.

    Up to now I think he’s played a blinder in the circumstances.

  • granni trixie

    I too have been pleasantly surprised at how this Speaker has continued to live up to the ideal.

    However although you may know better than me about legalities, and although I understnad the importance of precedents,my sense is that the Speaker is still operating on a case by case basis and made this call in the knowledge of the bigger picture. The future is not tied to this decision.

    Look at Robbo tonight on tele- did you ever think that you would see the like? Would it be right to put a stop to his obvious will (missing prior to his personal crisis) to act for the good of NI and not party political interests?

    YOU thinbk again.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “As I indicated previously, all possible misdoings (corruption etc) are all likely to come out in the wash.”

    That will only happen if MLAs and journalists do their jobs correctly, an example of which is shown above, another to be found in David Gordon’s latest work.

    Shaun Woodward’s remarks, rightly referred to, were astonishingly inappropriate, given the ongoing police and Assembly investigations. Those have now been undermined as the timing – the day after the agreement to disagree – gives rise to suspicion that some of those “side-deals” or “whispering in the ear” could be related to these issues.

    And that should concern DUP members as much as, if not more than, anyone. It’d be like IPJ at St Andrew’s all over again.

  • Pete Baker

    granni trixie

    “and although I understnad the importance of precedents”

    Well, this is one ruling where the Speaker will be setting a precedent.

    “The future is not tied to this decision.”

    Future procedures in the Assembly are.

  • For what possible reason would PR not publish his advice, orf the terms of reference behind it?

    It is an insult to democracy that he thinks he can simply declare himself to be in the clear, and simply pocket the advice. Ridiculous.

  • GFASupporterButRealist

    Snowstorm:
    You write “For what possible reason would PR not publish his (the QC’s) advice, or the terms of reference behind it?” Simple reasons: because he thinks he can get away with it, he doesn’t think he has to answer in any detail to the voters/taxpayers and this is not unusual in terms of either SF or DUP. Arrogance, self regard, self of entitlement with most of them in the Assembly with some exceptions. Publish…or be…damned!

  • The Raven

    “It makes me genuinely sad that in the same time that he beavered away in the library researching his point SF advice centres probably filled out another two DLA forms for his constituents.”

    Indeed Hogan. I am shocked at, firstly, the lack of people in that chamber, and secondly, the time and endeavour spent on this when so very many other matters are pressing…you know…the real stuff…that affects people’s lives directly…

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Peter Robinson appears to be deluding himself.He is due to face the full rigours of the Law Of this land.Just like anyone else.I sense a feeling of indispesability, First amongst Equals,one
    law for the Robinson Clan and their Cronies and sodemall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • [i]Indeed Hogan. I am shocked at, firstly, the lack of people in that chamber, and secondly, the time and endeavour spent on this when so very many other matters are pressing…you know…the real stuff…that affects people’s lives directly…[/i]

    So it’s fine for Peter Robinson to undermine public confidence in the institutions of government and get away with doing whatever he wants? MLAs are there, yes, to deal with constituency matters but also to hold the Executive to account and to legislate.