“On appointment, the Speaker relinquishes all connections with his Party.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly advises that: “Members must be confident of the impartiality of the Speaker and this is achieved through the operation of a number of conventions. On appointment, the Speaker relinquishes all connections with his Party.”

As we know, Willie Hay never did that, and his party never stopped claiming him (PDF).

Now we learn that he “will have to” be a DUP candidate in the forthcoming election.  This of course is simply not true, he has chosen to stand as a DUP candidate, when he could just as easily have stood as an independent or, as is precedent in Scotland, not stood at all (although to be scrupulously fair, it is precedent in Wales for the Speaker Presiding Officer to stand as a Party candidate, but that doesn’t make it right).

What gets me about this is that it continues to be the advice of his own office, according to it’s website, that it is the breaking of connections with his party that provides the cornerstone of his impartiality, yet he has chosen to continue periodically releasing statements claiming to be the DUP MLA for Foyle, and will spend the rest of this Assembly as a DUP candidate planning an election campaign in Londonderry in opposition to members he has to adjudicate between.

I look forward to reading the UUP manifesto.  I have no idea if there is anything on this in it, but I know that there should be.

I used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t.

Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

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