“I acknowledge that at the next Assembly election, we will support a candidate drawn from the other side of the house.”

The words of then First Minister, Ian Paisley, following the decision of Sinn Fein to agree with the nomination of Willie Hay as Speaker in the last term of the assembly. It is now believed that Sinn Fein want payback, and it is likely they will insist upon Francie Molloy as Speaker in the new assembly term. Of course, whether or not Peter Robinson feels obliged to honour his predecessors commitment is another thing, not least since his immediate post-election antics would suggest the ancestral voices are calling…… 

  • lamhdearg

    “other side of the house” what, Alliance?.

  • joeCanuck

    The Speaker rules on certain matters which are dependent on House Rules, precedent etc. May vote on a tie breaker which is unlikely in our Assembly. A good or a bad job may be done and Willie Hay did a grand job, showing impartiality.
    So what advantage accrues to a Party by having one of their members in the Chair?

  • Pete Baker

    “It is now believed that Sinn Fein want payback, and it is likely they will insist upon Francie Molloy as Speaker in the new assembly term.”

    Actually, Mark Devenport has a slightly more nuanced take on this very public posturing

    Given that the new republican team is 29 strong, and they need 30 MLAs to sign a petition of concern, some argue that Sinn Fein would prefer to retain its full quota of MLAs rather than lose one to the neutral speaker’s role.

    Could Sinn Fein’s negotiators just be using the Paisley promise regarding the speaker’s job as a useful bargaining counter as part of their wider dealings with the DUP?

    All should become clear on Thursday when the assembly will meet to elect a new speaker.

    Still, good to see the spirit of co-operation between those two parties, so evident in the election campaign, continue into the new Northern Ireland Assembly term…

  • Chris Donnelly

    As Sinn Fein did not hit the 30 mark and are, therefore, still requiring SDLP support for a petition of concern, it matters little whether they’ve 28 or 29 seats.

  • joeCanuck

    Could someone explain to this dummy what a Petition of Concern is?

  • Pete Baker

    True, Chris, as far as it goes.

    But having 29 would reduce the number of others they would have to bring on board in any particular circumstance.

    I’d suggest that it’s the very public posturing on this, well ahead of the event, which calls the intent into question.

    Still, we’ll find out what happens on Thursday.

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    It’s a petition, of at least 30 MLAs, ahead of a particular vote in the Assembly, which then requires a majority of both designations in the Assembly for that vote to be carried.

    Non-unionists and non-nationalists, as designated in the Assembly, don’t count in that subsequent vote.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Pete
    What ‘others’ do you envisage joining Sinn Fein to reach the 30 mark other than the SDLP? Unless you think Steven Agnew is likely to risk his North Down seat to side with Sinn Fein on a controversial issue, then all other viable possibilities involve parties with multiple representation.

    True, David McClarity’s on the market, but I’m fairly sure he’s not looking in the direction of Sinn Fein for a new home….

    Hence the reason that 28 is as good as 29 for Sinn Fein.

    Regarding intent, I’d say it’s simply a matter of answering the question that was asked.

    I can’t see the DUP willing to concede considerable ground for this one, though it is an early test of the authenticity- or otherwise- of Robinson’s perceived shift towards the broad centre ground, something the Castlereagh alliance suggests was more cynical in motivation.

  • Pete Baker

    Chris

    “Hence the reason that 28 is as good as 29 for Sinn Fein.”

    Only one other MLA, compared with two.

    “Regarding intent, I’d say it’s simply a matter of answering the question that was asked.”

    Well, you would say that. 😉

    As I said, “good to see the spirit of co-operation between those two parties, so evident in the election campaign, continue into the new Northern Ireland Assembly term…”

    Once again,

    I’d suggest that it’s the very public posturing on this, well ahead of the event, which calls the intent into question.

    Still, we’ll find out what happens on Thursday.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks, Pete.