It’s not always easy to judge when something useful or interesting or important is going on in any parliamentary body. But given how glacial progress is through Stormont it is a hard station squeezing anything consequential. Last week the big controversary was the Minister for Health’s failure to apologise for calling his parliamentary colleague a ‘village idiot’.
However that story sort of died when Stephen Nolan brought in Matthew Parris in to talk about the matter, who was frankly surprised at the Speaker’s demand for an apology. He pointed out that in Westminster, the convention is rather more functional and to the point. The offending party is asked to withdraw the remark, leaving the Speaker free to take further action if they refuse.
Ken Reid notes, this was probably the only interesting thing all week. As for the Speaker, it may be the ideal moment of quiet now the heat has passed to review just how he handles such incivilities in future.
Whilst I don’t for a moment believe there was any evidence of old party loyalities kicking in here, in effect because of the Speaker’s weak handling of the issue the Minister has got away with unparliamentary language…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty