Speaking in the Assembly just before the DUP voted for Caitriona Ruane as Principle Deputy Speaker Jim Allister said:
“Mr Speaker, first of all, I congratulate you on your election. I trust that it means that the national anthem will be restored to its proper place within the remembrance event and that my staff member can cancel his singing lessons.
“The position of Principal Deputy Speaker is a fictional post. It has no powers above that of Deputy Speaker.
“It was created of course in 2011 as a sop to those with a penchant for titles. Those who, in a previous life, enjoyed various commanding titles felt the need to be appointed as Principal Deputy Speaker even though it is a post without substance. Of course, we had the deputy First Minister once rejoicing in the title of Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and more infamous and commanding titles besides. This is an office created as part of the demonstration of the trappings of office and control freakery of Sinn Féin and the DUP. The person proposed for it has to be the most unsuitable person; a totally divisive figure in this House, a disaster when she was Education Minister and someone who continues to bring division to everyone and everything she touches. She is someone whose own claim to fame is probably most infamously that of matron of the Colombia three. To suggest that such a person should be elevated to the post of Principal Deputy Speaker is an insult to the many victims of the IRA, an organisation whose volunteers she still defends to this day.
“It will be interesting to see in the House whether those who spent the last six weeks telling us that they were in the business of stopping Sinn Féin will in fact, today, be the facilitators of Sinn Féin to this high office of Principal Deputy Speaker.”