What a farce – non MLA holds office as Principal Deputy Speaker

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“Bad enough that the Speaker still clings to office, but I have now established in response to an Assembly Question that former MLA, Caitriona Ruane, still holds office in the Assembly as ‘Principal Deputy Speaker’.

“Danny Kennedy had the good grace and sense to resign as a Deputy Speaker after he lost his seat but Ms Ruane has clung on to office. With Sinn Fein calling on Robin Newton to resign, perhaps they should put their own house in order.

“The position of Principal Deputy Speaker is a remunerated post (£55,000 pa). So, has Ms Ruane continued to be paid? If so, then, this is an even more scandalous situation. Moreover, did she receive a resettlement payment upon not standing for re-election (6 mths pay)?

“I am calling on Ms Ruane to resign forthwith and repay any remuneration received as Principal Deputy Speaker since the election .

“Both Mr Newton and Ms Ruane have the facility to resign, but neither have chosen to do so, even though, in the case of Ms Ruane she isn’t even an MLA any longer. As with so much, it could only happen in Stormont.”

Mr Jim Allister
(TUV – North Antrim) To ask the Assembly Commission whether any Deputy Speakers are regarded as being in office.

Section 39 (2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 specifies that:
“A person elected Presiding Officer or deputy shall hold office until the conclusion of the next election for Presiding Officer under subsection (1) unless –
he previously resigns
he ceases to be a member of the Assembly otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution; or
the Assembly elects from among its members a person to hold office as Presiding Officer in his place.”

As the new Assembly has yet to proceed to conduct the election of a Speaker since the Assembly dissolved for elections on 26 January 2017, the Principal Deputy Speaker, Caitríona Ruane, and Deputy Speaker, Patsy McGlone MLA, continue to hold office, as does the Speaker. Danny Kennedy submitted his resignation to the Speaker with effect from 29 June 2017 and therefore he has not held office as Deputy Speaker since that date.

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