Speaker Hay steps down

thumb-large-27 William Hay has stepped down from Assembly Speaker as part of an arrangement to share the position between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Hay’s retirement was brought forward by ill health and he will also be vacating his seat as a DUP MLA for Foyle.

In keeping with protocol, he is also due to be elevated to the House of Lords. Hay was elected to the position in 2007 and widely viewed as an even-handed chair of the House’s proceedings. However, he lacked the powers of the Commons Speaker who can compel ministers to come to the House for questioning.

Speaking to agendaNi in 2011, Hay said: “If I’m around the building or if I’m the office, I just would like to see people because I think: ‘If you can resolve an issue early, why would you allow it to fester and create a whole problem?’ Let’s take people the way you want to be treated yourself, and let’s talk to people at everybody’s level.”

Ian Paisley had said that the DUP would support a nationalist Speaker after the 2011 election. This pledge lapsed but the position of Principal Deputy Speaker was appointed. The post was firstly held by Sinn Féin’s Francie Molloy and then his party colleague Mitchel McLaughlin. McLaughlin represents South Antrim and is former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

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