DUP petition of concern further display of arrogance and disrespect

The DUP’s vetoing of a motion of no confidence in the Assembly Speaker is a further display of the arrogance and disrespect towards the Assembly and the public which has characterised the DUP over this term, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long was speaking after it was revealed the DUP will employ a petition of concern ahead of today’s motion against Robin Newton, meaning it will not pass even if a majority of MLAs back the move.

She said it was particularly galling Mr Newton would continue to be paid his Speaker’s wages until a new Speaker was put in place following any election, despite it being clear he has lost the trust and confidence of members.

“The Speaker has behaved in a manner which is at best inconsistent and at worst politically biased throughout this term. In doing so and in continuing to cling to office when he clearly no longer has the respect of the majority of the Assembly, he is bringing the office into disrepute. He is acting in his own self-interest and in that of his party, rather than in the interests of the Assembly and the institutions.

“One of Alliance’s key asks before potentially taking the Justice Ministry last May was reform of the petition of concern mechanism. The DUP and Sinn Fein rejected that. Those same parties also stated the issue would be addressed under the so-called Fresh Start deal, but clearly that has not been the case.

“The abuse of that veto power has led to many of the issues which directly contributed to the imminent collapse, including preventing Ministers being held to account by the Assembly and blocking sanctions against them, including recently in respect of the DUP leader. That they would now seek to use it to protect the Speaker who is supposed to be apolitical and impartial, is confirmation he is anything but.

“The Speaker needs to acknowledge the impact which his continuing in the role is having upon public confidence in the office which he holds and the damage it is doing to his personal standing. Ultimately, the role of Speaker requires the exercise of good judgement. Had he any, he would resign.”

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