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Assembly: Roll of Members

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 1st July 1998.

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Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer 2:15 pm, 1st July 1998

I now invite Members to take their seats by signing the Roll of Membership. This may be a time-consuming procedure, but it is important for practical reasons.

To avoid any confusion I shall ask the party groups, in alphabetical order, to come forward and sign one of the two registers, after which there will be a short suspension so that I may verify the designation — Unionist, Nationalist or Other — of each Member. I expect that it will take about 30 minutes to complete the process. Members may leave the Chamber during that time.

The following Members signed the Roll: Eileen Bell, Seamus Close, David Ford, Kieran McCarthy, Sean Neeson, Monica McWilliams, Jane Morrice, David Ervine, Billy Hutchinson, Gerry Adams, Bairbre de Brún, Michelle Gildernew, Gerry Kelly, John Kelly, Alex Maskey, Barry McElduff, Martin McGuinness, Gerry McHugh, Mitchel McLaughlin, Pat McNamee, Francie Molloy, Conor Murphy, Mick Murphy, Mary Nelis, Dara O’Hagan, Alex Attwood, P J Bradley, Joe Byrne, John Dallat, Arthur Doherty, Mark Durkan, Sean Farren, John Fee, Tommy Gallagher, Carmel Hanna, Denis Haughey, Joe Hendron, John Hume, Patricia Lewsley, Alban Maginness, Seamus Mallon, Donovan McClelland, Alasdair McDonnell, Eddie McGrady, Eugene McMenamin, Danny O’Connor, Eamonn ONeill, Brid Rodgers, John Tierney, Paul Berry, Gregory Campbell, Mervyn Carrick, Wilson Clyde, Nigel Dodds, Oliver Gibson, William Hay, David Hilditch, Gardiner Kane, William McCrea, Maurice Morrow, Ian R K Paisley, Ian Paisley Jnr, Edwin Poots, Iris Robinson, Mark Robinson, Peter Robinson, Jim Shannon, Jim Wells, Sammy Wilson, Norman Boyd, Roger Hutchinson, Robert McCartney, Patrick Roche, Cedric Wilson, Ian Adamson, Pauline Armitage, Billy Armstrong, Roy Beggs, Billy Bell, Tom Benson, Esmond Birnie, Joan Carson, Fred Cobain, Robert Coulter, Duncan Shipley Dalton, Ivan Davis, Reg Empey, Sam Foster, John Gorman, Derek Hussey, Danny Kennedy, James Leslie, David McClarty, Alan McFarland, Michael McGimpsey, Dermot Nesbitt, Ken Robinson, George Savage, John Taylor, David Trimble, Peter Weir, Jim Wilson, Boyd Douglas, Denis Watson, Lord Alderdice.

The sitting was suspended at 3.01 pm and resumed at 3.30 pm.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer

All the names and designations on the Roll of Membership have been checked, and some changes have been made. I am satisfied that those Members who have signed the Roll may be regarded as having taken their seats, their designations being now clear.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

On a point of order, Mr Initial Presiding Officer. Those whose designations were not clear included the two representatives of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition. They seemed to be in some sort of political drag as "other Unionist/Nationalist". If they have now satisfied you with regard to their designation, can you satisfy us by telling us what that designation is?

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer

They have changed their designation to "Inclusive other", the words "Unionist" and "Nationalist" having been deleted.

Photo of Mr Cedric Wilson Mr Cedric Wilson UKUP

On a point of order, Mr Initial Presiding Officer. It is quite clear from initial Standing Order 3(1) that Members should designate their identity as "Nationalist", "Unionist" or "Other". I understand that the two Women’s Coalition Members have breached that. Indeed, I understand from an interview on television that the Alliance Party Members have described themselves as "Centre". Surely those who claim to have assisted in putting together these Standing Orders and this Agreement should abide by the rules and stop playing games with this Assembly.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I want to put another relevant point of order to you, Sir, so that you can answer both at once. How will you designate such Members for voting purposes? This has to do with consensus voting.

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer

I have taken legal advice on a number of issues, including this one because the designations must be very clear and I have to be satisfied about them. The precise wording can be flexible, but the designation must be absolutely clear. The officials and I have checked through this, and with regard to the Women’s Coalition and the Alliance Party I am very clear that the only possible interpretation of their designation is "Other". I can go through the designations of other Members if the Assembly wishes, but they are clear to me.

I remind Members that it is possible, with seven days’ written notice, to change designation. That would be entirely proper; whether it would be politically advantageous is another matter and not for me to say.

Voting sheets for today have been made out, and the designations are clear. No change is possible within the next seven days. This is very relevant in view of the possibility of a number of votes.