Assembly Standing Orders

Part of the debate – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:15 pm on 9th March 1999.

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Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin 4:15 pm, 9th March 1999

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh.

Most of what I wanted to know has been clarified by Mr Haughey and the First Minister.

I was a member of the Standing Orders Committee, and I do not recognise the figures shown in respect of the non-Statutory Committees. They are far from proportional, but although we are opposed to this and will be supporting the amendment to delete it, it was not our intention to go back to the figure of 11. Any Member from a small party, who is also a member of the Standing Orders Committee, will be aware that we have been firm in our advocacy of inclusion on these committees and of our support of the small parties.

In supporting the amendment to delete this part of the Standing Order, our intentions were good, and I accept the Initial Presiding Officer’s ruling. However, there is a clear understanding from the way the debate has developed that the Standing Orders Committee has further business to deal with, and I assume that this matter will be part of it.

It is important to get beyond the perception that, because we do not support this amendment — and the DUP has tried to saddle my party with this — we are against there being scrutiny of the Department of the Centre. In fact, Sinn Féin led the charge to try to have proper scrutiny at the Centre. In order to nail any doubt about our intentions, we are supporting the amendment to delete this reference, not to bring the figure back to 11, not to exclude the smaller parties, but to bring us back to Standing Orders and to get proper proportionality.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh.