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Assembly Business

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:00 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I ask the Member to be seated.

Before commencing business today, I want to return to an issue from last week. Adjournment debates are normally the focus of very constructive and thoughtful exchanges, specifically around constituency issues. However, last Tuesday's Adjournment debate was a very poor example of the standards of debate in this Chamber. There were a number of bad-tempered exchanges and Deputy Speaker Kennedy had to intervene on a number of occasions. I know that there are some subjects on which temperatures will always rise in this Chamber, but that is not an excuse. I was particularly concerned by Mr Stalford's tone and comments from a sedentary position when Ms Hanna refused to give way to him for a second time during her speech. The Deputy Speaker intervened at the time to caution about demonstrating care even with comments made from a sedentary position.

Members will know that this Assembly does not work on the basis of considering specific words to be unparliamentary, but, instead, we examine the context of the words. I have now reviewed the Official Report, and it is clear that Mr Stalford's comments and reaction were uncalled for. They were not in keeping with the standards of debate expected in this Chamber of respect, good temper and moderation. The Member should take this as a warning. He would be wise to ensure that I am not given cause to deal with his behaviour again.

I regret that I have had to deal with this sort of issue so early in the life of the Assembly. I have no doubt that there will be difficult debates to be had in this Chamber during the course of this mandate. As we go forward, it should be perfectly possible for Members to robustly express differing opinions without responding in a disrespectful manner. If not, it will be dealt with from the Chair. I ask new and, indeed, returning Members to bear this in mind.

Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you —

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

I ask the Member to remain seated. I have to deal with another matter.