It is a huge disappointment that Sinn Féin actually blocked the election of the SDLP nominee John Dallat MLA by putting party politics before principle.
It is hugely disappointing that Sinn Féin would seek to block this watershed moment for our Assembly today.
Now is the time for someone from the nationalist community to be speaker of our Assembly. For too long this Assembly has not been reflective of the population it serves. That is why the SDLP supported and voted for Mitchell McLoughlin.
Yet Sinn Féin refused to support John Dallat when it became clear that Mitchell McLoughlin would not secure the seat because Sinn Féin’s backroom deal with the DUP has broken apart.
It is massively disappointing that yet again Sinn Féin is allowing narrow party political self-interest to over-rule what is best for the people. The culture of cosy deals and back room politics has and continues to fail everyone who voted for this Assembly. The fact that Sinn Féin would rather see no speaker rather than someone from the nationalist community who is not of their choosing is unbelievable.
John Dallat has served as a public representative for 37 years and has served this Assembly and its members very well over the past 7 years as Deputy Speaker. John has shown leadership, integrity, impartiality and good judgement in that time, displaying the ability and capacity to take on the role of the Speaker of the Assembly.
At a time when this Assembly and our Executive are in crisis; as we head into Talks to determine our future; it was even more crucial to have someone of the calibre of John Dallat as Speaker of this Assembly. John Dallat is not only eminently qualified for the role but someone from the nationalist community who would ensure that all traditions in Northern Ireland are respected and reflected. Sinn Féin have prevented that today with by putting party politics before principle.”