Speaker Marks 1000th Plenary Sitting of the Assembly
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 29 November 2021
Reference: SO 02/21/22
The Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey MLA, today marked the 1000th plenary sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Addressing MLAs as today’s Assembly business got underway, the Speaker said: “As Members will be all too aware, the history of this Assembly has not always been smooth, to say the least. Nonetheless, today is a milestone.
“We should never forget that this Assembly is essentially on probation in the eyes of the public and that building public confidence in our institutions requires constant attention.”
The Speaker continued: “In marking the 1000th sitting, we are not ignoring the issues and challenges there have been and will continue to be. This process has not been easy and at times, those of my generation would not have thought this Assembly was possible. Indeed, as one of the few Members remaining since 1998, I would reflect that relationships and the nature of debates in the Assembly Chamber are transformed from how they were in the early days.
“Recent discussion in relation to the pressure on the Assembly to consider legislation before the end of this mandate has underlined the general political and public agreement about how important this Assembly and the Executive are to tackling issues of public concern.
“The politics of events over the years are for others to comment on but, I think it is important for me to acknowledge all those who have played their part in getting us to this point.
“I know that colleagues past and present from parties across the Assembly have had to take difficult decisions at times, make sacrifices and face criticism in order to move this Assembly forward. I want to recognise the public service of all those who have been involved in those efforts, including those who are no longer with us.
“I particularly want to thank the officials and staff who have supported this Assembly and its Members since 1998, often going above and beyond the call of duty. By its very nature, their work normally happens quietly, unsung and unnoticed, but officials have also been important in making progress at key points in our political process.”
The Speaker concluded: ‘We cannot be complacent. Dealing with the divisions in our community and making this Assembly work have never been easy and the number of difficult issues will always be outnumbered by those who think the solutions are simple.
“However, while we do not forget our past, this Assembly does give us the opportunity to work together to focus on the future. There will be some busy months ahead to demonstrate that.”
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