Northern Ireland

Lord Alderdice calls for Stormont speaker rules change

willie hay
Image caption Willie Hay will campaign as a DUP candidate in May's assembly elections

Former Stormont speaker Lord Alderdice has said the assembly rules should be changed to allow outgoing speakers to be automatically re-elected.

He made his call after it emerged that the current speaker, Willie Hay, will have to campaign as a DUP candidate in May's assembly elections.

For the past four years Willie Hay has been obliged to maintain neutrality between the parties as Stormont's presiding officer.

But on Monday he will be formally unveiled as one of the DUP's 44 candidates campaigning on a party political manifesto.

After the May election, if he is returned as a Foyle MLA and re-relected as Speaker, he will have to revert to his previous neutrality.

The rules are the same for Wales and Scotland, but the former speaker Lord Alderdice thinks both the Assembly and the NIO should consider changing the system along the lines of the Irish election.

Under the Irish constitution the only politician with a reserved slot in the next Dail is the current speaker or Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk.