First day of new assembly term

MLAs on the opening day of the new assembly
Image caption MLAs on the opening day of the new assembly

What's the old motto, "start as you mean to go on"?

Jim Allister certainly provided the press with a fair bit of colour on his first day in the Stormont chamber, objecting to the DUP's deal with Sinn Fein over the speaker's position.

Under the deal, Francie Molloy will get the job in 2014.

In the meantime, I gather, Sinn Fein and the DUP will try to appoint Mr Molloy as principal deputy speaker - a new rank at Stormont.

Mr Allister tried to force a vote over Francie Molloy's nomination, embarrassing the DUP by referring to the Upper Bann MP David Simpson's allegations in the Commons back in 2007.

Mr Simpson claimed Mr Molloy had been a police informer.

However, the DUP shrugged off Mr Allister's intervention.

When he tried to force the deputy speaker's nomination to a formal vote Mr Allister could not persuade another MLA to act as a teller.

Outside in the great hall, Mr Allister hogged the microphone so long that Peter Robinson, pointing to his watch, eventually led a phalanx of his MLAs in more or less nudging the TUV leader out of the way.

It wasn't exactly the "brawl in the hall" but a sign of how relations might be between the 38 and the one lost sheep in the future.

My colleague Stephen Walker has more of the mood of the Opening session here.

After the colourful antics, the five main parties are now starting to discuss various issues such as the review of public administration, the cohesion, sharing and integration strategy and education.

It's a nod towards the Ulster Unionist demand for a pre-agreed programme for government.

However no-one is expecting full agreement on such hotly debated topics and the Ulster Unionists aren't exactly in much of a position to insist upon it.

The parties might informally sort out the allocation of the Stormont departments tomorrow behind closed doors.

Or it might be delayed until Monday morning, shortly before the matter is brought to the assembly chamber.

Either way it looks like both the UUP and the SDLP will take the single ministries on offer - power it seems is a drug neither party can give up, even if being being bit part players in the executive will make it harder for them to pose as a viable opposition in the future.

Talking of contentious issues, having spoken to a senior DUP figure I suspect any changes in education will be more gradual than some of the recent newspaper headlines about bringing back the 11-plus would imply.

Expect instead more cooperation with the organisations running the two current private tests, the AQE and the GL.

There's likely to be pressure for a single test, but still a private one.

Also expect more support for primary school teachers preparing their children for tests - could, for example, future exams be held within primary schools rather than at the grammar schools?

The details aren't clear, but the emphasis will differ markedly from Caitriona Ruane's tenure.

So back to the assembly chamber on Monday when, I imagine, Jim Allister might have something more to say.

Around the BBC