The Ulster Unionist Party has called for Robin Newton to resign as Speaker of the Assembly now, rather than wait until the election of a new Speaker.
Roy Beggs MLA, a former Deputy Speaker in the Northern Ireland Assembly, said:
“This issue goes to the heart of public confidence in politics in Northern Ireland at a time when the credibility of Stormont and local politics is already at an all-time low.
“The office of Speaker should be above reproach and rather than resign after he chairs the election of a new Speaker, Robin Newton should simply go now. He should have resigned back in December when he showed a lack of impartiality.
“What we need now is a radical investigation into the Social Investment Fund (SIF), its operation and in particular the role of Special Advisers in its formulation. It needs to get to the heart of how the SIF funds were used by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
“With regard to the role of the Speaker, our 2017 Assembly Manifesto was very clear. We stated that it is vital that the public and the Assembly can have confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker and that in the last mandate this was brought into disrepute. As a result, we said that the election of the Speaker can no longer be subject to a carve-up between the two largest parties. We said in our Manifesto that we want to see future Speakers elected through a secret ballot of MLAs, and last night’s revelations have vindicated this position.”