William Hay reappointed

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Foyle DUP MLA Willie Hay has been re-appointed as the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

Mr Hay was chosen by the the 108 recently elected MLAs to continue in his position as Speaker which he has held since 2007.

The appointment of the Speaker was the first act of the new Assembly at Stormont.

East Derry SDLP MLA John Dallat and Sinn Féin MLA Francie Molloy have also been reappointed as deputy Speakers and Roy Beggs was also chosen.

Mr Hay was the first Speaker to be directly chosen by MLAs when he was first appointed to the role in 2007.

Last week he topped the poll in the Foyle constituency to return to Stormont.

Prior to his appointment yesterday there had been speculation that Sinn Féin would ask for one of its MLAs to be appointed to the post but the party backed Mr Hay’s appointment.

It has been suggested that a deal may have been worked out which would see Mr Hay step down from the post ahead of the next election and that Mr Molloy would assume the role of Speaker. Before stepping down as First Minister, Ian Paisley had said he would not object to a Speaker coming from the other side of the house.

Mr Hay was first elected as a councillor in Derry in 1981 and served on the Council until last year when he gave up his seat to focus on his role as Speaker. He also served as mayor of Derry in 1993.

He became an MLA in the first Assembly in 1998.

Mr Hay has served on a range of bodies in the statutory and voluntary sector, including the Western Education & Library Board, the Northern Ireland Housing Council, the Port and Harbour Commission, and the Policing Board.

The DUP Assembly member enjoyed the support of all parties in the Chamber during his previous term as Speaker and was praised by both Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Hay deserved particular credit for his role in overseeing many contentious debates during the term of the last Assembly and for his impartiality and fairness.