Video - Mitchel McLaughlin becomes first Republican Speaker at Stormont

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness has paid tribute to the work done by the DUP’s William Hay as the first elected Speaker of the Assembly.

Nominating fellow Derryman, Mitchel McLaughlin to succeed Mr Hay, who now goes to the House of Lords, Mr McGuinness said: “I know well the breadth of Mitchel’s abilities, dedication and thoughtfulness of approach to political life. I believe him to be well suited to fulfil the onerous responsibility of being Speaker of this Assembly and what that entails.

Martin McGuinness with new Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin.

Martin McGuinness with new Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin.

“As a Derryman taking over from William Hay, a Londonderryman, this represents yet another symbolic, important step towards equality and inclusiveness. I pay tribute to William for the admirable way he represented this House and how fair and impartial his judgements were.”

First Minister Peter Robinson (DUP) joked: “I want to make clear first of all that there is no legal or constitutional requirement for the Speaker to come from the Foyle constituency, although I am sure that there is a recognition that there must be something special in the air down there to have the proposals coming from that constituency.”