Northern Ireland news


Alliance surge leaves party's 11 new MLAs without Stormont offices

Alliance party leader Naomi Long with her team of MLAs. Picture by Mal McCann

THE ALLIANCE surge has wrong-footed Stormont authorities who are struggling to allocate offices for the party’s new MLAs.

There are “issues” regarding the provision of offices for newly-elected Alliance representatives, The Irish News understands, while finding a meeting room that will accommodate the party's 17 MLAs is also posing difficulties for assembly staff.

It was speculated last night that Alliance will be allocated the meeting room previously used by the SDLP, which saw its number of MLAs cut from 12 to eight at the assembly poll.

"Of the 11 new Alliance MLAs none have a permanent office," a Stormont source said.

"It’s all a bit of a farce."

The assembly has yet to comment.

The controversy dubbed ‘roomgate’ by one assembly insider comes as the DUP signalled it will have no issue switching wings at Stormont if and when a new first and deputy first minister are appointed. The two big parties have already ‘flipped’ in the assembly chamber with Sinn Féin now occupying the benches to the speaker’s right.

Since Ian Paisley first assumed the first minister’s role, the DUP has occupied the ground floor ‘west wing’ at Parliament Buildings, while Sinn Féin has been housed in the opposite side. However, Michelle O’Neill is expected to be allocated the office that was occupied by Paul Givan up until February this year, when he resigned as first minister.

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