Northern Ireland

David Trimble death: Assembly recall suspended

Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2020, Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey. Picture by Hugh Russell
Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2020, Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey. Picture by Hugh Russell Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2020, Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE planned recall of the assembly yesterday was suspended following the death of David Trimble.

The assembly was due to be recalled for the third time in another attempt to nominate a new speaker. It has not been sitting because the DUP has refused to vote for a speaker. The party is refusing to re-enter power sharing amid its continued protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The SDLP, led by South Belfast MLA Matthew O'Toole at Stormont, announced it will form the official opposition.

However, following Lord Trimble's death on Monday, Speaker Alex Maskey said all the main parties agreed "it would be inappropriate" to hold the recall.

"It is important that the assembly formally expresses its condolences upon the loss of Lord Trimble, the first first minister of this assembly and it is only right that this should take place in the assembly chamber," Mr Maskey said.

"Following engagement with the political parties, it has been agreed that I will gather members in the assembly chamber at 12pm on Tuesday 2 August 2022 for tributes to be paid. Following the tributes, the speaker will lead assembly members in signing a book of condolences."

In addition, the recall of the assembly which was originally scheduled to take place yesterday will now take place on Wednesday August 3.

Mr Maskey was the first member of Sinn Féin to serve as Lord Mayor of Belfast from 2002 to 2003.

"I was very sorry to hear of the death of Lord Trimble," he said.

"David and I worked together through many challenging times, the high point being the Good Friday Agreement. We were colleagues in the first assembly in 1998 in what was a very different assembly chamber from today. He undoubtedly took difficult decisions in difficult circumstances throughout this period and played a huge part in the peace process. However, I am particularly mindful of his wife Daphne and his family who are mourning the loss of a husband and father."