RHI scandal: SF says Robin Newton’s position is ‘untenable’

Caral Ni Chuilin said Robin Newton had 'undermined his impartiality'
Caral Ni Chuilin said Robin Newton had 'undermined his impartiality'

The DUP’s partners in government said that speaker Robin Newton’s position is now “untenable”.

The statement from the party on Thursday is more harsh and definitive than one released on Wednesday.

With a huge bloc of MLAs from the Alliance, SDLP and UUP having already seriously questioned the ability of the speaker to continue, late on Wednesday afternoon Sinn Fein weighed in to say that Mr Newton had compromised his own “impartiality” and “integrity”.

Caral Ni Chuilin said she had written to Mr Newton to say his explanation for allowing Arlene Foster to speak without the approval of her partner Martin McGuinness had not been “satisfactory”.

However, she stopped short of making a direct, unambiguous call for him to quit.

Then on Thursday, a statement from Caral Ni Chuilin said she was making it “clear that the position of the Speaker Robin Newton was untenable following Monday’s debacle in the Assembly”.

This means that Sinn Fein’s 28 MLAs now join the 28-strong MLAs of the SDLP and UUP who have already called for him to quit, plus the eight-strong Alliance MLAs who had said he should “reflect on the situation and decide whether he is capable of carrying out the role impartially”.

In all, it means that four of the five main parties at the very least lack confidence in him, or have outright said he should go.

This amounts to 59% of the total number of MLAs in the Assembly.