William Hay ‘humbled’ by elevation from Stormont to Lords

William Hay
William Hay

The speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly has said he is humbled after being appointed to the House of Lords.

William Hay, 64, said when he first entered politics more than 35 years ago in Londonderry, he could never have imagined the opportunities that awaited. He has decided to sit on the crossbenches.

The DUP Foyle MLA, born in the Irish Republic, has overseen at times raucous debates at Stormont since the devolved institutions were resurrected in 2007.

He said: “I am delighted but humbled by today’s announcement.

“It has been a great privilege for me to have been able to serve all the people of Londonderry for over 35 years, a city which I am very proud to call home, and to have been able to serve the Northern Ireland Assembly as Speaker since 2007.”

He became speaker in 2007 after Sinn Fein agreed to support policing in Northern Ireland and entered a power-sharing coalition with the DUP.

Mr Hay has chaired many fractious debates at Stormont, had to rule on alleged cases of unparliamentary language and has suspended his own party colleagues.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said the unionist voice from the city of Londonderry would be amplified within the Houses of Parliament.

He said: “I have known the Hay family since the formation of the DUP and William has been an excellent public representative for the people of Londonderry for over 30 years.

“William was the first ever DUP councillor to serve as the mayor of Londonderry. His leadership in the city is recognised right across the community.

“More recently, as Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, William has been able to command respect across the House, in what can often be a testing debating chamber.

“With his commitment to public service and experience in public life, I know that William will be a tremendous asset as a DUP peer.”

William Hay was first elected to Londonderry City Council in 1981 and served as mayor in 1993 and deputy mayor in 1992, until stepping down from the council in 2010.

The veteran politician was first elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998.

He is the only unionist representing the people of Foyle.