Thursday, 13 October 2011
Molloy and the Unnameable
Staying on the subject of the SDLP's Dominic Bradley being banned from speaking in the Assembly for a week for asking a question in Irish without providing an English translation (the strange case of a representative being democratically elected by voters only to be silenced for non-compliance with a non-rule), the Blether Region has discovered that an official Assembly leaflet makes the same unsubstantiated claim about a supposed obligation to translate into English anything said in Irish.
"If called, a Member may speak in the language of his or her choice, but must provide a translation if speaking in a language other than English."
Given that there appears to be no Standing Order to that effect, the question arises of whether this constitutes disinformation. Incidentally, a Liberal-Democrat blog supports the Blether Region's reading of events — and going by its posting of the original Hansard transcript, Dominic Bradley himself imagines that a translation must be provided. There certainly appears to be a good deal of confusion on the question.
Another issue is that, according to the BBC's Mark Devenport, in three years' time or so the Speaker of the Assembly, William Hay, will be stepping down in favour of Sinn Féin's Francie Molloy, who at that time will become the main presence in the Chair — and the person responsible for taking action against recalcitrant Members. Will he continue with the policy of silencing democratically elected representatives who choose to exercise their legal right to speak in a language of their choice? And will he continue to ask Members to provide translations in the absence of any legal basis for the requirement? The Blether Region hopes not.