The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, together with MLAs and staff, has marked the work of the former Speaker, Lord Hay of Ballyore at a special reception in Parliament Buildings.
The Speaker, Mr McLaughlin presented Lord Hay with an engraved gavel as a memento of his time as Speaker and to mark his distinguished career and contribution to the Assembly.
Speaking at the event in Belfast yesterday, Mr McLaughlin said: “It was always my intention that the Assembly should have the opportunity to formally mark Lord Hay’s immense contribution to both the Assembly and to political life here.
“When the Assembly was restored in 2007, Lord Hay’s personal qualities of preferring to move people together forward undoubtedly made him the right Speaker at the right time.
“I particularly want to praise Lord Hay’s work to open up Parliament Buildings to underline that the Assembly is not just here for MLAs but for the people it represents.
“I am really encouraged when I look up from the Speaker’s chair at a busy public gallery or pass through this Great Hall to find it bustling with visiting groups.
“That is down in no small part to the initiatives steered by Lord Hay which have produced record numbers of visitors to the building in his time.
“Lord Hay can take great heart from the fact that Members from all parties have shown their personal respect and high regard for him today. I think he personally has not received the credit he deserves for his vital contribution in steering this Assembly through its first full mandate in a generation and today hopefully serves to put that right.”