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No thank you, "Mr Eastwood"!

Mark Devenport | 11:50 UK time, Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Anyone who watched Portsmouth overcome Wolves at the weekend may feel convinced of the need for referees to be able to consult video replays after what commentators refer to as a "stonewall" penalty was denied Wolves when the ref. failed to spot a seemingly obvious handball.

This morning I wondered whether the Stormont ref. Willie Hay should be able to consult a slow motion video replay after he ruled the DUP MLA Alex Easton out of order for not being in his seat in time to move a debate on the exodus of Protestant students from Northern Ireland universities.

At the start of today's business Mr Easton (referred to by the Speaker, Barry McGuigan style as "Mr Eastwood"), apparently wasn't in his seat in time to move his motion. The Ulster Unionist Robert Coulter raised an objection and after hearing that the North Down MLA had been doing a radio interview (with U105) Willie Hay ruled that the motion should not be debated.

However a disconsolate Mr Easton feels hard done by. First he was operating off an old "indicative timings" sheet, which originally scheduled his debate for 11.30 am not an hour earlier. Then he reckons that an appeal to the Video Ref (otherside known as Assembly Broadcasting) would reveal that he was in fact in his seat at 10:34:21, a good 39 seconds before his motion was due to be heard. He is suggesting the referee blew up early.

I suggest an independent tribunal on timings which could first clarify the Easton case before moving on to a survey of Manchester United goals scored after the allotted period of extra time has expired.

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