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Live Reporting

Robin Sheeran, Iain McDowell and Sharon Ferguson

All times stated are UK

  1. Assembly controversy set to continue tomorrow

    After a long, draining day, business is finally at an end, and with the assembly resuming tomorrow morning we're going to need a bit of a rest!

    Today's major developments are that Stormont has collapsed and an assembly election will be held on 2 March.

    Parliament Buildings at Stormont

    The controversy won't end tonight, though, as tomorrow is Opposition Day at the assembly, with the UUP and SDLP bringing one motion on the "failure of the executive", and another calling for a public inquiry into the RHI scheme.

    Proceedings begin at 10:30, so please join us then.

    Goodnight for now!

  2. 'Real politics for real people'

    Winding the debate, Paul Frew of the DUP hails the motion as "real politics for real people".

    He then launches into an attack on Sinn Féin, saying: "We have now one party that have walked away and failed the people of Northern Ireland."

    Paul Frew

    "We are elected to this house to represent people, not to walk away and not to resign."  

    The motion passes on an oral vote.

  3. 'Dreadful day for Northern Ireland'

    Justice Minister Claire Sugden says MLAs are debating a matter that affects people's lives on what is "a dreadful day for Northern Ireland".

    Claire Sugden

    She says that she and her executive colleagues have co-operated on "a portfolio of initiatives".

    But Ms Sugden adds: "It's clear from the events of the day and the emptiness of this chamber that practical issues are of no interest to the people who wish to play politics."

  4. 'Elderly and vulnerable bear brunt of violence'

    Paula Bradshaw (below) of the Alliance Party says alcohol-related crime is a particular problem in her South Belfast constituency.

    She says elderly and vulnerable people "bear the brunt".

    Paula Bradshaw

    Ms Bradshaw suggests that more responsibility should be given to the Police and Community Safety Partnerships.

    Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson says it would be useful to have more information on the subject, and notes that alcohol was involved in 59% of domestic incidents where violence occurred.

  5. 'We have societal problem with alcohol'

    With the excitement having died down, the assembly turns to the day's final piece of business -  a motion on alcohol-related crime brought by the DUP's Alex Easton.

    He says UK-wide statistics show that "alcohol-related crime costs government nearly £1bn a year".

    A woman covering as a man prepares to hit her

    Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie (above) says "we have a societal problem with alcohol".

    He notes that "20% of all crime is alcohol-related" and that rises to 47% when it comes to crime against the person.

  6. 'Ruling makes mockery of this house'

    Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt asks for Deputy Speaker Danny Kennedy to point out the standing order under which Temporary Speaker Lord Morrow made his decision not to allow the debate to proceed.

    Mr Kennedy says it is clear that standing order 1.2, which states that "the "speaker’s ruling shall be final on all questions of procedure and order", brings the matter to a conclusion.

    View more on twitter

    Making quite an outburst, Eamonn McCann says the decision "makes a mockery of this house" and was a case of Lord Morrow "pulling the plug on this debate".

    "You're wrong, Maurice [Morrow] was wrong!" the People Before Profit MLA shouts.

    "What's the point of us being here?"

  7. 'Debate over Speaker Newton won't go ahead'

    A little later than had been planned, the assembly resumes, with Deputy Speaker Danny Kennedy in the chair.

    He says that Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy did not observe normal procedures when he attempted not to move his party's debate of no confidence in Speaker Robin Newton.

    Danny Kennedy

    But he says there is no allowance in assembly rules for the ruling of Temporary Speaker Lord Morrow - that the debate would not proceed - to be overruled.

    Therefore, the debate will not go ahead.

    Alliance Party leader Naomi Long points out that the ruling was taken with reference to a similar situation that occurred in the past, but asks that decisions are taken not on precedent but instead by good practice.

  8. 'Mess and tomfoolery is happening here'

    Events in the chamber take a bizarre turn, as temporary Speaker Lord Morrow abandons the chair as People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann brands his ruling as "disgraceful".

    The assembly is left speakerless for almost five minutes and MLAs chatter among themselves and throw jibes across the room, until Deputy Speaker Patsy McGlone takes the chair.

    Patsy McGlone

    He says suspends the sitting until 19:30 in order for a solution to be found to the "absolute mess we've arrived into"

    There are "lot of issues" to be dealt with, he says, without the "tomfoolery, to be honest with you, that's been happening here".

  9. 'We have a right to this debate'

    Sinn Féin MLAs walk out en masse after Conor Murphy decides not to move the motion of no confidence in Speaker Robin Newton.

    But Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry says that because Mr Murphy began his speech, he has moved the motion "by implication" and has "perhaps abused the procedures of the house" with his actions.

    MLAs in the assembly chamber

    Therefore, he says, the debate should proceed, and his party colleague Stewart Dickson says MLAs "have an absolute right to this debate".

    But Temporary Speaker Lord Morrow rejects that suggestion, and says it was clear that the Sinn Féin MLA was "not moving the motion", and he turns down attempts by other members to raise points-of-order on the issue.

  10. From Fresh Start to fresh elections...

    BBC News Northern Ireland

    Video content

    Video caption: Fresh start to fresh elections

    From the Fresh Start Agreement to the possibility of fresh elections, how did Northern Ireland end up facing a second assembly election in just 10 months?

  11. Assembly will return in slimline form

    BBC News Northern Ireland

    Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has announced that assembly elections will be held on 2 March, but when the assembly returns it will be in a more slimline form, with 18 fewer MLAs.

    Election stats

    That is because MLAs passed legislation last year to reduce their numbers to five per constituency.

  12. 'Sinn Féin won't move motion of no confidence in speaker'

    Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin opens the debate on the vote of no confience in Speaker Robin Newton.

    He says it refers to the speaker's handling of events in the chamber on 19 December last year, when MLAs from every party except the DUP staged a walk-out as then first minister Arlene Foster made a statement about her role in setting up the RHI scheme.

    Conor Murphy

    Mr Murphy objects to the use of a petition of concern lodged by the DUP, which will ensure that today's confidence motion is defeated.

    "The DUP have used [the petition of concern] 82 times without support from any other MLA in the assembly," he says.

    As a result of this, he concludes: "I will not be moving this motion".

  13. Lord Morrow takes the chair

    Next up is a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Speaker Robin Newton.

    This places Mr Newton in an awkward position, and he explains that procedure demands that a temporary speaker takes the chair.

    Lord Morrow

    The position is to be taken by the MLA who has served the assembly for the greatest number of days - that's Lord Morrow of the DUP.

  14. DUP-linked advisers deny poultry interest claim

    BBC News Northern Ireland

    Three past and present DUP special advisers deny a claim by former enterprise minister Jonathan Bell during the RHI cost-cutting debate that they had "extensive interests in the poultry industry".

    Timothy Johnston, a special adviser to former first minister Arlene Foster, says: "I have no family connections to the poultry industry and I have no connection to the RHI scheme.

    "These are unsubstantiated allegations. I have two brothers-in-law in the poultry industry. They have no connection to RHI."


    John Robinson, a special adviser to Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, says: "I have no personal interest in the poultry industry.

    "Two of my brothers are poultry farmers but they have no connections to RHI."

    Andrew Crawford, a former special adviser in the Department of Finance, told the BBC last month that his brother is the director of a company that successfully applied to the RHI scheme.

    He said: "I never sought to keep the RHI scheme open at the original higher tariff against the wishes of the minister."

  15. Debate over RHI costs adjourned until next week

    Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt asks for confirmation that Sinn Féin will not be speaking in the debate.

    Carál Ní Chuilín intervenes to say it is her party's position to look for further scrutiny.

    Mike Nesbitt

    Mr Nesbitt says Mr Bell's contribution "has whetted my appetite for the debate when it resumes next Monday".

    The speaker puts it to the house on an oral vote and the members agree to adjourn the debate until next week.

  16. 'RHI changes blocked over DUP advisers' poultry interests'

    In his brief contribution on the debate, suspended DUP MLA Jonathan Bell drops another bombshell.

    He says DUP advisers John Robinson and Andrew Crawford issued instructions to "try not to get Arlene called to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)" over her role in the RHI scandal.

    They also said, he adds, that "under no circumstances allow Jonathan Bell to be called" before Stormont's PAC.

    Video content

    Video caption: DUP poultry industry interests stopped RHI scrutiny, claims Jonathan Bell

    That needs to be investigated, he says, and an adjournment of the debate will allow that to happen.

    He also claims that during his time as enterprise minister, his then adviser Timothy Cairns told him he "will not be allowed to reduce the tariff on [the RHI] scheme".

    That, he says, was because DUP advisers Timothy Johnston and John Robinson "have such extensive interests in the poultry industry", which has been a major beneficiary of the RHI scheme.

    He says he has "kept the records in many many formats", and his party has suspended him for "telling the truth".

  17. 'Windfall tax would be fair and legal'

    Steven Agnew welcomes the opportunity to adjourn until next week, and says his party does not support the economy minister's proposals.

    Steven Agnew

    His Green Party would propose instead a windfall tax of 100% on excess profits, he says.

    "It would be fair, it would be legal, and it would save public money."

  18. 'No-one should underestimate challenge to institutions'

    BBC News Northern Ireland

    After announcing that an election will be held on 2 March, Norther Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire says no-one should "underestimate the challenge to the political institutions" and "what is at stake".

    James Brokenshire

    "While it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense, I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that poll," he adds.