UP to a few weeks ago the general population could be forgiven for thinking that Northern Ireland had no MEPs, as their profile was, well they didn’t really have one (although Jim Allister has a profile for an entirely different reason).
But come May, we’ll all be going to the polls to select Northern Ireland’s representatives in the European Parliament.
And so the jostling has begun.
Opening salvoes have been fired. Jim Nicholson will be the joint Conservative/Ulster Unionist candidate, announced officially at last week-end’s Ulster Unionist Party Conference.
And now there is a good healthy row brewing over European issues. First there is the question of succession - what should happen should your MEP quit or die mid-term.
The NIO is pushing ahead with legislation to allow the MEP’s party to pick a replacement, saving all that tedious mucking about with by-elections.
The Electoral Commission’s proposal that a list of a possible substitutes should be made available to the electorate before polling day was ‘discounted’ and Jim Allister was less than pleased.
He suggested that under the government’s plans, a party (read DUP) could field a high-profile candidate and when successful they could step aside for a junior player. And he warned that this could be open to a judicial challenge. Well he is familiar with the courts after all.