Friday, 26 June 2009

Do the MLA shuffle

DO the MLA shuffle! It’s the latest version of musical chairs, a must for any party worried about public perception or the forthcoming Westminster election. First out of the traps at the start of the week was the DUP when it was announced that MPs Nigel Dodds, Gregory Campbell and Jeffery Donaldson were stepping down as Ministers. They were being replaced by Sammy Wilson (who keeps his third job as Minister but moves to Finance), DUP-hardliner Nelson McCausland (who joins the executive as Culture Minister) and former management consultant Robin Newton (who is to take over from Donaldson as Junior Minister). Edwin Poots returns to the executive as Environment Minister.

And SDLP leader and MP Mark Durkan packed in his chairmanship of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment committee. He is to be replaced by erstwhile euro candidate Alban Maginness.

Then followed the news that the DUP was to shuffle its committee chair people – with MPs Iris Robinson, Rev Willie McCrea and David Simpson all relinquishing their respective positions at the top of the Health, Agriculture and Social Development committees. As of Monday they are to be replaced by Jim Wells (Health), Ian Paisley junior (Agriculture) and Simon Hamilton (Social Development).

All four outgoing chairs will lose their £10,000+ per annum office holder payments.

At least the Economics A Level expert, Mr Wilson won’t see such a drastic reduction in his pay packet. He will lose a few quid when he resigns from council, but he will keep his £33,000+ salary boost for being a minister. Maybe all that economics expertise is going to some good use!

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