Friday, 15 October 2010

Sure it’s not like the Assembly to have a row…

BACK in the mists of time – well about a year or so ago - there was a media furore about double-jobbing; that practice whereby a politician can be an MLA and an MP. Some even treble jobbed, as councillors, MLAs and MPs.

The mood of the electorate was crystal clear as evidenced by almost unanimous polling, irate callers to radio shows and countless letters to various editors - not to mention volumes of comment in the blogosphere.

So, one would have hoped, that after the temperature of the electorate was gauged to be red hot over this issue, the politicians in the Big House would have rushed to step down from posts. Some have…and some have not.

And so it came to pass that Independent Unionist MLA, Dawn Purvis, brought a Private Member’s Bill to be debated in the chamber that would bar MLAs from being councillors.

An eminently sensible piece of legislation, one would have thought. It did not strike at the parties that held both Westminster and Stormont seats, and could potentially lead to some new blood beginning their political ascent through the electoral ranks.

While the Bill passed with a minor amendment, it resulted in a heated and, at times acrimonious debate in the chamber.

Such was the mud-slinging in the chamber there is now serious consideration by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure that it should nominate the 100-yard political acrimony as a future Commonwealth Games event. As well as our boxers bringing back gold medals, the Northern Ireland MLAs would sweep the boards, catapulting us to the top of the medal league table.

The Bill itself now passes to the Further Consideration Stage when MLA can table more changes, if they wish. And we sincerely hope that as MLAs continue to consider the Bill, they will consider asking their constituents the following question:

“In this time of economic hardship do you consider it right and proper that I have two jobs and you have no job at all?”

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