AS we approach the Assembly elections, the candidacy for each party has become something of a mini-plot before the election kicks fully into gear with all the back-biting and outrageous statements that fill this and every other column from January.
At the very least we will see a new crop of MLAs with many standing aside, such as former SDLP and current Sinn Féin member Billy Leonard.
The Ulster Unionist party has seen several standing MLAs and potential new blood candidates pushed aside. Sitting MLAs George Savage and David McClarty are in jeopardy, new faces such as Harry Hamilton are likely not to appear on the UUP ticket. This leads some to question whether there party will ever seek to reduce the average age of its MLAs below 50+.
And, the SDLP has seen shifts in their Derry powerbase structure with wrangling over who will fill Mark Durkan’s shoes.
Helen Quigley has left ‘public life’ with the BBC claiming there was a disagreement over Mark Durkan’s replacement. Donegal native Pól Callaghan has taken Durkan’s spot in the Assembly until May, with Derry city councillor Mark H. Durkan saying he wants to win a seat rather than be co-opted.
Add into the equation the fact that the DUP has already inserted several new MLAs, who no doubt will be seeking election and there is a very real prospect that the 108 MLAs returned in May will have many new faces – will party officers be able to corral them all, or will there be fresh thinking? We’ll leave you to decide.