The Newsletter has some more detail on that ‘fine’ story. The official party line is that exists, but it is not £20,000. “the figure was ‘paltry’ in comparison, and not five figures”. (BTW, Guido’s thoughts: We need less party discipline and more free thinking from our politicians).
It had been reported that an internal revolt had been sparked among DUP candidates, due to the contract and, in particular, the resignation letter, which is to be signed and can be triggered if members seriously breach party policy while an MLA.
This resignation would not just be from the DUP but as an MLA full stop – which some candidates have noted could leave them without a job.
A two-page contract with a letter of resignation attached is said to have been received by a number of candidates. The standard DUP MLA’s contract is understood to include a line to the effect of: ‘I resign from the Northern Ireland Assembly with immediate effect…’
This could be invoked if, for example an MLA is convicted of a criminal offence or totally disregards party policy.
According the Newsletter, the contract stipulates:
– an MLA must produce yearly finances;
– turn up to critical votes and meetings;
– support the party on the manifesto commitments they are elected on;
– be of good behaviour and not bring the party into disrepute;
– individuals are bound by collective party decisions and the those of the party executive.
Fines are regularly imposed by a party disciplinary panel, and one out-going MLA last night told the News Letter he had been fined £200 for not attending an important vote and another £50 for missing a group meeting.
He insisted: “It’s nothing new. Any modern party must have good internal disciplinary structures.” Party candidates – at least 43 – are due to be meet on Thursday, when they will be formally ratified.
Any dissension then over contracts or the manifesto would have very little time to be addressed, with Assembly nominations opening next Monday.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty