The Slugger Awards 2008: Best MLA

As August comes to a close, we announce the last couple of Slugger Awards categories. The late David Ervine MLA might have been an obvious and popular candidate for this award – because of his ability to transcend the normal babble of day-to-day politics, to cross from the boundaries of his Loyalism (he often polled as the most trusted unionist, by nationalists) and to communicate articulately (some commented that he often spoke too articulately, and teased about his having ‘swallowed a dictionary’. I know more than one colleague who signed up to for their learned ‘word of the day’ in Davy’s honour!) So, you have 108 to choose from – leaders, ministers, speakers, humble backbenchers, they come in all shapes and sizes, colours and flavours. Who has caught your eye? Now remember you already have been taking advantage of your opportunity to nominate for Stormont Committee Chair of the Year and theoretically there might be other overlaps – Councillor, Participation, Blogger awards spring to mind…

How do we measure the performance of our politicians with any objectivity – that’s the question. Already judges have been taken by those of you big enough to make nominations form your own party of choice and then from another. Mark McGregor’s admirable praise of Jim Allister’s political skills (albeit not his political position) stands as a worthy credit; others have joined in. Let’s have more of that.

Eight parties (Alliance, DUP, Green Party, Independent Health Coalition, PUP, SDLP, SF and UUP, not to forget Independent MLA, Gerry McHugh) are ploughing their furrows with varying degrees of diligence. Attendance matters, but more important to the voter, probably, is delivery… who has changed something, promoted a new idea, challenged an orthodoxy or inspired with their oratory?

If we are to imagine a Belfast or rural omnibus, about whom would the passengers be talking? Who would inspire a transfer at the next Assembly elections across that strong invisible community barrier?

You have all been behaving rather well in recent days on the positivity register – indeed I have had feedback from some ‘lurkers’ about standards on this Slugger Awards site rising, to their obvious pleasure – so don’t hold back from your creative and imaginative ways of giving credit where credit is due, and by implication, less to certain others.

And remember the last Award of all will allow you to elevate some more trenchant and critical analysis of our public and elected servants, so hold your collective breaths a little more yet!

  • Garibaldy

    Is there a separate award for minister of the year Mick? If not, Margaret Ritchie. For standing up to some of the more outlandish nonsense, while also trying to improve the quantity of social housing, and promote integrated housing.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “If Sinn Fein are going to the beauty parlour then why can’t we all go to the beauty parlour?” he said regarding SF talking to the Brits while everyone was ignoring the loyalists circa 95. For that line alone, he gets my vote.

  • Mark McGregor

    I can only recall one Private Members Bill, the Carers Allowance by David McNarry.

    Can anyone advise if there have been others.

    If its the only one he gets my vote.

  • ggn

    Ba mhaith liom Dominic Ó Brollacháin a ainmniú de bhrí gurb é an úrlabhra is fearr sa tionól ar son na Gaeilge.

    An dá fhadhb a bheadh agam leis ná nach deir sé an rud ceanna i mBéarla is a deir sé i nGaeilge agus go labhraíonn sé minic go leor ar bhonn pearsánta nuair is léir nach mbeadh tacaíocht a pháirtí aige.

    Sin ráite is maith liom é agus cuireann sé an bhrú agus an náire ar Shinn Féin ar cheist na Gaeilge.

    Is é an t-aon duine sa SDLP a bheinn sásta vota ar bith a thabhairt dó.

    1. Dominic Ó Brollacháin

  • J Kelly

    Martina Anderson will be getting my vote her energy, workload and committment to Derry and its people is outstanding.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    GGN, it’s just plain bad manners to intentionally say something in a language when you know the *large* majority of the people who will hear or read you won’t understand what you’ve just said.

  • ggn


    The subject of my nomination is quite clear and was aimed soley at the propreiter of this site and the author of the above blog, Mr. Mick Fealty, who is capable of understanding what I said.

    It is not my intention to direct my comments to anyone else and my comments are merely a response to the invitation above.

    Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    “It is not my intention to direct my comments to anyone else and my comments are merely a response to the invitation above” – and, rather than, er, posting on a thread, you didn’t use email because? Which is to say, stow your disingenuous nonsense, you were being as boorishly rude as somebody British would be if they suddenly turned up posting, in English, on a Francophone thread. Manners maketh man, lack of them all too sadly maketh far too many gaeilge ‘advocates.

  • ggn


    The linguistic policy of this website is a matter for Mr. Fealty and not the subject of this thread. I have broken no rules here.

    I will not be responding to your points as that is not the subject of the thread.

    Again, I thank you for making your feelings known to me.

  • Skintown Lad

    Sorry to be a pain but are the nominations for best COUNCILLOR closed now? I couldn’t post on the relevant thread

  • Rooster Cogburn

    A magnificently po-faced response, but utterly irrelevant. This isn’t a matter of other peoples rules, it’s a matter of your manners. As I say, you’ve behaved exactly as boorishly as a monoglot Anglophone would have if he or she had turned up and starting blaring on in English in eg a Francophone thread. I actually suspect you know you were – yes, probably unthinkingly – rude, but are simply too prideful/stubborn to admit that now. Oh well. Your behaviour should not of course be falsely extrapolated outwards to draw any wider reflections upon the nature of the advocates of gaeilge – one bad apple etc etc.

  • Traditional_Unionist

    while I normally look with sadness to stormont I still feel I am able to put that to the side for a minute to nominate the UUP’s Basil McCrea. He is a breath of fresh air within politics, have always found him to be very honest and tolerant.

    As I say, breath of fresh air.

  • RG Cuan

    Aontaím gur cheart gradam éigin a thabhairt do Dominic Bradley ón SDLP mar gheall ar an seasamh láidir atá aige féin go pearsanta ar cheist na Gaeilge.

    Is iomaí duine sa dá pháirtí Aontachtacha a bhfuil ‘frithghradam’ tuilte acu as a naimhdeas don teanga dhúchais.

  • ggn


    “seasamh láidir atá aige féin go pearsanta ar cheist na Gaeilge”

    Seadh, ach nuair a labharaíonn sé i mBéarla is léir go bhfuil sé ag caint ar son an SDLP ar chursaí teagan ACH is soiléir nach bhfuil sé ach ag caint ar a shon fhéin agus é ag caint i nGaeilge.

    Tá sé féin radacach cumasach ar son na Gaeilge gan amhrás, sin an fáth a chuir mé ainm s’aige chun tosaigh ach ní bheadh sé ceart an rud ceanna a smaoineadh fán a pháirtí, i mo thuairmse cibé ar bith.

    Ba chóir dom a rá go ndéanann sé obair mhaith don a thoghcheantar féin ach nach dtaitníonn na hionsuithe gan chiall a dhéanann sé ar Shinn Féin ar chúiseanna polaitiúla amháin.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Et tota spes mea non nisi in magna misericordia tua. Da quod iubes et iube quod vis. Imperas nobis continentiam. Et cum scirem, ait quidam, quia nemo potest esse continens, nisi deus det, et hoc ipsum erat sapientiae, scire cuius esset hoc donum. Per continentiam quippe colligimur et redigimur in unum, a quo in multa defluximus. minus enim te amat qui tecum aliquid amat, quod non propter te amat. o amor, qui semper ardes et numquam extingueris, caritas, deus meus, accende me! Continentiam iubes: da quod iubes et iube quod vis.

  • Mr E Mann

    I’m, a noob and I bet this is well-retrodden ground here, but wouldn’t it be better to call the award *most effective* or *most distinguished* MLA? “Best” implies “doing the most good,” something that you can’t really coherently attribute to someone whose basic goals you oppose. It’s easier to recognize someone from the “other” side as effective, so this might get a less partisan response, which I take to be the whole point.

  • Mr E Mann

    >Et tota spes mea non nisi in magna
    >misericordia tua.

    Darned irredentist!

  • slug

    En général je vais utiliser comme critère les personnes qui peuvent débattre sans le lire leurs notes et sans rendre les choses mortelles ennuyeux. Il ya donc seulement un petit nombre de députés qui seraient admissibles.

    Sur le côté UUP Je voudrais suggérer Basil McCrea pour livening choses un peu. D’autres parties des principaux digne de proposition d’inscription comprennent Alban Maginnis d’efficacité, Barry McEldiff pour le divertissement, David Ford pour naître de sérieux points d’opposition et de prendre au sérieux, et Peter Wier pour son style bien à débattre.

    Je ne suis pas la nomination des ministres que c’est de cette manière que je suis en terpreting ce concours.

  • RK

    Dolores Kelly – I don’t know of any other MLA who has had to endure physical pain for their work this year. On Policing Board as well. Actually just been reminded would need to mention SF’s Daithi McKay for the same reasons. Maybe should include Paisley jr, he suffered plenty of pain this year too! Just not sure if you could say that was physical… although maybe self-inflicted!

  • Cuairteoir

    Do politicians in the north now have policies about Latin or French? Or are they now fluent in these languages?

    Just wondering…

  • Paul

    Catriona Ruane utalja Sammy-t es ezert, szerintem, Sammy Wilson a legjobb kepviselo Eszak Irorszagban.

  • dewi

    Methu peidio a gwneud cyfraniad. Margaret R certainly made waves – it’s a b it difficult to suggest the best as the whole body seems more than a little dysfunctional. Early days I suppose.

  • Mairseail Ui Neill

    Sílm go bhfuil bualadh bos mór tuilte ag duine ar bith a bhíonn ag iarraidh an ghaeilge agus chúis na gaeilge a chuir chun tosaigh taobh isitgh den tionól.

    I dtaca le sin sílm gur chomhair Gearóid Mac Adhaimh a luaidh mar gheall ar úsaid na ghaeilge agus dian-oibre ata ar bon aige chun Acht na Gaeilge a bhaint amach.

    Tá Barra Mac Giolla Duibh i gcónaí suimiúl agus é ag caint sa tionól.

  • gareth mccord

    davy ervine r u having a sick laugh!!
    he knew who was responsible for the u.v.f. killings since the u.v.f. “ceasefire” but denied the u.v.f. commited the killings. he covered up for british agents in his ranks and worked for bunter graham u.v.f. leader/british agent. davy also drank with known drug dealers and covered for family to deal drugs. he led lisa dorrian family down a dark alley by giving them false info on lisa’s death. i could go on and on and on.

  • Stewartstown Harp

    I wish to nominate Billy Armstrong as MLA of the year. He knows all about avoiding planning laws,how to keep all your allowances in the family and how to avoid paying rates on your property. What a man!!!!!!!!

  • Granni Trixie

    This thread has certainly flushed out who supports what political party…with that in mind,I think voting on “the best” politicians on Slugger is a futile exercise. Though if we have to, mines any Alliance politician.

  • Driftwood

    Ian Paisley Jnr.

    For so many reasons it would take several pages.
    He has shone like a million galaxies, his brilliance is beyond compare. How can anyone else be even considered to tie this mans bootlaces.

  • The Raven

    Gareth, I’d be interested to read some back-up on those claims. Not being from the city myself, and not very au fait with such things, I’d be really interested in knowing more.

    From my point of view, and regardless of community background, I had several choices, and had narrowed them down to Mrs Gildernew, and Mr McGimpsey.

    I’m going to reserve judgement on Mrs Gildernew until I see how she handles a couple of issues which are on the boil and off the radar at the moment.

    So I’m going to nominate Michael McGimpsey. His portfolio is one no one would want. And while the uphill struggle hasn’t even really begun – MRSA? Nurses pay? Beating the consultants back down? Waiting times? – he fought hard for increased cash for mental health provision, heart surgery, bowel cancer screening, increased breast cancer screening, the widening of IVF availability, not to mention increased cervical cancer screening and men’s health provision.

    There’s no politics in my choice, and many of you who have spent 9 hours in an A&E;waiting to be seen by an overpaid whitecoat, surrounded by couldn’t-care-less-nurses (as I did a couple of weeks ago) will rightly disagree. But there you have it.

  • joeCanuck

    I nominate Iris Robinson for her total success in educating the general public about the existence of bigoted anti-social neanderthals in our body politic.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “I nominate Iris Robinson for her total success in educating the general public about the existence of bigoted anti-social neanderthals in our body politic.” Touche!

    The Raven: “There’s no politics in my choice”. There is stacks of politics in your post (paragraph 4)! The allocation of resources is the essence of politics.

    What your post lacks is grandstanding and sectarianism. Mud-slinging about drug-dealing/UVF murders and all that shit is just another type of (uniquely Northern Ireland?) politics. We’re just not used to men’s health, nurses pay and the other issues you rightly flagged up.

    Sadly, many of our politicians seem incapable of appreciating such issues or their urgency. I’m looking at you, Ruane.

  • The Raven

    Sorry, Billy-Joe – i stand rightly corrected. I should have said “party politics”.

    Ruane…of course…I knew there was a name missing from my original list…

  • My nomination Mick is for Simon Hamilton.

    A new generation of unionist who has performed very well in the media and shows a lot of promise for the future.

  • NP

    @ the end of the day they are all blood sucking cunts.

  • Driftwood

    But what about the sheer joie de vivre that Ian Paisley Jnr and Billy Armstrong have done for the body politic here. The faith they have inculcated in our istitutions. I was once a cynic like you, until I seen the sheer power our locally reprenstative politicians can do for us. Rejoice!

  • NP

    Drifty : i see what you mean… “lethal force” & “shoot to kill” wheres that nice Mr stalker when you need clarification ?

    need a quote 4 double glazing ?

  • Half Pint

    The fact that there is not one serious nomination on this thread shows how pathetic the MLAs are. Jim Allister has had a bigger impact on the Assembly than any single MLA.

  • Red Paul

    Dawn Purves

    Two Saturdays ago our houses were in danger of being flooded. Phoned Dawn and she had the fire service out in 30 minutes, draining and pumping water. Then she called me back to check that it had been done.

    Cheers Dawn!

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Anyone gonna give Iris a vote?

    She born so immaculate, most pure and without sin!

    Sé do bheatha, a Iris, atá lán de ghrásta,
    Tá an Tiarna leat.
    Is beannaithe thú idir mná,
    Agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne ……


  • Marcus

    Brian Wilson of the Green Party has done a great job since he got in there. He has been a well liked representative not just for the Green Party but for every type of environmentalist out there.

  • joeCanuck

    Anyone gonna give Iris a vote?

    Pay attention Greagoir. See comment 4 this page.

  • Devil Eire

    Blogs such as this are a broadcast, not narrowcast medium. Just as there are multiple, parallel threads, not all of which are of interest to everybody, there is also room for multiple languages. Mick Fealty has even been known, I believe, to blog in Irish on SO’T.

    Newspapers are also broadcast, one-to-many, media. For example, the English-language Irish Times newspaper carries a regular Irish-language column without managing to fill its letters pages with invective from the outraged and excluded.

    Similarly, the comments of ggn, RG Cuan and others will find their intended constituency. A French speaker may even choose to respond to Slug’s comment. As for Latin, someone might have responded had an actual point been made, rather than a cut-and-paste from the scribblings of Augustine of Hippo.

    However, for those who may be offended by the mere sight of Irish in a primarily English-language medium, I offer something else out of context from Augustine:

    “What marvel that an unhappy sheep, straying from Thy flock, and impatient of Thy keeping, I became infected with a foul disease? And hence the love of griefs; not such as should sink deep into me; for I loved not to suffer, what I loved to look on; but such as upon hearing their fictions should lightly scratch the surface; upon which, as on envenomed nails, followed inflamed swelling, impostumes, and a putrefied sore. My life being such, was it life, O my God?”

  • Mack

    Dr William McCrea MLA should win. He is the main voice for the farming industry as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, he doesn’t let one civil servant of with any crap. He also is a very inteligent ability to deal with planning issues and provides 3 full time constituency offices accross South Antrim.

  • longshotkickdabucket

    Sammy Wilson , for his bare-faced cheek as Environment Minister

  • Mack

    Billy Armstrongs doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. having watched him attempting to speak during a debate on stormont live on Monday, I felt sorry for the rest of his party who seemed to look ambarrassed each time he spoke.

  • Chris Donnelly

    My nominees would be Daithi McKay (Sinn Fein), John Dallat (SDLP), Basil McCrea (UUP) and Simon Hamilton (DUP).

    To my mind, all have shown an impressive ability to settle to the multi-faceted roles of an MLA, including speaking informatively on matters in the chamber and at committees (not always a given…)

    McCrea has taken and run with more issues in the public spotlight than I can remember, McKay and Hamilton are clearly articulate spokespersons and the former impressed in the Causeway saga; and Dallat has a knack for getting in on any and every issue he can think of, with (I hear) a good constituenct record as well.

  • Lamaria

    DUP: Jim Shannon – a great servant to all in his Strangford constituency, a real hard working peoples person who has been dogged in his pursuit for action on child poverty and action o disability discrimination. Of the few conversations I have had with him he also seems a genuinely nice man who’s concerns lie beyond the constitutional question amid nitty gritty issus that affect peoples every day lives.

    Sinn Féin: Michelle Gildernew manages to juggle the pressures of an Executive seat, constituency representation and family life extremely well. Her commitment to public service saw her return astonishingly quickly from the birth of her new baby. She always performs admirably at Question Time, quickly mastered her ministerial brief, provided strong leadership in times of agricultural crisis, has lobbied effectively in Europe and manages to gain a good deal of respectability from unionist politicians, something many of the more high profile Sinn Féin ministers lack. While many point to Margaret Ritchie as the best performing Minister in the Executive I think people often forget about the work of Gildernew.

    SDLP: The party’s one stand out performer is Margaret Ritchie. At the last SDLP Party Conference she was treated as the ‘babe of the ball’. She has gained respect from all quarters and appears to fight the good fight on issues from loyalist-associated funding to first-time buyers, social housing and the fight against poverty. One of the few Ministers who concentrates on delivery, it may take time to measure the performance of her initiatives but she seems to have made a solid and principled start. The manner in which she stood up to Peter Robinson’s threats over the CTI funding was memorable.

    UUP: Danny Kennedy is the most effective Committee Chair I have witnessed in the Assembly. Apart from this he is a unionist politician who is admired for the representation of nationalists in his constituency. He is always willing to listen to community and voluntary organisations, whether he agrees with their vision or not. His diligent work in making sure his Committee is not railroaded by an at times seemingly unconcerned OFMDFM has been vital to the accountability mechanisms of Stormont. His commitment to the Child Poverty Inquiry was unquestonable, as is his determination to ensure delivery for victims and survivors.

    Alliance: Having carved something of a niche in opposition I think most of the credit for an Alliance revival has to go to Party Leader David Ford. The Alliance voice against the 97 strong ‘NI Government’ – i.e. members of parties on the Executive – has been vital. In a sense it has helped ensure the opposition isn’t provided solely by Jim Allister or dissident republicans outside the Assembly. Ford has managed this role with great skill and it certainly seems to me that Alliance MLAs are listened to rather more in this Assembly than in previous administrations. He faces another test now over policing and justice but it seems from early indications at least that he will ensure that his party will not be the sticking plaster it has been in the past. It appears Alliance will go in only on their own terms if and when the time and the situation is right.

    Good luck to all nominees, and good luck judges – i hope it isn’t too late a night deliberating!

  • o’malley

    John O’Dowd has to be in the running of MLA of the year. Having done a great job as chair of the public accounts committee he was brought in by what must be a pretty hard pressed Sinn Féin leadership team to dig them out of the hole that Caitríona Ruane has been digging for them since the day and hour of her appointment as Minister for Education.

    Fair play to him for taking on both Sammy and Basil and giving them both a run for their money on all those Politics Show debates, and then standing his ground on the Education Committee.

    Facing Basil McCrea on a Sunday morning could only be described as going above and beyond the call of duty

  • o’malley

    Paisley junior – would that nomination be for ‘just representing his constituents’ or would it be for doing the right thing and resigning having brought elected politcs and politcans in disrepute with his disgraceful behaviour over the Giant’s Causeway?

  • jacksayeraliveandwell

    Jim Wells for his great committee contributions both in PAC and Regional Development – it will be interesting to see how he does on the Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee – should he be worried that his party has sent him on just when NIE announce a 33.3% price rise and our Phoenix bills go up by nearly 20%?

  • o’malley

    John O’Dowd has to be in the running of MLA of the year. Having done a great job as chair of the public accounts committee he was brought in by what must be a pretty hard pressed Sinn Féin leadership team to dig them out of the hole that Caitríona Ruane has been digging for them since the day and hour of her appointment as Minister for Education.

    Fair play to him for taking on both Sammy and Basil and giving them both a run for their money on all those Politics Show debates, and then standing his ground on the Education Committee. Facing Basil McCrea on a Sunday morning could only be described as going above and beyond the call of duty

  • When left & right are wrong

    I would like nominate Tom Elliot for MLA of the year for his committed work within his local constituency and for helping those within the rural community who often find themselves excluded from the political process. Tom has done an excellent job at bringing power back to its grass roots and for defending the interests of all members of his constituency.

  • When left & right are wrong

    I would also like to put Michelle Gildernew’s name forward for the award. I believe she has earned her nomination due to the level of commitment she has displayed throughout the years for the farming community within NI and for her successful management of the problems which have rocked agriculture within recent years.

  • When left & right are wrong

    I find myself terribly conflicted when it comes to this catergory so in order to make my way out of a stalemate I have decided to nominate both Danny Kennedy and Barry MacElduff. Both do outstanding jobs at chairing their committees set the bar incredibly high for others who occupy other top table seats. I would highly recommend other (dare I say lesser) chairpersons to pop down to either the OFMdFM or DCAL committees and take a lesson from the masters.

  • When left & right are wrong

    For the sheer entertainment value of last weeks plenary session Alban Maginness should at least be considered for MLA of the year – he had the political sparks flying!Give the French hell in Euro land when you get there.

  • PSNI i love you

    I’d like to nominate Naomi Long of the alliance party for being interested and invested in the young people of NI. Also, her desire to see the terminology of a “Shared Future” is particularly admirable.

  • D

    John O’Dowd, doesn’t take any crap from anybody and always a strong articulate performer.

  • Artemis

    My vote is for Margaret Richie for her determination to do the job right and not let hatred and bigotry get in the way like so many of the others are doing. She is getting on with the job and not letting her ideals and morals be compromised for the sake of keeping the extremists sweet. Showing that she can co-operate on issues and being ready to take tough decisions and bringing women to the fore as a force to be reckoned with in NI politics. Go Margaret!

  • apotho

    ….Billy Armstrongs doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. having watched him attempting to speak during a debate on stormont live on Monday, I felt sorry for the rest of his party who seemed to look embarrassed each time he spoke.

    Posted by Mack on Sep 19, 2008 @ 12:44 AM…

    If you judge a political representative solely on their public speaking then you should stick to watching the West Wing. The likes of Armstrong work tirelessly within their constituency and given his working class rather than academic background I feel a lack of ability on public speaking can be excused. God knows I’d rather have a politician of his elk in the UUP than someone who talks the talk but can’t walk the walk like Basil McCrea.

  • Tampico

    “God knows I’d rather have a politician of his elk in the UUP than someone who talks the talk but can’t walk the walk like Basil McCrea”

    His elk?! What have a species of deer got to do with it?! Did Billy post this himself?!!

  • Mack

    Billy is a complete idiot he may be running around but not working for to many of his constituents. I went to him recently with a problem and he informed me that he was unable to help. I then went to Ian McCrea who straight away contacted the necesary person who sorted out my problem but informed Mr McCrea that he was the first to contact them about it. I think Billy’s a complete asshole.

  • Continental Drifter

    It’s not about “sorting problems out”, it’s about LEGISLATION.

    Therefore, my candidate is precisely no one.

    Though Naomi Long’s good.

  • Rosaleen Moore

    My three nominations for MLA are;
    Dawn Purvis, Best Newcomer on the political scene who continues to deliver and add to the sensible messages we have heard from David Ervine.
    Margaret Ritchie, Thoroughly Professional in seeking to bring about much needed social development in the face of political stalement.
    Basil McCrea, Refreshing Approach with a sense of humour, ability to think outside the traditional mode, is articulate, all essential qualities if we are to move forward.