This includes all those, elected and otherwise, who represent the interests of Northern Ireland both within and beyond the jurisdiction. We asked who represents us well outside our own narrow ground? Who promotes a positive image or at least an articulate expression of their own strand of opinion? And the winner is…Winner: Peter Robinson.
Peter became MP for East Belfast in a memorably tight three way fight. He has fashion a strong coalition of often disparate views, and deployed his party’s resources in a strong manner. In the negotiations up to and including the St Andrews Agreement, he outmanouvered Sinn Fein, by enshring the principle of the ‘triple double lock’ on policing and justice in Westminster legislation. It’s generally thought that he further strengthened his hand with Gordon Brown earlier this year when he marshalled his nine troops into the pro government lobby in favour of passing the 42 days anti terrorism measures.
Commended: Jim Allister.
Many people thought Jim Allister was walking into the wilderness when he resigned the DUP whip in Brussels. In fact he has fought a rearguard action against his former party making a powerful, if highly local intervention in the Dromore byelection causing the party to lose a seat in what had been strong DUP territory. What started as a ragbag movement has now incorporated into a relatively disciplined political party, the TUV. Jim is also highly respected, not to mention feared, in Brussels as an astute lawmaker and interogator of European officials.
Commended: Baroness May Blood.
May was elevated to the House of Lords in 1999, and has carved out a reputation as a strong advocate in Westminster for Northern Irish civil society. In particular she has made important contributions in the House on child protection legislation. She’s also played a role in chivvying the Northern Ireland Office to have Westminster social legislation translated into Northern Ireland.
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