Slugger Awards 2008: Stormont Committee Chair…

The committees at Stormont have, in theory at least, real constitutional bite. They are the most powerful check on the Executive, and probably the place were we can expect to see the concerns of citizens most powerfully and effectively expressed. We asked which chair conducted their cross-party responsibilities with most impact? And the winner is…

Winner: Danny Kennedy.

Danny was first elected to Newry and Mourne District Council in 1985, and as such is a real veteran of local aided him in handling one of the most important committees, scrutinising and responding to the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. He’s viewed by colleagues as being even-handed with committee members and willing to work hard on issues well beyond his comfort zone, as in the committee’s well received report on child poverty.

Commended: Mitchel McLaughlin.

Again, Mitchel is an experienced and well practiced politician, having first been elected to Derry City Council in 1985. He is Party Spokesperson on Economic and Finance issues and chairs the the Finance and Personnel Committee. He also sits on the Public Accounts Committee in the Assembly. His key strengths are the careful and robust questioning of what some might argue is the most powerful department in the adminstration. He’s probably the single chair who shows the strongest understanding of the actual brief of the committee.

Commended: Barry McElduff.

Barry was in the first intake of MLAs in 1998. Latterly he topped the poll in the March 2007 election. He was subsequently elected to Omagh District Council in 2000, which he chaired from 2001-2003. As Chair of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, he was notable for his capacity to gain cross party solidarity in the committees interrogation, most noteably over the siting of the Maze stadium.