O’Loan becomes a baroness

Is there no end to Nuala O’Loan’s elevation? With her appointment as a baroness, this particular Dame of the British Empire has become a walking template for reaching the top of the tree in both branches of the post Agreement British-Irish relationship. The former Police Ombudsman is already a UN special envoy appointed by the Irish government. Outspoken as always, last week she found “odd” aspects of Sir Peter Gibson’s report into the Omagh bomb intelligence handling, and wondered why information held by the Special Branch took months to reach the investigating detectives. With the Commons Northern Ireland select committee she appeared before likely to share her scepticism, she may have the opportunity in the Lords to explain it at greater length. I assume that the SDLP had nothing to do with the appointment. But as husband Declan is an SDLP councillor, her elevation prompts the intriguing question of why the SDLP don’t nominate members to the Upper House, now almost shorn of hereditary members. As a fully constitutional party, the SDLP should exercise its right of nomination to the Lords, which has become a more effective scrutinising chamber than the Commons. What holds them back is probably the title “Lord “ or “Baron” and Baroness.” which smacks of British imperialism. If the Lords becomes elective some time over the next decade, I assume they will contest seats and take up any them win. But they should agitate to put up a member or two now. Adds Aplogies to Michael- I should have checked Slugger first.

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