Slugger Awards: Best Stormont Committee Chair

In a year when the Executive has spent a significant amount of time not actually working, and where the Assembly’s plenaries have struggled to gain and then sustain the Northern Ireland public’s attention, the committees have been probably been responsible for some of the most useful work done. Albeit most of it unacknowledged and therefore unseen.

There is a clear role to be fulfilled by a committee chair – to ensure the smooth running of committees; facilitating engagement with interested outside parties in an open and constructive manner; holding both the relevant minister and officials to account as well as providing a forum for the development of policy and legislation.

So tell us who you think has performed their role better than any other?With your nominations, please try to include:

  1. A brief account of the qualities your candidate has brought to the job.
  2. The reasons s/he and their committee have achieved in the last 12 months.
  3. What you believe are the critical qualities required by a committee chair.

You can make your nominations either here or on the main Slugger site. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate.

A reminder of last year’s winner and commended… And remember it is the quality of your nomination rather than the number of them that’s likely to sway the judges…

  • Ron McDonald

    Paul Maskey, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, for the work on Invest NI.

  • alan56

    Jim Wells, Chair of Health Committee, for bringing some sanity back to the role and rebuilding a working relationship with the minister.

  • Mick Fealty

    Links would good, if appropriate… But good stuff, keep them coming!!

  • Jonathan McCullough

    Danny Kennedy, Chair of the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. Works unstintingly to ensure their is proper scrutinisation of OFMdFM. Always impartial and even-handed in his treatment of both other committee members and of committee witnesses, he has all the critical qualities required by a committee chair.

  • Drumlins Rock

    would seconds jonathans proposal, it could be a real tough one if let out of hand but he eems to handle things well and only stirs things up when really needed.

  • NI Water

    I have to say that Fred Cobain is probably one of the best. Loved by his committee for being fair to them, hated by officials for being tenatious in questioning, he gets the mix right. He probably doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

  • Mack

    From what I hear Fred Cobain hardly attends to chair a committee so I’m not sure why he would be worthy of the best chair. William McCrea when he was the chair of the DARD committee was an excellent chair who took no crap from officials asking them to leave and to stay away until they had answers to queries. Worthy of this award.

  • “From what I hear Fred Cobain hardly attends to chair a committee”

    Fred missed two of the last 15 meetings of the CRD, according to the committee minutes. Other members missed up to five meetings.

    I spoke to Fred the day he visited Rathlin Island with the CRD. He’d promised that the committee would be looking at the Rathlin ferry investigation report at the beginning of 2009. It’s now October, it’s not on the the ‘to do’ list and he said that the CRD was ‘waiting on the Minister’. Why?

  • Rumours

    I agree that Paul Maskey should be nominated for his role as Chairman of the Public accounts committee due to his ongoing work in holding government departments and public bodies to account. Particularly in this political and economic climate the role of scrutinising public expenditure is vital and Paul Maskey has done a great job at this.

  • NM

    Carmel Hanna, for completing her work on the committee of standards & privileges during a very difficult time for elected representatives.

  • Dont be nosy

    Definitely Jim Wells. Yes hes new to the role but has made a lot of difference, as alan56 says, bringing sanity and structure back. He has a very hard job, especially keeping Mrs R respectfully in check, as theres massive demand on the time of the committee

    He leaves party politics at the door, has good relationships with all members, doesnt hog the spotlight,asks good intelligent questions, works efficiently and is keen to hear from and speak to anyone who has an issue to raise.

    Will only continue to get more confident and improve the efficiency of the committee and deserves a nod for how hes set about his unenviable task so far

  • castlecatholicwithaconscience

    Mitchel McLaughlin chaired the Finance and Personnel Committee with the winning combination of professionalism,good humour and rapier policy insight. Departmental officials must have breathed a sigh of relief when he stood down earlier this year.

    Barry McElduff continues to do a great job at Culture, Arts and Leisure. No one should underestimate the hard work behind the jokes and random stories about Tyrone.

  • Alison

    I would second the nomination for Mitchel McLaughlin as chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee. I was very impressed with his ability to command the meeting while still making it accessible and unintimidating. He also went above and beyond what was required and had impeccable follow-through.

  • P

    Fred Cobain has made the RD Committee one of the most active and difficult committees in Stormont. A pain in the neck if you have to deal with them, but surely that’s the point?