Slugger Awards: MLA of the Year…

There are 108 of them. Some of them household names across Northern Ireland, some better known in the local corner of their own constituencies. Some have made (or tried to) their mark as party leaders, others as ministers, or as one of the team working out of the Speakers Office, who have tried in some challenging moments to keep the lid on proceedings in the chamber.

So who was it caught your eye this year, either in the chamber, or on television? Who kept their nerve whilst others around them were falling apart? Which maverick made the parliamentary tedium of some of the last year still worth tuning in? Who was the star player in your favourite set piece?

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.

Make your nominations below. 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.

  • George Semple

    Anna Lo for standing up to racism.

  • Danny Boy

    Dawn Purvis and Anna Lo for sticking their necks out over our stupid abortion law.

  • East Antrim Voter

    Roy Beggs Junior , UUP MLA from East Antrim for his tireless work in the constituency. He must do 80 + hours each week.

  • empty

    Ian Parsley

  • gallagher

    John O’Dowd for education role, leadership at time of Stephen Carroll murder and being a damn good public speaker – stands out from all the rest in Sinn Féin/

  • Mick Fealty

    Sadly I was away visiting family all day, so I missed some of the nasty cracks here. For which my apologies.

    This thread is for nominations, so please keep your remarks on topic and civil. We want to hear who you think has done a good job and why.

  • LabourNIman

    sorry Mick, I’m drawing a blank…

    give it to the green party. Why? the ice age

  • eastderryvoter

    John Dallat for his constituency work and his advocacy of the Magilligan-Greencastle ferry.

  • Patricia Derry

    Margaret Ritchie for standing up the the UDA, SF and the DUP. She is also the strongest voice around the Executive Table for a shared future.

  • Salem

    I concur with Patricia Derry

    Margaret Ritchie for being the only executive minister who is brave enought to stand up to Robbo and advocate strongly for a shared future.

    For her continuing fight for better social housing for all.

  • Milo

    Alex Attwood for totally reinventing himself over the past 12 months. Leading the Shinners a merry dance at the Assembly and Executive Review Committee, tying them up in knots over the ‘at all times’ veto on justice, coining the ‘no Nationalist need apply’ tag. And for being a general pain in Willie Hay’s neck.

  • fountain of knowledge

    Margaret Ritchie is the clear front runner. She stood up to the UDA and Peter Robinson and has an actual agenda for addressing inequality in housing and for pushing the agenda on a shared future.

  • Del Boy

    tom elliot for speaking against the morally wrong definition of a victim within the ofmdfm (long before jeffrey did)

  • peter

    Declan O’Loan has fair come onto his game in the past 12 months or so. As the SDLP led the way on the economy warnings in their New Priorities paper Declan fairly took the ball and ran with it. Very good on the civil service equal pay too. And with impeccible timing he got their with the £2bn black hole before McNarry and forced Wilson into an admission. And the clear animosity between him and Junior is a joy.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Declan O’Loan has fair come onto his game in the past 12 months or so. As the SDLP led the way on the economy warnings in their New Priorities paper Declan fairly took the ball and ran with it. Very good on the civil service equal pay too. And with impeccible timing he got their with the £2bn black hole before McNarry and forced Wilson into an admission. And the clear animosity between him and Junior is a joy.”

    A lot of what Declan says is indeed a “joy”

  • Bigger Picture

    Nelson McCausland for exposing SDLP and SF sectarianism on his stance of attending a Roman Catholic Mass. In this age of freedom of expressiona and religion no person should be made to conform an areligious position in order to appease liberal facism

  • Rumours

    I would like to nominate Paul Maskey for MLA of the Year as well as my previous nomination as Chairman of the year.

    I live and work within Paul Maskey’s constituency. Paul has a very visible presence within the West Belfast constituency and is well known in the area for his hard work and dedication to his role as a local representative. I have had reason to contact him on a number of occasions for help on issues with my work life and my personal life and I have found him both very accessible and willing to help. I have tried to contact another local MLA (from another party which I shall not mention) and I got no results whatsoever. I think this place needs more politicians like Paul Maskey.

  • Garza

    Nelson McCausland for MLA of the year? Good lord.

    My vote is for Anna Lo of the Alliance Party for her work against racism against the loyalists of South Belfast.

    Margaret Ritchie is a close second.

  • visionary

    John McCalister for being an early visionary in suuporting the UUP’s strategy to bring real politics to Northern Ireland and the links with the Conservative Party.He is a hard working MLA represents his constituency and never ceases in picking up on important issues and in his opposition to Sinn fein/DUP stitch ups.

  • DC

    Carmel Hanna – for getting out whenever she knows the body politic is rotten and not worth the while hanging about in and working for.

    A vote for her hard work and judicious behaviour. At least she can sleep easily knowing she’s not playing ‘let’s pretend politics’ while drawing down an exorbitant salary for doing nothing.

    Like what happened when the Assembly’s executive didn’t meet for 6 months.

  • RG Cuan

    John O’Dowd – best live speaker

    Anna Lo – confronting racism

  • The real deal

    Who’s John McCalister? Are you taking the piss?

  • Only Asking

    Margaret Ritchie, for standing up to UDA etc etc, clearly a great politician.

  • Education, Education

    I would give it to Basil McCrea for his stance on education, I feel he has pressed ahead well on the issue. This is coming from a now ex Sinn Fein voter – well done Basil.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Martin McGuinness for his unequivocal stand in the aftermath of the Masserene barracks killings.

    Time will pass and the shortcomings of the current Executive will fade from memory, as will the particular performance of individual MLAs which have led to their nomination above.

    But McGuinness’ strong leadership in this regard stands way above anything else achieved by any other member of the Assembly in the past year.

  • Corrina Langelaan

    Support previous nominations for John O’Dowd. He is a great speaker, passionate about the issues and doing a sterling job of handling much of the flack that should be directed to his education minister

  • NM

    Dawn Purvis, for doing a great job for East Belfast whilst in a really tough constituency.

  • bangor born and bred

    Peter Weir – For his tireless effort in the North Down constituency, his unrelenting work ethic behind the scenes to do the hard and unglamourous work that needs to be done to ensure effective and good governance.

  • Mary

    Carmel Hanna – resolutely non sectarian, strong on the international affairs and not afraid to tackle issues like the Ryan report. One of the only SDLP MLAs whose vote goes up and not down each year, and who is organised and active on the ground. Fitting tribute to a retiring politican who has only been positive as a councillor, MLA & minister.

  • Disgusted

    For Catriona Ruane for equal opportunities. When living South of the Border she made her daughter sit an exam she didn’t need to do, the 11+, to gain entry to a Newry Grammar School. Now in a spirit of equality she’s told the rest of us that the 11+ is a terrible thing we should avoid and instead she’s making all our children sit three or four unregulated alternate exams they don’t want to do to get into Grammar Schools.

  • Steve Finlay

    I would nominate John McAllister, a really good hard working MLA whose enthusiasm for Northern Ireland transcends party politics.

    Can I nominate Paul Maskey as the most inept and inarticulate MLA? Is there a prize for that? It would be funny if he wasn’t in a position of responsibility in terms of the Public Accounts Committee. He can’t string two words together (Northern Ireland’s John Prescott??) and seems to have pet hates which he then drags into the PAC. Are the other PAC members happy about this?

    Also is Sinn Fein happy about this? He comes across as a rottweiler with no teeth and no clue and does nothing to promote positive aspects of government investment.

  • smalluunionist

    Dawn Purvis for her stance on the abortion act. It is good to see an MLA raise their head above the parapet and not pander to the lowest common denominator in local politics, even those within her own party- reason based leadership which we need more of.

  • pleasantlysurprisedupperbannresident

    John O’Dowd for all his hard work on the education committee and his performance in the chamber this year has been consitently good.

    Patsy McGlone for all his hard work on Twitter this year – from brilliant musical analysis to not so brilliant policing analysis.

  • mick mc cann

    John O’Dowd stands out for me. Brilliant speaker, staunch defender of his Minister and never gets flustered, dealing with everything that comes his way professionally and properly.

    He is a commanding presence in the Assembly and has to be listened to and respected regardless of your politics.

    Constantly fighting off the flak being thrown at Ruane cant be easy but he has never once floundered or been found wanting and Im sure most parties would love to have someone like him on their benches.

    All of this before you consider how he handled the atrociuous event in Lurgan – I’ll never forget the sight of him and Alex Maskey walking into the funeral of Constable Carroll.

    He has been a true giant of NI politics this year, in every sense of the word, and deserves to graduate from runner up last year to MLA of the Year this time out

  • From the Sidelines

    I’d nominate Mark Durkan if it’s MLA of the year you’re looking for. He’s always fighting Derry’s corner for better or for worse and is one of the most able parliamentarians in the assembly. He mightn’t have been a great leader, but that’s not what the category’s about. He has the measure of the DUP and Sinn Fein and has the ability to catch into their games. He’s also the key writer of the Good Friday Agreement, which is the basis for the form of government that these awards are celebrating.

  • Alison

    I support those who have nominated Dawn Purvis. She has on many occasions been the voice of reason in debates and is willing to speak out on issues that the bigger parties are afraid to touch. She listens to her constituents as well as representatives from the community and voluntary sector and is prepared to learn from others. She has been committed and reliable and is a definite asset to the Northern Ireland Assembly.