I previously asked, on Sinn Féin’s selection (unopposed) of Northern Ireland Executive Junior Minister, Gerry Kelly, MLA, as their candidate for north Belfast in the next general election, whether the party thinks the new restrictions on multiple mandates wont apply to them? So reports of yesterday’s debate in the Assembly on ending “double-jobbing” led me to scan Hansard for some clues to the party’s position. [Somebody had to… -Ed]
[Raymond McCartney] “For the record, Sinn Féin supports the phasing out of dual mandates. The backdrop will be the outworking of the review of public administration, which will bring significant change to the role of councils and councillors. Irrespective of what is legislated for, Sinn Féin anticipates that none of its councillors or MLAs will seek to serve two mandates. Sinn Féins members will make the choice to serve the electorate in one place and one place only, and that is how everyone should approach the subject in future.”
Mr Ford: What about Westminster?
Mr McCartney: I was just about to come to that David, thank you very much.
As regards Sinn Féins Assembly Members who are elected as Westminster MPs, we support the phasing out of dual mandates in that sphere. However, for the record, Sinn Féin does not consider its Westminster MPs to be double-jobbers, even though they may have dual mandates.
We have heard some interesting definitions of double-jobbing tonight, and I look forward to hearing other versions. For me, and, I think, for the public, double-jobbing is when a person is paid twice to serve the public that is what most people think about when they hear the expression double-jobbing. Dual mandates might be something else. However, none of Sinn Féins MPs is double-jobbing, although they may have dual mandates.
Mr Ford: I thank the Member for giving way. If I understood Mr Wells correctly, he said that no DUP MP would also take an MLAs salary. It appears that Mr McCartney is saying that no Sinn Féin dual mandate will involve an MPs salary. Perhaps he will explain the difference.
Mr Speaker: The Member has a minute added to his speaking time.
Mr McCartney: There are two reasons. Sinn Féin has been doing this for a long, long time, and none of its Westminster MPs takes a salary at all.
There can, therefore, be no suggestion of that. In the past, we spoke about timing in relation to many of our councillors who relinquished their positions. [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker: Order.
Mr McCartney: It is a question of the stability of the Assembly. That will determine the time frame in which we will examine the dual mandates of our MPs. When this place becomes durable, functioning and sustainable, Sinn Féin will respond accordingly. Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.
So you support the phasing out of “dual mandates”? Btw, the time-frame will be decided by Parliament.
For the record, here’s the result of the votes and the amended motion passed by the NI Assembly
Question put, That the amendment be made.
The Assembly divided: Ayes 34; Noes 23.
Mr Bresland, Lord Browne, Mr Buchanan, Mr Campbell, Mr T Clarke, Mr Craig, Mr Dodds, Mr Donaldson, Mr Easton, Dr Farry, Mr Ford, Mrs Foster, Mr Hamilton, Mr Hilditch, Mr Irwin, Mrs Long, Mr McCausland, Mr I McCrea, Miss McIlveen, Mr McQuillan, Lord Morrow, Mr Moutray, Mr Newton, Mr G Robinson, Mrs I Robinson, Mr P Robinson, Mr Ross, Mr Shannon, Mr Simpson, Mr Spratt, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells, Mr S Wilson.
Tellers for the Ayes: Mr Weir and Mr Wells.
Mr Armstrong, Mr Attwood, Mr D Bradley, Mrs M Bradley, Mr P J Bradley, Mr Burns, Mr Cobain, Mr Dallat, Mr Durkan, Mr Elliott, Sir Reg Empey, Mr Gallagher, Mr Kennedy, Mr Kinahan, Mr A Maginness, Mr McCallister, Mr McClarty, Mr B McCrea, Mr McFarland, Mr McNarry, Mr OLoan, Ms Purvis, Ms Ritchie.
Tellers for the Noes: Mr Kennedy and Mr Kinahan.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this Assembly notes the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Supporting Parliament, Safeguarding the Taxpayer; calls on all political parties within the Assembly and Parliament to commit to an end to double-jobbing, including private sector employment, ideally by the time of the scheduled election in May 2011 or, failing that, by 2015 at the latest; and further calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to convey the opinion of the Assembly on this matter to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Sinn Féin appear to have abstained..
I a Slugger reader asked of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness [and Conor Murphy, Michelle Gildernew and Pat Doherty]: well which are you going to stand down from?