DUP already planning for co-options?

DUP Getting it Right logoDuring the final months of the last Assembly there was a steady stream of co-options as MLAs stood down and allowed potential successors to raise their profile. A similar situation was taking place at council level.

It now seems extremely likely we will have a raft of co-options at Council level from the DUP at least immediately after the elections. They uniquely have stacked their Assembly slate with candidates also seeking election to Councils.

64% of their Assembly candidates are potential double jobbers at Council level (28 of 44).

Of course in some cases they are hedging their bets with candidates unlikely to gain an Assembly seat being given the parachute of a Council role. Though in many of the cases the candidate is highly likely to be elected and no doubt a failed Council candidate will step into a role the electorate rejected them for.

Does it make a mockery of the Council elections when many of those running for the DUP are extremely unlikely to do anything with the position beyong handing it to a colleague who failed to be endorsed by the public?

So who are the offenders? The DUP 28? The list, with the Council ward and Stormont constituency they are running for:

Robin Newton VICTORIA
Belfast East

Paula Bradley ANTRIM – Newtownabbey
North Belfast

William Humprhey COURT – Belfast
North Belfast

Ruth Patterson BALMORAL – Belfast
South Belfast

South Belfast

William Walker ROWALLANE – Down

North Down

Ald. Gordon Dunne HOLYWOOD
North Down

North Antrim

Evelyne Robinson BUSHVALE
North Antrim

Paul Frew BRAID
North Antrim

South Antrim

South Antrim

South Antrim

Gordon Lyons COAST ROAD
East Antrim

East Antrim

Ald. George Robinson BELLARENA
East Derry

Adrian McQuillan BANN
East Derry

Mid Ulster

Ald. Sydney Anderson PORTADOWN
Upper Bann

Stephen Moutray LURGAN
Upper Bann

Thomas Buchanan WEST TYRONE
West Tyrone

Allan Bresland GLENELLY
West Tyrone

Lagan Valley

Lagan Valley

William Irwin ORCHARD
Newry and Armagh

Fermanagh South Tyrone

Brian Kingston COURT
West Belfast

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  • The DUP are not alone in this. Will there be a listing for each of the other major (and minor, and independents) who are also hedging.

  • Mark McGregor


    No other party is at it to this level. Sure some others are but 64% is taking the piss.

  • PK

    Yoy forgot to Mention

    Steven Agnew Green Party leader in for Council & MLA
    Colin Breen UUP in for Council and MLA
    Anne Wilson Alliance Party in for Council and MLA

  • joeCanuck

    It’s not illegal but It is pretty disgusting. There are too many sheep in the electorate willing to be led round by the noses should they give a vote to the worst of these bozos – the ones almost certain to become MLAs.

  • vanhelsing

    As previous posters have mentioned this is across the board and to limit it to the DUP seems disingenuous. If no one else does it I’ll run a comparative study across the other parties…

  • YelloSmurf

    In my opinion this isn’t double jobbing. Councillors are expected to fit their council duties in around another job.

  • ga11

    Who says that they will be giving up their council or assembly seats? They have not said that they will be stepping down.

    Other ‘offenders’:

    100% of the Green Party Assembly candidates!

    Swann and Kennedy UUP – Ballymoney/ North Antrim
    Lesley MacCauley – UUP East Londonderry
    David Harding – UUP East Londonderry
    Mark Hill – UUP Lagan Valley
    Stewart Dickson – East Antrim Alliance
    Gerardine Mulvenna – East Antrim Alliance
    Oliver McMullan – Sinn Fein – East Antrim

  • Rob

    David McClarty (Ind) and Lesley Macaulay (UUP) have both thrown their hats into both the Council and Assembly rings in the hope of being double jobbers here in Coleraine.
    Wait a minute…that cant be right, Macaulay is opposed to double jobbing…..

  • Mark McGregor

    No offence guys but when your list of other offenders across all other parties stretches so far to circa 10 names while the DUP alone sit at 28 – it isn’t really an effective rebuttal.

    All you are doing is highlighting just how much worse the DUP are than anyone else – the point I was making at the outset.

  • I cant actually see the problem.
    They are on the ballot paper.
    We can vote for them. Or vote for somebody else.
    We can stay at home.
    If we already intend to spoil our ballot….we can do it twice.

  • Mark – Given that Dawn Purvis’ bill didn’t go through, I doubt that there will be many DUP co-options for candidates successful at both Assembly and council level. They’ll just take their seats in both. And in the long term:

    longer term plan is for assembly members not to be councillors but will not be possible to implement overnight- important to ensure sufficient level of experience exists within local government- over time that is the objective- speed of change will be influenced by approach we see other parties adopting

  • iluvni

    I’ve had the sitting MLA from both the UUP and Alliance at my door so far.
    They werent anywhere to be seen during last May’s general election campaign of course when other candidates were on the ballot paper. Funny how there’s a greater effort when their own job is on the line.

  • Pelican22

    In my opinion, the real issue is with those MLAs who are also MPs, I do not understand how they can do both jobs, get two substantial wages and two office cost allowances!

    Council is in reality meant to fit around a full time job, but I dont think it sits particularly well with the electorate when that other job is MLA. I think the DUP are just very concerned about losing their “big hitters” at Council level and fielding relative unknowns in elections.

  • HeinzGuderian

    It’s not illegal but It is pretty disgusting. There are too many sheep in the electorate willing to be led round by the noses should they give a vote to the worst of these bozos – the ones almost certain to become MLAs.

    Surely joeseph is referring to 20 long years of El beardo ?? aha 😉

  • There is no doubt that the co-option system has been abused but on balance its a good thing……in the right circumstances.
    We have come a long way from the days when the majority on a council could insist on a bye-election if a councillor from a rival party died.
    There are several situations east and west of the Bann where a party gets the minority tribe has one of say six seats in a DEA….and it seems hardly democratic to insist on a bye election to inevitably elect a member of the majority tribe….if a councillor falls under a bus.
    Its just decent to accept that there is a mandate to be recognised.
    So in cases of death or terminal illness, I think co-option is the right thing to do.
    In a DEA in my council area, four of five councillors who are ending a term were co-opted. Now the circumstances are different of course, including reasons o political expediency abusing the system.
    There is certainly a difficulty in having the Council and Assembly Elections on same day. The alternative ..to hold council elections a month later and disqualify MLAs from standing would be expensive. And barring outgoing MLAs from standing in next months council elections seems drastic, especially if they lose the Assembly seat.
    It may vexate political anoraks like myself or vexate further those who have no time for the process anyway but as the voting public have the decision ….that seems reasonable.

    But in the case of the DUP, its obviously right that its much to do with party discipline and patronage. Keep it tight. It lessens the chance of defection. If those double jobbers had given up a council seat there might be a few more disaffected TUV councillors about.
    Sinn Féin seem to have a different form of patronage. The much hyped “average wage” means that at least some money goes back into party funds, SF can effectively afford to double the number of “professional politicians” in their heartlands. There seems a large number of largely inter-changeable men and women playing a peculiar game of political musical chairs in the Assembly and Councils.

  • Driftwood

    Stormont is, de facto, a county council. In English terms. So what we have are people running for an English county council-de facto- and for parish vicar of Dibley ones.

    Or to put it better, Stormont is the 6th form pretendy government forum, while the parish councils are the 4th form equivalent. Except the members are actually paid (gross) salaries for partcipating.
    A bit unfair that 6th formers can run in 4th form elections, but there you go.
    The *real* government at Westminster (grown ups) will not care what child is elected to these placebo forums.

  • Drumlins Rock

    change the record drifty your wearing that one out.

  • cynic49


    It gets worse! You forgot Peter Weir, DUP, in North Down.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, I think this should be the last time both elections are held on the same day, although that will probably mean extending either councils or stormont by another year, ideally stormont should come first, btw 7th 2015 is currently inline to be the super duper whopper election of all 3 in one day, possibly all based on new councils, wards, DEAs, and constituencies, a good opportunity for change?
    there are no election penciled in for 2012/2013, with a euro in 2014.

  • Driftwood

    Do any of the people standing for election, actually have, or had, a REAL job?
    By *Real* I don’t mean pathetic public sector non-job like ‘community worker’ or ‘voluntary work’ or ‘facilitator’. Or even worse, ‘Pastor’ or ‘Estate Agent’
    The Government should cut the block grant by 50% and watch how reality kicks in. As it will.

  • vanhelsing


    GA11 has already pointed out 100% of the Green Party Assembly candidates are standing as councillors – strange you didn’t go with that headline or not so strange?

  • Valenciano

    A ridiculous farce which makes a complete mockery of the whole STV system. The whole point of STV is that you vote for an individual candidate, crossing party lines if need be to find the best candidate to transfer to depending on your political preferences. Not in NI where your vote is treated like a glorified closed list system vote. Is there any other first world democracy where representatives are effectively chosen *after* the election by party bosses?

  • Valenciano

    @vanhelsing, not so strange since the percentage of DUP candidates who have a realistic chance of election is far higher than that of the Greens, who have an outside chance of North Down and nothing else.

  • Driftwood, as long as they are on the same day its inevitable and its entirely reasonable that an Assembly candidate including an outgoing MLA has a fall back position.
    Its after 1am and not opening up spreadsheets but I think that all three outgoing DUP MLAs in Lagan Valley are on the Council nominations. Their profile alone should ensure that DUP councillors are elected in their slipstream and of course co-options are almost inevitable.
    But in the particular case of the DUP I think its about enforcing discipline. No uppity councillor is going to undrmine the MLAs.
    They control things at micro level………….eg as the Robinsons did in Castlreagh until recently.
    Sinn Féins patronage seems to be about spreading the largesse rather than restricting it.
    But the reasoning is the same……CONTROL.

    Interestingly my notes on winners from 2005 is often different from 2011 councillors in office. Six years is a longish time. Attrition, Death, Resignation and its impossible to know the “micro” reason for co-options. Just that there has been a LOT.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    I noticed recently that Sinn Féin have 9 councillors in West Belfast (Upper Falls and Lower Falls) and of that 9, 6 are co-options.

  • braniel unionist

    did anyone mention michael copeland in east belfast? copeland really takes the biscuit standing for both stormont and castlereagh council on the same day, so much for last week’s uup broadcast which ridiculed the practice of trying to in 2 places at the same time lol

  • braniel unionist

    trying to be

  • vanhelsing


    So we need two lists, one based on actual facts and figures from the electoral office about which candidates are running for two offices and another which then edits the first list on the basis of ‘whether they really have a chance’ and brings the percentages down for those parties whom people have decided don’t want to represent them.

    Sorry run me through democracy 101 again 🙂

  • granni trixie

    We hsve been here many times before on Slugger. Some see being a Councillor and MLA as double jobbing. Personally, I think it is logical that one could be both as anyone has to work around their full time job to be a Councillor.

    However, there is so much effort needed to deal effectively with issues as a local councillor that I am surpised anyone would want to be both an MLA and a councillor (allowing for overlaps). I also observe that some politicans relish parish pump politics and also want to up their game at Stormont.
    What I do object to is anyone being both and MP and an MLA (isn’t this the case with Alistair Mcdonnel?) – I do not see how they can give due attention to both jobs (besides which its greedy).

    Would also like to take issue with Driftwoods remarks about “community workers”. They show ignorance of the reality which is that community workers generally have a vital role valued at grassroots. In many cases this kind of job is non waged but all the more to be valued in my book. May I also say that although I have had various kinds of paid work (mainly teaching) I am most proud of any community work I have undertaken (mainly unpaid).