I had to do a bit of research during the week on the assembly and the people who work in it. On the side I thought it would be interesting to find out just how old the average MLA is and what party has the youngest assembly group.
Let’s begin with the overall picture-I surveyed the ages of 106 of the 108 MLAs-I couldn’t find the date of birth for two of them but this will still give me a good sample. The average age of an MLA is 52 years old. This I found a little surprising as I would’ve thought MLA’s would have been a bit older but there you go.
How about the parties?
The youngest assembly group is Sinn Fein and NI21 at 47.5 years old. Sinn Fein have some of the youngest MLA’s in the assembly with Megan Fearon, Chris Hazzard and Phil Flanagan all being in their twenties. In NI21’s case there are only two of them and John McCallister’s age brings the overall average down for the party.
In second place is the DUP with their average MLA being 50 years old. Some of the older members of the party in their sixties did bring up the average age for the assembly group. However, the party does have some MLA’s in their early thirties which will give it a solid base for the future. (Note these figures do not include Brenda Hale)
In third place is the SDLP with their average MLA being 53 years old. Now here I did not have an age for Patsy McGlone but getting the average of the other 13 MLA’s I was able to come to that number. Column Eastwood and Mark H Durkan brought the assembly group’s average age down substantially as both are in their thirties.
Joint fourth is the UUP with their average MLA being 55 years old. They do have least amount of younger faces in its ranks.
Also Fourth is the Alliance party with their average MLA being 55 years old. This did surprise me a bit as I thought Alliance would have naturally had a much more youth orientated party but they do have some younger members like Chris Lyttle and Judith Cochrane rising up the ranks.
Other minor parties, the youngest by a mile is the Green party with Steven Agnew at 34, followed by the TUV at 60 with Jim Allister and UKIP at 65 with David McNarry.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs