Jimmy Spratt to leave the Assembly in September

Report from the Belfast Telegraph that the South Belfast DUP MLA, Jimmy Spratt will step down from the Assembly this September due to health reasons.

This will mean that from September 4 out of 6 MLAs in the constituency will have been co-opted leaving just Michael McGimpsey and Anna Lo as the only reps who were elected in 2011.

A few things could happen here. The DUP could do what Sinn Fein did with Mairtin Ó Muilleoir and Alex Maskey. They could move Jonathan Bell from Strangford and co-opt somebody for his vacant seat in Strangford. This would allow him to continue building a profile in the constituency and allows a newer face to come into a much safer seat in Strangford.

Alternatively, there is Christopher Stalford or Ruth Patterson (she came within a few votes of unseating Conall McDevitt in 2011). Or they could just pick an outsider whom we have never heard of.


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  • Zeno

    “This will mean that from September 4 out of 6 MLAs in the constituency will have been co-opted”

    So they don’t have a mandate.

  • chrisjones2

    Who does?

    And does it matter? In the leaked account of Sammy Wilsons interview with the Standards Commissioner Sammy was brutally frank

    “Mr Wilson also claimed no members of the committee were “impartial.”

    “Let’s make this clear. Everyone who is on that committee has approached this subject from a predetermined point,” he said.

    “They have their mind made up. I am not impartial. The chair’s not impartial. The rest of the committee members aren’t impartial.

    “And I think if you, since you’ve had a chance to read through some of the Hansards, you’ll see quite clearly that some of us go after some witnesses a bit harder than we go after other witnesses because that reflects the partiality which is there.”

    In other words, none of it matters. Its all just a sectarian showcase where members have their minds made up before they go into a room. The political equivalent of the sham fight in Scarva. Taking evidence is a sham. Considering pesky facts is a sham.


    and then today we have the High Court excoriating OFMDFM for not having an anti-poverty strategy


    Jennifer McCann is immediately out of the traps agreeing and demanding a strategy her party has been in power for year and not achieved it. Indeed in the words of the Judge

    “there was no evidence it was ever crafted into a road map designed to tackle the issues of poverty, social exclusion and patterns of deprivation”

    The reality is that this experiment in Government is a failure. It has become a mere pension fund to divert unruly pensioners from the Criminal Justice system. Time for them all to go?

  • Gaygael

    Interesting and expected. I fully imagine we will have a slew of co-options. And Sinn Fein having done the swap co-option trick with south and west belfast gives all the parties more potential options. Was it the first time that was done? I think so, and it sets an interesting precedent.

    So we have Jonathan Bell on the scene in south belfast. Or do we? And Christopher Stalford. And Ruth Paterson. 3 potential candidates? Somebody is going to be put out.
    The UUP score was low, and looks like their assembly seat could be under significant pressure. It was their only real campaign in Belfast. They stood aside in north and east, and in west they had a much smaller area to cover.
    The DUP feel they are within reach of a second seat. But will that come from the UUP or the second SDLP? Unless they intend to try 3, but it would require a perfect storm and good intra unionist tranfers in a full slate unionist field of 3 DUP, UUP, UKIP, PUP, Cons, maybe even also TUV and the softish unionists of alliance, and NI21 (will they still be about?)

    So DUP which of the 3 will be co-opted? What is the process? Is it the membership? Executive? A combination of these?
    Stalford ran behind Spratt in 2007, and Paterson did the same in 2011 and came much closer than him. So she could argue that. Is she more popular locally? Maybe.

    I imagine this has already been settled locally. If Bell is now on the ticket in south, the others will have agreed this. Unless someone is not interested in the assembly.

  • Acrobat_747

    They certainly do have a mandate.

    When you vote in the assembly elections you are voting for the candidate and any possible future co-options.

    Co-opting is known already, it’s part of the agreement. It’s not something made up after the election. So when you vote remember that you are voting for a possible future co-option also.