Emma Pengelly replaces Jimmy Spratt as the MLA for South Belfast

Emma Pengelly former advisor to Peter Robinson will replace Jimmy Spratt as an MLA for South Belfast (worth pointing out she is taking a huge pay cut moving to the assembly).

On taking up the role Emma said;

It is an incredible privilege to have this opportunity to serve the people of South Belfast. I am determined to be a strong advocate for all the people of the constituency and help build on the foundation laid by Jimmy Spratt. I wish him well in his retirement.

South Belfast is a diverse constituency with some challenges but many more opportunities. I look forward to working with all sections of the community, including the large employers within the education and health sectors and the voluntary sectors, to continue to build a vibrant and strong economy and to ensure South Belfast remains a great place to live, study, work and visit.

The DUP leader Peter Robinson said;

I would like once again to pay tribute to Jimmy Spratt for his dedication and service both to the DUP and to the South Belfast constituency. I am delighted however that the constituency will have such a talented policy expert as Emma working on its behalf.

She has worked very closely with many community and voluntary organisations over the last number of years, and in South Belfast she was instrumental in bringing forward the ‘Urban Villages’ programme which will help tackle dereliction within the Sandy Row/Donegall Pass area of the constituency. She will be a first-rate representative for South Belfast representing a new generation of talent within the DUP.

This means that 4 of the 6 South Belfast MLAs have never faced an election before, but on a positive note half of the current MLAs from that constituency are women.

Emma is firmly on the Robinson wing of the party and much like her colleague in East Belfast, Gavin Robinson is a part of the new, softer side of the DUP.

  • chrisjones2


  • Dan

    One is bad enough, but 4 out of 6.
    This is taking the electorate for absolute fools. Total contempt.

    Time for an election.

  • Ernekid

    What exactly is the softer side of the DUP? Does she support equal marriage rights for Same sex couples for instance? Is she a religious fundamentalist lunatic like some of her party colleagues ?

    I find the lack of a by-election mechanism in the NI Assembly deeply worrying. It creates a serious democratic deficit.

  • Bobbell

    Her husband is a very senior civil servant, Permanent Secretary of the DHSSPS.

  • Granni Trixie

    It is signifcant i think that she referred to diversity in South Belfast for as far as I remember Jonathan Bell in his Westminster result speech said that the result showed that SB had the potential to be ” a unionist stronghold”.

  • Granni Trixie

    Might I add that the way EP has been chosen looks like DUP have a totally top down decision makmg system. Have their members no backbone to demand they have a say in constituency appointments?

  • Gingray

    Nominated by Sammy Wilson for a job with NAMA …

  • Gingray

    The vast majority of party members are also members of the FP church – perhaps diktats from above are not uncommon?

  • Reader

    Very, very difficult to arrange by-elections for multi-seat constituencies without giving the vacant seat to the largest party in the constituency every time.
    While assassination has gone out of fashion here, I suspect that intimidation, blackmail and smears will never go out of fashion if there is this sort of incentive.

  • Kevin Breslin

    On a technical note like Anna Lo and Michael McGimpsey; Claire Hanna, Feargal McKinney and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir have faced elections before, just not to the Assembly.

  • Ernekid

    They manage by-elections across the border for their multi seat constituency without much hassle. Is the d’hondt system the main barrier for by-elections?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Got there before me, yes you’d get the sectarian headcounts with the added “benefit” of all the Francis Urquhart/Frank Underwood House of Cards scheming to go with it. Seamas Mallon losing his mandated seat in Stormont on a “legal technicality” was an example of such an abuse.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No they don’t really – PR-STV would simply guarantee the seat is held by the a party the majority of the constituency would support. A party could hold four, five or even all six seats with just over half the votes and transfers if the representatives of the minority parties in the area die or quit, when in other constituencies the seats have 6/7 of the mandate represented.

  • Kevin Breslin

    D’Hondt is used in GB in Europe and Assembly elections and lists. I would like to see STV with a constituency list of possible replacements, even if people end up in multiple lists at least the electorate would know who was coming and those off the lists would have to work harder next time, if they are small fry in their party before the election they shouldn’t get quick promotions mid-term, but take their chances with a council seat if one turns up.

  • sadie

    Yes exaclty, time for an election but guess what the same people will be elected again. Something has to be done before next May to try and stop these people from continuing to destroy lives and the economy.A new party needs to be created because those we have are not fit for purpose, they have proved that.

  • Granni Trixie

    Would it be going too far to suggest that the appointment from Advisor to MLA is a sign that PR is about to step down? Does not a new Leader usually pick a new Advisor?

  • Slater

    Emma is not taking a pay cut by going to the Assembly as she is currently out of a job and signing on.

  • Jag

    Pengelly? Now why is that name familiar from the ongoing NAMA scandal?

  • kalista63

    Would be worth linking her interview from yesterday’s Evening Extra, a total car crash. It reminded me a lot of my very first job interviews when she had to reach to her university days to cite her electoral experience and her experience of S Belfast.

  • John Collins

    But the electorate are ‘absolute fools’-look at what is returned to Parliament both north and south of the Border.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Who the bloody hell is this woman? As a resident of South Belfast why the bloody hell did I not get to vote for her “coronation” or not? Why do I first discover she now “represents” me on a bloody website? Democracy, my ass! This is nepotism, pure and simple. Businesses are banned from this sort of corrupt sh*te yet politicians can get away with it….

  • babyface finlayson

    Yes it reminded me of a few early job interviews too, when every sad scrap of life experience was dredged up to make one sound somehow qualified for the post.
    And she never answered the question as to whether she lived in S Belfast or not, so I presume that’s a no.
    She sounded pleasant enough but she did get a fairly easy ride.

  • John Gorman


    One other thing will Ruth Patterson be the other DUP candidate in the upcoming election or will they go for youth again.

  • Redstar

    Her father is a respectable chap too. Loyalist convicted gun runner for Dups paramilitary wing Ulster Resistance, Noel Little

    Now who says Dup don’t associate with unionist terrorist types ….

  • Paddy Reilly

    I think you need to distinguish between Noel Little, UR gun-runner, living, and Noel Lyttle, INLA member, shot dead 35 years ago.

  • Robert Smith

    Nice to see that the party who brought us parliamentary mooing noises and told the Women’s Coalition to ”get back in the kitchen” are embracing more female MLAs.
    Clearly engaging in same sex marriage, sex work or abortion are unacceptable for NI women, but being parachuted into a constituency on the basis of being a special adviser and the daughter of a gunrunner is just fine and dandy.

  • What has being someone’s son or daughter got to do with anything? Plenty of good people have some unsavory things in their family history.

  • Pete

    Seems fair to select someone who’s been a hard worker for the party for years. I don’t see how you could possibly have an issue with that?