Age Profile of the New Assembly

The votes are in and the new MLAs have all signed the register. Some of you will remember back in late 2013, I totaled up the ages of the parties in the last Assembly.

I managed this time to get the ages of 107 of the 108 MLAs which means that this should be a more accurate reading of the current age profile of the Assembly.


The youngest Assembly group is the Green Party with an average age of 41 for their two MLAs.

Followed not too far behind by the SDLP, with an average age of 44 for their MLAs. This a substantial drop from 2013 when the party group was one of the oldest in the chamber with an average age of 53. Representatives like Daniel McCrossan, Claire Hanna and Nichola Mallon, have all brought the average age of this group down significantly.

The we have the DUP, who like the SDLP have a younger Assembly team with an average age of 48. The departure of Peter Robinson, William Hay and Sammy Wilson for much younger MLAs, have brought the overall age down by 2 years since 2013. (Note these figures do not include Brenda Hale)

Not too far behind we have Sinn Fein and the UUP both at 50 years old each. The UUP average age is down from 55 in 2013, with Sinn Fein rising from just under 48 years of age in 2013. The UUP have benefited from bringing in younger MLAs such as Robbie Butler and Andy Allen. In Sinn Fein’s case, there has been little turn over in their Assembly team, compared to others, which has meant the age has increased by over 2 years.

Then we have People Before Profit and the Alliance Party with an average age of 51 years old for their MLAs. On the Alliance side, they have gone from an average of 55 as MLAs such as Kellie Armstrong and Paula Bradshaw have joined the group.

In terms of sole representatives, Jim Allister is at 63 and the Independent, Claire Sugden is at 29.

Overall, the average age (rough calculation) of the Assembly is just over 48 years of age which is down from 2013.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I will leave you to debate in the comments section below.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • And, David? Do share your wisdom…

    Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I will leave you to debate in the comments section below.

    It will depend on the quality of those elected. Next!

    Utterly pointless…

  • David McCann

    Ahh Mr Baker, I was expecting you my dear fellow….

  • Worth noting, btw, is your opening line on the parties last time out.

    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.

    Alas, poor Phil Flanagan, the victim of Michelle Gildernew’s return…

  • Hand wringing aside, David, do you think this is a good or a bad thing?

  • murdockp

    I would be more interested in an article on background and ability to do the job rather than age.

    only in NI is age worthy of debate in the rest of the progressive world age is not a barrier to a job for both young and old alike

  • Granni Trixie

    I don’t think that keeping an eye on age profile is an entirely worthless exercise as it is a rough indicator of stagnation or not. I do think it is a good idea however to consider gender alongside age given women’s traditional childbearing and caregiving roles which can result in them entering politics at a later age than men. Following this, it should also be noted generally that what matters is that “new blood” enters politics which can be at any age (Eamon McCann being a recent example).

    it is also good practice to keep age out of party selection processes to avoid ageism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    hear hear
    We should expect the average age of women in parliaments to be higher than the men, under our current habits of parental leave where mothers tend to do the bulk of it. My wife for example has lost about 2-3 years of her career through one thing and another child-related, compared to her male colleagues. I’ve probably lost similar ground in my career compared to traditional dads (I work from home these days and juggle parenting with freelancing; not that it particularly bothers me – the more fool them).

    Really, we men should reduce that gap by stepping up to the plate a bit more and pushing for male leave for childbirth and/or adoption. Then we should man up and insist on taking that leave (in the face of mockery from bosses with Hapsburg Empire-era social attitudes, who think pushing a pram is an act of homosexual lewdness).

  • chrisjones2

    Should some of the DUP not have been counted as circa 65 million years old?

  • Msiegnaro

    We need to analyse females more too, married women with children do tend to drop out because they cannot give their work their full single minded attention. I would also question if we should be relying too much on the unmarried women within the Assembly who have no children – these are clearly unrounded individuals without a thorough understanding of life. The type of female the NI Assembly needs is a married woman with three children and a happy home life who are happy to devote their whole life or virtually their whole life to government.

  • Teddybear

    Meaningless I’m sorry to say. The young are following their tribal elders just like they did a generation earlier.
    And I’m not taken in by the ‘rise’ of the Greens or PBP (middle class deli counter angst/trendy group-think for the former and overgrown student politics for the latter)

    The only young one I’m impressed with is Clare Sugden. A true independent minded and mature young lady


  • Msiegnaro

    Age is an interesting factor if individuals retire from one area due to age and health issues but all of a sudden are able to take up a position as an MLA.

  • Msiegnaro

    Phil was more the victim of Feely’s intervention, I think he is actually on his way to work in the offices of SF so he will do just fine.

  • Msiegnaro

    Brenda Hale not included?

  • Msiegnaro

    Sexism is so much better 😉

  • Msiegnaro

    PBP have been a little silly thus far and seem content on being the naughty boys in the Assembly.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the Millenials will certainly add a different perspective on things compared to the Babyboomers. Not Student Activism politics but the Reality of what our breadwinning generation/median age bracket is like.

    I dont care if it’s Meagon Fearon, Chris Lyttle or Jamie Bryson… there’s a whole generation shift that has occured and many of the economic and communal norms and attitudes of the 1970’s and 1960’s have not survived.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And SF have only 3 or 4 new MLAs, maybe another 5 co-opted in the last term while their remaining MLAs have become older.

  • Teddybear

    Yes but nothing good has ever come from the politics of angst or anti business. The young by and large don’t seem to be aware of trade unionism for example. I’m pro business but I also believe in counter weights to prevent abuse from either side. The German model is one we should have adopted decades ago of worker/executives running a business.

    The fact is that despite our wish to help the third world, we all seem to be against globalism which happens to be the only way countries like India have vastly improved their standard of living. Those countries needed and got quality jobs. However it’s been at our expense in the complacent West.

    If we want to share the cake genuinely then we have to expect smaller slices for ourselves.

  • Pete

    Don’t think age makes a difference really. How good they are at the job is all that matters!

  • aa o’cearra

    It is such a pity that more men don’t think like you do.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s what I always say 😉

  • PeterBrown

    Is he going to be in charge of the official Twitter account for the Party and its President by any chance?

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    No more than 6000 years old surely?

  • Msiegnaro

    According the UUP sources he has yet to pay the fine the court imposed on him.

  • Granni Trixie

    And what evidence have you for claiming women with children “cannot give their work their full single minded attention”? Or your other daft assertions?

    Let me reiterate – new blood amd diversity is the ideal.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sure you’re a wee gem ( as they say in these parts).
    Seriously though, agree with your points – if the emphasis at Stormont were on being family friendly that would help dads too.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Young are the future economy, they are pretty much the present economy in many regards. I wouldn’t say they are anti-business or anti-entrepreneurial but that business culture has to adapt to a newer demographic and vice versa … or else there won’t be any businesses left in 10 years.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    there’s a long way to go on all that – as so often, the Scandinavians are ahead of us and we should look at what they’ve done on all this for starters.

  • Msiegnaro

    I think that should be fairly evident, I’m actually all for equality but I believe it should be done on the basis of the best man for the job at every level and not by quotas.

  • Granni Trixie

    Why bring quotas into it?
    Whilst ofcourse I agree to ‘best person for the job’ in principle I think it is fair enough to say that if people stay on and on and if average age is say over sixty it ought t make us think again about what has gone wrong.

  • Croiteir

    If this is an issue that reflects the issues which exercises the commentariate it shows how out of touch and policy poor they and the politicians/politics they comment on are. It is subjects of no importance, lightweight and superficial that they indulge in. Come on lad, a doctorate to comment on the age profile of political representatives? What about a post on the philosophical views of the politicians new to the assembly and how they intend to pursue their political views in accordance with the prevailing economic conditions and political realities that confront them?

  • Croiteir

    What is inherently wrong with that?

  • Granni Trixie

    Arguably whilst there is some merit in an intervention such as quotas its a whole other argument – was all I meant.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    why can’t we comment on both? I think the profile of the people who represent us does matter – and it’s not just about image, it’s about their suitability. However, I’d want to see a whole spread of ages, including the much older. We need people with experience and seasoned judgment as well as (or possibly more than) the vigour of youth.