Lagan Valley public have their say on double jobbing

The voting public in Lagan Valley weigh in on double jobbing.


UTV has asked voters in Lagan Valley how they feel about the practice of double jobbing, and opinions were divided.

Some said they believe holding two posts is "too much" - while others said it has been done in the past and "there's no reason it can't be done again".

It comes after the constituency's MP, the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, confirmed his intention to stand in the Assembly election this May.

Mr Donaldson says it will be for the people to decide at the polls, arguing there was a benefit for the leader of unionism to have roles at both Westminster and Stormont.

He has also denied there was any agreement between his party and the UK Government on bringing it back.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill claimed the government was "interfering" in the Assembly elections "only to prop up the DUP".

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's selection for the Assembly vote is yet to be confirmed by the party.

He refused to confirm if any of his MP party colleagues would also run although said it was not the case all would have their name on the ticket.

"I think there is a case to be made at this particular time in the current circumstances of Northern Ireland," the DUP leader said.

"It is important for unionism to have a strong voice in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

"It will be the people who decide this. If I am selected as a DUP candidate and I stand in the Assembly election, and if Parliament approves this proposal, it will be for the people to decide whether or not they think this is a good thing."

There has been widespread outrage after the plan to restore double-jobbing was revealed. All the DUP's partners in the Executive have spoken out against it.

UTV's Political Editor Tracey Magee looks at the fallout.


SDLP MP Claire Hanna said the proposals were a "safety net" for Sir Jeffrey, while Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie referred to them as a "scam".

Double jobbing ended in NI in 2016 but remains in place in the rest of the UK. However it is to be phased out in 2023.

Sir Jeffrey told the BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme: "I do think there is a benefit for the leader of unionism to continue having a voice at Westminster as well as having a role at Stormont because we are in critical times.

"The Union is under threat because of the (Northern Ireland) Protocol and the harm it is doing to our relationship with the rest of the UK.

"Much of the work I do at that is at Westminster, so, yes, there would be a benefit in retaining a voice at Westminster at least until the next General Election."

DUP MPs Lord Dodds, Gavin Robinson and DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson arrive at the Foreign Office in central London last week. Credit: PA

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the "bulk" of DUP MPs have not put their names forward to run in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.

He said: "No decisions have been made because we are still going through a selection process at the moment.

"The bulk of DUP MPs have not put their name forward for selection.

"I see some parties saying that all eight DUP MPs will be standing in the Assembly elections - that simply is not true."

Sir Jeffrey added: "Even before I was elected leader of the DUP, last year it was the Labour Party, the sister party of the SDLP, who first put this (Bill) forward.

"Furthermore, it was put forward as a proposal when the NDNA (New Decade, New Approach) Bill was being debated in the House of Lords.

"I have had a look at that debate and I note that none of the parties who are objecting now raised an objection at that time.

"This matter will be debated in Parliament. My first priority is not evading a by-election, it is to ensure Northern Ireland has a strong voice at Westminster and that we get strong leadership at Stormont."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson confirmed he would consider the opportunity to serve as both an MP and an MLA if the legislation is passed.

He said: "If this legislation is passed by Parliament, it will be available to any Member of Parliament in Northern Ireland who wants to switch back to the Assembly; it is up to each individual MP.

"If this legislation is approved then I will consider whether I can avail of this option."

The DUP leader added: "I think there is a case to be made at this particular time in the current circumstances of Northern Ireland. It is important for unionism to have a strong voice in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

"It will be the people who decide this. If I am selected as a DUP candidate and I stand in the Assembly election, and if Parliament approves this proposal, it will be for the people to decide whether or not they think this is a good thing."

South Belfast SDLP MP Claire Hanna added: "The SDLP's view is very clear, we don't support double-jobbing.

"Jeffrey Donaldson can put up all the straw men that he wants, it is quite clear that the other parties don't support this because it reduces the function of elected representatives.

"These two parliaments run at the same time. You can't do justice to both roles and you are not doing justice to your elected representatives.

"What is concerning people is the fact that this feels very much like a stroke, and it is a stroke to benefit Jeffrey Donaldson.

"The reason Jeffrey Donaldson wants this safety net is because he is dangling the future of the (Stormont) institutions by a thread."

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office confirmed the government had tabled an amendment to the NI (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill and said it would be subject to the usual parliamentary scrutiny.