Northern Ireland news

Paul Maskey ranks 'best MP' from NI on the `People Power' list

Paul Maskey was considered the best performing of Northern Ireland's MPs. Picture by Mal McCann

THE first `People-Power' index, ranking MPs on a range of criteria including "participation in Parliament", has seen a Sinn Féin politician break into the House of Commons top 10 per cent - despite never taking his seat.

Paul Maskey, who has held West Belfast since 2011, was considered the best performing of Northern Ireland's MPs, and number 60 among the 650 representatives elected to the house.

The rankings, compiled by Change.org, show how MPs "listened to, and engaged with, their constituents over the last two years".

The wider data shows two-thirds of the top 50 MPs are Labour and almost three-quarters of the bottom 50 are Conservative MPs, with eight of the top 10 marginal constituencies at the last General Election are in the top half of the Index.

Kajal Odedra, UK executive director of Change.org, suggested those politicians defending small majorities "work harder to earn their votes".

However, this does not appear to be true within the Northern Ireland mini-table, with Mr Maskey winning 66.7 per cent of the vote in 2017.

Jim Shannon, the only DUP representative - among five Sinn Féin MPs - in the top 100, also gained more than 60 per cent of the vote.

The Strangford MP topped the latest poll of MPs expenses, claiming £237,427 in just 12 months, more than £87,000 higher then the average.

It included office and accommodation costs plus pay for eight staff members.

The People Power index awards points for having a constituency office, regular constituency `surgeries' and employing caseworkers.

Among the other data considered are how an MP is available online (email and social media) and whether an MP is "distracted by a second (or third) job".

It analyses MPs participation record for parliamentary voting "so that their constituency is counted when new laws are passed" and how often they raise issues from their constituency in the house.

There are points for how they fulfil their "responsibility to the wider general public to bring political attention to mass public campaigns and priority issues by discussing them in Parliament".

Despite Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy - other than Mr Shannon - all but one of its MPs rate higher in the index than rivals.

According to the index, the next most effective DUP representative is Ian Paisley, who ranks at 114, despite his 30-day absence from parliament after fellow MPs voted to suspend him for failing to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government and lobbying on its behalf.

DUP veterans Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Nigel Dodds and Sammy Wilson both ranked higher than retiring independent unionist Lady Hermon.

Her 263 place comes weeks after Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew hailed her as "a diligent representative for the people of North Down" and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said she had "put in a mammoth shift, single-handedly representing and defending the `Remain' majority in Northern Ireland at Westminster".

Worst ranked are Sinn Féin's Órfhlaith Begley, Emma Little Pengelly, Gregory Campbell and Paul Girvan.

#60 Paul Maskey Belfast West SF

#80 Elisha McCallion Foyle SF

#86 Jim Shannon Strangford DUP

#94 Francie Molloy Mid Ulster SF

#98 Mickey Brady Newry and Armagh SF

#99 Michelle Gildernew Fermanagh and South Tyrone SF

#108 Chris Hazzard South Down SF

#114 Ian Paisley North Antrim DUP

#201 Jeffrey Donaldson Lagan Valley DUP

#231 Nigel Dodds Belfast North DUP

#233 Sammy Wilson East Antrim DUP

#263 Sylvia Hermon North Down Ind

#271 David Simpson Upper Bann DUP

#272 Gavin Robinson Belfast East DUP

#280 Órfhlaith Begley West Tyrone SF

#355 Emma Little Pengelly Belfast South DUP

#361 Gregory Campbell East Derry DUP

#367 Paul Girvan South Antrim DUP

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