Northern Ireland

Justin McNulty: Four-hour journey from Stormont to Wexford could be on the cards for MLA/ Laois football manager

Justin McNulty during his first spell in charge of Laois
Justin McNulty during his first spell in charge of Laois

Time could be of the essence for Justin McNulty on Saturday if the Northern Ireland Assembly is back up and running again.

With his role as SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh as well as his recent appointment as Laois senior football manager, it could be a busy day for the sporty politician.

It comes amid speculation that the Assembly could be recalled on Saturday following the DUP’s announcement that it will return to power-sharing.

With the wheels in motion to see MLAs return to the corridors of Stormont, not only will Mr McNulty be expected to be in the chamber on Saturday, but he is also due on the pitch side-line in Wexford.

Laois are scheduled to take on Wexford in the National Football League on Saturday at 6pm

While no time has been mooted for the possible Saturday recall at Stormont, if it goes ahead, a four-hour journey from Parliament Buildings to Wexford Park could be on the cards for Mr McNulty.

The former All-Ireland winner was appointed to the post in October. It is his second time in the role with the Leinster side after previously managing the team for three seasons between 2010-2013 .

The former full-back, who along with younger brother Enda helped Armagh lift the Sam Maguire Cup in 2002, later stepped down from the position when he was elected to Stormont in 2016.

In accordance with assembly rules, after registering his new managerial position in November, Mr McNulty described the role as “Laois GAA Senior Inter-County Football Manager” and said it involves “evening and weekend commitment for which expenses will be covered”.

The 48-year-old’s appointment is understood to have come as a shock to his colleagues in the SDLP.

Speculation has been rife that party members have been concerned that his commitment to the GAA, including making the 250-mile round trip to Laois at least once a week, could interfere greatly with his role as an MLA.

Mr McNulty has been contacted for comment.