Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Sammy Wilson and John O'Dowd out in front in recognition stakes

Sammy Wilson has warned over the cost of delays to public pension reform

Sammy Wilson and John O’Dowd are both Marmite politicians, who people either love or hate but seldom ignore.

So, perhaps it’s not a complete surprise that they scored highly in the ministerial recognition stakes.

It is more surprising that a lot of people couldn’t correctly identify five ministers. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, the First and Deputy First Ministers were excluded from the competition for being too obvious, so that left 11 full ministers and two juniors whose names were acceptable.

The 1,130 respondents polled were asked to name five ministers with each mention counted.

Mr Wilson, the DUP Finance Minister, and John O’Dowd of Sinn Fein in Education got 434 and 427 mentions respectively.

Arlene Foster of the DUP, who has the Enterprise portfolio, was not far behind on 412. In fact, there was a fairly narrow gap between the top six.

The next three were Alliance’s David Ford in Justice (391), Caral Ni Chuilin, the Sinn Fein Culture Minister (389) and Edwin Poots of the DUP in Health (363).

It is perhaps a surprise that Mr Poots wasn’t even higher up the scale. His department spends nearly half of the Executive budget (40%) and he is often in the news for his trenchant views on issues like abortion rights and gay blood donations.

Next came SDLP Environment Minister Alex Attwood with 293 mentions, followed by Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill who holds the Agriculture ministry on 282. The least recognised was Jonathan Bell Bell of the DUP, a junior minister who was elected for the first time in May last year and got 117 mentions.

The other junior minister, Jennifer McCann of Sinn Fein, who was recently appointed, was recognised by 146 people. The least known senior minister was Danny Kennedy of the UUP (186), somewhat behind Alliance’s Stephen Farry on 217 and Nelson McCausland of the DUP (278).

Some people came up with any politician who seemed familiar.

Some mistakes were understandable. Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein is a former junior minister and 83 people thought he was still in post — 45 made the same mistake about Ian Paisley jnr, who has been an MP at Westminster since the last election.

The UUP’s Basil McCrea will be pleased that 93 people thought he was on the Executive — that was a bit ahead of the 66 people who reckoned his party leader, Mike Nesbitt, was a minister.

Tom Elliott, the former UUP leader, has been so active on the backbenches that 62 people think he is on the Executive.

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