Belfast Telegraph

Busier than ever - how ex-politicians are faring after Stormont

By Victoria Leonard

Former MLAs who left the Assembly over the 16 months or so have spoken of their experiences of adjusting to life away from the political spotlight.

Daithi McKay, who resigned as an MLA in August 2016 and was suspended from Sinn Fein amid allegations he coached Jamie Bryson prior to the loyalist blogger giving evidence to a Stormont committee he was chair of, is now working as a recruitment consultant. He said he didn't see himself going back to front line politics "anytime soon".

Mr McKay, who was in the Assembly for 14 years, said he would "not even stand as an independent" in the future.

However, he intends to continue his role as a political commentator.

"It's hard to miss the Assembly when it's not up and running," he said.

"I personally believe that Stormont will be restored, although not necessarily early in the new year. I think politics is a good foundation for a career in recruitment, and I still make use of my contacts in businesses, the community and voluntary sector in my current role.

"I help engineering candidates find their next job. We also help businesses to find the perfect candidate. There is a certain amount of job satisfaction, which for me is essential."

In contrast, former People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann, who lost his Foyle seat in March, said he would be "raring to go" if there was another election next year.

In addition to extensive campaigning and support work in a voluntary capacity for his party, he is poised to start writing a 10,000-word introduction to his 1974 novel War And An Irish Town, which is to be reprinted by an American publisher.

"I'm busier in terms of campaigning on issues such as cuts, the rail network, facilities for children with learning difficulties and other former constituents," he said.

"I represent people at tribunals and on issues in the community sector.

"Ironically, I have more time to devote to my former constituents since I left Stormont."

Meanwhile, ex-East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan, who also lost his seat in March, is continuing to represent his former constituents and Sinn Fein's interests on issues such as Brexit and education.

When asked if he would stand in another election, Mr McMullan replied: "Never say never in politics."

He added: "If it's not me who is elected, I will be there to help someone else. It's not about the individual, it's about the party."

Belfast Telegraph

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