Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 21:09 UK

Local Government (Disqualification) Bill

Independent MLA Dawn Purvis brought the consideration stage of the Local Government (Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, on 12 October 2010.

The bill was designed to end so-called 'dual mandates' and prevent a person being both a member of a local council and an MLA. Ms Purvis said she believed this was the first time a private members bill had reached the consideration stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ms Purvis's opening speech was of a largely technical nature laying down procedures for matters such as the replacement of members by co-option.

She criticised the practice of parties putting up the same candidate for assembly and council elections held on the same day and drew attention to the small number of women MLAs.

Sinn Fein's Cathal Boylan, the chair of the Environment Committee, outlined the committee's views on the bill. He said his party was broadly supportive.

Alistair Ross of the DUP said he failed to see how this legislation could encourage more women to get involved in politics. He said the public were not so concerned with the matter of dual mandate as some people would have us believe.

The UUP's Danny Kinahan welcomed the bill although he said his party had some concerns regarding 2011 when assembly and council elections would be held on the same day. He said the public could be duped into voting for candidates who had no intention of taking their seats.

Patsy McGlone of the SDLP was supportive of the bill as were other speakers from his party.

The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry said he was a proud member of North Down council and that whilst he might stand down from the council at the next election it would be his own decision. He said the bill was flawed and it should address the question of MLAs who were both ministers and local councillors.

Independent MLA Alan McFarland said that in the past it was common practice for MLAs to leave assembly committee meetings early to attend council meetings. He spoke about MLAs who were also MPs being in London on Wednesdays and Thursdays when assembly committees usually meet.


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