Justin McNulty: SDLP suspend MLA who left Stormont for GAA game

  • By Enda McClafferty
  • BBC News NI political editor

Image caption,

Justin McNulty left Stormont early to handle Laois of their match with Wexford on Saturday night

An SDLP meeting member has been suspended from the get together after quitting Stormont early “without permission” to handle a Gaelic soccer workforce.

It later emerged he had pushed to County Wexford the place his workforce, Laois, have been enjoying a match.

He was on the sideline when his workforce took on Wexford in Division Four of the National League at 18:00 native time – Laois received by 10 factors.

However, he missed his get together colleague Mathew O’Toole being nominated as chief of the official opposition.

The SDLP confirmed in a press release that the get together has now suspended the whip from the Newry and Armagh meeting member (MLA), who received an All-Ireland title with Armagh in 2002.

A spokesman stated Mr McNulty left in the present day’s sitting of the meeting with out “seeking permission” and didn’t return for “important parliamentary” enterprise which included the SDLP taking over its position as official opposition at Stormont.

‘Expected to be there for work’

“All SDLP MLAs were informed by the party’s chief whip that attendance at today’s sitting was mandatory for the duration of the assembly proceedings,” the spokesman stated.

He added: “This was an historic day that noticed the restoration of devolved authorities, the election of the primary nationalist first minister and chief of the opposition.

“People rightly count on their elected representatives to be there for work.”

The spokesman stated the get together anticipated all members of the meeting workforce to be there “to help their colleagues”.

He added that as Mr McNulty “was not in his place, didn’t search permission for his absence and breached the direct instruction of the whip, the SDLP chief whip has suspended the whip with fast impact”.

The transfer means Mr McNulty won’t be able to attend SDLP meeting conferences.

BBC News NI has tried to contact Mr McNulty for a response.

It is known the get together had beforehand warned the meeting member that he had to decide on between his meeting job and being Laois supervisor.

He was instructed he couldn’t proceed in each roles.

Analysis: Clash inevitable when MLA went MIA

It was a important fixture for workforce SDLP and each participant was warned to remain till the ultimate whistle.

So when Justin McNulty walked off the pitch earlier than half time he was at all times going to pay a heavy worth.

He slipped away “without permission”, leaving his colleagues looking the corridors at Parliament Buildings.

By the time his workforce captain at Stormont was named chief of the opposition, Justin McNulty had began his three-hour drive to Wexford.

He made the 6pm throw-in on time to see his facet Laois defeat Wexford by 10 factors.

It was a key conflict because it ensured Laois remained prime of division 4.

But there was one other conflict coming when the SDLP whip rang the Newry and Armagh MlA on the way in which house to suspend him from the get together.

The management will say it had no possibility after Justin McNulty had defied get together directions in such a public approach on a massively vital day.

It was in all probability a name the MLA was anticipating.

For him there isn’t any battle and he clearly feels he can fulfil each roles, although yesterday was not a great begin.

He is clearly not ready to surrender a tough received, properly paid, pensionable job for a two-year stint as Laois supervisor.

And few throughout the GAA would disagree.

If which means dropping his place on the SDLP workforce for some time, so be it.

Crucially for the SDLP, his suspension doesn’t drop the get together beneath the eight-seat threshold to be the official opposition.

That calculation is made when the SDLP MLAs signed in after the election virtually two years in the past.

But it’s not a great for a celebration now tasked with holding others to account when its first motion is to carry one in all its personal to account.

Though the door nonetheless stays open for Justin McNulty to make a comeback as his suspension may simply be lifted.

But it might be an extended season each on and off the pitch.

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