Profanity, parody accounts and prison escapes: North Belfast MLAs

18 Feb 2015 Nick Garbutt    Last updated: 22 Feb 2015

North Belfast MLAs on Twitter
North Belfast MLAs on Twitter

Our next port of call as we trawl Twitter to see how our politicians are faring on social media is the hotly contested constituency of North Belfast, home to several big guns (metaphorically speaking).

Here we encounter Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin who is the first of quite a long list of MLAs who have got into trouble over their tweets. She hit the headlines in 2011 for describing the Irish government’s Justice Minister Michael McDowell as a “Gobshite”, which many thought was neither cultured nor ministerial, including apparently herself.

She subsequently told herself off via another tweet where she reminded herself not to be satirical on Twitter – a good example of realising too late that it is better to think before you tweet.

Ni Chuilin seems to have taken her own advice of late with her posts suitably ministerial. She has 9,107 followers at the last count and she rated zero on the profanity/dodgy comment index.

In contrast her DUP opponent Nelson McCausland is outperformed by a parody account dedicated to him called ½ Nelson McCausland which is written in a pastiche of Ulster Scots.  It has 384 followers with the DUP former Minister way back on 187. The parody account bears McCausland’s picture. Somewhat disconcertingly the real one does not.

The genuine account (assuming that it is!) has just three tweets. The first informs us that Mr McCausland is about to watch The Last Temptation of Christ which he describes as a good Presbyterian way to spend an afternoon. The second written an hour or so later states "I do not remember that being in the Bible”. The tweets were posted four years ago. There’s been nothing since. Blame the non-Presbyterian director Martin Scorsece.

Sinn Fein’s Justice Minister Gerry Kelly has a remarkable 22,200 Twitter followers, an astonishing number when you consider he has only tweeted just over 1,000 times. There is nothing especially witty or sensational about his input. Maybe this is a consequence of him being on the Nolan Show so often?

Scope noted that the image Sinn Fein’s Justice spokesman has chosen is of the Maze prison with the word Escape emblazoned across it. We assume this is a reference to his past and not a call to action for the present prison population.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness is building well on social media with 4035 followers. He'd maybe do better if he followed more - currently he stands at 381 which is a low ratio.

The DUP’s Paula Bradley musters 956 followers. Not bad, but not good enough for someone young enough to know better. She is more of a re-tweeter than a generator of original content and in volatile, marginal constituencies is that enough to build her profile?

Scope could not find a Twitter account for  William Humphrey of the DUP, as always let us know if we somehow missed you …


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