Twitter: the MLAs of South Antrim

26 May 2015 Ryan Miller    Last updated: 6 Jul 2015

"I've still got a job!"
"I've still got a job!"

South Antrim - the Jewel of the Six Mile – joins Scope’s list of constituencies to receive a sober and sombre social media probe.

The people of South Antrim love plain talk.

Antrim Town itself sits on the Six Mile Water – a 40km river – while close to the town is the Seven Mile Straight, which is pretty straight and close enough to seven miles long.

So, plain speaking? Yes. Truth telling? Optional.

Step forward Twitter, the 140-character yarn machine - you have found your natural home.

Current star of the show is a man on his way out: Danny Kinahan, soon to depart the Assembly for Westminster, and not a moment too soon.

The Houses of Commons may literally be crumbling but life as an MP has far greater job security than Stormont, where figurative flames are entangling the Assembly. Welfare Reform isn’t enough all by itself – we’re going to collapse devolution on the way there!

Daniel de Burgh Kinahan - @DdeBK – has a respectable 3,000 followers and an even more respectable 1,000 folks he sees fit to follow. A talker and a listener, so well done with that.

There’s an old joke here somewhere, but it’s worth noting that Danny isn’t even the biggest Tweeter in his family: his cousin, crooner Chris, has 9,000 followers (but only follows 15).

Recently departed MP, the DUP’s William McCrea, was always going to lose at the polls if you make the unimpeachable assumption that more tweets = more votes.

The singing Reverend joined the social media site in October 2012, but never bought into it, and has drummed up 114 tweets and 283 followers since then. What’s that, lots more time to cut some records? I demand a recount!

As for the rest of the constituency's Assembly members:

Pam Cameron has been an MLA for four years and during that time has changed her name twice but, despite the obvious possible difficulties, her current Twitter handle is @PCameronMLA.

Her 1,500 followers isn’t bad, and the 698 people followed is also a decent effort, while 2,100+ tweets in three years is about two per day and perfectly respectable.

A quick look down her wall shows the usual mix of worthy causes, support for colleagues, and a declaration of love for Graham Norton – the DUP’s comic of choice.

Justice Minister David Ford is another South Antrim member, and his nearly 1,800 followers. The Alliance Party leader only follows 218 people and has only posted 485 tweets – a look at his history gives the impression he clicked into another gear ahead of the recent general election.

Unfortunately his cascade of #GingerNinja memes were not enough to keep East Belfast yellow, with incumbent MP Naomi Long losing out to world-class orator Gavin Robinson.

There are two more DUP members in this unionist stronghold, who have both tweeted around 1,500 times and both with a health ratio of followers to followed, at about 2:1.

Paul Girvan is in the strange situation of having an almost identical name to a more high-profile party colleague – though whether this is a blessing or a curse depends largely on what is in the news.

Over 1,500 tweets isn’t bad, given he’s only been in the Twitter churn for a couple of years, as is his over 1,300 followers.

Trevor Clarke has been at the game a lot longer – since 2009, quick to the party! – and his 1,400 Tweets and over 2,100 followers is also a decent return. Like Mr Girvan, he talks about a fairly standard mix of politics and local civic issues.

The final MLA, recently-appointed Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin, does not appear to have a Twitter presence – as ever, if we’re wrong, get in touch – and whether this has always been the case or he just felt it was wise after assuming the important position of mediator and chair of debates, Scope does not know.

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