NI assembly election: Tax and money pledges in early stages of campaign

Polling station Image copyright ace66
Image caption The assembly election campaign is well under way, with voters going to the polls on 5 May

The assembly election campaign began with the DUP promising those who reach their 100th birthday at the time of Northern Ireland's centenary in 2021 £1,000.

Eight days on, the SDLP was pledging to give newborn babies £250 in what looked like a regional version of Gordon Brown's now defunct Child Trust Fund.

But if you aren't a baby or a centenarian what does the campaign mean for you?

That's hard to fathom at this early stage, although the two major party manifestoes unveiled so far broadly represent the 'Fresh Start' (ensure stability with what you've got) approach versus the 'Vote For Change' (reverse a decade of failure) argument.

No doubt these contrasting themes in the DUP and SDLP documents will find echoes in Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist offerings.

The DUP has tried to play up the biggest party/first minister argument (Simon Hamilton told Stephen Nolan it's the "core issue"). Martin McGuinness insists it's nonsense as, in the event of Sinn Féin emerging as the largest party, he would immediately offer to shift his job title to joint first minister.

Click to read and compare key party pledges

Social and moral issues have figured as the DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Greens' Claire Bailey responded to the prosecution of a woman for procuring abortion drugs over the internet on Inside Politics. The Alliance Party's Naomi Long was also asked about the issue on Sunday Politics, while other politicians discussed the case elsewhere.

Then there was the backdraft from the Panama Papers, with all the Stormont party leaders hurrying to publish their tax returns. The most notable aspect of the local returns was that we now have a leader so young (Colum Eastwood) that he is still paying back his student loan.

One UKIP candidate briefly caused a stir on social media by suggesting voters should get a £100 tax rebate for turning up at their polling stations.

However, that was overtaken by his leader, David McNarry, appearing to confirm to Stephen Nolan that he was prepared to deport a foreign born surgeon for something as trivial as a parking fine (subsequently Mr McNarry issued two clarifications that UKIP policy only covered far more serious offences, but by then the on air damage had been done).

In the middle of this week, UTV host its first five way leaders' debate (the BBC's set piece debate will take place on Tuesday 3 May, two days before polling).

Perhaps this week's debate will energise and focus the campaign, but will it capture the public imagination as much as the the European Union referendum?