Northern Ireland

McGuinness and Allister clinch View awards

The deputy first minister and the TUV's Jim Allister are among the winners of BBC programme The View's political awards.

Image caption Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was named Best Minister for doing a very difficult job well

Martin McGuinness was named Best Minister while the TUV leader was the judges' favourite as the Best MLA.

The View's end-of-term awards were judged by five of the programme's regular commentators, Professors Pete Shirlow, Deirdre Heenan, Rick Wilford, journalist Paul McFadden and columnist Alex Kane.

Mr McGuinness trumped executive colleagues for doing a very difficult job very well, the judges said.

Judge Paul McFadden praised Mr McGuinness for his "statesmanlike" approach, citing as examples his meeting with the Queen last year and his consistently tough message to republican dissidents.

TUV leader Jim Allister beat off competition from within the 108-strong assembly despite not always being popular for his brand of politics.

Mr Allister was singled out for his articulate speeches, his ability to dissect an issue, his wit and success in getting a controversial piece of legislation on special advisors passed against the odds.

The award for Best Speaker was jointly given to two MLAs, Green MLA Steven Agnew and Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland.

Image caption TUV leader Jim Allister was voted Best MLA by The View awards panel

Mr Agnew was singled out for his "courage" in tackling two executive ministers over the issue of gay marriage while Mr Copeland won praise for his speeches on welfare reform and housing.

The DUP Minister for Finance Sammy Wilson won the "most entertaining" category for his humour.

Judge Alex Kane said he used his wit to great effect, not just to entertain, but as a kind of shield in awkward political moments.

The SDLP's Conall McDevitt was the unanimous choice in the Best Use of Social Media category.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was among ministers commended for her command of her brief, as was the SDLP's Alex Attwood for "making a difference" on planning and the plastic bag tax.

Other MLAs praised in the Best MLA category included Sue Ramsey for holding the health minister to account.

In the Best Speaker category, DUP MLA Jim Wells was mentioned for his consistent speech-making.