Paul Maskey

Paul Maskey

Paul Maskey at Stormont, February 2012
Member of Parliament
for Belfast West
Assumed office
9 June 2011
Preceded by Gerry Adams
Majority 13,123 (57.1%)
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast West
In office
7 March 2007  2 July 2012
Preceded by Michael Ferguson
Succeeded by Rosie McCorley
Personal details
Born (1967-06-10) 10 June 1967[1]
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin

Paul John Maskey (born 10 June 1967)[1] is an Irish republican politician in Northern Ireland who is a member of Sinn Féin. He served as a Sinn Féin member (MLA) of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast West from 2007 to 2012. He is currently Member of Parliament (MP) for the Westminster constituency of Belfast West, but in line with Sinn Féin's policy of abstentionism he has not taken his seat there.


Maskey has been employed by Fáilte Feirste Thiar ('Welcome to West Belfast'), an agency promoting tourism into that part of the city. As development co-ordinator in 2004 he helped launch an initiative under which 120 local businesses agreed to accept the euro, to help encourage visitors from across the border and elsewhere in the Eurozone.[2] In December 2005, as chair of the West Belfast Partnership, he linked up with Shankill Tourism to set up an Arts and Heritage trail which included both the Shankill Road and Falls Road areas.[3] He welcomed publication of a tourist map of Belfast in 2006 which included a Gaeltacht Quarter in west Belfast,[4] and in 2008 the group published a map and guide to all gable end murals in the west of Belfast.[5] When he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, Maskey became unpaid chair of Fáilte Feirste Thiar.

Belfast City Council

At the local elections of 7 June 2001, Maskey was elected as a Sinn Féin councillor for the Upper Falls electoral area on Belfast City Council, topping the poll on first preferences.[6] He became chairman of the Belfast Waterfront Hall Board, helping to guide the venue to be ranked as the best congress centre in the UK and the fifth best in the World at the final of the Apex Award 2004 – World's Best Congress Centre awards, organised by the International Association of Congress Centres.[7]

He was also chairman of the Client Services committee of Belfast City Council.[8] but in January 2005 he could not win committee or council support for a proposal costing £175,000 to convert the minor hall used by the Group Theatre at the Ulster Hall into dual-purpose performance space during the refurbishment of the Hall.[9] From 2005 he was leader of the Sinn Féin group on the City Council.[10] His criticism of the rival Irish nationalist SDLP for meeting and 'hobnobbing' with Charles, Prince of Wales at the end of 2005 was branded as "tribal clap-trap from a man who surely knows better" by Newton Emerson in the Daily Mirror, with Emerson noting that Maskey had been "the perfect host" when they had previously met.[11] Maskey resigned his seat on 14 September 2009.[12]

Northern Ireland Assembly

Maskey was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in the 2007 elections as part of a Sinn Féin team which won five out of the six seats in Belfast West. After a Public Accounts Committee report criticised the waste of money on a project to build a campus of the University of Ulster on one of the peace lines at Springvale in north Belfast, Maskey placed the blame on the SDLP Minister Carmel Hanna.[13] He became chairman of the committee in May 2008.[14] In July 2009 he supported a committee investigation into the £33m paid annually in legal fees and compensation to people claiming for tripping on pavements.[15]

Under Maskey's chairmanship the committee held a detailed scrutiny of Northern Ireland Water in 2010, after it awarded 70 contracts without competition. Maskey denounced the situation as "absolutely staggering" and said that he could not remember "a more serious case of complete disregard for public sector ethics."[16] The committee held a meeting to question officers of NI Water which took three and a half hours; Maskey joked at the end that the officers would need an "articulated lorry" to send all the information requested by MLAs.[17]

When Maskey organised a protest against a parade by Royal Irish Regiment soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in October 2008, he explained that he wanted "a peaceful, dignified protest" against the wars, but that he did want to see British forces returning without injury.[18] In December 2010 Maskey criticised other political parties in Northern Ireland for seeking to keep the details of people who funded them confidential; he said that "justifiable public cynicism is generated when it is perceived that political parties are not being open about their financial affairs."[19] He was re-elected in 2011, topping the poll with 5,343 first preference votes. He was again named as Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee in the new mandate.[20]

UK Parliament

After his re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly, Maskey announced on 12 May 2011 that he would be standing for selection as Sinn Féin candidate for the Belfast West constituency in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, which had been left vacant when Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams resigned to fight for a seat in Dáil Éireann. He was immediately supported by Gerry Kelly MLA.[21] and as the only nomination for the vacancy, was selected on 19 May.[22] At the by-election on 9 June, Maskey was elected with over 70% of the vote; he said that he had received votes from all parts of the constituency including the Shankill Road and said that he hoped to hold a constituency surgery there.[23] He was re-elected with an increased vote in the 2015 General Election.


  1. 1 2 "AIM Portal: Mr Paul Maskey". Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved 21 November 2012.
  2. Laurence White, "West Belfast signs up to eurozone scheme", Belfast Telegraph, 17 May 2005.
  3. "Two famous roads come together for tourism", Newsletter, 14 December 2005.
  4. Margaret Canning, "Belfast gets a 'Gaeltacht' quarter", Irish Times, 11 September 2006.
  5. "Local murals are put on the map", Belfast Telegraph, 31 July 2008.
  6. "Belfast City Council Elections 1993–2005". Northern Ireland Elections. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  7. "Waterfront Hall voted UK's best conference centre", Irish Independent, 20 October 2004.
  8. "Group Theatre faces tense wait over final call", Newsletter, 1 December 2004,
  9. "Council votes to close group theatre", Belfast Telegraph, 6 January 2005.
  10. Andrea Clements, "DUP gets Lord Mayor position", Belfast Telegraph, 27 May 2005.
  11. Hospitable Paul goes from Saint to Shinner", Daily Mirror, 16 December 2005.
  12. "Councillor Paul Maskey". Belfast City Council. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  13. Dan Keenan, "Empey defends actions on failed Belfast university plan", Irish Times, 12 October 2007.
  14. "Public Accounts Committee: membership". Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  15. David Gordon, "Probe into our £33m tripping bill", Belfast Telegraph, 8 July 2009.
  16. "NI Water fiasco: four face censure", Belfast Telegraph, 2 July 2010.
  17. "Questions the committee still needs answered", Belfast Telegraph, 2 July 2010.
  18. Victoria O'Hara, "SF plans protest against RIR Afghan homecoming parade", Belfast Telegraph", 17 October 2008.
  19. David Gordon, "Parties fight to keep their backers secret", Belfast Telegraph, 7 December 2010.
  20. "Public Accounts Committee Membership – 2011 mandate". Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  21. "Maskey to replace Adams", Daily Mirror, 13 May 2011.
  22. "Maskey contests Adams' old seat", Belfast Telegraph, 20 May 2011, p. 14.
  23. Young, Connla (11 June 2011). "New Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey vows to reach out to loyalists". Belfast Telegraph.
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Michael Ferguson
MLA for Belfast West
Succeeded by
Rosie McCorley
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerry Adams
Member of Parliament for Belfast West
2011 – present
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