Daithí McKay

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Daithí McKay
Edinburgh fbu.jpg
Daithí McKay speaking at an FBU event in 2008
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for North Antrim
In office
7 March 2007 – 18 August 2016
Preceded by Philip McGuigan
Succeeded by Philip McGuigan
Personal details
Born (1982-03-02) 2 March 1982 (age 34)
Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Website Sinn Féin

Daithí McKay, (b. 1982, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland) was an Irish republican politician. He was the Education spokesperson for Sinn Féin and the deputy chair of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee in the Northern Irish Assembly. He was an MLA for North Antrim and was formerly a councillor on Ballymoney Borough Council.


McKay was born in Ballymena in 1982, and resides in Rasharkin, County Antrim. He attended St Patrick's Primary School in Rasharkin and St. Louis' Grammar School, Ballymena. Before becoming a full-time worker for Sinn Féin he lived in Belfast where he worked for the Ulster Bank. Prior to being elected he was involved with Ógra Shinn Féin in North Antrim and in aid work in the Palestinian West Bank, and has done work in [clarification needed] Cuba, the Basque Country, Catalan Countries and Kurdistan, where he represented the party youth wing Ógra Shinn Féin.[citation needed]

Elected Office[edit]

He was elected to Ballymoney Council in 2005. Daithí was an adviser to Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan and is currently the youngest member of the Ballymoney Borough Council.[1]

In 2007, it was announced that McKay would contest McGuigan's North Antrim seat in the Northern Ireland legislature on 7 March 2007.[2] He went on to claim his seat after the first count, coming second in the poll behind Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). McKay received 7065 votes to Paisley's 7716. Paisley's son, Ian Paisley, Jr. came in third.[citation needed]

Since then, he became one of the first Sinn Féin members to sit on the Policing Board along with Martina Anderson and Alex Maskey. He previously sat as Sinn Féin's representative on the Fire and Rescue Services Board. McKay resides in Rasharkin and has been involved in protests against the Ballymaconnolly loyalist parade through the mainly nationalist village for a number of years.[3][4]

Giant's Causeway scandal[edit]

In September 2007 McKay sparked off a political scandal in the Assembly when he named private developer Seymour Sweeney as a member of the DUP in the Assembly Chamber. The DUP's Environment Minister, Arlene Foster, had said that she was 'minded' to approve an application from Sweeney for a private visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway, even though her Planning Service officials had recommended that it be refused.[citation needed]

Foster threatened to take McKay to court over the matter but in January 2008 she decided to refuse the private application.[citation needed] In October 2007, a motion put forward by McKay in the Assembly supporting the closure of the British Nuclear power plant at Sellafield was carried, even though both the Ulster Unionist and Democratic Unionist parties voted against it. In 2008, McKay set up an all-party working group on climate change, which he currently chairs.[citation needed]


In June 2008, he was one of four Sinn Féin councillors in north Antrim who reportedly received death threats.[citation needed]

In July 2008, McKay and fellow Sinn Féin member Cllr Padraig McShane sustained minor injuries in a dispute with local republican youths in Ballymena. The dispute arose because of the youths' opposition to the removal of a bonfire to commemorate internment (Operation Demetrius).[5] McKay said they were in the area "in opposition to criminal and antisocial elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities". The incident was captured by a BBC camera crew.[6] In May 2009 there were a series of attacks on property in Rasharkin, including an attack on McKay's house and a cafe in the village. The North Antrim MLA blamed anti-social elements 'masquerading as republicans' and said that these people would not deter him from his work as an Irish republican.

Carrier Bag Levy[edit]

In 2011 McKay introduced the "Single Use Plastic Bag Bill" to the Assembly which eventually was passed by the Assembly as the "Single Use Carrier Bag Act 2011". He had raised the matter through a Private Members Debate previously and is believed to be responsible for Sinn Féin ensuring that the levy was included in the Executive's Budget in 2010. [clarification needed] The current Environment Minister indicated in response to an Assembly question from McKay that the 5 pence levy should be introduced in Northern Ireland through regulations in 2013.[citation needed]. The levy is set to increase to 10 pence from 2014, when the levy will also be extended to low cost reusable carrier bags.

The SpAd Bill[edit]

In 2013 McKay led the opposition to the Special Advisers Bill brought forward by TUV leader Jim Allister. The Bill aimed to dis-bar ex-prisoners from being Special Advisors to Ministers in the Executive. During the closing debate in which Allister's Bill was ultimately passed McKay made a marathon 2 hour speech in opposition. This remains the longest speech ever made by an MLA in the Assembly [1]

Online activity[edit]

McKay has his own blogsite and a Twitter page.


  • Education
  • Enterprise, Trade & Investment
  • Rasharkin Community Association
  • Chair and Founding member of the Assembly All-Party Working Group on Climate Change


  1. ^ "The Irish Politics Website". Politics.ie. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  2. ^ "UK | Northern Ireland | NI Assembly election candidates". BBC News. 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  3. ^ Rasharkin residents could take legal action over paradeBelfast Telegraph
  4. ^ 100 Protest At Rasharkin ParadeBallymoney Times
  5. ^ "BBC coverage of physical confrontation in Ballymena". BBC News. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Irish Times' coverage of physical confrontation in Ballymena". Irishtimes.com. 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Philip McGuigan
MLA for North Antrim
2007 -
Succeeded by