Martin + Arlene = ‘Marlene’... but who came up with leaders’ new nickname?

All smiles ... but do Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster enjoy their new nickname?

All smiles ... but do Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster enjoy their new nickname?

Competing claims have emerged as to who first came up with a new hybrid nickname for the First and Deputy First Ministers – ‘Marlene’.

A portmanteau of “Martin” and “Arlene”, the name appears to have caught the imagination of a number of people, with the leader of the TUV using it in a statement to the press late on Thursday, and the BBC devoting a short section of their Talkback radio show to the new moniker on Friday.

TUV leader Jim Allister had used it as a way of deriding Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness as “cosy partners in government”, adding that despite the impression of the DUP and Sinn Fein being adversaries in government, “anyone with a brain knows it’s Marlene that occupies the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister”.

According to BBC Talkback, SDLP MP Mark Durkan claims to have been using the phrase privately “for some time”.

However, the term has been in circulation among some members of the public since at least January.

On the 13th of that month, a man called Connor Clements posted a picture of Mr McGuinness and Mrs Foster.

Alongside them, he added a picture of the character Boycie from hit BBC show Only Fools and Horses, whose wife was called Marlene – a name he would often call out in a nasal Cockney-style drawl.

Mr Clements had added the following comment on Twitter: “Martin + Arlene = Marlene (Only funny when you say it in Boycies voice)”.

Even earlier than that, on January 6, victims’ campaigner and mature university student Paul Gallagher had written on his own web page that “now it’s Martin and Arlene. One possible portmanteau for this relationship springs to mind: Marlene”.

He too invoked the TV character Boycie.

The two both claimed credit for the phrase on the social media website Twitter, prompting Mr Gallagher to joke that there is “no such thing as an original thought”.

The DUP issued its own statement on the matter on Friday, which appeared to take a swipe at both the TUV (which failed to increase its seats) and the SDLP (which lost two).

It said: “The scramble to claim credit for a one liner helps distract those parties from their disastrous election results.

“Over the next five years though they will have to do better than stealing ideas that someone had already put on the internet earlier.

“The public expect us to get on with governing and to deliver on the five-point plan that was endorsed by the electorate and this is what we intend to do next week.”