An £80,000 project to supply every MLA and some Assembly staff with a tablet computer has left at least one politician so frustrated they have handed the new device back.
The scheme was introduced in June and was intended to cut the need for vast quantities of paper used for Assembly reports, correspondence and order papers.
But some have taken issue with the £500-apiece devices.
UUP MLA Danny Kinahan, who admitted to being “a bit of a technophobe, though I have a very good relationship with my iPad”, said he had “a horrid feeling that we’ve wasted money on this”.
He said that he found it difficult to read voluminous papers on a screen which was less easy to annotate than the old system of pen and paper.
And compared to the simplicity of his iPad, Mr Kinahan said the Acer Iconia W510P tablet computers, running customised Assembly software, comprised “a really clumsy, slow system”.
He added: “I haven’t even tried to turn it on this week and am tempted to hand it back.”
Another MLA, who asked not to be named, told the News Letter that he had handed his computer back after three separate problems.
He said that he had been particularly reticent about using a tablet computer at committee hearings as he needed the ability to very quickly access information when questioning witnesses.
“If it’s going to freeze up on you, it would just render a committee’s functions inoperable. Whenever it got to bringing the thing back for the third time, I just said ‘this is a waste of time’.”
He acknowledged that some colleagues had found the technology useful but claimed “they are in the minority”.
An Assembly spokeswoman acknowledged that “as with the rollout of any new technology, there will be a period during which teething issues are identified and resolved”.
But she said the computers had improved efficiency and “to date, the feedback has been mainly positive”.