Monday, 16 May 2011

Live Blogging: Those D'Hondt positions - now filled #NIAssembly

Today the Assembly is deciding the ministers for the next Northern Ireland Executive.

So just a reminder of the agreed order on Friday and I'll fill in who as we go along

DUP Department of Finance and Personel An Roinn Fiontar, Trádála agus Infheistíochta Sammy Wilson 

No surprise here having held the position in the last Assembly. However, Peter  Robinson has said that the position is only for two years for the MP and MLA and that he is to be replaced by Strangford's Simon Hamilton in two years time.

Sinn Féin Department of Education An Roinn Oideachais John O'Dowd

The Upper Bann MLA is taking over from the long line of Sinn Féin Ministers for Education. He replaces Catríona Ruane in the department that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness initially held. The rumours that McGuinness has long wanted to replace Ruane with someone less controversial. The head of the Sinn Féin council group on Craigavon council we will see how hard the second term MLA will be pressing for the party policy of  Irish language education. DUP

DUP Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment An Roinn Fiontar, Trádála agus Infheistíochta Arlene Foster

A return to my old department for Arlene, who was moved there in 2008 from the Environment brief. The DUP had said they had campaigned strongly on the economy and once again they have secured the two offices that deal with the econimic issues that face Northern Ireland. If between Arlene and Sammy/Simon they don't give Northern Ireland as good if not better return out of the hard times the DUP maay well suffer at the polls in four years time as a result.

UUP Department of Regional Development An Roinn Forbartha Réigiúnaí Danny Kennedy

The only seat on the executive is for the Newry and Armagh representative. Danny for Minister for Employment and Learning in the last Assembly a position he took up when Lord Empey stood down as leader in 2010 after the disasterous Westminster elections. Before that he had been chair of the OFMdFM scrutiny committtee. He inherits the issues with Northern Ireland Water that caused mayhem last December, which is propably going to be the first issue he looks into when he gets to his new desk.

Sinn Féin Department of Agriculture and Rural Development An Roinn Talmhaíochta agus Forbartha Tuaithe Michelle O'Neill

The Mid Ulster MLA certain represents one of the most rural and agriculture based parts of Northern Ireland. She replaces her neighbouring Sinn Féin representative Michelle Gildernew in the Department. She is a keen supporter of rural regeneration and has recently been involved in the establishment of a Clonoe Community Regeneration group, expect to carry on the work that was well respected by Gildernew.Currently also the Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone.

SDLP Department of the Environment An Roinn Comhshaoil Alex Attwood

The West Belfast MLA moves from Social Development, where he succeeded Margaret Ritchie when she became leader. The sole SDLP representative takes on the Environment portfolio. The first nationalist to do so, it having been held by the UUP and DUP before him. Whether he will join his South Belfast colleague Conall McDevitt in cycling from the constituency office, to his Departmental Office in Adelaide Street and on to Stormont is yet to be seen.  

DUP Department of Social Development An Roinn Forbartha Sóisialta Nelson McCausland

Moves from Culture, Arts and Leisure where he called on the Ulster Museum to display creationist and anti-evolution displays alongside the other exhibits, and complained used of the f-word in the production of Black Watch, which sparked comments from former and serving officers that the use of the word was far less than in reality. As minister responsiblw for housing as well as urban regeneration, it has yet to be seen if he will help his colleagues in finance by moving towards integrated housing projects rather than carrying on the policy of secregation.  

Sinn Féin Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure An Roinn Cultúir, Ealaíon agus Fóillíochta Carál Ní Chuilín

A minister who is likely to get the sharp end of Jim Allister's tongue having served time for explosives offences. Again it is the first time that a non-Unionist has held this ministry. Key issues are how the promotion of all cultures will be represented by the Sinn Féin minister, who will obviously be pushing to implement what her party see as an Irish Act. Also the issue of a national stadium for all sports Football, Rugby and Gaelic Games falls under her purview, we will see if this is moved forward.  

DUP Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety An Roinn Sláinte, Seirbhísí Sóisialta agus Sábháilteachta Poiblí Edwin Poots

Previous experience at DCAL before he resigned from that post, but returned to Minisrterial responsibilty at the Department of the Environment in 2009. Health was seen by many to have been the poisoned challace, was held by the UUP in the last executive. The fact that it was taken ninth and last of the DUP's allocation may speak volumes about it. It is the deparatment with the biggest budget and therefore under current financial restraints probably the toughest balancing act of all. The DUP promised they would take this along with the Finance Departments so that the right balance could be struck. But it is the most emotive department to the average voter and any mess up here could be punished.  

Alliance Department of Employment and Learning An Roinn Fostaíochta agus Foghlama Stephen Farry
    For the first time there is a fifth party represented in the ten departments allocated by d'Hondt. The Alliance have given employment and learning to Dr Stephen Farry.Whether a PhD in International Relations will help with employment relations and further and higher education has yet to be seen. But it is a reward for the man who is behind a lot of the policy making that has led to the Alliance party making significant gains in the polls this time. He does have the issue of student finance to deal with. His party didn't rule out any increase in student fees but will do what they can to avoid the situation that has happened in England and Wales.

    Further to above as the DUP end double jobbing in two years time the two MPs with DUP ministerial portfolios are to be replaced. Sammy Wilson by Simon Hamilton and Edwin Poots by Jim Wells.

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