Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Durkan's energy merits appointment

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has been appointed as a replacement for Alex Attwood

Northern Ireland's new Environment Minister was chosen for his youth and energy, his party leader said.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has been appointed as a replacement for Alex Attwood and claims he is up for the challenge.

He said: "I am certainly not afraid of the challenge. It is a tremendous, huge responsibility and such a huge opportunity and it is one that I relish."

The Foyle MLA, who sits on the social development scrutiny committee at Stormont, married a former SDLP press officer on Saturday and said he would be taking ministerial papers on honeymoon to ensure he is up to speed.

"I go on honeymoon tomorrow so Alex has prepared some light reading for me," he added.

"I hope to carry on where Alex has left off tackling bureaucracy in planning and a whole raft of issues. It is such a wide remit and Alex has made it much more robust than it was when he took his post a couple of years ago. There is a lot more still to do."

He is a nephew of MP Mark Durkan and was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell had said he would rotate his party's only ministerial position and intends to have at least one more environment minister before the next election.

Mr McDonnell said: "Mark Durkan is the face of youth, the face of energy and the face of the future of the SDLP. I am very happy that he has agreed to be minister.

"This is a strategic decision to bolster, to move on. I have a very clear commitment about bringing the new generation and creating space for a new generation and creating succession planning in the party. This is all part of that. A number of names were rumoured but the choice is Mark Durkan."

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