Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

New ministerial line-up revealed

Sammy Wilson has been returned to the crucial Department of Finance portfolio
Sammy Wilson has been returned to the crucial Department of Finance portfolio

Northern Ireland's new power-sharing government has been unveiled after parties also revealed plans for the creation of a raft of new political posts at Stormont.

The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein took the top ministerial jobs in the new administration after cementing their leading roles in the recent Assembly election.

But as all the parties met at Stormont to officially appoint their ministers, there was disagreement over plans to upgrade the role of one of the Assembly's three deputy speakers.

The Ulster Unionists and the nationalist SDLP objected to the move, which they said was part of a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein, who are expected to share the roles of Speaker and the new Principal Deputy Speaker.

But the row emerged as all five government parties appeared ready to back the creation of a further new tier of office. Each government department will have an Assembly Private Secretary post, where an Assembly member will be appointed to work alongside the minister, though the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) said the new roles would not carry a salary.

The confirmation of plans for the new positions came after First Minister Peter Robinson unveiled a largely unchanged ministerial line-up, while Sinn Fein replaced all its outgoing ministers.

The Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance each took a single ministry in the 10-department government.

Later Mr Robinson said his party had enjoyed record success when it took 38 seats in the Assembly poll, adding: "No small part of that was due to the responsible and sensible role performed by our departmental ministerial team. While I will make changes during this Assembly term I have decided to keep together the existing ministers for the early years."

The DUP leader returned Sammy Wilson to the crucial Department of Finance portfolio.

He selected Edwin Poots as health minister, Nelson McCausland as social development minister, and confirmed Arlene Foster will remain as enterprise minister. All were ministers in the last Assembly.

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