Barrister Emma Pengelly named junior minister at Stormont
A new DUP Assembly member has been promoted to junior minister a month after taking her South Belfast seat.
Emma Pengelly replaced retiring colleague Jimmy Spratt as an MLA. She is a former special adviser to First Minister Peter Robinson and will now be a junior minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
She said she would bring experience.
"I have developed a sound understanding of my new role through my experience as a special adviser and I look forward to the challenges that this new post will present me with.
"I am determined to build on the sound foundations laid by my predecessor Michelle McIlveen and I will work with our community to help make Northern Ireland a great place to live, work and invest."
Mrs Pengelly currently sits on Stormont's finance committee. She is a barrister and as special adviser in the OFMDFM specialised in victims and survivors, community relations, childcare and historic institutional abuse.
She received a severance payment from her job as special adviser but has not yet stood for election because she replaced a retiring public representative.
She said she intended to spend a considerable amount of the money on her constituency work in South Belfast.
She explained she had neither applied nor asked for the severance payment, and that it would be paid automatically on a statutory basis after she spent almost nine years as a special adviser.
Mr Robinson said: "I have every confidence that Emma will be an excellent junior minister. She has a vast and in-depth knowledge of the many issues the Department deals with and I have no doubt that she will use her experience, commitment and talent to drive initiatives forward that will improve the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland."