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David Ford anger as ministry facing axe in shake-up

By Liam Clarke

A closed door meeting due to be held in Stormont today is likely to abolish the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) and leave the Justice Department in the hands of David Ford for the foreseeable future.

This is the main proposal being considered at a meeting of party delegations in Stormont Castle.

There are other possibilities, but axing DEL is known to be favoured by the DUP, Sinn Fein and the UUP. If passed, Alliance's executive representation would be reduced from two seats to one.

DEL's remit includes further and higher education, skills and training, employment rights and responsibilities, skills training and employment rights.

If abolished its functions could be divided between the Education Department held by Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment held by the DUP's Arlene Foster.

Last night Mr Ford hit out. He said: "A complete restructuring is necessary in the medium-term, but taking out the department alone at this challenging economic time would look like spite."

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