Poots’ reshuffle is met with mixed reception and words of caution
The drastic DUP reshuffle has been met with mixed reaction from Northern Ireland's other political parties, with many airing words of caution for First Minister-designate Paul Givan.
Following an internal revolt that toppled Arlene Foster and members jumping ship over the new regime, Edwin Poots chose to undertake the most extensive reshuffle of any new party leader in Northern Ireland's history.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood sent his best wishes to the new team, but said a change in attitudes would be needed to move NI forward.
"Hundreds of thousands of people waiting for hospital treatment, many of them in pain, want to know when this Executive will produce a funded plan to get them the help they need. People who have lost their jobs during the pandemic want to know how the Executive will support them to find new work," he said.
"Students in places like Derry want to know when the Executive will deliver on the commitment to expand higher education and give them the opportunity to create a life for themselves on this island.
“The faces may be changing but the people in power are still the same. The DUP and Sinn Fein have been joint heads of government for 14 years. We have already started to see a lurch back to the same old politics of division and deadlock.
"People deserve something better. I hope that we see a change in attitude and a step change in delivery. Anything less is more of the same and it isn’t good enough.”
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted her congratulations to Mr Givan, as well as incoming Economy Minister Paul Frew and Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.
"The test now is to deliver on the promises in NDNA (New Decade, New Approach) and ensure the remainder of this mandate is focused on making progress for everyone," she added.
TUV leader Jim Allister took aim at recent comments from Mr Poots in which he pledged to deliver on commitments contained in the New Decade, New Approach deal, including on the Irish language.
“Quite distinct from having a mandate to move on this subject, the last Assembly election was memorably fought by the DUP on the basis of ‘not feeding the crocodile’ on this specific issue. That was the basis and context in which every DUP MLA was elected," he said.
“Thus, to now have Edwin Poots wobbling and falling over on the issue is lacking any democratic endorsement. Accordingly, if this is the direction in which the DUP wants to somersault, then I challenge the DUP to put that in their manifesto in the next election and let their voters decide.
“Politicians are held in sufficient disrepute without powering forward in breach of clear electoral commitments and without any mandate whatever to roll over on this important matter.”
Speaking prior to the announcement, Ulster Unionist Health Minister Robin Swann said that regardless of who is First Minister, it will not detract him from doing his job.
"The internal workings of the DUP will be up to the DUP, but what we need is a functioning Executive no matter who is at the helm of it – an Executive that realises we work the best when we work together as the five parties,” he said.
"We have seen that through Covid and we’ll see that as we start to challenge the additional risks and challenges coming out of the pandemic, whether they be health-based, economy or societal. It will only work when all our ministers are working together.”
Sinn Fein remained silent on the reshuffle.