Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Executive ministers named: Independent Sugden named Justice Minister - DUP and Sinn Fein choose ministries

By Claire Williamson

Northern Ireland's new team of Executive ministers at Stormont has been announced with independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden named as Justice Minister.

The DUP ministers are Alastair Ross, Paul Givan, Simon Hamilton, Peter Weir and Michelle McIlveen.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness announced his team on Tuesday. He named Mairtin O Muilleoir, Michelle O'Neill, Chris Hazzard and Megan Fearon as his team.

DUP and Sinn Fein took up seven of the departments, with independent MLA Sugden named Justice Minister, as the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP chose to move into opposition.

Ministerial offices

The new DUP ministers are:

Minister for the the Economy - Simon Hamilton

Minister for Education - Peter Weir

Minister for Agriculture and the Environment - Michelle McIlveen

Minister for Communities - Paul Givan

Junior minister - Alastair Ross


The Sinn Fein ministers are:

Minister for Finance - Mairtin O Muilleoir

Minister for Infrastructure - Chris Hazzard

Minister for Health - Michelle O'Neill

Junior Minister - Megan Fearon


The Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP declined to nominate any ministers to the Executive during the process and asked to be recognised as part of the official Opposition.

Claire Sugden named Stormont Justice Minister

The announcement of Claire Sugden as Justice Minister was made by Northern Ireland Ireland's First and Deputy First ministers at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday morning.

Arlene Foster said:  "Martin and I are delighted that Claire has agreed to be new justice minister and we are very much looking forward to working with her and I hope she will be given the credit she deserves in stepping forward and taking on this ministry.

Martin McGuinness said: "I am equally delighted Claire has taken up this very onerous position - a very challenging position. But we have every confidence in her ability and have watched her progress over the past two years in the Assembly.

"She is very impressive young woman, a very progressive young woman someone who clearly understand the need to be minister for everybody in our community."

Claire Sugden said the decision was the "most difficult" of her life.

She said: "This is probably the most difficult decision I have had in my life.

"It did cause me a lot of anxiety over this last week but it is an opportunity for me, for my constituency and most importantly it's an opportunity for Northern Ireland.

"And I am looking forward to it."

The role of Justice Minister was seen as crucial to the make up of the new Executive.

The 29-year-old succeeds Alliance party leader David Ford after he turned down the role last week.

Cross-community party Alliance had filled the post since 2010, creating a solution for the mutual veto of the politically sensitive role by DUP and Sinn Fein.


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SDLP announce they are entering official opposition at Stormont

Parties react to nomination:

UUP, SDLP and Alliance do not support Claire Sugden's nomination as Justice Minister.

Mike Nesbitt calls it a "corruption of the Good Friday Agreement".

He quoted Ms Sugden during an assembly debate where she said "this house of cards is falling"

TUV said the nomination was one of "desperation"

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood while wishing Claire Sugden well on a "personal level" said he could not support her nomination adding that the justice position was one which "no Nationalist need apply".

He said: “The decision taken today by Sinn Fein will have consequences that are far-reaching for the Nationalist community. Once again Martin McGuinness allowed the DUP to dictate that the position would not go to a Nationalist. Martin may well claim to be in control but today's events once again show that because of Sinn Fein's weakness the DUP call the shots.

"Sinn Fein have failed at the first hurdle to stand up for the cross community protections enshrined by D’Hondt. That alone should dictate the allocation of Justice Minister. But together with the DUP, Sinn Fein have allowed the corruption of this process – it happened once before and today we see it happening again.  It is clear that under this Executive, this is a position for which no Nationalist need apply.

“It is also disturbing that even though we have had an evolution of politics in recent days – the opportunity to evolve further has been missed. Although on a personal level I wish Claire Sugden well, it is clear that the SDLP cannot support her nomination as Justice Minister."

Committee chairs:

The chairs of the Stormont committees were also announced on Wednesday. They are:

Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - Linda Dillon (Sinn Fein)

Committee for Infrastructure - William Humphrey (DUP)

Committee for Communities - Colum Eastwood (SDLP)

Committee for Health - Paula Bradley (DUP)

Committee for Education - Barry McElduff (Sinn Fein)

Committee for Finance - Emma Pengelly (DUP)

Committee for the Economy - Conor Murphy (Sinn Fien)

Committee for Justice - Paul Frew (DUP)

Committee for the Executive Office - Mike Nesbitt (UUP)

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