Parties at Stormont will agree the ministries they intend to take tomorrow morning — but will not announce their decision or allocate posts until Monday.
In the meantime negotiating teams will discuss areas which cut across several departments and which caused problems or hold-ups in the last Assembly
These include the Review of Public Administration, the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration Strategy, and Education, a ministry formerly held by Sinn Fein.
One option is that the DUP, who get first pick, takes Finance and Sinn Fein picks Enterprise, Trade and Investment, leaving Education for Sinn Fein.
Last night the DUP and Sinn Fein remained tight-lipped about what ministries they would pick and who they would appoint. A Sinn Fein source described reports that all its ministers would be replaced as “speculation”.
Martina Anderson, the Foyle MLA, has been widely tipped for a ministry on the grounds that Sinn Fein wants to build up her profile to increase its vote in that constituency. However, last night a party spokesman would only say: “At this stage anything that is said is just speculation. This will go to the wire.”
It is likely that the DUP will retain Sammy Wilson in Finance, at least until the budgetary process is complete.
Sinn Fein is likely to get the Speaker’s post, currently held by Willie Hay of the DUP, but this will require DUP support and is subject to negotiation. Francie Molloy, a Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA who acted as a Deputy Speaker in the last Assembly, is one possible choice.