Belfast Telegraph

New Year, new First Minister... but will there be new politics?

It's 2016, as you may have noticed, and is it much different from 2015? Apparently not, with news of cuts, fallout over public services, terror alerts...

But at least we'll have the run-up to May's Assembly election to stop us becoming too bored.

Last week, the Assembly was back to work, with MLAs sitting in a variety of committee rooms, noses to the grindstone as they attempt to get some legislation through before the current term winds down.

So, we had the paradoxical situation of the Justice Committee giving clause by clause consideration of the Justice Bill, and being told the PSNI budget is being cut by £13.8M.

Of course, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety was supposed to have its budget protected.

This sounds like good news, although the Executive certainly won’t be getting a pat on the back from overworked A&E staff or the patients waiting hours to receive treatment.

That's if the latter have even showed up, after being told not to visit their local emergency department unless death is imminent.

Today MLAs may well be bloated after their Christmas fayre, but they will be working it off in short order, with several pieces of legislation teed up for debate – covering topics from fisheries to Special Educational Needs.

The Assembly's DUP contingent may have other things on their minds, though, with Arlene Foster being inaugurated as First Minister, before naming the new Minister for Finance and Personnel.

He or she will probably be in the mood for celebration afterwards, although a special toast may be out of the question, least our representatives break the new alcohol consumption guidelines.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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