NI ministers change seats
by Paul Gosling
Ian Paisley’s retirement as Northern Ireland first minister and leader of the Democratic Unionists has
led to a ministerial reshuffle of DUP Executive ministers.
The new DUP leader and first minister is Peter Robinson, who has removed one DUP minister and moved all his other Executive ministers. Edwin Poots has been replaced as minister for culture, arts and leisure by Gregory Campbell, a regional development minister in a previous administration. Poots has championed the redevelopment of the former Maze prison as a national multi-sports arena, against the objections of Robinson. But the first minister said that he is keen to see Poots “return to ministerial office in the near future”.
Nigel Dodds takes Robinson’s former position as finance minister and second most senior person in the DUP. Dodds’ old role as minister for enterprise, trade and investment is taken by Arlene Foster, who, with Dodds, was at the centre of controversy for initially supporting and then rejecting a private sector proposal for the redevelopment of the Giant’s Causeway visitors centre. The developer was a close associate of Ian Paisley Junior, who was forced to step down as a minister.
Foster’s job as environment minister goes to Sammy Wilson, who was education spokesman for the party. The appointment is controversial as he has previously decribed a global warming conference as producing nothing but hot air. Jeffrey Donaldson retains his position as a junior minister outside the Executive.
Robinson said: “As we move forward I want to show the depth of talent in the party and to use it effectively. I intend to consider another reshuffle in 18 month’s time. For the DUP politics is not about positions, it is about service.”