The number of government departments and Assembly members in Northern Ireland could be cut as part of an efficiency review announced this week.
Reducing the 11 departments and 108 MLAs was a manifesto pledge of the Democratic Unionists, the largest party, and was allowed for under the St Andrews Agreement, which led to the DUP and Sinn Fein entering joint government.
Sinn Fein was believed to be blocking progress until there were developments on the devolution of policing and justice. The Northern Ireland Act gained royal assent last month, giving the Assembly the powers to create a new department to oversee policing and justice.
In a joint statement on April 9, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: ‘The first task of the efficiency review panel will be to examine the number and organisation of departments in light of the present financial pressures, and the implications of the Review of Public Administration and to ensure that the departmental structure is best organised to deliver public services in an efficient manner.’