Stormont shake-up: Givan to become next first minister of Northern Ireland

Published by Scott Challinor on June 10th 2021, 12:07am

Paul Givan, the MLA for Lagan Valley, will take over as Northern Ireland’s new first minister on Monday, June 14, as part of a reshuffle within the Legislative Assembly.

Givan succeeds Arlene Foster as first minister, who resigned as Democratic Unionist Party [DUP] leader in April. Northern Ireland agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, who replaced Foster as DUP leader and announced the ministerial reshuffle, will retain his position.

At the age of 39, Givan will be the youngest ever first minister of Northern Ireland, capping a remarkable rise after first being elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2010.

Givan’s predecessor Foster will attend Friday’s British-Irish Council as first minister, prior to Givan taking up his new post next week.

Speaking after his appointment as first minister, Givan said: "We have a huge task when it comes to tackling our waiting lists and we need to get to work. What we now need is an effective transition that needs to take place next week so that we have that smooth delivery of governance."

He also paid tribute to DUP founder Ian Paisley, and Paisley’s successors Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster for their leadership.

As part of the wider changing of the guard within Stormont, DUP chief Poots confirmed that Foyle MLA Gary Middleton will take up the position of junior minister within the executive office; Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen is to take over as education minister in lieu of Peter Weir; and Diane Dodds is to be replaced as economy minister by North Antrim MLA, Paul Frew. DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley remains as communities committee chairwoman.

Poots announced the changes amid unrest within the DUP, with lingering animosity over the manner of Foster’s departure and Poots’ leadership of the party since taking over.

A string of DUP councillors have resigned since he took the helm, with one to have stepped down, Glyn Hanna, speaking of a “culture of fear” within the party and claiming to have witnessed incidents of “bullying” during a meeting of the DUP executive in May.

DUP party member Roberta McNally supported Hanna’s claims of in-party bullying and has also resigned from her position.

Meanwhile, outgoing ministers Diane Dodds and Peter Weir have criticised the appointment of their successors on social media, saying that they show little sign of following through on the party leadership's pledges to "heal" and "bring the party together".

Elsewhere, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that "a marked change in the approach to government" was needed to make a real difference to the lives of Northern Irish people.

He said: "The faces may be changing but the people in power are still the same. The DUP and Sinn Féin have been joint heads of government for 14 years. We have already started to see a lurch back to the same old politics of division and deadlock."

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
June 10th 2021, 12:07am

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