It is not possible to have both a DUP and a Sinn Fein justice minister, the Executive Office has declared.
There had been speculation online about whether such a move was a feasible way to solve the impasse around appointing a justice minister who is suitable to both nationalists/republicans and unionists/loyalists.
But while the Northern Ireland Act (1998) does appear to make provision for such a move, the Executive Office said that it was not the correct law upon which to focus.
A spokesperson for The Executive Office (which was formerly called the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, or OFMDFM) said: “The appointment of a Minister will be conducted under the provisions of the Justice Act 2010 which does not provide for a joint ministerial post.”
There had also been speculation that the wording of the Northern Ireland Act may also allow non-MLAs to be in the running for the justice ministry.
However, the Executive Office also addressed this too, saying: “Only a member of the Assembly can be nominated to hold the office of Minister of Justice (Schedule 4A of the Northern Ireland Act 1998).”