Edwin Poots announces Paul Givan is to be NI’s new first minister

DUP leader Edwin Poots has announced that Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan is to replace Arlene Foster as Northern Ireland’s new first minister

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 1:53 pm

Mr Poots unveiled his new team during a series of announcements in the Great Hall at Stormont on Tuesday.

The new ministers will take up their posts on Monday.

Revealing Mr Givan as first minister designate, Mr Poots paid tribute to Arlene Foster, thanking her for the “excellent work” she had done.

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Mr Givan said: “There is a huge responsibility that comes with this position, particularly in serving the people of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Poots also named Gary Middleton as junior minister.

Paul Frew has been named as Northern Ireland’s new economy minister, replacing Diane Dodds.

Michelle McIlveen will be the new education minister, replacing Peter Weir.

First Minister designate, Paul Givan, MLA.

DUP leader Mr Poots paid tribute to the ministers who have been replaced.

Mr Weir tweeted: “There are some great appointments but disappointed to leave education, and in the balance of appointments it is sad there is little sign of healing or reaching out.”

The ministerial roles will be designate at this stage, with the appointments post-dated to take effect from Monday.

Outgoing First Minister Mrs Foster previously indicated that she will stand down when Mr Poots names a new ministerial team.

But Mr Poots said Mrs Foster will remain as First Minister to lead a British-Irish Council meeting in her home constituency of Fermanagh on Friday.

Mr Poots began his reshuffle of Stormont posts by announcing new chairs and vice-chairs of a number of committees.

Flanked by the new appointments and deputy party leader Paula Bradley, Mr Poots named his new team.

They include Christopher Stalford as principal deputy speaker and vice-chairman of the standards and privileges committee, Tom Buchanan as vice chairman of procedures, Keith Buchanan as vice chairman of the finance committee and Gordon Lyons as vice chairman of the health committee.

Mr Poots also unveiled David Hilditch as vice chairman of the infrastructure committee and William Irwin as vice chair of the audit committee.

Pam Cameron will become chairwoman of the assembly and executive review committee.

North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey has been appointed as chairman of the justice committee and Jonathan Buckley will take up the role as chair of the infrastructure committee.

DUP deputy leader Ms Bradley has been appointed as chairwoman of the Communities Committee and William Humphreys is chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

The new appointments come as the DUP has been left reeling by a number of resignations.

South Down DUP constituency association chairman and councillor Glynn Hanna, his daughter Diane Forsythe, association member Richard McKee, and councillor Kathryn Owen all announced their resignations this week.

The latest to quit is Upper Bann association member Roberta McNally.

In her resignation statement posed on social media, Ms McNally referred to scenes at a party executive meeting to ratify Mr Poots as leader last month.

“Having been at the meeting myself, I also witnessed senior members telling people to put their hands down to enable the vote to be open,” she said.

“It was clear that those of us who did put our hands up were being noted.

“The arrogance of some senior members at the meeting was mind-blowing.

“I personally, until now, have enjoyed my time in the DUP and it was a great privilege to be elected onto the executive.

“I am extremely sorry to say that I informed the Upper Bann chairman of my resignation.”