Sir Jeffrey Donaldson denies he sacked Paul Frew for supporting former DUP leader Edwin Poots

Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson has denied the reason he axed Economy Minister, Paul Frew, from his post was not because he supported former DUP leader, Edwin Poots.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 6:21 pm

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New DUP leader, Sir. Jeffrey Donaldson, MP.

LIVE UPDATES: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson denies he sacked Paul Frew for supporting former DUP leader Edwin Poots

Last updated: Tuesday, 06 July, 2021, 16:48

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson denies he sacked Paul Frew for supporting former DUP leader Edwin Poots

Sir Jeffrey announced on Tuesday that East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons would take over as Economy Minister, just weeks after Mr Frew was appointed to the role - writes Jonathan McCambridge, PA.

The DUP leader said he would carry out a more fundamental reshuffle of posts in September, and reiterated his desire to return to Stormont to take up the First Minister position “as soon as possible”.

In the meantime, Paul Givan will remain as First Minister.

Mr Frew is a close ally of Mr Poots and had been his campaign manager during the leadership election campaign in which he narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey.

However, Mr Poots was forced to quit as leader after less than a month following an internal party revolt after he pressed ahead with reconstituting Stormont’s powersharing Executive alongside Sinn Fein, despite a significant majority of his MPs and MLAs being vociferously opposed to the move.

Last week, Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey was confirmed as his replacement as leader.

Speaking about his decision to replace Mr Frew, Sir Jeffrey said: “The economy is very important in Northern Ireland after the impact of the Covid pandemic; we want to move towards economic recovery.

“Gordon will make a good minister. Paul Frew worked very hard when he was in the department.

“I wanted to make some change, but recognising that we are now into the summer recess in the Assembly at Stormont, I will make further changes at the beginning of the new Assembly term in September.”

The DUP leader was asked if he made the switch because Mr Frew supported Edwin Poots in the leadership contest.

He said: “No, because I have retained Edwin as Minister for Agriculture, I have retained Paul Givan, who was a strong supporter of Edwin as the First Minister for the time being and I will continue to engage with colleagues over the summer period and make more substantive changes to my ministerial team and our Assembly team in the autumn.

“My objective is to bring the party together, I think that is already happening, to have a more united approach within the DUP because that is vital for good government in Northern Ireland.

“I will appoint the people that I believe are best suited to do the job in each department that we hold in the Executive.”

Sir Jeffrey said he planned to return to Stormont because “a leader should lead from the front”.

He said: “I plan to return to the Northern Ireland Assembly, to take up the position of First Minister, as soon as it is possible to do so.

“I am not a member of the Assembly at the moment so a vacancy would have to arise which I could slot into or pending the May elections next year when I would plan to stand for an Assembly seat. So the sooner I can get back, the better.”

Internal divisions within the DUP have been laid bare in recent months after successive revolts deposed former leader Arlene Foster and her successor, Mr Poots.

Mr Poots’ departure came only weeks after he narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey in the leadership contest to succeed Mrs Foster.

Paul Givan is being kept on as First Minister (for now)

Paul Frew has been replaced as Stormont’s Economy Minister, just weeks after he was appointed to the role.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons will take up the role as part of a minor reshuffle of his Assembly team.

Sir Jeffrey said he would carry out a more fundamental reshuffle of posts in September.

Paul Givan remains as First Minister, with Michelle McIlveen continuing as Education Minister.

Mr Frew had been appointed economy minister by previous DUP leader Edwin Poots last month.

Mr Frew is a close ally of Mr Poots and had been his campaign manager during his leadership election campaign.

Announcing the new appointment, Sir Jeffrey said: “I want to thank and pay tribute to Paul Frew for his work as economy minister over the last number of weeks.

“He has been a dedicated minister, progressing a number of important issues in the Department for the Economy which will be of benefit to everyone in Northern Ireland in due course.

“I have taken the decision to make limited ministerial and post-holder changes at this time so as to minimise any impact personnel changes would have on the business of delivering for people across Northern Ireland.”

He added: “I am mindful that our Executive team, in conjunction with ministers from other parties, has further significant work to do in the next short period. I do however intend to conduct a more fundamental reshuffle of posts in September.

“I have appointed Gordon Lyons to be the new Minister for the Economy. Gordon is well equipped to take on the role and brings with him valuable experience, having served as a junior minister within the Executive Office and as Daera Minister for a period earlier this year.”

Sir Jeffrey was confirmed as DUP leader last week, saying he wants to see his party heal after the deep divisions that have caused chaos in the ranks in recent months.

Internal divisions within the DUP have been laid bare after successive revolts deposed former leader Arlene Foster and her successor, Mr Poots.

Mr Poots’ departure came only weeks after he narrowly defeated Sir Jeffrey in the leadership contest to succeed Mrs Foster.

Mr Poots’ resignation came after he pressed ahead with reconstituting Stormont’s powersharing Executive alongside Sinn Fein, despite a significant majority of his MPs and MLAs being vociferously opposed to the move.

Party anger at a UK Government pledge to grant Sinn Fein a key concession on Irish language laws was behind the internal opposition to Mr Poots’ decision to nominate a first minister to lead the administration alongside the republican party.

Sir Jeffrey has made clear his intent to return from Westminster to assume the First Minister’s job at Stormont.

Gordon Lyons replaces Paul Frew as Economy Minister

Gordon Lyons.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has announced that MLA Gordon Lyons is to become Stormont’s new Economy Minister.

The appointment means that Paul Frew, who was appointed to the role only last month by previous party leader Edwin Poots, is to be replaced.

Sir Jeffrey said: “I want to thank and pay tribute to Paul Frew for his work as Economy Minister over the last number of weeks.

“He has been a dedicated minister, progressing a number of important issues in the Department for the Economy which will be of benefit to everyone in Northern Ireland in due course.

“I have taken the decision to make limited ministerial and post-holder changes at this time so as to minimise any impact personnel changes would have on the business of delivering for people across Northern Ireland.

“I am mindful that our Executive team, in conjunction with ministers from other parties, has further significant work to do in the next short period. I do however intend to conduct a more fundamental reshuffle of posts in September.

“I have appointed Gordon Lyons to be the new Minister for the Economy. Gordon is well equipped to take on the role and brings with him valuable experience, having served as a junior minister within the Executive Office and as Daera Minister for a period earlier this year.”

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