A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.
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of course, as from the smaller parties on the back benches.
So, coming up tonight: She took a little convincing
but an independent MLA from East Londonderry will be
This is probably the most difficult decision I've ever had in my life
It did cause me a lot of anxiety this past week but, as I said,
it's not reaching anybody, it's not reaching any
of my constituents and, most importantly, it's not reaching
anybody in Northern Ireland and I really look forward to it.
But as the formalities began, not everyone was enthusiastic
Less than two weeks ago, Miss Sugden boasted,
in this House, that she was an independent.
And the News Letter's Political Correspondent, Sam McBride,
is here as we dissect a very eventful start of term at Stormont.
We knew the ministerial roles that would be filled today and we knew
that the vast majority of them would come from the DUP
But the big question was who would fill the problematic
Justice Brief after Alliance had turned it down?
By the time the Assembly sat, everyone knew the answer to that
question, but that didn't stop some lively exchanges
Claire has been in this House for several years and we have been
We had that conversation with her initially.
We have had a number of
conversations since then and she has expressed
do this job in order to ensure that our society continues to move
forward, assist us putting a government together,
and she can be assured of the First Minister and my
And I have no doubt whatsoever she will enjoy the full
support of all of our ministerial colleagues to be appointed in the
course of this sitting of the Assembly.
She is a very progressive young woman, she obviously is highly
political, certainly enjoyed the support
of her constituents in the
course of the Assembly elections and we have every confidence in her
It's a great pleasure to be able to rise and
speak in support of the nomination made by the Deputy First Minister of
Claire Sugden to be our new minister of justice on what is for many
reasons of historic day in the
political history of Northern Ireland.
I think that Claire's appointment as Justice Minister will
symbolise the new generation of leadership that is emerging, not
just in this Assembly, not just in the Executive, but right across
As the Deputy First Minister has already said,
Claire has proven herself in this place since
is member for the East Londonderry constituency.
Many inside and outside of this chamber have been
very impressed by her contributions to debates and the proceedings of
She has times been thoughtful, she has been measured
and she has always been constructive I think we have all seen that she
possesses the skills and abilities to be a very good Minister.
The person who said this House of cards
is falling and good will come of it only if the jokers at the top come
crashing down and do not get up again as our new Justice Minister
And to the DUP, I remind them of this,
said by the same person in October of 2015:
One side of the House, the
largest political party, has decided that its
dirty inconsistent mess is
more important than moving Northern Ireland forward.
We are an absolutely no position to support a nomination for somebody
We corrupted it once before and we're doing it again now.
Our strong view is that the position of Justice
disturbing, Mr Speaker, is that even though
we have had some evolution on
our politics these last few weeks, the opportunity to evolve our
politics even further today has been missed.
And it's very clear to our electorate, Mr Speaker, that this is
a position for which no nationalist need apply.
The Deputy First Minister referred to the fact that
the post was first offered to Alliance, and it's no secret
that we put forward five proposals which we
believe would have made this place function better and would have
delivered better for the people of Northern Ireland.
And those proposals were rejected by the First
As is their right, they have sought to look
elsewhere and they have now
asked Claire Sugden to carry out the job.
And that is their right and
clearly, there are the numbers in this House to carry that.
Though I cannot personally support that
nomination, not because I have a fixation with the system, which I
don't, but whilst I cannot support that, I would certainly wish Claire
well in the task which clearly lies ahead of her.
It's no secret that my party did have discussions with the First
and Deputy First Minister in relation to the Justice Boost but we
were very clear - we would only serve
could progress our agenda, if we felt that we
could achieve more in
But I think the reality was our agenda was very different from that
of the DUP and Sinn Fein, which is why I'm
delighted that myself and
Clare Bailey will be in opposition, will be here to hold those parties
And yet today, yet today, for the sake of office, she
is willing to become the patsy of the jokers.
And that, I think, says a lot about this position - seduced
Less than two weeks ago, Miss Sugden boasted in
this House that she was an independent!
Well, no longer, I'm afraid because today, she has become
And whether or not she finds making up the numbers
on the dark side as fulfilling as she thinks, time alone will tell.
Well, that's how the appointment of the Justice Minister panned out
in the Chamber but the cat had been let out of the bag an hour earlier
by the First and Deputy First Ministers in Stormont's Great Hall.
Martin and I are delighted that Claire has agreed to be the new
Justice Minister for the new mandate and we are very much looking forward
to working with her and I hope that you will give her the credit that
she deserves in terms of stepping forward, taking this huge
opportunity to come forward and be the Justice
Minister for everyone in
It's a huge challenge, of course it is, but I
As Martin and Arlene say, this is an opportunity
for me, not only for me, but for the people
of my constituency and the
I am a progressive person, I do look forward to working with my new
I will have the support by Executive colleagues.
And indeed, moving forward, I would like to see collective
responsibility within our government so that Northern Ireland can move
This is probably the most difficult decision
I've ever had in my life and I've said that before.
It did cause me a lot of anxiety this past week.
I think David would be really proud with me. I had conversations with
his wife and she said David would be proud of me. We have confidence in
Claire to do the job. She is a young woman, she is very progressive,
Arlene and I have got to know her over the course of recent days and
have watched her performance and Assembly of the past couple of years
and we are satisfied that she will be able to do this job. She will
have our full support and she will have every assistance, from both
Arlene and myself. We will have a government in place today and we are
determined that it would be a government that gets things done.
It's a government that will work together. You will recognise the
change in how we operate over the next period of time. It will be a
good change. Arlene Foster making big promises
for the next five years. I'm joined now by Sam McBride
from the News Letter. Sam, there were a few whispers
about but it was still a bit of a surprise when we saw
Claire Sugden appear with Arlene Foster
and Martin McGuinness It was quite official image. Claire
Sugden, the only independent in the Chamber, walking out with the two
heads of government. On a personal level, is a story, it's
extraordinary. He is somebody who for weeks ago was not all guaranteed
coming back as an MLA even. She never stood for election before. And
suddenly, against anybody's expectations, she is not only
backers Stormont the Minister. It's an extraordinary rise. Ten days ago,
I raised it with her as a joke and she laughed and said, it's nice to
think about that but it won't happen. And all of a sudden, she has
been confirmed. Even last week, even when this was floated, I thought of
in this way. The DUP and Sinn Fein trying to bargain with the Alliance
Party of trying to get them over the line is a bluff. It was not seen as
a serious gambit than bringing the Greens, the instance, which should
not go anywhere. There has been process of elimination here in that
she is the last person standing that she was also well liked, she is
respected, she doesn't have a lot of experience but she is capable and.
She doesn't have a lot of appearance. She has not got huge
experience in the Chamber. She's only 29. Some people might say
lacking life experience and it is a very difficult brief. It's massively
difficult to not just politically but personally as well. She will now
be getting security briefings, she will have cast to take to storm at
an extra security even above that of other executive ministers. It's not
easy for anyone to take that role in particular but it is an incredible
rise and even though she has very little experience, she is respected
at the top government. Several of those parties and individuals in
opposition were very keen to register their unhappiness at the
appointment, perhaps not so much about Claire Sugden but the fact the
two parties had brought them into the executive. That is potential
banana skin for her. She certainly was very vocal around the time that
Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were at the head of the executive.
She has spoken glowingly about Arlene Foster and I do wonder
whether if Peter Robinson would still be here, she would be
persuaded to come on board by him. Justice was the big story
at Stormont today but there were also seven other seats
around the Executive table So when the First and Deputy
First Ministers rose to make their nominations everyone
was listening intently. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I
select the Department for the economy and I nominate Simon. We'll
Simon confirm he is willing to take up office and affirmed the terms of
the Pledge of office? I confirm I am willing to take up the office of
Minister for the economy and the terms of pledge of office set out in
the Northern Ireland act 1998. I would like to accuse the Department
of Finance and appoint Martina is our new Minister for Finance. Will
Martine confirm he is willing to take up office and affirmed the
terms of the pledge of office? I confirm the terms of the pledge of
office set out in the Northern Ireland act. I select the Department
for Education and I nominate Peter were. All Peter were confirm he's
willing to take up office and affirmed the terms of the pledge of
office? I confirm I am willing to take up the office of Minister of
education and affirmed the terms of the pledge of office as set out in
the Northern Ireland act 1998. Mr Speaker, I am not nominated the
executive. I select the Department of infrastructure and I would like
to nominate Chris Hassett is the Minister for that department.
SPEAKS IRISH. I confirm that I will take up the
office and I affirm the pledge of office.
I select the Department for agriculture environment and rural
affairs and I nominate Michelle McIlveen.
We'll Michelle McIlveen confirm that she is willing to take up office?
I confirm that I'm willing to take up the office of minister of
agriculture the environment and rural affairs and I affirm the
pledge of office as set out in Jeddah for in the Northern Ireland
act of 1988. I will not be nominating a minister
to this executive. Will the member confirmed he is
willing to take up office and affirm that terms of the pledge of office?
I can confirm that I'm willing to take up the office of minister for
communities and I affirm the terms set out in the Northern Ireland act
1988. Isolate the Department of Health and
nominate Michelle O'Neill as the new minister for health.
Will Michelle O'Neill confirmed that she is willing to take up office and
affirm the term of the pledge of office?
SPEAKS IRISH. I confirm I am willing to take up
the office of minister for health and I affirm the pledge set out in
the Northern Ireland act 1988. So, we now know who'll be doing
what job and joining me is the new Minister for Communities,
Paul Givan. A huge brief - from housing
and welfare to culture, arts, How will you stay across such
a diverse portfolio? I am privileged to be given the
opportunity to take on this responsibility and you are right
that the brief is fast. It touches on a wide range of issues that
connect with people on grassroots levels and I am looking forward to
getting out on the ground to engage with people and try to make our
society a better place for people to live in.
It is often at the end of the list of ministries and has been nicknamed
the Ministry of everything else. Do you think it has that feel to it?
If you consider this department has a budget of ?7 billion every year.
We spent ?90 million every day. That is a department with a huge
responsibility. Primarily deals with Social Security. It goes to local
government, housing. There is a huge opportunity to get involved and I do
feel that you need to be a jack of all trades to try and deliver in
terms of the ministerial responsibilities.
The danger is that you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. How
much do you know about sport and the arts because they are quite discrete
areas. There is no doubt that this will be
a test of my own ability to try and get on top of these issues. I
believe that I will be able to do that and I have had confidence
expressed to me by the First Minister who gave me this
responsibility. I know there will be an impressive team around me and the
department who will help guide me through that but ultimately I want
to bring my own stamp to this department. I want to bring forward
issues that I believe resonate with the public. There are vast number of
areas to get involved in but I am relishing the opportunity to do
that. Will you want to be a minister for
communities for all communities, for everybody, because there might be
some areas you are more comfortable in than others. Will you attend a
GAA match, for example? With that cause your problem?
I have been looking at some of the invitations and going to a GAA match
is something that I will do. It has already been carried out by a member
of the DUP. I will consider any invitation based on its own merits
before I will take a decision on what I will will not go to.
Is there an invitation from the GAA at the moment?
There is. It will not be an issue. I will go to an event that GAA will
organise. Iraq advisers are sporting organisation and almost jealous of
it from within the Nationalists claim it is that it is a grassroots
organisation that is at the centre of the community. I recognise the
value it brings to our society as a cultural and sporting organisation.
Clearly there will be some issues that they still need to address that
I am here to be proactive, to engage with people, and won't be barriers
put up in front of me by the GAA. As we saw earlier, Mike Nesbitt
and Colum Eastwood declined to nominate Ministers
to the Executive, so once the d'Hondt process was completed
the Speaker turned to The nominating officers of the
Ulster Unionist Party and the social do necrotic and Labour Party were
entitled to nominate members but declined to do so -- the SDLP. I'll
asked them if they choose to be recognised as part of the official
opposition. I asked Mike Nesbitt if your party wants to be recognised as
part of the official opposition. We do has to be recognised as part
of the official opposition and to initiate a new era for the Northern
Ireland Assembly. We will not take her seat at the executive table.
Should take our seats of their because the First Minister
McGuinness should set aside First Minister Foster as they do so
comfortably at Stormont Castle. I ask Mr Colum Eastwood is your
party choose to be recognised as part of the official opposition?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yes, we would like to be wrecked as does a member
of the opposition. -- like to be recognised. We will hold them to
account when we need to. The Ulster Unionist Party and the
SDLP will now be recognised as the official opposition.
So, it's officially official - we have an Opposition.
is whether or not the Ulster Unionists and SDLP
will nominate Shadow Ministers to formally keep
a close eye on members of the Executive.
That will perhaps become clear over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, I'm joined by another of today's
Ministerial appointments - Chris Hazzard, the Minister
Was it a surprise? We were talking about some of the positions and that
was one of them. Challenging times ahead but there is a fresh sense of
purpose around the executive table and I'm looking forward to getting
stuck in. Would you welcome the appointment of
a formal Shadow infrastructure minister?
Yes, it into something the opposition want to do then fair
enough. If we get to the end of this process and have a better sense of
government and keeping people held to account then all power to them.
It is a young executive, the average age is 38. Is there enough
experience around the executive table to grapple with some of the
very difficult issues that need to be dealt with?
I think so. It is about vision and determination and energy. I think I
have those values. I see those across the table. We have seen
people like Simon Hamilton who has come in and done a good job so I
hope to bring a similar vision and energy to my role.
He covered the education brief in the last mandate. How much do nobody
issues you will be dealing with in your new department?
Bets and pieces. This is the first day. But as an active MLA in my
constituency, infrastructure rows with waterways and street lighting.
We are dealing with these issues every day. I am accustomed to them.
I'm getting to meet members of staff tomorrow to continue those meetings
and get into the brief. It is an exciting time and I'm looking
forward to the challenge. It is a department that people feel
strongly about in terms of street lighting and road-building and a
grass being cut. They can make a difference to members of the public.
If the grass is not cut and the lights are not working, they can get
very cross and their higher is likely to be -- their annoyance is
likely to be directed at you. That is why I am elected to make
these decisions. It is about loving the sort of society we want to see.
And about welding the future we want to see. -- building.
You said yourself in your opening comments that this is a new
executive with a new purpose. It is also a new relationship between the
DUP and Sinn Fein around the executive table with the Justice
Minister who is an independent. Will it be a property party call issued,
different from what we saw in the last Andy?
I would hope so. I think that is what the people elected. I think we
have two main parties and people want to see them in control. We saw
confidence from Martin and Arlene to say this is the government and this
is how we will go forward. Will we see collective
responsibility? I think we will.
If that happens it is going to be a big change.
Once the issue of Ministers had been settled, business turned
There was again a great deal of standing up and sitting down.
That was until the Ulster Unionists picked economy and nominated
After he accepted, it was Arlene Foster's turn to pick
I would request an adjournment to consider matters.
Can I ask a member how long she would anticipate?
Ten minutes. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I name as deputy chair Pam Cameron.
As the member who has been nominated willing to take up office for which
she has been nominated? Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yes, I am
willing to take up office. I call on Martin McGuinness to
select and nominate. Finance, my apologies.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I select the economy and...
My apologies. It has gone, I'm sorry.
Can we have a few minutes adjournment.
Martin McGuinness, playing for time in the chamber.
Sam, there were a lot of ministers, committee chairs and deputy chairs
I suppose we could have expected a few mistakes?
But there were moments when people seem slightly lost as if they could
not find the script. It is a complex system for
allocating ministries and allocating the chairmanships of committees. It
is more complex in some ways because of the uncertainty around what the
small parties would do but it did leave to a bit of confusion at
various points. In reality, a lot of this is sorted out beforehand so
part of this is the public face. Let us talk about some of the names
included today. Perhaps you were surprised at some of those who find
their way to the executive table or committee chairman chips but also
some of the casualties. People you would expect to be part of the front
line of various parties who are nowhere to be seen.
There is a glaring omission on Sinn Fein's benches. The former minister,
Michel, who is a woman and they are trying to elect more women. The
chair of the finance committee similarly. It is difficult to fathom
sometimes how they come up with these things. On the DUP site, a
huge loss is Mervyn Storey. Someone with a lot of experience. He was
pragmatic and his dealings with other parties and quite well
respected I rivals. No position for him whatsoever. But a sharp DUP team
overall. Peter Weir is overdue a promotion. It is a competent looking
set of DUP ministers. It will be a fascinating five-year
mandate if today is anything to go by. Thank you for your comments.
Well, that's all we have time for tonight.
I'll be back tomorrow night with The View on BBC One
Until then, from everyone in the team, goodnight.
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A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont, and is joined by key people - from decision makers to opinion formers - to make the experience enlightening and entertaining.