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Useful facts, figures and resources

Northern Ireland Political Parties

Political Party

Designation

Number of MLAs

Leader/(Elected MLA)

Democratic Unionist Party

Unionist

38

Peter Robinson

Sinn Fein

Nationalist

29

Gerry Adams

UlsterUnionist Party

Unionist

16

Reg Empey

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Nationalist

14

Mark Durkan

Alliance

Other

8

David Ford

Traditional Unionist Voice

Unionist

1

Jim Allister

Green Party (NI)

Other

1

(Brian Wilson)

Independent

Nationalist

1

(Kieran Deeny)

 

Departments/Committees

Department/Committee

Minister*

Party

Committee Chair*

Party

Agriculture and Rural Development

Michelle O'Neill

SF

Paul Frew

DUP

Culture, Arts and Leisure

Carál Ní Chuilín

SF

Michelle McIlveen

SF

Education

John O'Dowd

SF

Mervyn Storey

DUP

Employment and Learning

Stephen Farry

Alliance

Basil McCrea

SF

Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Arlene Foster

DUP

Albin Maginness

SDLP

Environment

Alex Atwood

SDLP

Anna Loe

Alliance

Finance and Personnel

Sammy Wilson

DUP

Conor Murphy

SF

Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Edwin Poots

DUP

Sue Ramsey

SF

Regional Development

Danny Kennedy

UUP

Jimmy Spratt

DUP

Social Development

Nelson McCausland

DUP

Alex Maskey

SF

Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister

Peter Robinson,

Martin McGuinness

DUP

 SF

Tom Elliot

UUP

Justice  

  David  Ford       

  Alliance   

 Paul Givan  

DU

*Correct as of 2011 elections

How Committees/Departments are elected

The Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of the committees are chosen by party nominating officers under a procedure similar to that used to appoint members of the Executive, i.e. the D'Hondt system.

The D'Hondt method is a mathematical formula (a highest averages method, for all those budding mathematicians) used for allocating ministerial positions in the Assembly.  The method is named after Belgian mathematician Victor D'Hondt.  This system slightly favours large parties and coalitions over scattered small parties, as opposed to other methods that remain neutral.

Departments/Committee responsibilities

Department/Committee

Main areas of responsibility

Agriculture and Rural Development

DARD has responsibility for food, farming, and environmental policy and the development of the rural sector in Northern Ireland.

It provides a business development service for farmers and growers, and a veterinary service with administration of animal health and welfare.

The department also oversees the application of European Union agricultural and rural development policy to Northern Ireland.


Culture, Arts and Leisure

The work of the department is divided into five core divisions.

Culture: - responsible for arts and creativity; libraries policy; cultural and language diversity policy; and linguistic operations.

Sport, Museums and Recreation: - responsible for policies on inland waterways and inland fisheries, museums, sport and lottery; Northern Ireland's involvement in the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival 2007; and the London 2012 Olympics.

Corporate Services: - responsible for issues relating to accounts and accountability, internal financial matters; central management (responsible for co-ordinating issues across the Department); economic services; freedom of information; personnel issues; the day to day running of the department; media relations; Minister's Office; and statistics and research.

PRONI: - responsible for the preservation of and provision of public access to archival heritage records of Northern Ireland.

RPA: - responsible for managing the impact for the Department of the Review of Public Administration; responsible for taking forward work on the development of the Irish Language Bill.

Education

The department is responsible for the central administration of all aspects of education and related services in Northern Ireland – except for the higher and further education sector, responsibility for which is within the remit of the Department for Employment and Learning.

Its key functions include:

  • Advising ministers on the determination of education policy
  • Framing legislation 
  • Accounting for the effectiveness of the education system
  • Allocating, monitoring and accounting for resources 
  • Through the Education and Training Inspectorate, evaluating and reporting on the quality of teaching and learning and teacher education

Employment and Learning

The department’s aim is to promote learning and skills, to prepare people for work and to support the economy.The four key areas of activity:

  • Enhancing the provision of learning and skills, including entrepreneurship, enterprise, management and leadership.
  • Increasing the level of research and development, creativity and innovation in the Northern Ireland economy;
  • Helping individuals to acquire jobs, including self employment, and improving the linkages between employment programmes and skills development; and
  • The development and maintenance of the framework of employment rights and responsibilities.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment

The DETI is responsible for economic policy development, energy, tourism, mineral development, health and safety at work, Companies Registry, Insolvency Service, consumer affairs, and labour market and economic statistics services. It also has a role in ensuring the provision of the infrastructure for a modern economy.

DETI has four agencies, established as non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs):

  • Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI)
  • The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) 
  • The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)
  • The General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (GCCNI)

Environment

The department's aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone in Northern Ireland.

The main responsibilities of the department are:

  • To protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the benefit of present and future generations
  • To provide land use planning which balances the development needs of the region with the protection of the environment 
  • To improve and promote road safety and ensure the proper regulation of drivers, vehicles and operators 
  • To support a system of local government which meets the needs of citizens and ratepayers.

Finance and Personnel

The overall aim of DFP is to secure the most appropriate and effective use of resources and services for the benefit of the community.  

This involves ensuring financial and personnel resources are managed effectively in the delivery of the Government’s plans and priorities in Northern Ireland.

DFP provides a wide range of support services to other departments and public bodies in Northern Ireland as well as a number of important frontline services directly to the public.

Health, Social Services and Public Safety

The department’s aim is to improve the health and social well-being of the people of Northern Ireland by ensuring the provision of appropriate health and social care services and a programme of cross-government action to improve the health and well-being of the population and reduce health inequalities.  

The department has three main business responsibilities:

  • Health and Social Care (HSC), which includes policy and legislation for hospitals, family practitioner services and community health and personal social services;
  • Public Health, which covers policy, legislation and administrative action to promote and protect the health and well-being of the population; and 
  • Public Safety, which covers policy and legislation for fire and rescue services.

Regional Development

 The department’s main responsibilities include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Transportation strategy
  • Ports and Public Transport
  • Roads and water policy
  • Providing and maintaining roads

Social Development

The department is made up of four sub-sections: The Resources, Housing and Social Security Group, the Urban Regeneration and Community Development Group, the Social Security Agency and the Child Support Agency.

It has three key objectives:

  • To provide a fair system of financial help to those in need and to ensure that parents who live apart maintain their children; encouraging personal responsibility and improving incentives to work and save.
  • To promote measurable improvements to housing in Northern Ireland.
  • To improve the physical, economic, community and social environment of neighbourhoods, towns and cities in Northern Ireland with particular emphasis on tackling disadvantage.

Office of First Minister and Deputy Minister

The department’s responsibilities include:

  • Supporting Ministers and the institutions of government
  • Building a programme for government and modernising government programme
  • Promoting better community relations, a culture of equality and rights
  • Targeting social need and promoting social inclusion