Paul Givan announced as new NI first minister

Paul Givan

Lagan Valley assembly member Paul Givan has been announced as Northern Ireland’s new first minister.

Mr Givan will on Monday take over from Arlene Foster, who was ousted as Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader in April after an internal revolt.

Edwin Poots, NI’s agriculture minister, replaced her as DUP leader amid tensions within the party.

A number of DUP members have quit over concerns about the party’s direction since Mr Poots’ election last month.

Mr Givan, 39, had been widely tipped to replace Mrs Foster. He was first elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2010.

The fact that the appointment is taking effect from Monday will allow Mrs Foster to remain as first minister during the British-Irish Council in County Fermanagh on Friday.

Mr Givan said there was a “huge responsibility that comes with the position”.

“We have a huge task when it comes to tackling our waiting lists and we need to get to work,” he said.

“What we now need is an effective transition that needs to take place next week so that we have that smooth delivery of governance.”

Paul Givan and Edwin Poots

image copyrightReuters

Mr Givan said it was a huge task to follow DUP founder Ian Paisley, and his successors Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster, whom he referred to as “giants”.

On Tuesday, Mr Poots also made the following ministerial announcements:

  • Gary Middleton will be junior minister in the executive office
  • Michelle McIlveen will be education minister, replacing Peter Weir
  • Paul Frew will be economy minister, replacing Diane Dodds

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Who is Paul Givan?

Paul Givan was one of the early names to be tipped for the post of first minister in the eventuality of Edwin Poots winning the DUP leadership contest.

He has previously served as a special adviser to Mr Poots, both when he was minister for the former Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and when he was environment minister.

His own assembly career began in 2010, when he was co-opted in the Lagan Valley constituency to replace Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who became an MP.

Prior to his appointment as first minister, he was chairman of the Justice Committee, although he has now been replaced in that role by Mervyn Storey.

He became communities minister in 2016, with his time in the post cut short by the collapse of Stormont in January 2017.

Mr Givan found himself at the centre of a political row in 2016 over his decision to cut funding for an Irish language scheme.

He has also previously supported schools teaching the theory of creationism.

Mr Givan endorsed Mr Poots’ bid for leadership of the DUP.

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