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BBC NI Political Correspondent, Mark Simpson:"Not everyone is happy with the Denis and Dermot show"
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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 23:41 GMT
Loyalty rewarded by appointments

Jobs for the boys allegations have been refuted

A political row with a more conventional flavour broke out following the appointment of two junior ministers to Northern Ireland's powersharing executive.

The Search for Peace
The tribal divide was forgotten as the Ulster Unionists and the nationalist Social, Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) banded together to ensure the new posts went to UUP assemblyman, Dermott Nesbitt and Denis Haughey of the SDLP.

Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and the Womens' Coalition all critiscised the appointments because they felt the two larger parties were hogging the bulk of Executive and committee positions.

The UUP and the SDLP now hold 10 of the 14 Executive positions.

Alliance Party leader Sean Neeson expressed his concern at the decision by First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon.

"Really, what you have now is a two party majority government," he said.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams described the appointments as difficult to reconcile with new ways of working.

"People can't build trust and justice if they adapt the means of conventional politics - you what you have is two parties grabbing everything.

Dermott Nesbitt was keen to counter charges of "jobs for the boys".

"The main thing is that we have two people now in place to assist the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister."

Dermott Nesbitt - newcomer to frontline NI poliltics
He said both himself and Mr Haughey would be serving both Mr Trimble and Mr Mallon.

"We reflect what is the office of First and Deputy First Minister - it's a cojoined position and Denis and I are cojoined in a sense with both the ministers as well."

Mr Nesbitt had been thought to have been in line for a full ministry when the Executive was appointed two weeks ago.

An impressive media performer and an unwavering supporter of party leader, David Trimble, Mr Nesbitt is a relative newcomer to the frontline of Northern Ireland politics.

He is acknowledged to be an economic expert and will probably assume responsibility for the economic policy unit of his new portfolio.

Important matters

His newly appointed colleague said such an arrangement was necessary because of the unique character and the huge workload of the office at the centre.

"They are jointly responsible for a wide-range of matters, some of them very important matters indeed, Europe, the economic policy unit, the equality agenda and a whole range of perhaps smaller portfolios," said Mr Haughey.

In contrast with Dermot Nesbitt, Mr Haughey has been a longtime, high profile activist with the SDLP.

He was a founder member of the SDLP and was party chairman for five years during its formative years.

Denis Haughey - elected in the Mid-Ulster constituencey
He is a member of the EU Committee of the Regions and will probably assume a prominent role in co-ordinating relations with the European Union.

He was also a key member of the SDLP negotiating team prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and is viewed as a close confidante of party leader, John Hume
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See also:
15 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Minister outlines 9bn budget
29 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
NI's new Stormont ministers
23 May 98 |  Focus
Powers of the Northern Ireland assembly

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