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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK
NI cabinet ministers: at a glance
With first and deputy first ministers Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness taking their pledges of office, there are also 10 new ministers in Northern Ireland's power-sharing cabinet.

Allocated using the d'Hondt formula which shares out departments based on party strengths, the DUP have four ministers, followed by Sinn Fein with three, the UUP with two, and one for the SDLP.

The BBC News website looks at who's who in the new cabinet.

AGRICULTURE: MICHELLE GILDERNEW

Michelle Gildernew has been Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone since 2001, winning by just 53 votes to take the seat previously held by UUP veteran Ken Maginnis.

Michelle Gildernew
Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Fein is agriculture minister
She was re-elected in 2005, significantly increasing her majority to 4,582 ahead of her nearest rival and now cabinet colleague, the DUP's Arlene Foster.

Her family was involved in one of the incidents which prompted the civil rights movement when in 1968 a single Protestant woman was allocated a council house in Caledon ahead of the large Catholic Gildernew family, sparking widespread protests.

CULTURE: EDWIN POOTS

The Lagan Valley assembly member has been a high-profile member of the Maze Regeneration Association, which has been campaigning for a multi-sports stadium and leisure complex to be built on the historic site of the old prison.

Edwin Poots
Culture minister Edwin Poots of the DUP
It is a huge project which perhaps encapsulates what his department is about, but Edwin Poots has insisted the final decision will be made by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

Mr Poots has promised to look objectively at any new information raised by objectors who want the project built in Belfast.

A farmer by trade, Mr Poots' department is responsible for arts, sport, museums, libraries, inland waterways and inland fisheries, linguistic diversity, public records, ordnance survey and advising on the distribution of National Lottery funding.

EDUCATION: CATRIONA RUANE

A former Republic of Ireland tennis international, Catriona Ruane follows in the footsteps of Sinn Fein colleague Martin McGuinness as education minister.

Catriona Ruane
Catriona Ruane of Sinn Fein is education minister
Education will be a tough portfolio, and Ms Ruane is faced with having to find a compromise on post-primary academic selection.

Also, a number of state schools are facing closure, and some difficult decisions lie ahead.

Before her election as South Down assembly member, the County Mayo-born mother-of-two was a prominent member of the Bring Them Home campaign for three men convicted in Colombia of training Marxist rebels.

She is seen as a bright party hope for unseating the SDLP in South Down at the next Westminster election.

EMPLOYMENT: SIR REG EMPEY

Sir Reg Empey's predecessor as UUP leader, David Trimble, was first minister in the last devolved executive, as he was in charge of the assembly's biggest party.

Sir Reg Empey
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey is employment and learning minister
The intervening years have seen a collapse in the party's vote, and the east Belfast assembly member is now one of two UUP ministers.

In the mid-70s, he was a supporter of the hard-line Vanguard movement. He opposed the power-sharing Sunningdale Executive and played a backroom role in the Ulster Workers' Council strike which brought it down.

In 1998, Sir Reg played a key role in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, and a year later, he was knighted.

A retailer by trade, Sir Reg was enterprise minister in the last devolved executive.

ENVIRONMENT: ARLENE FOSTER

Arlene Foster's cabinet appointment is the culmination of a rapid rise since her defection in January 2004 to the DUP from the Ulster Unionists.

Arlene Foster
DUP MLA Arlene Foster heads the department of environment
A solicitor by profession, she is an assembly member for Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

Matters dealt with by her department include land planning, road safety and looking after the natural and built environment.

Her new role has an element of keeping it in the family, as her husband's uncle, UUP assembly member Sam Foster, was also environment minister from 1999 to 2002 when the last power-sharing executive was up and running.

ENTERPRISE: NIGEL DODDS

A barrister by trade, Nigel Dodds has previous ministerial experience having headed up the department for social development in the last devolved executive at Stormont.

Nigel Dodds
The DUP's Nigel Dodds is minister for enterprise
The DUP's MP for North Belfast since 2001, he was first elected to Belfast City Council in 1985 at the age of 26 and became the youngest ever Lord Mayor of the city three years later.

The department of enterprise looks after the development of economic policy, which is sure to be a key priority in Northern Ireland's new political climate.

Its agencies include Invest NI, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and the General Consumer Council.

FINANCE: PETER ROBINSON

Peter Robinson began his working life as an estate agent but has spent almost three decades in full-time politics, entering the Commons for the first time in 1979 having narrowly taken the East Belfast seat for the DUP.

In 1987 he was fined IR£16,000 to escape a jail sentence in the Irish Republic after admitting his part in the "invasion" of a County Monaghan village the previous August when he and about 100 others paraded around in military-style formation - something which he claimed was aimed at highlighting lax border security.

Peter Robinson
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson takes the finance portfolio
Two policemen were assaulted in Clontibret, and while the judge at his trial accepted Mr Robinson had not been violent, "he could have distanced himself from them when he realised that some of the group were masked and armed and therefore likely to engage in violence".

The former hardliner has softened his image in recent years and is seen by many pundits as a modernising force within in the DUP.

Ian Paisley's number two for many years, his department's main function is to administer the financial business of the government of Northern Ireland and supplies a support service to the other departments.

Mr Robinson has previous ministerial experience, having headed up the department for regional development in the last Stormont executive from 1999 to 2002.

HEALTH: MICHAEL MCGIMPSEY

Michael McGimpsey was culture minister in the last power-sharing executive, but has kept a low profile since failing to hold the South Belfast seat for the UUP at the last general election.

Michael McGimpsey
Michael McGimpsey of the UUP is health minister
He did not even run for the party leadership vacated by David Trimble, nor did he openly back the candidacy of Sir Reg Empey, which meant his ministerial appointment came as a surprise to some.

However, Sir Reg said his experience running a department would be vital in what was a "colossal undertaking", and running the department of health is bound be one of the toughest jobs in the new executive.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: CONOR MURPHY

A rising star within Sinn Fein, Conor Murphy is viewed by some as a potential future party leader.

Conor Murphy
Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy is regional development minister
He has held on to the key Westminster seat of Newry and Armagh since unseating the SDLP in 2005 upon Seamus Mallon's retirement, during a period where difficult decisions such as backing policing have been made.

He became politically active during the 1981 republican hunger strike at the Maze prison, but a year later, he was on the inside of the jail's walls after being sentenced to five years for IRA membership and possessing explosives.

As minister for the big spending regional development, his duties include responsibility for roads and rail, as well as water charges.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: MARGARET RITCHIE

The SDLP's only minister, Margaret Ritchie has spent her career in politics working for South Down MP Eddie McGrady.

Margaret Ritchie
Margaret Ritchie of the SDLP is in charge of social development
The South Down assembly member, who is from Annacloy, near Downpatrick, is seen as a potential successor to Mr McGrady when he retires.

An SDLP member since 1980, she has sat on Down District Council since 1985.

As minister for social development, she oversees matters such as urban regeneration, community and voluntary sector development, social legislation, housing, social security benefits, pensions and child support.




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