Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Saturday, 31 October 2009

29 November 1999: NI ministers nominated

Northern Ireland Assembly

"No applause please" was the message from Speaker John Alderdice ahead of the nominations to the new Northern Ireland Executive.

Some of the politicians could not be blamed for their enthusiasm given the re-birth of devolution, however the Presiding Officer wanted the parties to wait until all the ministerial portfolios had been handed out.

The mathematical procedure used to distribute ministries, the D'Hondt mechanism, meant the largest party got first choice of departments, followed by the next largest party, and so on.

As the largest party at the time, the Ulster Unionists chose the enterprise, trade and investment brief, nominating Sir Reg Empey, and the SDLP's Mark Durkan took over at finance.

DUP leader Ian Paisley selected regional development, and nominated his deputy Peter Robinson for the post.

While the other new ministers took the oath of office with a few brief words, Mr Robinson used his nomination to hit out at the Good Friday Agreement, claiming its aim was to absorb Northern Ireland into a united Ireland.

But he said he would serve all of the people of Northern Ireland, no matter their religious or political beliefs.

It was when Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams got to his feet that things became lively. His nomination of Martin McGuinness as education minister was received with hissing and a shout of "shame", prompting a warning that the public gallery would be cleared if there was disorder.

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