Ballymoney councillor in Peter Robinson’s DUP reshuffle

Mervyn Storey.
Mervyn Storey.

Ballymoney councillor and local MLA Mervyn Storey has been named as part of the DUP resuffle.

The DUP’s Edwin Poots and Nelson McCausland are being replaced as Stormont ministers, party leader Peter Robinson has announced.

Jim Wells will replace Mr Poots as health minister, while local representative Mervyn Storey will take over from Nelson McCausland as social development minister.

Mr Robinson first made the announcements on his Twitter account.

He later said the two ministers who were standing down had “done a tremendous job”.

Peter Robinson appeared at a news conference with Mervyn Storey and Jim Wells yesterday (Wednesday).

“As we lead up to elections, we wanted to settle things within the party, we wanted to put a fresh team in there, let new ideas flow through and give people an opportunity to show just what they can do,” he said.

“In doing that, there isn’t one of the ministers, committee chairs or deputy chairs who are being moved around that I wouldn’t be prepared to reappoint in the future.”

Mr Storey had been chairman of Stormont’s education committee since 2011, and was also a member of the committee on standards and privileges.

Among his new responsibilities, are housing, social security benefits, pensions, child support and urban regeneration.

Mr Storey said the issue of welfare reform, that has caused friction between the DUP and Sinn Féin in recent months, will be one of the biggest issues facing his department.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said: “Both Jim Wells and Mervyn Storey face enormously difficult challenges during the remaining months of this assembly term.

“Mr Wells will struggle with the well documented shortfall in NHS funding, whilst Mr Storey takes responsibility for the contentious issue of welfare reform which has sharply divided the DUP and Sinn Féin.”