North’s nine new departments named by Peter Robinson

Northern Executive to be reduced in size from 12 to nine departments

The DUP First Minister Peter Robinson has formally named the nine new departments that will replace the existing 12 Northern Executive departments in time for the May 2016 Northern Assembly elections.

Mr Robinson said the shake-up which was part of the Stormont House Agreement will be the “most extensive reorganisation” since the Northern Executive was established in December 1999.

Mr Robinson said the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), which he and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness run, will be renamed the Executive Office. A number of its functions will transfer to the new departments

He told the Assembly the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will bring together most of the functions of the existing agriculture department with the inland fisheries functions of the Department of Culture, Arts and Learning and most of the Department of the Environment’s functions including regulation. It will also take on OFMDFM’s current policy responsibility for sustainability strategy.


The new Department of Communities will combine the existing functions of the Department of Social Development with most culture, arts and learning functions, except for inland fisheries and waterways. It will also take over the Department of Employment and Learning’s employment service and responsibilities for local government and built heritage.

It will also assume a range of OFMDFM functions in relation to the social investment fund, racial equality, united communities and good relations, disability and poverty, gender and sexual orientation, and northwest sites and strategy.

The Department of the Economy will combine the functions of the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Industry and Employment and Learning, except for the employment service.

The Department of Education will continue its existing functions, together with a range of children's services, including OFMDFM's policy responsibilities for childcare strategy and for children and young people. Child protection will remain with the Department of Health.

The Department of Finance will take over the advertising unit and the NI Direct central editorial team.

The Department of Health will continue as before, except for public safety. It will also take on OFMDFM’s policy responsibilities for older people and the active ageing strategy.

The Department of Infrastructure will exercise the existing responsibilities of the Department of Regional Development, but will also take on a range of functions from other existing departments – vehicle regulation, road safety and driver and vehicle agency functions from environment; the Rivers Agency from agriculture; inland waterways from culture, arts and learning and from OFMDFM the Strategic Investment Unit and several regeneration sites, including the Crumlin Road Gaol.

The Department of Justice will take over responsibility for public safety from the Department of Health and the support function for the Planning Appeals Commission/Water Appeals Commission from OFMDFM.

“These are machinery of government changes,” said Mr Robinson on Monday. “No functions are being done away with, and no policies terminated. Staff will follow functions, and there may be a certain amount of early disruption. But once the changes have been effected, there will undoubtedly be greater efficiency,” he added.

“There will be fewer ministers and departmental hierarchies. Permanent secretaries, central management units, press offices and support functions can all be rationalised,” said Mr Robinson.

List of Departments The Executive Office Department for Communities Department for the Economy Department of Education Department of Health Department for Infrastructure Department of Justice Department of Finance Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times