New Decade, New Approach

With the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive newly restored, we take a look at the priorities for the new Executive and who the new players are in term of ministerial posts and committee chairs.

The New Decade New Approach Deal was published at the end of last week to restore the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland. The deal received the support of the main parties who all returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time in three years on Saturday.

The deal includes numerous commitments to address the ongoing challenges in Northern Ireland relating to our public services particularly in our health service, education, housing, justice and a commitment to grow the economy. It also includes a welcome commitment to move back to multi-year budgets which would underpin a multi-year Programme for Government.

What are the Executive Priorities?

Transforming the health service, including

  • Delivering pay parity for nurses to end ongoing pay dispute.
  • Introduce a new action plan on waiting times
  • Deliver reforms on health and social care
  • Publish a Mental Health Action Plan within 2 months, and a Mental Health Strategy by December 2020.


Transforming other public services, including

  • Addressing resourcing pressures in school
  • Support the education of young people from different backgrounds together
  • Deliver a new special needs educational framework
  • Speed up the criminal justice system
  • Increase police numbers to 7500


Investing for the future, including

  • Regionally balanced economy
  • Bring forward a Climate Change Act and reduce carbon emissions
  • Invest in our infrastructure


Deliver and fair and compassionate society, including

  • Develop and implement an anti-poverty strategy
  • Commitment to tackle paramilitarism
  • Reclassify housing associations
  • Extend existing welfare mitigations
  • Redress scheme for victims of historical abuse
  • Publish a childcare strategy
  • Ban zero hours contracts
  • Proposal for new legislation on sign language


Programme for Government

  • Commitment for outcomes-based approach
  • Community engagement and co-design
  • Wellbeing at the centre of PfG
  • Key supporting strategies would include
    • Anti-poverty strategy
    • Economic/Industrial Strategy
    • Investment Strategy
    • Energy Strategy
    • Racial Equality Strategy
    • Disability Strategy
    • Gender Strategy
    • Sexual Orientation Strategy
    • Active Ageing Strategy
    • Children and Young People’s Strategy
    • Childcare Strategy
    • Child Poverty Strategy
    • Irish Language Strategy
    • Ulster Scots Strategy


New approach to government in Northern Ireland

  • Commitments to greater transparency in governance
  • Establishing of a fiscal council
  • Reducing use of the Petition of Concern and return to its intended purpose
  • Putting civic engagement and public consultation at the heart of policy making including reference to a citizens’ assembly.
  • Establish an Independent Environmental Protection Agency
  • Provision for a 24 week period before and Assembly Election must be called


You can find the full text of the document here.


Who's who?

Executive Ministers

First and Deputy First Ministers - Arlene Foster, DUP and Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Féin

Junior Ministers - Gordon Lyons, DUP and Declan Kearney, Sinn Féin

Health- Robin Swann, UUP

Education - Peter Weir, DUP

Communities - Deirdre Hargey, Sinn Féin

Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs - Edwin Poots, DUP

Infrastructure - Nichola Mallon, SDLP

Economy - Dianne Dodds, DUP

Finance - Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin

Justice - Naomi Long, Alliance Party

Committee Chairs

The Executive Office – Colin McGrath, SDLP

Health – Colm Gildernew, Sinn Féin

Education – Chris Lyttle, Alliance Party

Economy – Caoimhe Archibald, Sinn Féin

Finance – Steve Aiken, UUP

Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs- Declan McAleer, Sinn Féin

Communities – Paula Bradley, DUP

Justice – Paul Givan, DUP

Infrastructure – Michelle McIlveen, DUP

Public Accounts - William Humphrey, DUP

Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.

Read more on...