Stormont Executive ‘focused’ on bringing forward programme for government

Stormont Executive ‘Focused’ On Bringing Forward Programme For Government
Michelle O'Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly
Share this article

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Stormont’s new powersharing Executive is focused on bringing forward a programme for government as soon as possible, the First and deputy First Minister have told MLAs.

Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly were giving evidence to the Executive Office committee and said they were looking forward to the return of all strands of the Good Friday Agreement, including meetings of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC).


Devolved government returned to Northern Ireland this month after the DUP dropped its two-year boycott of the political institutions when a deal was struck over post-Brexit trading arrangements.



Ms O’Neill became the first nationalist First Minister, with the DUP’s Ms Little-Pengelly as deputy First Minister.

In their first joint committee appearance, they set out their priorities for government, including dealing with longstanding financial issues facing Northern Ireland.

They were asked when they would be bringing forward a programme for government – setting out the strategic aims for the Executive.

Ms O’Neill told the committee: “It is important that everybody feels the benefit of the policy decisions that we take.


Michelle O’Neill, left, and Emma Little-Pengelly said they were looking forward to the return of all strands of the Good Friday Agreement, (NI Assembly/PA)

“That will be reflected in the programme for government and we are going to move at it at a sensible pace, and we are going to move at it to make sure that we get it right.

“That is important because this becomes our collective programme for the Executive in terms of what we are going to develop, there will be collective priorities.


“We have to consider all that alongside the financial challenges that we have.”

She added: “The programme for government is something that we are all focused on and we want to come back and talk to the committee about that at the right juncture, all ministers are getting to grips with their briefs and I hope that in the coming weeks we’ll be able to discuss at more length the programme for government.”



Pressed on a time frame for the programme, Ms Little-Pengelly said: “Michelle and I are very clear, we want a programme for government as soon as we can.

“We will work to ensure it is brought forward as quickly as possible, we want that to be there so everybody is clear, not just in the Assembly but throughout Northern Ireland as to what we are working towards, what are the priorities of this government.”

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin asked when the NSMC would return, pointing out that the 26th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement was approaching.

The NSMC has not met since 2021 after the DUP withdrew from north/south meetings as part of its protest against Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.


Ms O’Neill said: “It is important that we have all strands (of the Good Friday Agreement) up and running.

“We are working towards getting the other elements up and running, including the North South Ministerial Council.

“We know there is a big backlog there in terms of appointments. I want to see all elements up working again and I hope we will be able to progress those in the weeks ahead.”

Ms Little-Pengelly added: “The north/south, east/west relationships are an absolutely key part of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

“We are currently seeking to finalise dates, but those will happen very shortly.”

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by