26/02/2008

Donaldson Made Junior Minister

A relative 'new boy' to the Democratic Unionist Party, Co Down MP Jeffrey Donaldson has been sworn in as Northern Ireland's new Junior Minister.

A former Ulster Unionist, Mr Donaldson, who is the Lagan Valley MP, defected to the DUP in 2004 after a high-profile fall-out with his then party leader, David (now Lord Trimble).

The former UDR soldier is currently a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and a Privy Councillor at Westminster.

He replaces party colleague Ian Paisley Jnr, who formally resigned last week after criticism over links to developer Seymour Sweeney and controversy over lobbying activity. Mr Paisley denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Donaldson was sworn in by assembly speaker William Hay and will serve alongside First Minister Ian Paisley.

"The new executive faces many challenges and I look forward to working with executive colleagues in delivering a peaceful, prosperous and fair society for all the people of Northern Ireland," Mr Donaldson said.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Mr Paisley Jnr and his father played a "very key role" in the work to restore the political institutions, but said he left with many questions still unanswered.

"Sinn Fein will be seeking to end the practice whereby members can use public monies to rent properties from family members and other practices like this," he said.

Alliance leader David Ford said: "I too would wish to recognise that in the manner of his resignation statement Mr Paisley has redeemed a little of what went before.

"There are clearly many issues that will now need to be addressed."


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