02/07/2009

US Delegation Met By Stormont 'New Boy'

A high-powered delegation of US Congressmen has been welcomed to the Stormont Assembly.

Greeted by the newly appointed Junior Minister Robin Newton, (pictured) and the Executive's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, they had a working lunch at Parliament Buildings yesterday.

The delegation - members of the bipartisan Friends of Ireland Group - are on a fact finding tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Mr McGuinness said: "We have enjoyed unprecedented access on Capitol Hill in recent years and it is vital, that in the changing political environment, that we adopt a new approach to strengthen and co-ordinate political cooperation and engagement with the US."

He said that the working lunch allowed the opportunity to explore how to best develop relationships with some of the America's most influential politicians, particularly in relation to issues such as ongoing inward investment and the plight of the undocumented Irish.

Newly sworn-in Junior Minister, the East Belfast DUP MLA, Robin Newton said: "This presents the opportunity to formally welcome the delegation to Northern Ireland and to acknowledge the Executives appreciation of the role and contribution made by the US administration and Congress to the political and economic developments here."

The meeting took place on the same that Mr Newton was sworn into office.

He said that he was looking forward to the many challenges that his new role as Junior Minister will present.

"To be appointed to the post of Junior Minister is a tremendous honour and a great responsibility.

"I am looking forward to getting down to work on a wide range of important and varied issues," he said, noting that he has long held an interest in the issues affecting both young people and older people.

"I am looking forward to addressing their needs and to championing their causes as part of my overall responsibilities. I aim to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society have their voice heard at the highest levels of government," he said.

Earlier, Mr Newton's new colleague, Sinn Féin Junior Minister, Gerry Kelly, had welcomed the appointment of Robin Newton replacing the outgoing Jeffrey Donaldson, who is also an MP.

Mr Kelly said: "As Junior Ministers we have special responsibility for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, children and young people as well as older people, and we will continue to ensure their needs are a key priority."

In a separate development, Mr Newton has been engaged in exchanges over apprenticeships having criticised the Ulster Unionists party's Sir Reg Empey, who is the Employment Minister.

Mr Newton has decades of experience in training and career-related educational achievements and has been at odds with the Minster over his policies.

See: Apprentice Policy Defended By UUP Following Criticism

(BMcC/JM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 June 2022
UK Govt To Produce New Protocol Legislation
The UK Government is set to publish new legislation to give Ministers the power to scrap part of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Protocol is part of the UK government's Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland within the EU Single Market. However, this has resulted in checks on goods coming into NI from the rest of the UK.
10 June 2022
New Digital Innovation Commissioner Appointed For Belfast
A new Digital Innovation Commissioner has been appointed by Innovation City Belfast (ICB) to drive forward its mission to develop the city as a globally significant destination for innovation.
07 June 2022
Poots Welcomes New Rescue Equipment For Castlewellan Forest Park
DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has visited Castlewellan Forest Park to see first-hand some of the new rescue equipment funded under the Rural Community Rescue Scheme.
06 June 2022
Sinn Féin's Christina Black Named New Lord Mayor Of Belfast
Sinn Féin's Christina Black has been named as the new Lord Mayor of Belfast, taking over the chain of office from outgoing Lord Mayor Councillor Michael Long. Councillor Long was in office for just three weeks, having taken over the role from Kate Nicholl when she was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in May.
06 June 2022
New Child Funeral Fund Comes Into Operation
A new Child Funeral Fund, offering a one-off lump sum payment of £3,056 to help families with the cost of a funeral on the death of a child under 18 or in the event of a stillbirth after 24 weeks, has now come into operation, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced.