First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
Chéad Aire agus an Leas-Chéad Aire na Tuaisceart Éireann
Furst Männystèr an Deputy Furst Männystèr o Norlin Airlann
Incumbent
Positions vacant

since 9 January 2017
AppointerNorthern Ireland Assembly
Term lengthAt the discretion of the single largest party in each of the two largest community designations within the Northern Ireland Assembly
Inaugural holder
Formation1 July 1998
Salary
£120,000 each
(includes MLA salary) [1]
Websitewww.ofmdfmni.gov.uk

The First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland (Irish: Chéad Aire agus an Leas-Chéad Aire na Tuaisceart Éireann, Ulster-Scots: Furst Männystèr an Deputy Furst Männystèr o Norlin Airlann) are the joint heads of the Northern Ireland Executive and have overall responsibility for the running of the Executive Office.

The two positions have the same governmental power, resulting in a duumvirate; despite the name, the deputy First Minister is not subordinate to the First Minister. Created under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, both were initially nominated and appointed by members of the Northern Ireland Assembly on a joint ticket by a cross-community vote, using consociational principles. That process was changed following the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, meaning that the First Minister and deputy First Minister are now nominated separately by the largest parties in each of the two largest community designations in the assembly.

Responsibilities

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The First Minister and deputy First Minister share equal responsibilities within government, and their decisions are made jointly. The First Minister is, though, the first to greet official visitors to Northern Ireland and shares the same title as their counterparts in Scotland and Wales.

Specifically, they are tasked with co-chairing meetings of the Northern Ireland Executive, "dealing with and co-ordinating" the work of the Executive, and the response of the administration to external relationships.[2]

The First Minister and deputy First Minister agree the agenda of Executive meetings[3] and can jointly determine "significant or controversial matters" to be considered by the Executive.[4]

The ministers' policy responsibilities include:[5]

Two junior ministers assist the First Minister and deputy First Minister in carrying out the work of OFMDFM.[6] They are jointly accountable to the First Minister and deputy First Minister. The last incumbent junior ministers were Jonathan Bell (Democratic Unionist Party) and Jennifer McCann (Sinn Féin).

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