Jim Wells (politician)

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Jim Wells
MLA
Jim Wells DUP.jpg
Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Incumbent
Assumed office
23 September 2014
Preceded by Edwin Poots
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for South Down
Incumbent
Assumed office
25 June 1998
Preceded by New Creation
Personal details
Born (1957-04-27) April 27, 1957 (age 57)
Lurgan, Northern Ireland, UK
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Children 1 son & 2 daughters
Alma mater Queen's University, Belfast
Committees Deputy Chairperson, Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee, Justice Committee (Northern Ireland Assembly)
Religion Free Presbyterian
Website DUP

Jim Wells (born 27 April 1957) is a Northern Ireland politician from the Democratic Unionist Party and formerly Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Wells is one of six Assembly members for South Down. He was a councillor on Down District Council from 2001 to 2011.[citation needed]

On 23 September 2014, Jim Wells was appointed as Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Professional career[edit]

Wells has a degree in geography and a postgraduate diploma in town and country planning from Queen's University Belfast.

He was employed as a manager by the National Trust from 1989, before returning to frontline politics in 1998.

Political career[edit]

Wells was first elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 1982. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, particularly for the next two years after its inception and frequently confronted Tom King, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the course of his public engagements.[citation needed]

He was elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly as DUP representative for South Down in June 1998, following the Belfast Agreement, signed on 10 April 1998. He stood unsuccessfully in general elections in Upper Bann in 1983, and in South Down in 2001, 2005 and 2010.

From 1 July 2009 until 24 March 2011, Wells was the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly's Health Social Services and Public Health Committee. In the 2010 -15 Assembly, he was appointed to the position of Deputy Chairman of the same committee, serving in this capacity until his unexpected appointment Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in September-2014 [1]

Wells is also the Deputy Chairman of Assembly All-Party Group on International Development. Wells is an environmentalist and a young earth creationist, who believes the earth to be 6,000 years old. [2]

In 2012 after the emergence of the abuse scandal involving Jimmy Savile, Wells called for a removal of a mocked up poster featuring his image and the words Jim'll Fix It.(a reference to Savile's television programme of the same name)The sign, erected in Kilkeel in early 2012, had been put up by a local pressure group campaigning to stop the closure of a local care home, Slieve Roe House.[3]

Assembly Election 2011[edit]

Although the Boundary Commission removed the majority unionist-voting Ballynahinch from South Down, Wells still managed to poll over 5,200 first preference votes, a rise of 0.5% from 2007, and was elected on the third count. His Ulster Unionist rival John McCallister polled 4,409 a rise of 1% on 2007.

Health Minister Role[edit]

Wells had been tipped to become Northern Ireland's Health Minister during a mid term reshuffle of DUP Ministers. However, this failed to be realised. Wells continued to court controversy over his views on abortion, gay rights and Pride marches. Many political commentators and critics had claimed that the gaff prone MLA would not be offered the role in the near future because of the importance of implementing the health reform "Transforming your Care". It was widely believed that the then Health Minister Edwin Poots was seen by his party as a safer pair of hands to handle the review. However, in an unexpected turn of events, the DUP leader Peter Robinson dismissed Edwin Poots and appointed Wells to the Health role in September 2014.

Jim Wells also suffered an unfortunate accident on the night of the 2011 Assembly Election, displacing his collar bone after removing an election poster. This created a great deal of comment on Twitter and Facebook and was mentioned on UTV election coverage as 'The DUP's One Arm Bandit'.[4]

Views on abortion[edit]

Wells believes abortion in Northern Ireland should remain illegal except in medical emergencies, without exception for pregnancies resulting from rape.[5] He has said that the foetus was the "ultimate victim" and should not be punished by termination when adoption was possible.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
New creation
MLA for Down South
1998 -
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Edwin Poots
Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
2014-
Succeeded by
Incumbent