Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland)

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Department of the Environment
Department overview
Formed Unknown (on or before 1 January 1974)
Preceding Department
Dissolved 6 May 2016
Jurisdiction Northern Ireland
Headquarters Clarence Court, 10–18 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8GB
Employees 2,681 (September 2011)[1]
Annual budget £127.0 million (current) & £5.1 million (capital) for 2011–12[2]
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Northern Ireland

The Department of the Environment (DOE or DOENI; Irish: An Roinn Comhshaoil;[3] Ulster-Scots: Männystrie o tha Kintraside) was a devolved Northern Irish government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department was the Minister for the Environment.


The DOE's overall aim was to "work in partnership" with the public, private and voluntary sectors to promote the "economic and social welfare of the community" through "promoting sustainable development and seeking to secure a better and safer environment for everyone".[4]

The last Minister was Mark H. Durkan (Social Democratic and Labour Party).[5]


The main policy responsibilities of the department were:[6]

  • the natural environment
  • the built environment
  • land use planning
  • road safety
  • regulation of drivers, vehicles and vehicle operators
  • local government

The DOE's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government were:

In the Irish Government, its main counterparts were:


The Ministry of Home Affairs was established on the formation of Northern Ireland in June 1921 and was responsible for a range of non-economic domestic matters, including local government. A separate Ministry of Health and Local Government was formed in 1944 and was subsequently split in 1965, to create the Ministry of Development. An environment ministry existed in the 1974 Northern Ireland Executive and the ministry was known as the Department of the Environment under direct rule.

The DoE is still a phrase used in everyday language in Northern Ireland to describe the Roads Service, which was once run by the department but is currently an agency of the separate Department for Regional Development.

Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The process was known as devolution and was set up to return devolved legislative powers to Northern Ireland. DoE was therefore one of the six direct rule Northern Ireland departments that continued in existence after devolution in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

A devolved minister first took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:

Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption.

Ministers of the Environment[edit]

Minister Image Party Took office Left office
    Sam Foster No image.svg UUP 2 December 1999 11 February 2000
Office suspended
    Sam Foster No image.svg UUP 30 May 2000 20 February 2002[21]
    Dermot Nesbitt No image.svg UUP 20 February 2002 14 October 2002
Office suspended
    Arlene Foster MLA Arlene Foster.jpg DUP 8 May 2007 9 June 2008
    Sammy Wilson SammyWilson.jpg DUP 9 June 2008 1 July 2009
    Edwin Poots Edwin Poots (cropped).jpg DUP 1 July 2009 5 May 2011
    Alex Attwood May Day, Belfast, April 2011 (056).JPG SDLP 16 May 2011 16 July 2013
    Mark H. Durkan No image.svg SDLP 16 July 2013 6 May 2016
Office and department abolished

Direct rule ministers[edit]

During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Northern Ireland Quarterly Employment Survey Historical Data". Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Annual Report 2003" (PDF) (in Irish). North/South Ministerial Council. Retrieved 3 March 2009.  (page 30)
  4. ^ Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 80
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-14.  Northern Ireland Executive
  6. ^ DOE: About us
  7. ^ Defra: About Defra Archived 23 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Communities and Local Government: About us
  9. ^ Department for Transport: About us
  10. ^ DCMS: Historic environment
  11. ^ Environment, Community and Local Government: Mission Statement
  12. ^ Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: Roads
  13. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
  14. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
  15. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  16. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  17. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  18. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  19. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
  20. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007
  21. ^ Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001

External links[edit]