Jonathan Bell (UK politician)

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Jonathan Bell
Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
In office
20 October 2015 - Present
9 October 2015 - 14 October 2015
6 October 2015 - 6 October 2015
30 September 2015 - 01 October 2015
28 September 2015 - 29 September 2015
23 September 2015 - 24 September 2015
16 September 2015 - 17 September 2015
11 May 2015 - 10 September 2015
Preceded by Jonathan Bell (UK politician)
Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
In office
16 May 2011 – 11 May 2015
Preceded by Robin Newton
Succeeded by Michelle McIlveen
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Strangford
Assumed office
22 January 2010
Preceded by Iris Robinson
Personal details
Born (1970-03-05) 5 March 1970 (age 45)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Ulster Unionist (until 2000)
Alma mater Queen's University Belfast
Profession Social worker
Religion Congregationalist

Jonathan Fergus Bell MLA (born 5 March 1970 )[1] is a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician in Northern Ireland. He was selected in 2010 to fill the vacancy for the Strangford constituency of the Northern Ireland Assembly following the resignation of Iris Robinson.[2] In the 2011 Assembly election he won the seat, and was on 16 May 2011 endorsed by the Assembly as a Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. Since 11 May 2015 he has been Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.[3]


Bell graduated from Queen's University Belfast, with a degree in psychology, and obtained a postgraduate diploma and a Master's degree in social work. He worked until 2010 in child care social work.[2]

Political career[edit]

He sat on Craigavon Borough Council from 1997 until 2005, where he served as both deputy mayor and mayor. Bell was originally elected for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)[4] but dissatisfied with the leadership of David Trimble, quit the party in March 2000.[5] In 1999 he was the organiser and spokesperson of a demonstration in favour of Protestant/Unionist rights, the Long March.[5][6] By the time of the 2001 local elections he had joined the DUP. When he was appointed as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), he was a councillor for the DUP in Ards. On accepting the invitation to replace Robinson as an MLA he resigned his position as a member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, as the Northern Ireland Act 1998 stipulated that membership of the Commission was incompatible with Assembly membership.[2] Bell had, with UUP member Daphne Trimble, been one of two Commissioners to publicly oppose the Commission's stance on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

Bell was the fourth person to be appointed an MLA under the Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) (Amendment) Order 2009. Under these arrangements where a vacancy arises due to the death or resignation of an MLA who was a member of a political party, instead of a by-election the nominating officer of the party concerned nominates a person to fill the vacancy.[7]

Following his election to the Assembly in May 2011, and his appointment shortly thereafter as a junior minister, Bell worked alongside his Sinn Féin counterpart Martina Anderson to support the diarchy operated by the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

In May 2012, Jonathan Bell attacked golf clubs in Northern Ireland for being a haven for sectarian attitudes, though he later apologized. He claims his attack was "a clumsy use of language".[8]

In May 2015, Bell was appointed Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in a re-shuffle of offices held by DUP MLAs which saw Arlene Foster, the previous DETI minister, move to Finance and Personnel[3]


Political offices
Preceded by
Sam Gardiner
Mayor of Craigavon
Succeeded by
Ignatius Fox
Preceded by
Robin Newton
Junior Minister
2011 - 2015
Succeeded by
Michelle McIlveen
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Iris Robinson
MLA for Strangford