Executive Office (Northern Ireland)
|Formed||1 December 1999|
|Headquarters||Stormont Castle, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3TT|
|Employees||380 (September 2011)|
|Annual budget||£78.6 million (current) & £11.2 million (capital) for 2011–12|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Executive Office is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive with overall responsibility for the running of the Executive. The Ministers with overall responsibility for the department are the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
The department was originally known as the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, with the same capitalisation used in the department's logo. Following a change in policy in 2007 (see First Minister and deputy First Minister), the word "deputy" was then spelt with a lower-case d, but the older version of the name is retained in the logo. In May 2016, the department was renamed the Executive Office as a result of the Fresh Start Agreement.
Until 9 January 2017, the First Minister and deputy First Minister were Arlene Foster (Democratic Unionist Party) and Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) respectively. On 9 January 2017, McGuinness resigned, forcing the vacancy of Foster's position under the rules of the Assembly. Both roles are currently vacant. They were assisted by two junior ministers: Alastair Ross (DUP) and Megan Fearon (Sinn Féin). Both roles are also currently vacant as a result of McGuinness' resignation.
The Executive Office's overall aim is to “deliver a peaceful, fair, equal and prosperous society". Its key stated objectives include: "driving investment and sustainable development"; "Tackling disadvantage and promoting equality of opportunity"; and the "effective operation of the institutions of government".
The office has the following main responsibilities:
- administrative support for the Northern Ireland Executive (co-chaired by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister)
- children and young people
- equality of opportunity and good relations
- emergency planning
- infrastructure investment
- international relations
- liaison with the Northern Ireland Assembly, the North/South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Council, the Civic Forum for Northern Ireland (suspended) and departments of the UK Government
- poverty and social exclusion
- sustainable development
- victims and survivors (of the Troubles)
The Executive Office's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:
- the Northern Ireland Office (oversees the devolution settlement);
- the Cabinet Office (on the machinery of government and honours);
- the Department for Communities and Local Government (on community relations and emergency planning);
- the Government Equalities Office;
- the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (on sustainable development);
- the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (on international relations).
Its main counterparts in the Irish Government are:
- the Department of the Taoiseach (on the machinery of government);
- the Department of Foreign Affairs (on the peace process and international relations);
- the Department of Justice and Equality;
- the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (on sustainable development and emergency planning).
A Prime Minister of Northern Ireland was appointed on its formation in June 1921, supported by the Department of the Prime Minister, but the office was abolished in March 1972, on suspension of the Parliament of Northern Ireland and introduction of direct rule.
The Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972 transferred the powers of the Prime Minister to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland within the British Government. A Chief Executive of Northern Ireland briefly held office in the 1974 Northern Ireland Executive. The Secretary of State was supported by the Northern Ireland Office, which was responsible for security and political affairs during the Troubles.
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. OFMDFM was one of five new devolved Northern Ireland departments created in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
The First Minister and Deputy First 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:
- between 12 February 2000 and 30 May 2000;
- on 11 August 2001;
- on 22 September 2001;
- between 15 October 2002 and 8 May 2007.
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption.
- Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
- Northern Ireland Bureau
- Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels
- Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland
- "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.
- "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. Northern Ireland Executive
- Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 105
- OFMDFM Ministers Archived 22 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Northern Ireland Office: About the NIO Archived 17 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Cabinet Office: About the Cabinet Office
- Cabinet Office: Honours and awards
- Department for Communities and Local Government: Communities and neighbourhoods
- Department for Communities and Local Government: Fire and resilience
- Government Equalities Office: About GEO
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: About Defra Archived 23 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office: About us
- Department of the Taoiseach: Role of the Taoiseach
- Department of Foreign Affairs: About the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Department of Justice and Equality: About Us
- Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government: Sustainable Development
- FosterEmergencyServices/EmergencyPlanning/ Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government: Emergency Planning
- Alan J. Ward, The Irish Constitutional Tradition, p.116.
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007