The Stormont Assembly is back with ministers ready to impress

It’s not often that the Bluffer offers his column to one individual but today’s Bluffer’s Guide to Irish is dedicated to Alex Maskey, an ceann comhairle úr – the new speaker at the newly-reconvened Assembly up in the Stormont.

But first of all, a few words you’ll need to know if you want to discuss the new decade and the new approach on the house on the hill.

An Tionól is the Assembly with its 90 MLAs, or as we don’t say in Irish, Comhalta den Tionól Reachtach – we’re happy enough to call them  MLAs.

The Assembly’s decision-making body is the Feidhmeannas – the Executive and Saturday saw the naming of the head honchos in each of the seven government appointments.

The Bluffer was slightly disappointed about how the different ministers were chosen.

He really wanted it to be like one of those TV talent shows where the host says “and the winner is …” and then there is the dramatic music and close-ups of the nervous candidates.

Jim Allister would of course be Simon Cowell so in the votes for leas-cheann comhairle – deputy speaker, you’d see Patsy McGlone biting his lips, Christopher Stalford giving a goofy smile and a thumbs up  and Roy Beggs pulling a face and mouthing the words “vote for me”. In the end, all three got a crack of the whip.

Everyone’s a winner.

However, each roinn – government department can only have one aire or minister.

Arlene Foster returns as Chéad Aire and Michelle O’Neill as Leas-Chéad Aire – deputy first minister.

Diane Dodds has given up eating coq au vin for chicken in a basket as the new Minister at An Roinn Geilleagair – Dept for the Economy Economy; Conor Murphy will hold the purse strings at the Dept of Finance.

Peter Weir is back at An Roinn Oideachais – the Dept of Education, an appointment which will worry supporters of Irish-medium education as Mr Weir was a staunch opponent of the sector in his previous stint at Rathgael.

Watch this space.

Newcomer Deirdre Hargey is in charge of   An Roinn Pobal – Dept for Communities and again Gaeilgeoirí might be disappointed that a non-Irish speaker has got the department mostly responsible for the language, but Ms Hargey proved herself an able Lord Mayor of Belfast so again we will have to wait and see.  

The SDLP’s Nicola Mallon will have the top table in An Roinn Bonneagair – the Department of Infrastructure while Robin Swann has the biggy, An Roinn Sláinte – the Dept of Health.

Edwin Poots will have his wellies on no doubt at An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Comhshaoil agus Forbairt Tuaithe – Dept for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development while, last but not least, Naomi Long has been given arguably the most sensitive position at An Roinn Cirt the Dept of Justice.

So, the Stormont executive is up and running again.

It remains to be seen if the above mentioned ministers are up to the task, if enough money if forthcoming from the Tories and if good working relationships can be built up.  


an ceann comhairle úr (un kyun cowerlya oor) – the new speaker

An Tionól (un chunnel) – the Assembly 

Comhalta den Tionól Reachtach (cowalta den chunnel rakhtakh) – an MLA

an Feidhmeannas (un fiyminiss) – the Executive

leas-cheann comhairle (lass-kyun cowerlya) – deputy speaker

Chéad Aire (cayd iyre) First Minister

Leas-Chéad Aire (lass-cayd-iyra)– deputy first minister

roinn (rin)– government Dept.

aire (iyra) – a minister

An Roinn Geilleagair (un rin gellager) – Dept for the Economy

An Roinn Airgeadais (un rin aragidish) – Minister of Finance

An Roinn Oideachais (un rin ijahish) – Dept of Education

An Roinn Pobal (un rin pubble) – Dept for Communities

An Roinn Bonneagair (un rin bunagger) – the Dept. of Infrastructure

An Roinn Sláinte (un rin slaantcha) – the Dept of Health

An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Comhahsaoil agus Forbairt Tuaithe (un rin talweeakhta, coeheel agus forbertch tooeeha) – Dept for Agriculture, Envronment and Rural Development

An Roinn Cirt (un rin cirtch) – the Dept of Justice 

Parliamentary reports show first speaker only - follow this lnk for the full transcription.
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