Executive Office: The more things change, the more they stay the same

In today’s Irish News, John Manley has an interesting story about the powers and staffing levels of the new Executive Office (formerly OFM/DFM).

In his report he notes that despite losing a decent amount of its functions, the number of Special Advisors, Junior Ministers and the workforce will remain the same as he notes;

The new Department of Communities takes on the bulk of the policy areas which would have previously been the responsibility of OFMDFM, including initiatives involving older people, young people and the disabled. It will also lead efforts to tackle poverty and have policy responsibility for gender and sexual orientation.

Responsibility for Stormont’s childcare strategy has moved from OFMDFM to the Department of Education, while the Department of Finance is now responsible for NI Direct’s central editorial team and the government advertising unit.

However, despite the streamlining of its operations, the Executive Office will see no reduction in its workforce of 284, which includes eight special advisers.

The issue was raised yesterday in the Assembly by UUP MLA, Roy Beggs. The response from Junior Minister, Megan Fearon stated the following;

I thank the Member for his question. There are no plans to reduce the numbers of special advisers in the Department. I take the Member’s point, but, although the Executive Office is now more streamlined following the restructuring of Departments, it still covers a wide range of functions, and the work of Ministers has not reduced in the office. Much of our work also facilitates the business of the Executive and of other Ministers and their Departments. We remain a key strategic driver across the Executive, and that requires a lot of detailed work.

The Department continues to have responsibility for issues of significant political and cross-community interest, as well as for a number of key priority areas for the Executive.

Structures and staffing levels in the Department are regularly reviewed to ensure that work is delivered in.



, , ,

  • chrisjones2

    They are happy to cut your Grannys hip operation but not to pay off the hangers on

  • Kevin Breslin

    I mean it’s getting ridiculous



    How do Sinn Féin and DUP supporters justify that?

    1 SPAD to deal with Health, 1 SPAD to deal with Communities, 1 SPAD to deal with Justice, 1 SPAD to deal with Education …

    8 SPADs to deal with whatever the Executive deals with …

    * Strategic Investment … including failures like Long Kesh

    * The Social Investment fund … underspent

    * Congratulatory messages for Honours and things… Boring Mail Merge Stuff

    * North – South meetings … Other departments can do NS with only 1 SPAD

    * Promoting Northern Ireland … Holiday trips to Washington, China and Brussels and the First Minister doesn’t like the latter. Can and should be done by Economy minster anyway.

    * Equality and Victims … moans about hierarchy of victims from both.


    A two job cut in special advisers simply because departments were reduced?

    One department has as many as the rest after reducing its responsibilities … yet you cannot afford research funds for opposition scrutiny?

    Even if there could be a cut to say 2 special advisers to open say 2 civil service vacancies to those who don’t hob nob with the big two parties it would be a sign of progressive democratization of Stormont.

    It’s going to get to the point where they want us to praise them for not increasing it to sixteen isn’t it?

  • chrisjones2

    Calm down ….its only money

    And its not just a matter oif SPAD posts – you are ignoring who the SPADs are and what they do for Marlene ie watch all the other SPADs just in case

  • Kevin Breslin

    You are not suggesting that the Executive Office is setting up 8 SPADS just to watch the 7 SPADS watching the 7 DUP/Sinn Féin Ministers as well as Sudgen and her future SPAD?

    Wonder if the DUP and SF would consider their own SPAD bill on this news…


  • chrisjones2

    Fresh start!

    In the same sense as getting ones septic tank emptied …it just soon fills up again

  • Reader

    Everything is explained here: