At the time of the announcement there was speculation in the comments zone here on Slugger, about the circumstances in which the UUP leadership had decided on their ministerial nominations, and the BBC’s Martina Purdy has been talking to some other party sources. Those sources have told the BBC that Alan McFarland turned down the position of Health Minister and advised party leader Reg Empey that he “should focus on rebuilding the party rather than taking a ministerial job himself.” In the end the UUP leader decided to nominate Michael McGimpsey as Minister for Health.. and take Employment and Learning himself. The BBC’s Mark Devenport adds some of his thoughts on the post-Election Blog Adds Newsline report [RealPlayer file] Reg Empey – “How we organise ourselves is our internal business and we’ll be addressing that at the weekend.”From the BBC report
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent Martina Purdy said that initially Sir Reg was considering taking the health post himself, while appointing his deputy Danny Kennedy as Minister of Employment and Learing.
“But Sir Reg had a change of heart after being advised by Mr McFarland that the challenging health job would leave the leader no time to focus on rebuilding the party,” she said.
Sir Reg Empey took the employment and learning job
“Consequently, the BBC has learned that on Good Friday the leader and Alan McFarland discussed other options.
“These included Mr McFarland becoming health minister while Sir Reg took up the post of employment and learning.
“However Mr McFarland, after further consideration, stuck to the view that the leader should put the party first and remain out of government – contending the leader was the only one with the authority to sort out the problems facing the Ulster Unionists.
“The disagreement resumed after the Easter break and ended ultimately in Sir Reg taking employment and learning himself and offering the health job to Michael McGimpsey.”
Adds As Rubicon points out in the comments below. There was more speculation in another thread [comment number 8]