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Statement by the First Minister and deputy First Minister

Following a series of meetings and discussions the First Minister and the deputy First Minister are pleased to announce agreements across a range of policy areas and initiatives that will be taken forward over the course of the next number of weeks.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Commenting, Ministers said: “We are pleased to be able to give some detail on a range of policy decisions that we have taken during the course of the last number of days. We have reached a series of wide ranging agreements that will be to the benefit of people across the community and will deliver further progress in the Autumn on the reform agenda we have set out as part of our Programme for Government commitments.”

Details are as follows:

Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have agreed the appointment and composition of a Chair and Board of the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation. Following the completion of the necessary appointment and administrative procedures the identity of the new Chair and ten Board members will be published. The Board was established by the Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites (Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011. Ministers have again emphasised their commitment to develop the 360 acre site to maximise its potential and look forward to working with the new Board to that end.

Victims Commissioner

Ministers have agreed to the appointment of a single Victims Commissioner to champion the cause of the victims sector and have selected the new Commissioner. Following the completion of the necessary administrative procedures the new Victims Commissioner will be announced.

Ilex Chair

This post will be re-advertised in due course with a view to securing a wider range of applicants.

Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2011-2021

Details of the new Investment Strategy have been finalised and will be brought to the next meeting of the Executive on Monday 3rd September for approval. The strategy envisages an investment programme totalling £12.6billion, with £5.4billion to be delivered between now and 2015 supporting over 13,000 jobs in the construction industry and more in the related supply chain.

Cohesion Sharing and Integration Strategy

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have received a report from their representatives on the CSI working group. They are encouraged that considerable progress has been made. The First and deputy First Ministers will meet with party leaders in early September to conclude the process.

Education Skills Authority Bill

The discussions on the content of the ESA bill have been successfully concluded and the bill will be brought to the next meeting of the Executive in order to commence its legislative passage in the Assembly.

Welfare Reform Bill

In light of decisions taken by the Coalition Government at Westminster work is ongoing on the local welfare reform bill and regulations to ameliorate the harsher elements of the Westminster legislation.

Social Investment Fund

Following the publication of the SIF zones Ministers have progressed the establishment of the SIF steering groups. The First Minister and the deputy First Minister have today written to party leaders asking for nominations from each of the parties in order to complete the compositions of the steering groups. Ministers are considering a slate of applications from community representatives, statutory and business groups and successful applicants who will sit alongside the political nominees will be announced in due course.

Executive Information Service

A wide ranging review of the structure and workings of the Executive Information Service has been commissioned by the First and deputy First Ministers. The review will be conducted externally and will be tasked with engaging with a variety of stakeholders.

Structures of Government

Ministers have again indicated their desire and willingness to complete the 2012 review of Government structures in a timely manner. Processes are already in place to engage all of the Executive parties.

Constructive engagement has taken place with party leaders relating to the number of government departments, including proposals to reduce their number. The First Minister and the deputy First Minister are content to await the outcome of this process before taking decisions on the future of DEL.

Notes to editors:

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