Martina Anderson tipped for Executive role

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson is congratulated after being returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly following the Foyle count at Lisneal College.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson is congratulated after being returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly following the Foyle count at Lisneal College.

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Stormont sources are predicting that Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson could be in line for a ministerial post in the new Executive.

It’s been widely reported that Ms. Anderson - elected on the first count in the Foyle constituency - could get one of the portfolios in the 13 seat cabinet.

Sinn Fein was last night remaining tight-lipped about who exactly it would allocate its ministerial roles to.

Behind the scenes horse-trading over the senior political roles were due to get underway yesterday in the aftermath of the Assembly elections.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were due to meet at the beginning of what will be a week of tough inter-party bargaining.

A shake-up of ministerial portfolios is in the offing along with an overhaul of the chairs of the Stormont scrutiny committees.

There has been speculation that Sinn Fein may opt for the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment as their first ministerial appointment.

The DUP, meanwhile, has already indicated that its first likely choice is to retain the Finance portfolio with Sammy Wilson likely to stay in the role.

The spotlight since the election has been on the Ulster Unionists, who are one MLA short of being able to claim two ministries in the power-sharing cabinet.

It is understood they are trying to tempt a successful independent candidate back into the fold.

East Derry MLA David McClarty, who left the UUP following a row with his local constituency party, will not be drawn on whether he will return.

Responding to UUP leader Tom Elliott’s description of Sinn Fein as ‘scum’ at an election count in Omagh, Mr McClarty said that it was not indicative of the kind of “progressive unionism” he believed in.

He added: “I will base my final decision not on what’s best for David McClarty, but what’s best for the people who elected me and the people of NI in general.”

Mr McClarty confirmed the deadline for his decision is Thursday, when the D’Hondt system will be applied and ministerial positions appointed.

If Mr McClarty is not attracted back into the UUP fold, the figures suggest Alliance could be entitled to a ministry by right.

This raises the prospect of the UUP, on 16 Assembly seats, having one executive ministry while the Alliance, with eight seats, has two.