Junior Minister role for South Armagh’s Megan Fearon

May 30, 2016

South Armagh will be well represented in the new Stormont Executive, with Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon being placed in the influential role of Junior Minister.  At just 25 years of age, the Sinn Fein MLA continues to be the youngest member of the Executive, and her newest appointment represents a major step in her political achievements so far. Five years ago, the south Armagh woman became the youngest member of the Assembly and during this month’s Assembly elections, the former Queen’s University student was returned on the first count.

Her appointment as Junior Minister, along with the DUP’s Alastair Ross, came during the formation of a power-sharing Executive at Stormont on Wednesday last.

Working closely with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on fulfilling the roles of his office, the Executive Office Junior Ministers’ portfolio also includes responsibilities for good relations, promoting equality of opportunity, victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse, human rights, racial equality, urban villages and the Social Investment Fund.

Speaking to The Examiner after her appointment last week, Megan said being given the role was a “massive honour” which, although challenging, “would also come with opportunities which will allow me to carve out my own niche areas that I want to work in.”

The Sinn Fein South Armagh representative hopes her influential role will also help her to lobby on key issues affecting the South Armagh constituency.

“I am delighted to have been appointed as Junior Minister in The Executive Office and look forward to working with all my Executive colleagues in this new era of government,” said Megan.

“Part of my brief will include working on the TBUC strategy (Together Building a United Community), working on racial equality issues and overseeing the refugee immigration strategy. Equality has been a key issue for me during my time in Assembly and I look forward to working in this area once again in my new role and welcome the opportunities it will give me in addressing these matters further.

“As Junior Ministers we will work extensively with young people, which is a good fit for me” she added.

With regards to any impact the newly formed official Opposition may have on the Executive or her role, Ms Fearon admitted the new arrangement would be “a different environment which will take some adjustment on both sides” but she said she she was not “overly concerned about it.”

“As far as the Opposition is concerned it’s really up to them what they do with it,” she said.

South Armagh MLA Megan Fearon has been appointed Junior Minister in the newly formed Executive and will work closely with her party colleague, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness.

“We have our jobs to do with or without an Opposition.  It is really up to the opposition to come with alternatives and I don’t have the greatest confidence that they will provide that.  In the past the SDLP, for example, have voted against every single budget in the Assembly but have never once presented an alternative to it.

“Within the Executive we had our first meeting on Thursday and it was a really positive setting.  We are all getting off on a good foot and keen to get things done.

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and am keen to use whatever influence I can to work for south Armagh, to encourage investment and to develop relationships with other ministers to advance some of the key projects that we have lined up for the area.”

All three local Sinn Fein candidates from the constituency have been placed in influential positions in Stormont and the Executive. Newry MLA Conor Murphy has been appointed Chair of the Economy Committee, which will scrutinise the work of Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, whilst Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan has also been made a Committee chair.  He will lead the Standards and Privileges Committee, the body responsible for examining the conduct of Assembly members, investigating breaches and ensuring the transparency and accountability of MLAs.