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John O’Dowd MLA confirmed as caretaker NI infrastructure minister

Words: Roger Milne
Stormont / Shutterstock

Sinn Fein politician John O'Dowd has been confirmed as Northern Ireland’s caretaker infrastructure minister, overseeing the planning system. He replaces Nichola Mallon who failed to retain her MLA seat following the Northern Ireland Assembly elections earlier this month.

Born in 1967, O’Dowd  trained as a chef before beginning his  political career  as a councillor on the former Craigavon  Borough Council. He was first elected as MLA for Upper Bann in 2005. Between 2007 and 2011 he was Sinn Fein group leader in the assembly and served as  chair of the NIA’s Public Accounts Committee.

He was previously the education minister in the Stormont Executive from 2011 to 2016. He briefly took on the duties of deputy First Minister in 2011 while Martin McGuinness ran in the 2011 Irish presidential election.

Like other ministers who remain in place without a first and deputy first minister, his decision-making powers are limited. Any significant, controversial or cross-cutting issues require the approval of the full executive.

He was due  to meet with civil servants within the infrastructure department on Monday. 

Image credit | Shutterstock