On 3 February, a new power-sharing coalition government took office in Northern Ireland two years after the last Assembly elections.
The Alliance Party returned to the Northern Ireland Executive with two Ministers, following on from its best-ever election result in 2022, when the party made historic gains by receiving 13.5% of the popular vote.
Party leader Naomi Long MLA was appointed Minister of Justice, after having previously served in the same position from January 2020 to October 2022.
Meanwhile, Andrew Muir MLA has taken up the role of Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, also becoming the first openly gay Minister to take office in Northern Ireland.
It is the privilege of my life to serve as @allianceparty's first @daera_ni Minister.— Andrew Muir MLA (@AndrewMuirNI) February 3, 2024
I look forward to delivering upon the full remit of the Department across Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. pic.twitter.com/6vPEbVlVmL
“It is an honour and privilege to be returned as Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland. I look forward to leading the Department into a new era and to considering other significant legislation that needs progressed, including reform of sentencing and a hate crime bill,” said Long.
“I remain committed to improving the outcomes for people in our society which in turn may ease the pressure on the criminal justice system, and working towards a strong, safer, and shared community for all, one which respects the rule of law and one in which we respect each other.”
Muir added: “I plan to focus on the full remit of the department, seeking to implement policies and strategies that benefit our climate and environment, while supporting our economically and socially significant agriculture, food and fisheries sectors.
“I intend to listen to, engage and strive to work with stakeholders and partners in every part of Northern Ireland. Together, we can achieve a lot.”
Under the new government, the Alliance returns to Stormont with 17 seats as the third-largest party in the Assembly.
Today is a hugely important day for the people of Northern Ireland.— Alliance Party (@allianceparty) February 3, 2024
We want to see Northern Ireland built into a more successful, a fairer, more prosperous and shared society and we are willing to play our full part in making that happen, says @Naomi_Long. pic.twitter.com/H0Hr7XSNJo
Photo: Alliance Party / X