On 11 January, Naomi Long – leader of ALDE member the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland – was elected as the Minister of Justice in the new Northern Ireland Executive.
The leader of the party since 2016, Long was elected last May as the party’s first-ever MEP in the 2019 European elections, continuing the trend of electoral successes for the party which also increased its standing across Northern Ireland in the last recent local government elections and saw its Deputy leader Stephen Farry elected as an MP in the General Election in December.
Mrs Long was elected as Minister of Justice after an all-party agreement was reached that allowed the power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive to reform after nearly three years of impasse. To take up her role, she has been co-opted back into the Northern Ireland Assembly replacing Máire Hendron, who took over the East Belfast MLA seat last July when Long became an MEP.
“I am honoured to have the support of all sides of the House for the role which I am about to take up,” she said in her speech after her election.
She hopes to build upon the legacy of David Ford, who was the Alliance Party leader from 2001-2016 and served also as the Minister of Justice from 2010 until 2016.
“There will be very challenging days ahead, but I also believe there is reasons for optimism and for hope,” she summarised in an interview with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. “It is a critical time for Northern Ireland, it is a critical time for the Executive. It is also a challenging time in terms of justice. We have many issues to address, including our own Northern Ireland problems, around legacy, around para-militarism, but also we have the challenge of Brexit and how we continue to ensure Northern Ireland is not just shared society but a safe society.”
Watch Naomi Long describe her new role and priorities in more detail below.