Dodds argues economy department 'will compare favourably to most'

Economy minister Diane Dodds. Picture: Mark Marlow
Gary McDonald Business Editor

WITH the likelihood that she'll be out of a job within days, economy minister Diane Dodds has insisted that the performance of her department "will compare favourably to most".

Although sources in the DUP are remaining tight-lipped as to who will assume the various ministerial roles in an imminent reshuffle, it is widely anticipated that former MEP Dodds will be asked to vacate her Netherleigh office.

She was outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster's first pick as minister in January 2020 at the restoration of the Executive after its three-year hiatus, with the economy portfolio being the only one at Stormont to have been the sole preserve of the DUP under all previous administrations.

But new party leader Edwin Poots seems certain to dispense with Ms Dodds, and among those touted as her possible successor is Mervyn Storey, who previous held the finance job at Stormont.

In a platform piece in Business Insight last week, economy committee chair Caoimhe Archibald described the performance of the Department for Economy under Ms Dodds as "lack lustre at best" and claimed it has "not led during the lockdown phase of the pandemic".

But responding to those claims in today's Irish News, the minister insists she was "first out of the blocks to deliver unprecedented levels of bespoke financial support schemes, protecting businesses and saving tens of thousands of jobs".

She accuses Dr Archibald of "using her own facts", and says that while the scale of the Covid emergency required a collective Executive response, she developed a series of policy documents and action plans "while others tried to shirk responsibility".

Ms Dodds writes: "Nobody can credibly argue that DfE has underperformed. Politics is politics. But when we reflect on how various departments responded to the pandemic, I'm very confident my department will compare favourably to most."

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