Northern Ireland news

Arlene Foster appoints former Belfast councillor Lee Reynolds as third special adviser

Lee Reynolds is a former Belfast councillor

FIRST minister Arlene Foster has appointed a former Belfast councillor as a special adviser (Spad).

Lee Reynolds, who was most recently the DUP's director of policy, joins Philip Weir and former DUP MP Emma Pengelly in the Executive Office.

Originally from Coleraine, he has worked for the party for around 10 years and was the director of the Northern Ireland Leave campaign in Brexit.

A former DUP group leader on Belfast City Council, he replaces Kim Ashton in the new role.

His appointment comes just days after Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill selected former journalist and public relations worker Michelle Canning as a new Sinn Féin special adviser.

Ms Canning is the former head of communications at the Housing Executive and previously worked in newspapers and at BBC Radio Foyle.

She is also a co-founder of 'Women in PR' and has a keen interest in addressing gender imbalance, according to her profile page on the recruitment site LinkedIn.

It means Sinn Féin now has four special advisers in the Executive Office, while the DUP has three.

Eight Spads can be appointed to the joint office - four on First Minister Arlene Foster's side and four with Ms O'Neill.

Both parties had voluntarily appointed just three each when devolved government was restored earlier this year, although one DUP adviser later resigned.

Spads are political appointees paid from the public purse who give advice to executive ministers.

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