Northern Ireland news

DUP leader Edwin Poots expected to reveal refreshed ministerial team today

DUP leader Edwin Poots (second from left), and Deputy Leader Paula Bradley (left)

PETER Weir will today attend the launch of a report on educational underachievement amid speculation his days in office are drawing to a close.

There have been suggestions that Mr Weir - an ally of Arlene Foster - and two of his DUP ministerial colleagues will lose out in an expected re-shuffle.

New party leader Edwin Poots is understood to be planning to unveil his own team for the Stormont executive as early as today.

If new ministers are appointed, Mrs Foster has warned that she will step down as first minister.

She was due to stay on until the end of June but said she could not remain with a new team over which she had no authority, adding "that would be wrong".

Mr Poots has indicated that he will break with DUP leadership tradition and not appoint himself as first minister, instead remaining in charge of agriculture.

Mervyn Storey and Paul Givan are among those who have been tipped as being considered for the first minister post.

However, Mr Storey is understood to have reservations about taking on the role.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds, Education Minister Peter Weir and junior minister Gordon Lyons are among those expected to be ousted.

Mr Storey, new DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley and Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen have been tipped to replace them.

North Antrim MLA Paul Frew has also been mooted as a possible minister.

Both Mr Storey and Ms McIlveen's names have been come up in conversations about possible successors to Mr Weir, both having served lengthy periods on the assembly education committee.

Mr Poots has insisted that he is not "pushing Arlene out" of the party.

"I'll reveal the ministerial line-up whenever I am ready to reveal my ministerial line-up, and that's after I have continued my consultation process with my colleagues," he added.

The DUP did not comment last night on Mr Poots' plans for the ministeral reshuffle.

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