Northern Ireland news

Little evidence of Edwin Poots' backroom clear-out as four out of six DUP spads retained

Lee Reynolds is leaving his role as a Stormont adviser

ONLY two of the DUP's six Stormont special advisers are to be replaced when the party's new ministerial team takes over.

Arlene Foster loyalists Emma Little-Pengelly and Lee Reynolds will leave their posts alongside the first minister when, as expected, she resigns on Monday.

Philip Weir, currently one of Mrs Foster's three spads, is to remain as an adviser to First Minister-designate Paul Givan for the foreseeable.

Mrs Foster is expected to make her last statement as first minister to the assembly on Monday.

Peter Martin, spad to departing Education MInister Peter Weir, is also remaining in post as an aide to Michelle McIlveen, as is former East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross, who is an adviser to Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

The retention of Mr Martin and Mr Ross has surprised a number of observers as both are considered loyal to Mrs Foster and likely supporters of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's leadership bid.

It also raises questions about how extensive the Poots' leadership's clear-out of DUP backroom staff will be.

Following the Lagan Valley MLA's victory in the leadership contest last month, former health minister Jim Wells told The Irish News he expected a "clean sweep" of the party's entire executive team, alongside “fundamental root and branch reform”.

One source told The Irish News that a number of those spads who are remaining in place were doing so because “they (the new ministers) are having difficulties getting the people they want.”

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