Northern Ireland news

Robin Swann rated best executive minister - with DUP bottom of pile

Health Minister Robin Swann. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

ROBIN Swann's performance as a minister ranks head and shoulders above his executive colleagues, according to the latest survey.

The former Ulster Unionist leader was appointed health minister in January 2020, weeks before the arrival of Covid-19 led to the first lockdown.

His record during the pandemic has won the former North Antrim MLA many plaudits, including from political opponents, and today’s Institute of Irish Studies University of Liverpool/The Irish News opinion poll shows Mr Swann is also well regarded by the public, receiving a positive rating of 59.6 per cent.

The findings will make uncomfortable reading for the DUP, whose ministers all rank at the bottom of the pile.

Respondents were asked to rate the executive ministers' performance from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent), with the final figure based on the percentage who ranked each above 5.

Alliance leader and Justice Minister Naomi Long is rated second highest (46.1 per cent), followed by SDLP deputy leader and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon (42 per cent).

Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy and his party colleague Deirdre Hargey, who has the communities portfolio, rank fourth and fifth with ratings of 39.7 per cent and 33.4 per cent, respectively.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons, who oversaw the high street vouchers scheme, is the DUP’s highest regarded member of the executive, with a rating of 32.1 per cent, while his predecessor Diane Dodds, ousted last year when Edwin Poots assumed the leadership of the party, scored 30.6 per cent.

Former education minister Peter Weir’s performance rating of 31.2per cent ranks him marginally ahead of Agriculture and Environment Minister Edwin Poots, who scores 30.9 per cent.

Languishing at the bottom the table is Mr Weir’s successor Michelle McIlveen, who scored 29.4 per cent.

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