Northern Ireland

Emma Little-Pengelly appointed to DUP’s officer board

Emma Little-Pengelly has been appointed to the DUP’s officer board. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Emma Little-Pengelly has been appointed to the DUP’s officer board. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

EMMA Little-Pengelly has been appointed to the DUP’s officer board, which makes key decisions in the party.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson selected the Lagan Valley assembly member for the role, replacing Magherafelt councillor Paul McLean.

It comes amid speculation that Ms Little-Pengelly could become deputy first minister if the Executive is restored.

Regarded as an ally of Sir Jeffrey, her selection is seen as a significant move by the DUP leader to appoint another one of his supporters to the board.

Sir Jeffrey also renominated East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and Lord Nigel Dodds to the DUP’s officer board, while Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart was his fourth personal selection.

Gordon Lyons, MLA for East Antrim, has also been appointed to the 12-member board as director of elections.

A key ally of Sir Jeffrey, it is expected that Mr Lyons could be selected as Finance Minister if Stormont was to return.

Sir Jeffrey and DUP deputy leader Gavin Robinson were also among the members elected by the party executive last week.

Lord Morrow was returned as chairman and Edwin Poots as vice-chairman, while Gregory Campbell was re-elected as treasurer.

Michelle McIlveen is secretary and Diane Forsythe is the assistant secretary, with her elevation to the board regarded as significant given that she was only elected to Stormont last year.

She has been mooted as a possible contender for a committee chair if the Executive is restored.

The DUP has said it is not returning to Stormont in a continuing protest against post-Brexit trade agreements.