Ballymena men take senior assembly roles

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Ballymena men have landed two of the most important chairmanships at Stormont after the latest round of assembly appointments.

Robin Swann, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Chief Whip, has been appointed as chair of the Public Accounts Committee, a role which he says will make him ‘a guardian of the public purse in terms of assembly spending. Paul Frew, the DUP MLA for North Antrim has been appointed to the high profile role of Justice Committee chairman.

Speaking about his new role, Mr Swann said: “It will be a challenging role ensuring the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition spends public money wisely for the benefit of all Northern Ireland constituents. In this respect, I will be guarding the public purse very carefully in these time of austerity.”

Paul Frew will take up one of the most significant posts outside of the executive with the committee scrutinising the performance of new Justice Minister, independent MLA Claire Sugden from East Londonderry.

Many political insiders will view the appointment as a significant career step for Mr. Frew who enjoyed poll topping success in the recent elections.

Frew made significant changes to legislation while sitting on the previous committe with his greatest success being the introduction of the Child Protection Disclosure Scheme whereby parents or guardians can apply in a police station for information on someone’s past convictions if they are acting suspiciously around their child . This is very similar to Sarah’s Law in England & Wales .

The MLA has also brought in tougher sentencing for assaulting ambulance workers and helped reform Gun legislation and regulations to make it more streamlined.

Speaking shortly after receiving the post he said: “I look forward to the role and the part I will play in shaping the Justice system in Northern Ireland. My job ofcourse is to scrutinise the Minister of Justice and Department and i will do that to the best of my ability but the committee is also there to assist and advise the Minister and Department. I will do that also in equal measure.”