Northern Ireland

Legislation to abolish DEL to be introduced 'by July'

Stephen Farry
Image caption DEL Minister Stephen Farry had criticised the decision to abolish his department

Legislation aimed at getting rid of NI's Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) will be introduced by July, it has been confirmed.

DEL is one of 12 government departments at Stormont and is responsible for job centres, unversities and colleges.

In January, the first and deputy first ministers revealed plans to abolish it.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinesss said they intend to lay the necessary legislation before the Assembly ahead of the summer recess in early July.

The details were revealed by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) in an assembly answer to a question from the UUP MLA Samuel Gardiner.

The DEL ministry is currently held by Alliance's Stephen Farry.

It it expected that DEL's functions will be divided between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and the Department of Education (DE).

The DETI post is held by the DUP's Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd controls the Education department.

In recent months, Alliance has repeatedly criticised the decision to abolish DEL and said the move was "driven by politics".

Mr Farry said DEL was picked because "it happened to be held by an Alliance minister".