Northern Ireland

Michelle McIlveen: Challenges faced by new agriculture minister

NI politics
Image caption The DUP was the only party to launch a specific agriculture mini-manifesto

The new Minister for Agriculture and Environment, Michelle McIveen, faces many challenges.

Ms McIlveen's new department is an amalgamation of the former agriculture and environment ministries.

One challenge will be to balance the executive's push for significant growth of the agri-food industry without compromising environmental protections.

The DUP was the only party to launch a specific agriculture mini-manifesto ahead of the assembly elections.

It was titled "A Friend of the Farmer and Natural Heritage".

Despite holding a ministry in the last executive, Ms McIveen is not a regular in the media.

Her low-key approach may, in part, be reflected in a line attributed to Margaret Thatcher which she retweeted recently.

In it Mrs Thatcher is quoted as saying: "If you want anything said, ask a man, if you want anything done, ask a woman".

First minister Arlene Foster suggested an advisory role for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to help farmers protect the environment, as well as its enforcement role.

The first minister has said in the past that while farmers acknowledge the need for regulation she felt there was "over regulation".

On the environment, Ms McIlveen will have to consider whether Northern Ireland is set to introduce its own climate change legislation.

Conservationists and her SDLP predecessor Mark H Durkan, have also called for the debate around an independent Environmental Protection Agency to be re-opened.