Executive Office briefing note on the creation of the post of Executive Press Secretary

Date published: 18 September 2016

Detailed below is an Executive Office briefing note on the creation of the post of Executive Press Secretary and the appointment of Mr David Gordon to that post.


1) This story can be summed up in one sentence: “Ministers use Ministerial powers to make Ministerial appointment."

2) The Executive Office has supplied the relevant Order to any media outlet that requested it and has provided media with details of the legislation under which the appointment was made since it was announced. To suggest there was any “secret” is stretching credibility to breaking point.

3) It is normal practice in politics in London and Dublin as well as other devolved governments for Ministers to select a certain number of people who provide them specialist political and communications advice.

4) If the above point is accepted, then this becomes solely about technical processes and procedures. Using rhetoric about “Stalin” or “North Korea” is not just hysterical but an insult to victims of oppression.

5) Assembly parties who, in government, had no hesitation in appointing their own specialist advisers are now, in opposition, expressing feigned outrage.

6) Parties criticising the right of Ministers to select their specialist advisers should be asked a simple question – have any of their Ministers (or MLAs) previously handpicked individuals for publicly-funded posts in departments, parties or MLA offices? 

7) Parties are also trying to muddy the waters with vague talk of Assembly or other outside scrutiny of Ministerial specialist appointments. That is nonsensical. Are they suggesting the Assembly would re-interview or veto Ministerial appointments or run their own aptitude tests?

8) The appointment of David Gordon is a political decision – that’s what Ministers do.

9) His job will involve politics – that’s what Governments are about.

10) While this manufactured storm runs its course, Executive Ministers are getting on with the job of Government, determined to pursue policies that make a real difference. In a few weeks, David Gordon will be at his new desk helping us in that task. It is extremely useful that he has been given an early insight into the vacuousness and double standards on Opposition benches.

Notes to editors: 

Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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