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|Formed||June 1921 (as Ministry of Commerce)|
|Headquarters||Netherleigh, Massey Avenue, Belfast, BT4 2JP|
|Employees||582 (September 2011)|
|Annual budget||£207.1 million (current) & £68.7 million (capital) for 2011–12|
The Department for the Economy (DfE, Irish: An Roinn Geilleagair) is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for the Economy.
DfE was renamed in 2016; it was previously called the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
DfE's overall aim is to "promote the development of a globally competitive economy." Its stated objective is to "encourage the development of a high value added, innovative, enterprising and competitive economy, leading to greater wealth creation and job opportunities for all."
The position was vacant until the 11th January 2020.
The department is responsible for the following policy areas:
- company registration (prior to commencement of the Companies Act 2006 on 1 October 2009)
- consumer affairs
- economic policy development
- health and safety at work
- mineral development
- the foreshore, sea bed and subsoil and their natural resources
- postal services
- import and export controls, external trade
- national minimum wage
- financial services
- financial markets
- intellectual property
- units of measurement
- telecommunications and internet services
- consumer safety in relation to goods
DfE's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:
- the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS);
- the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC);
- the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (on tourism).
In the Irish Government, its main counterparts are:
- the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation;
- the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources;
- the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport;
DfE has four agencies, established as non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), to assist in strategy implementation:
- Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI), which supports business growth and inward investment, promotes innovation, research and development and in-company training, encourages exports and supports local economic development and company start up;
- the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), which is responsible for the development, promotion and marketing of Northern Ireland as a tourist destination;
- the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), which is responsible for health, safety and welfare at work; and
- the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (GCCNI), which is responsible for promoting and safeguarding the interests of consumers and campaigning for the best possible standards of service and protection.
A Ministry of Commerce was established at the foundation of Northern Ireland in June 1921, and was subsequently known as the Department of Commerce and Department of Economic Development under direct rule (introduced in March 1972). An economic ministry was also included in the Northern Ireland Executive briefly established in 1974.
The Department of Economic Development also incorporated elements of training and employment policy, now held by the Department for Employment and Learning.
Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Department of Economic Development was renamed as the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and granted a reduced remit. DETI was therefore one of the six direct rule Northern Ireland departments that continued in existence after devolution in December 1999, following the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
A devolved minister took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:
- between 12 February 2000 and 30 May 2000;
- on 11 August 2001;
- on 22 September 2001;
- between 15 October 2002 and 8 May 2007.
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption. The Independent Review of Economic Policy, which reported in September 2009, recommended a single economic policy department within the Northern Ireland Executive, which would merge DETI and at least part of the Department for Employment and Learning.
On 11 January 2012, the First Minister and deputy First Minister, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness announced their intentions to abolish the Department for Employment and Learning. The department's functions would be "divided principally" between the Department of Education and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment "in an agreed manner". The proposal was resisted by the Alliance Party, which viewed it as "power grab" by the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, but was approved on 18 January 2012. No timescale for the abolition was outlined and the department remained in operation, as of late March 2012.
DETI was heavily criticised by the Northern Ireland Audit Office for its mismanagement of a broadband scheme starting in 2004 and carried out by Bytel Networks, which saw Bytel receive over a million euros in a European Union grant for equipment that was never used. DETI subsequently sued Bytel in an attempt to reclaim more than four million euros.
In 2016, the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal came to light which was a botched scheme that was run by DETI, now Department for the Economy. The minister in charge at the time, Arlene Foster, faced pressure to resign as the scheme cost the NI Executive £400m over 20 years.
Ministers for the Economy
|Minister||Image||Party||Took office||Left office|
|Sir Reg Empey||UUP||2 December 1999||11 February 2000|
|Sir Reg Empey||UUP||30 May 2000||14 October 2002|
|Nigel Dodds||DUP||8 May 2007||9 June 2008|
|Arlene Foster||DUP||9 June 2008||11 May 2015|
|Jonathan Bell||DUP||11 May 2015||6 May 2016[note 1]|
|Office renamed Minister for the Economy|
|Simon Hamilton||DUP||26 May 2016||26 January 2017|
|Diane Dodds||DUP||11 January 2020|
Direct rule ministers
During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:
- Adam Ingram (2000)
- Ian Pearson (2002–04)
- Barry Gardiner (2004–05)
- Angela Smith (2005–06)
- Maria Eagle (2006–07)
- "Northern Ireland Quarterly Employment Survey Historical Data". Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Annual Report 2003" (PDF) (in Irish). North/South Ministerial Council. Retrieved 3 March 2009. (page 29)
- Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 57
- "Stormont crisis: Deadline passes for future of executive". BBC News. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- http://www.detini.gov.uk DETI
- Companies Act 2006
- Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 3
- Northern Ireland Act 1998, Schedule 2
- BIS: About BIS
- "DECC: About us". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- DCMS: About us
- Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: About the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources: Energy
- Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: About Us Archived 17 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007
- "Independent Review of Economic Policy". Independent Review of Economic Policy (Northern Ireland). Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Justice 2012 – Stormont Castle proposals". Northern Ireland Executive. 11 January 2012. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Ford says cutting Department for Employment and Learning could damage economy". Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Justice 2012 – The Way Forward". Northern Ireland Executive. 18 January 2012. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "NI Audit Office finds 'major failings' in handling of Bytel Project". BBC News. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001
- Resigned on 10 September 2015, re-entered office on 16 Sept. till 17 Sept., then on the 23 Sept.-24 Sept, then 28 Sept.-29 Sept., then 30 Sept.-1 Oct. 2015. Following the 20 October he permanently occupies the office