In an earlier announcement today, DUP leader Edwin Potts said Paul Gevan, Lagan Valley MLA, would replace Arlene Foster as Northern Ireland’s new First Minister.
There has been speculation for several weeks that Jeevan, one of the party’s new chief lieutenants, will likely be asked to take on the role.
At the age of 39, he will be the youngest person to hold the position of Prime Minister.
It is understandable that he has some reservations about taking on the higher position, aware of the impact this had on his young family and believes it may have happened so early in his career.
Despite this, he has repeatedly made it clear that he will take on whatever role the new party leader has offered him.
He began his political career in Poots circles and Stormont offices as a part-time aide. He later served as a Special Adviser to the DUP Leader when he was Minister of Culture, Arts and Recreation and again in 2009 when he was Minister of the Environment.
In 2010, he began his career gathering when he was chosen in the Lagan Valley constituency to replace Jeffrey Donaldson.
Gevan was serving as chair of the Stormont Justice Committee prior to his nomination as Foster’s replacement.
He was a somewhat controversial figure and would likely be an unpopular choice among many nationalists.
In 2016, Gevan was criticized by leading members of Sinn Féin when he cut funding for a Líofa Gaeltacht scheme, as Minister of Communities, which allowed low-income people to go to Donegal Gaeltacht and learn Irish.
The email informing employees of the decision was signed “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” and led to Jeevan being described as “clueless” by Sinn Fein’s president, Jerry Adams.
Later, he made a detour, stating that he had identified funding for the scheme and claiming that his decision was not a political one. However, Sinn Féin described this funding cut as “the final straw” in the context of the power-sharing collapse of 2017.
Prior to this controversy, Jeevan had taken credit for his praise of the GAA. During a highly publicized visit to the GAA club in Lisburn when he was Minister of Sports in 2016, he expressed his support for the new Casement Park GAA project in West Belfast. He also praised GAA and “the value it brings to young people”.
Jeevan, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church, founded by Ian Paisley, had previously supported creationism. In 2008 he made a proposal calling on schools in Lisburn to teach alternatives to theory such as intelligent design.
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In February of this year, he introduced a private member’s bill seeking to change the law in Northern Ireland to ban abortions in cases of nonfatal disabilities.
Following the announcement from Poots today, Givan said he was “fortunate and humbled to have the opportunity to serve our people in the days ahead.”
“When I first entered politics I could not believe I would follow in the footsteps of Dr. Beasley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster. I am indebted to their service and sacrifice.
“The challenges are great as we emerge from Covid and seek to rebuild our community and public services, but our strength lies in our people and I have no doubts that we can overcome these challenges and build a better future for all of our people.”
If Sinn Féin does not block his appointment and there is a smooth transition of power, Givan is set to take over from Arlene Foster next Monday.
– With reports from the Palestinian Authority.
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