Sammy's farewell note

Published Tuesday, 30 July 2013
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In 2010, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne famously left a note for his coalition successor David Laws telling him he was "afraid there is no money" ...

Sammy Wilson told the press he left a note on his desk for his successor Simon Hamilton reading: "Simon, there is plenty of money, but you are going to have to look very hard for it."

It is something Mr Wilson managed to do very well as finance minister.

He has hectored and harangued his Executive colleagues quite successfully into managing their finances during his four-year tenure.

He took on the portfolio in 2009, steering his Department and the Assembly through one of the worst periods of public sector cuts in recent history.

His performance has been widely praised.

Yesterday, party leader Peter Robinson paid tribute to his colleague as he announced he was replacing him with Simon Hamilton.

It was a move that has been on the cards since 2011.

At that time, the DUP leader also said he would reshuffle Health - replacing Edwin Poots with South Down MLA Jim Wells.

In the intervening two-year period, Mr Hamilton has served as Mr Wilson's Private Secretary.

He says he will be drawing on the experience he has gained watching Mr Wilson at work.

At 36, Mr Hamilton will be one of the youngest members of the Executive.

The Strangford MLA has been a member of the Assembly since 2007.

The father of two from Comber is a Queen's University graduate and has steadily risen up the ranks of the DUP.

As well as managing the Executive's purse strings through the choppy waters of our economy, Mr Hamilton faces a quite a few difficult challenges.

They include the ongoing battle for devolved corporation tax powers and the fall-out from welfare reform.

Mr Hamilton insists he will not try to emulate Mr Wilson's style - and, in truth, it's hard to see how he could.

While Mr Hamilton's future is settled, that's not the case for his mentor.

Sammy Wilson has until 2015 to decide where he sees his political destiny.

Under the changes to the double jobbing rules, he must decide then whether he wants to stay in the Assembly or Westminster.

Until then he faces the relative freedom of being a DUP backbencher - a role he clearly believes he's going to enjoy.

He says he has yet to make his mind up - but for a man who likes to get his hands dirty, the Assembly may hold more appeal than the bright lights of London, especially as Peter Robinson was hinting strongly yesterday if he does intend to stay in local politics he would be a strong contender for a future ministerial role.

The DUP leader also said more change may be on the way.

The health reshuffle is not happening anytime soon.

A delay Mr Robinson explained by saying he had always intended to do it midway through the Assembly, but since the term has been increased by a year, the halfway point is not until the end of this year.

He also suggested there may be changes in more than one department - the New Year may bring new faces.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Bob wilson in Lisburn wrote (549 days ago):
Tracey "His performance has been widely praised." By whom you only mention Peter Robinson!! Suggest you have look at any one of a number of NI Audit Office Report that slate the performance of his Dept. Truth is his performance is like the rest of the Executive - they ducked every tough decision they are faced with.
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Tracey Magee
Tracey Magee

Tracey Magee has worked for UTV since 1997. She began her career in journalism the Mid Ulster Mail in Cookstown before moving to Belfast City Beat and then on to UTV. During her career she has worked for the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Life and Downtown.

At UTV she has worked on numerous high profile stories including the Drumcree stand-off, the Holy Cross dispute and the Queen's visit to Dublin. She was recently promoted to Political Correspondent.

Her hobbies include shopping, shopping and shopping.

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