History made as two gay men appointed to Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly

Andrew Muir has been appointed as Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and John Kenneth Blair will serve as Deputy Speaker in the Assembly.

Side by side photos of gay Northern Ireland leaders Andrew Muir and John Blair.

Northern Ireland is celebrating two historic firsts as Andrew Muir has been appointed the first out gay Minister in the Executive Committee and John Kenneth Blair has become the first gay Deputy Speaker in the Assembly.

Muir will head up the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and Blair will work alongside Sinn Féin Speaker Carál Ní Chuilín and Ulster Unionist Party Speaker Steve Aiken OBE.

Andrew Muir is an Alliance Party Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Down. Regarding his new role as the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Muir told Farming Life that he plans to implement new climate policies to respond to environmental challenges.

He said, “It is a privilege to take on this responsibility and I look forward to working with partners and stakeholders as well as the wider community as we together join in the goal of safeguarding our environment, addressing climate change and ensuring our economy can grow sustainably.”

Muir added, “I intend to listen to, engage and strive to work with stakeholders and partners in every part of Northern Ireland including North / South and East and West. Together, we can achieve a lot.”


John Kenneth Blair has been a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) since 2018 when he became the Alliance Party’s first openly gay assembly member. In that role, he supported mental health campaigns and Hate Crime reporting initiatives.

As the newly elected Deputy Speaker, he will maintain and develop links with outside legislatures and host events to connect with the wider Northern Ireland community. He has previously pledged to tackle the climate crisis and implement key environmental strategies.


The Rainbow Project, an organisation that promotes LGBTQ+ health and wellbeing in Northern Ireland, welcomed the news on X.


The group additionally called on those in power to focus on legislation related to, “rising hate crime, LGBTQIA+ inclusive education, banning conversion practices, improving healthcare and finally implementing the LGBTQIA+ strategy.”

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