Department for Communities

The Department for Communities is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for Communities. The department was previously created in May 2016 following the Fresh Start Agreement and the dissolution of several departments, such as the Department for Social Development, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department for Employment and Learning from which several functions have amalgamated.

Department for Communities
Department for Communities logo.svg
Department overview
FormedMay 2016
Preceding agencies
  • Department for Social Development
  • Department for Employment and Learning
  • Department of the Environment
  • Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
JurisdictionNorthern Ireland
HeadquartersLighthouse Building, 1 Cromac Place, Gasworks Business Park, Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 2JB
Employees7,452 (September 2011)[1]
Annual budget£505.4 million (current) & £161.6 million (capital) for 2011–12[2]
Minister responsible


DfC's overall aim is "tackling disadvantage and building sustainable communities".[3]


The department's main responsibilities are as follows:

Northern Ireland has parity with Great Britain in three areas:

Policy in these areas is technically devolved but, in practice, follows policy set by Parliament to provide consistency across the United Kingdom.[4]

The department is also responsible for the following public bodies:

It also oversees the Office of the Social Fund Commissioner.

DfC's main counterparts in the United Kingdom Government are:

In the Irish Government, its main counterparts are:


Housing policy in Northern Ireland was originally a responsibility of local government and the Ministry of Home Affairs, which (similarly to the Home Office) retained responsibility for policy areas not delegated to other ministries.

A separate Ministry of Health and Local Government was established in June 1944, as part of the welfare state. In January 1965, that department was divided between the Ministry of Development (including housing policy) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (including social security).

The two ministries were, respectively, renamed as the Department of the Environment and Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) under direct rule, introduced in March 1972. Health and social services and environment ministries were also included in the Northern Ireland Executive briefly established in 1974.

DfC mainly combined housing and social security policy from those departments. The initials DHSS are still used locally to describe benefits and benefit claimants.

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 process was known as devolution and was set up to return devolved legislative powers to Northern Ireland.

DfC (then DSD) was one of five new devolved Northern Ireland departments created in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

A devolved minister first 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:

Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption, however it was not operating in practice from 2017 to 2020.

Ministers for CommunitiesEdit

Minister Image Party Start End
Office established as Minister of Social Development
    Nigel Dodds   DUP 2 December 1999 11 February 2000
Office suspended
    Nigel Dodds   DUP 30 May 2000 27 July 2000
    Maurice Morrow   DUP 27 July 2000 24 October 2001[20]
    Nigel Dodds   DUP 24 October 2001 14 October 2002
Office suspended
    Margaret Ritchie   SDLP 8 May 2007 24 May 2010
    Alex Attwood   SDLP 24 May 2010 5 May 2011
    Nelson McCausland   DUP 16 May 2011 23 September 2014
    Mervyn Storey   DUP 23 September 2014 12 January 2016[note 1]
    Lord Morrow   DUP 12 January 2016 25 May 2016
Office renamed Minister of Communities
    Paul Givan   DUP 25 May 2016 26 January 2017
Office suspended
    Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin 11 January 2020 15 June 2020
    Carál Ní Chuilín   Sinn Féin 15 June 2020 Present

Direct rule ministersEdit

During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  3. ^ Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 99
  4. ^ Northern Ireland Act 1998, Part VIII, Social security, child support and pensions
  5. ^ "About". DWP. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Communities and Local Government: About us". Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Big Society". Cabinet Office. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  8. ^ "About us". DCMS. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Department of Social Protection: Overview". Archived from the original on 3 February 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  10. ^ {{cite web|url= of Housing, Local Government and Heritage: Who We Are | |date= |accessdate=15 November 2020}
  11. ^ "Department of Justice and Equality: Other Regulatory Functions". Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  12. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
  13. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
  14. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  15. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  16. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  17. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  18. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
  19. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007
  20. ^ Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001
  1. ^ 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

External linksEdit