Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson - the Lisburn Councillor, MLA and MP for Lagan Valley - has taken over from Ian Junior as bag-carrier-in-chief for Dr Paisley. Many thought that with his roles as Chairman of the Assembly Review Committee (which was charged with drawing up a report on the arrangements for the possible devolution of policing and justice) and his role as a member of the Policing Board, Jeffrey was being prepared to take up the role of Minister for Policing and Justice. The fact that he has taken his new position seems to confirm that the DUP do not foresee policing and justice being devolved in the near future.
Some have noted that this promotion would make it difficult for Peter Robinson not to promote Donaldson when Mr Robinson comes into his political inheritance in the autumn (when Dr Paisley is expected to stand down). This, it is speculated, might enhance Donaldson prospects of becoming DUP leader some years down the line.
It is suggested that Mr Donaldson (45) might become leader after Mr Robinson who is sixty this year.
One should never overlook Nigel Dodds, however. Not only is he ten years younger than Robinson but he is believed to have more support amongst his fellow Free Presbyterians than Robinson.