Diane Dodds was appointed as Minister for the Economy on 11 January 2020. Mrs Dodds was born into a farming family in Rathfriland, County Down where she attended Banbridge Academy before moving on to study at Queen's University, Belfast where she qualified as a teacher. She was previously elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly to represent Belfast West in 2003, serving until 2007. She was also elected to Belfast City Council in 2005, serving until 2010 and chairing the Policy and Resources Committee. In 2009 she was elected to the European Parliament to represent Northern Ireland. There she served as a member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee, and also on the Conference of Presidents, the business committee of the Parliament. She returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly in January 2020 to represent the Upper Bann constituency. The Minister has a wide range of responsibilities including economic policy, higher and further education, employment and skills programmes, enterprise, innovation, energy, telecoms, tourism, skills training, promoting good employment practice, consumer affairs, health and safety at work, Insolvency Service and economic statistics services.