Northern Ireland Assembly
Formation and Structure
- The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
- It is a devolved legislature with power to legislate in a wide range of areas.
Responsibilities and Powers
- The Assembly has the power to pass primary legislation (known as Acts), and secondary legislation (including regulations and orders) in devolved areas.
- Devolved areas include health, education and agriculture, among others.
Operation and Decision Making
- The Assembly operates on principles of power-sharing, to ensure representation for both unionist and nationalist communities.
- Certain important decisions in the Assembly, known as “cross-community decisions”, require the support of a majority of both unionist and nationalist MLAs.
Challenges and Developments
- The Assembly has faced significant challenges, including multiple suspensions. The longest suspension period ran from 2002 to 2007 due to disagreements between parties.
- Despite these challenges, the Assembly has been significant in promoting local decision-making and power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is a key example of the decentralisation of government and legislative authority within the UK.