Northern Ireland Assembly

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.