Northern Ireland...So what's the Assembly all about then?
The New Northern Ireland Assembly was established as part of the Belfast Agreement reached at the multi-party negotiations on Friday 10 April, now commonly referred to as the'Good Friday Agreement'. Under this Agreement, the Assembly was allowed to govern Northern Ireland and take over the responsibilities of the following Northern Ireland departments.
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Economic Development
- Department of Education
- Department of the Environment
- Department of Finance and Personnel
- Department of Health and Social Services
However issues such as defence etc. are still dealt with as part of the United Kingdom, so are decided at the parliament in Westminster. These are called Reserve Powers.
In a referendum in May 1998 a majority voted in favour of the agreement and the new Northern Ireland Assembly was made up.
108 members (MLA's) were elected to the Assembly in June 1998 by Proportional Representation (where the proportion of votes in the election represents the allocation of seats). These came from the major political parties within Northern Ireland, see the article on the NI political parties for more info.
After that it all gets a bit complicated with the Assembly being on/off at regular intervals whilst the politicians sorted out various teething troubles, but then;
The Assembly met on 29 November 1999 during which 10 Ministerswere nominated as well as the Chairpersons, Deputy Chairpersons and members for the 10 Departmental Committees
The necessary legislation was passed by Parliament and power was devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 2 December 1999.
For more info on devolution click here.
The above applies to the political process in the United Kingdom and follows the laws of the UK.
- The Pupiline Team