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Northern Ireland
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX
T 028-9052 1137 E
The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as a result of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) in April 1998. The agreement was endorsed through a referendum held in May 1998 and subsequently given legal force through the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has full legislative and executive authority for all matters that are the responsibility of the government's Northern Ireland departments – known as transferred matters. Excepted and reserved matters are defined in schedules 2 and 3 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and remain the responsibility of UK parliament.
The first assembly election occurred on 25 June 1998 and the 108 members elected met for the first time on 1 July 1998.
On 29 November 1999 the assembly appointed ten ministers as well as the chairs and deputy chairs for the ten statutory departmental committees. Devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly occurred on 2 December 1999, following several delays concerned with Sinn Fein's inclusion in the executive while Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons were yet to be decommissioned.
Since the devolution of powers, the assembly has been suspended by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on four occasions. The first was between 11 February and 30 May 2000, with two 24-hour suspensions on 10 August and 22 September 2001 – all owing to a lack of progress in decommissioning. The final suspension took place on 14 October 2002 after unionists walked out of the executive following a police raid on Sinn Fein's office investigating alleged intelligence gathering.
The assembly was formally dissolved in April 2003 in anticipation of an election, which eventually took place on 26 November 2003. The results of the election changed the balance of power between the political parties, with an increase in the number of seats held by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein (SF), so that they became the largest parties. The assembly was restored to a state of suspension following the November election while political parties engaged in a review of the Belfast Agreement aimed at fully restoring the devolved institutions.
In July 2005 the leadership of the IRA formally ordered an end to its armed campaign; it authorised a representative to engage with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in order to verifiably put the arms beyond use. On 26 September 2005 General John de Chastelain, the chair of the commission, along with two independent church witnesses confirmed that the IRA's entire arsenal of weapons had been decommissioned.
Following the passing of the Northern Ireland Act 2006 the secretary of state created a non-legislative fixed-term assembly, whose membership consisted of the 108 members elected in the 2003 election. It first met on 15 May 2006 with the remit of making preparations for the restoration of devolved government; its discussions informed the next round of talks called by the British and Irish governments held at St Andrews. The St Andrews agreement of 13 October 2006 led to the establishment of the transitional assembly.
The Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 set out a timetable to restore devolution, and also set the date for the third election to the assembly as 7 March 2007. The DUP and SF again had the largest number of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) elected, and although the initial restoration deadline of 26 March was missed, the leaders of the DUP and SF (Revd Dr Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams respectively) took part in a historic meeting and made a joint commitment to establish an executive committee in the assembly to which devolved powers were restored on 8 May 2007.
Assembly elections took place on 5 May 2016 to elect the 108 members of the legislative assembly. On 9 January 2017 Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister in protest at the DUP's handling of a renewable heating incentive scheme. Under the joint protocols that govern the power-sharing agreement, if either the first minister or the deputy resigns and a replacement is not nominated by the relevant party within seven days, then a snap election must be called. The assembly was formerly dissolved at midnight on 25 January 2017 and the most recent assembly elections were held on 2 March 2017 to elect the 90 members of the legislative assembly. Under the Assembly Members (Reduction of Numbers) Act Northern Ireland 2016, the number of assembly members was reduced from 108 to 90 – five members to be elected by each constituency, rather than six – for the first assembly election to take place after the 2016 election.
Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are elected by the single transferable vote system from 18 constituencies – five per constituency. Under the single transferable vote system every voter has a single vote that can be transferred from one candidate to another. Voters number their candidates in order of preference. Where candidates reach their quota of votes and are elected, surplus votes are transferred to other candidates according to the next preference on each voter's ballot slip. The candidate in each round with the fewest votes is eliminated and their surplus votes are redistributed according to the voter's next preference. The process is repeated until the required number of members are elected.
First Minister/Deputy First Minister
Junior Minister
as at 2 March 2017
Agnew, Steven, Green, Down North
Aiken, Steve, OBE, UUP, Antrim South
Allen, Andy, UUP, Belfast East
Allister, Jim, TUV, Antrim North
Archibald, Caoimhe, SF, Londonderry East
Armstrong, Kellie, Alliance, Strangford
Bailey, Clare, Green, Belfast South
Barton, Rosemary, UUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Beattie, Doug, MC, UUP, Upper Bann
Beggs, Roy, UUP, Antrim East
Boylan, Cathal, SF, Newry and Armagh
Boyle, Michaela, SF, Tyrone West
Bradley, Maurice, DUP, Londonderry East
Bradley, Paula, DUP, Belfast North
Bradley, Sinéad, SDLP, Down South
Bradshaw, Paula, Alliance, Belfast South
Buchanan, Keith, DUP, Ulster Mid
Buchanan, Thomas, DUP, Tyrone West
Buckley, Jonathan, DUP, Upper Bann
Bunting, Joanne, DUP, Belfast East
Butler, Robbie, UUP, Lagan Valley
Cameron, Pam, DUP, Antrim South
Carroll, Gerry, PBP, Belfast West
Catney, Pat, SDLP, Lagan Valley
Chambers, Alan, UUP, Down North
Dallat, John, SDLP, Londonderry East
Dickson, Stewart, Alliance, Antrim East
Dillon, Linda, SF, Ulster Mid
Dolan, Jemma, SF, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Dunne, Gordon, DUP, Down North
Durkan, Mark, SDLP, Foyle
Easton, Alex, DUP, Down North
Eastwood, Colum, SDLP, Foyle
Ennis, Sinéad, SF, Down South
Farry, Dr Stephen, Alliance, Down North
Fearon, Megan, SF, Newry and Armagh
Flynn, Órlaithí, SF, Belfast West
Ford, David, Alliance, Antrim South
Foster, Arlene, DUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Frew, Paul, DUP, Antrim North
Gildernew, Michelle, SF, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Girvan, Paul, DUP, Antrim South
Givan, Paul, DUP, Lagan Valley
Hamilton, Simon, DUP, Strangford
Hanna, Claire, SDLP Belfast South
Hazzard, Chris, SF, Down South
Hilditch, David, DUP, Antrim East
Humphrey, William, DUP, Belfast North
Irwin, William, DUP, Newry and Armagh
Kearney, Declan, SF, Antrim South
Kelly, Dolores, SDLP, Upper Bann
Kelly, Gerry, SF, Belfast North
Lockhart, Carla, DUP, Upper Bann
Long, Naomi, Alliance, Belfast East
Lunn, Trevor, Alliance, Lagan Valley
Lynch, Seán, SF, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Lyons, Gordon, DUP, Antrim East
Lyttle, Chris, Alliance, Belfast East
McAleer, Declan, SF, Tyrone West
McCallion, Elisha, SF, Foyle
McCann, Fra, SF, Belfast West
McCartney, Raymond, SF, Foyle
McCrossan, Daniel, SDLP, Tyrone West
McElduff, Barry, SF, Tyrone West
McGlone, Patsy, SDLP, Ulster Mid
McGrath, Colin, SDLP, Down South
McGuigan, Philip, SF, Antrim North
McIlveen, Michelle, DUP, Strangford
McNulty, Justin, SDLP, Newry and Armagh
Mallon, Nichola, SDLP, Belfast North
Maskey, Alex, SF, Belfast West
Middleton, Gary, DUP, Foyle
Milne, Ian, SF, Ulster Mid
Murphy, Conor, SF, Newry and Armagh
Nesbitt, Mike, UUP, Strangford
Newton, Robin, DUP, Belfast East
Ní Chuilín, Carál, SF, Belfast North
O'Dowd, John, SF, Upper Bann
O'Neill, Michelle, SF, Ulster Mid
Ó Muilleoir, Máirtín, SF, Belfast South
Poots, Edwin, DUP, Lagan Valley
Robinson, George, DUP, Londonderry East
Sheehan, Pat, SF, Belfast West
Stalford, Christopher, DUP, Belfast South
Stewart, John, UUP, Antrim East
Storey, Mervyn, DUP, Antrim North
Sugden, Claire, Ind., Londonderry East
Swann, Robin, UUP, Antrim North
Weir, Peter, DUP, Down North
Wells, Jim, DUP, Down South
STATE OF THE PARTIES as at 2 March 2017
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
Sinn Fein (SF)
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (Alliance)
Green Party (Green)
People Before Profit Alliance (PBP)
Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV)
Independents (Ind.)


Devolved Government
The Northern Ireland Executive comprises the first minister, deputy first minister, two junior ministers and eight departmental ministers.
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Devolved Government
Election results for all 18 Northern Ireland constituencies for the election held on 2 March 2017.
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