When apasses through all of the stages of the law-making process in the and receives , it becomes a law and is called an Act.
Ad Hoc Committees
Temporarythat are sometimes set up to look at specific issues, eg, that the wishes to consult the Assembly about.
The suspension of a meeting until the next time.
Debates held at the end of the plenary session, usually on a Tuesday, about a matter in a particular constituency. Thein charge of the relevant area of government is present for the debate. s do not vote on the motion and the Minister does not have to act on the issue. Adjournment debates are a useful way for MLAs to demonstrate that they are representing their well, by highlighting and pressing for action on an issue that concerns them.
The British and Irishs reached the Agreement, also called the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Agreement, on 10 April 1998. Most in Northern Ireland supported the Agreement. It was the culmination of a peace process that was designed to resolve the issues that had led to 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland. The Agreement was endorsed by 71 per cent of the in Northern Ireland. The and Executive Committee were established, together with ‘North–South’ and ‘East–West’ institutions. See , , , , and .
, or individual s can suggest changes, or amendments, to a . MLAs then debate the proposed amendments in the and vote on whether the Bill should be changed.
A political scientist and leading authority on consociationalism – power-sharing models of democracy for segmented societies
The room, in, where the meets to conduct its business in session
The body corporate of the, which ensures that the has the property, staff and services required to carry out its work. The chairs it and another five MLAs (from the main parties) are members.
A proposed new, as it passes through the stages of consideration by the . If the Assembly passes the Bill and it receives , it becomes an of the . Bills can be either Public or Private. Public Bills deal with matters of general public interest. Private Bills deal with matters that relate to individuals or companies. Almost all Bills are public and most are introduced by Ministers and are known as Executive Bills. Individual MLAs can also introduce Public Bills, known as Private Members’ Bills. A member can introduce a Public Bill on behalf of a Committee. These are Committee Bills.
A forum for exchanging information and discussing and developing policies for co-operation in matters of mutual interest, including drugs, the environment and transport. The Council was established under the
British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference
Established by theto replace similar bodies set up as part of the 1985 Anglo–Irish Agreement. Members of the British and Irish s meet to promote ‘East–West’ co-operation on matters of mutual interest. They are particularly concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters, for example criminal justice, security, prisons and policing. Northern Ireland attend meetings when the Conference discusses matters that concern Northern Ireland. The Conference does not discuss matters that have been devolved to the .
A financial statement that includes an estimate ofincome and planned expenditure. In Northern Ireland, it is the responsibility of the of Finance and Personnel.
Comprising the(Chair) and s from the main , this agrees on what business the will deal with in meetings in the Assembly Chamber.
Supports plenary meetings of the Assembly and advises the Speaker on Assembly business procedures. Members go the Business Office to ‘table’ motions for debate and questions for Ministers.
The most seniorin a . He/she ensures that elected representatives attend parliamentary sessions and vote according to party instructions.
A consultative body established under the. It comprises 60 representatives from the business, trade union, voluntary and other sectors of civic society. The appoint the chairperson of the Forum. It was not restored with other institutions in May 2007. Its role and structure are currently under review.
Permanent administrative staff who work for Ministers in Executive/Governmentand implement policies
People who organise business forsessions and and guide s on the rules and procedures of the Assembly
A type ofin which more than one political party shares the power to govern
Code of Conduct
A set of rules thats must adhere to. For example they must not use their positions to benefit any individual or group in return for payment or other gift, and they must declare any interests held outside the . See .
Groups of 11s appointed to carry out specific functions. The main types of committee in the Northern Ireland Assembly are , , and .
A part of the law-making process. After thehas debated the general principles of a at the Second , members vote on whether to take the Bill further. If the Assembly agrees, the Bill moves to the Committee Stage where Committees examine it in detail and report their findings to the Assembly.
Committees meeting together to consider an issue which is a Matter of Joint Concern.
A power-sharing model of, designed for countries or regions where there has been, or there is potential for, conflict. The Northern Ireland Model has a multi-party . It shares power between . It also shares the positions of between the nationalist and Unionist communities. Certain and decisions require .
A constituency is a geographical area (electoral district) of Northern Ireland. Each constituency elects fives to the and one Member of to Westminster. Northern Ireland has 18 constituencies. MLAs represent their constituents.
A special voting procedure that ensures the support of both Unionists and Nationalists. Certain decisions, including electing the
* including ‘others’, such as Alliance.
s oppose or support a motion by discussing it in the and then voting accordingly.
A system of government in which people choose representatives in free and fair elections. Theis accountable to the people and the people have the right to criticise it. There is freedom of speech and of the press.
Thehas 8 departments (plus the ) that are responsible for implementing laws and delivering public services. A from the leads each department and is responsible for its work.
Deputy First Minister
The deputy First Minister and thechair meetings of the together. Both have responsibility for the functions of the The largest party in the nominates the First Minister and the largest party in the other designation (Nationalist or Unionist) nominates the deputy First Minister.
After elections to the, every must sign the Roll of Membership and enter a designation of identity: either ‘Nationalist’, ‘Unionist’ or ‘Other’. This allows cross-community voting on decisions that require the support of both Unionists and Nationalists. See .
The transfer of certain powers from a central Government to a regional. This allows the regional government to make decisions at a local level. The UK at Westminster first devolved powers to the at midnight on 1 December 1999. It has also devolved power to the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament.
When Westminster governed Northern Ireland directly, through a Secretary of State assisted by several Ministers. Direct Rule began in March 1972. It continued, despite attempts to re-establish, until Westminster devolved power to the Northern Ireland in December 1999. When the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended, Westminster reinstated Direct Rule.
A system theuses to allocate ministerial positions and appoint committee Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons. This ensures that the Assembly allocates positions of power in proportion to the number of seats each party holds on the first day it meets after an election.
The official term for the adjournment of the, pending elections to a new Assembly
A recorded vote in the. When there is no clear result from a ‘voice vote’ or if s challenge the ’s decision, he/she may order a division. Members go to the on either side of the Chamber according to which way they want to vote: ‘ayes’ to the Speaker’s right and ‘noes’ to his/her left. See .
The corridors on either side of thewhere votes are counted during a
Those over 18 who are registered to vote.
An independent public body established under the. It aims to advance equality, promote equality of opportunity, encourage good relations (between different communities) and challenge discrimination.
Matters that have not been transferred to theand remain the responsibility of the UK . They are usually matters of national importance, for example foreign affairs, defence and taxation. See and .
The ‘Cabinet’ or ‘’ of Northern Ireland. The appoints it. It introduces new and oversees their implementation. It prioritises Government proposals and plans, producing a and a . The must agree both of these. The Executive Committee consists of the , the (assisted by two Junior Ministers) and 8 appointed to take responsibility for .
The power of government to lead in makingand initiating concerning the government of a country or region, and to carry out (execute) decisions including the implementation of laws.
The largest party in thenominates the First Minister. The First Minister and the together chair meetings of the and share responsibility for the functions of the
First Past the Post (FPTP)
The system used to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to the UK Parliament. Voters mark an X beside one candidate’s name. The candidate with the most votes wins the seat.
Fresh Start Agreement
Reached in November 2015, this agreement was necessary due to the failure to implement the welfare reform element of the Stormont House Agreement and unionist concern about the status of the IRA, which led to the withdrawal of UUP and DUP Ministers from the Executive. It was agreed that the legislation on welfare reform would be passed by the UK Parliament; a body would be set up to report on paramilitary activity; and the rest of the Stormont House Agreement should be implemented.
The elected representatives appointed as Ministers, who sit on theand are responsible for running Northern Ireland. On a UK level, Government refers to the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Westminster. Government with a small ‘g’ refers the different branches of government, including the Assembly (the law making body) and the Executive.
The February 2010 Agreement that led to the devolution of policing and justice powers to thein April 2010
Human Rights Commission
An independent statutory body established under the. It promotes awareness of the importance of human rights, reviews existing law and practice, and advises government on human rights.
Investigations, carried out by Assembly, into problems or issues of concern to the people of Northern Ireland. Committees report their findings to the Assembly and make recommendations to Ministers on how to make progress on these issues .
Set up to deal with a matter of concern to two or more committees. Committees can also sit concurrently to consider such issues.
s who assist departmental . There are two Junior Ministers attached to the
Rules stating what can and cannot be done in a country. In Northern Ireland, themakes laws about . The UK at Westminster makes laws about and .The European Parliament also make laws which affect Northern Ireland, known as 'Directives'.
Law or a set of
A Law making body with the power to pass
An attempt, by an individual or group, to influence those in power to make decisions in their interest
The authority voters give to a party or a candidate to act on their behalf
The Northern Ireland Assembly is a Mandatory Coalition.(PR) election systems tend to produce governments/executives – with from more than one forming the government. Most coalition governments are formed by voluntary agreement between political parties. In the Northern Ireland system, membership of that coalition is not on the basis of voluntary agreement. It is determined by the mathematical formula, based on the number of seats a party wins in the election. The number of Ministers a party has in the depends on its from the . The word ‘mandatory’ can also mean ‘compulsory’. However parties do not have to go into the Executive, so the Executive Committee is not a compulsory coalition.
Matters of Joint Concern
Where a matter may be of concern to 2 or more committees, it may be dealt with in 3 ways: by agreement that one committee should take responsibility while seeking the views of other committees; by the committees sitting concurrently – together - to jointly consider evidence and produce a report for the Assembly; or by the establishment of an adhoc Joint Committee, with members from the relevant Committees, which appoints its own chairperson and deputy chairperson.
Matters of the Day
An MLA may make a formal request to the Speaker for permission to make a statement to the Assembly on a matter of exceptional public interest and importance which affects the people of Northern Ireland and which has arisen since the Assembly was last adjourned. The request must usually be made before 9.30 am on the relevant sitting day.
A Member of the Assembly ()
One of 90s of the elected to the
The heads ofwho, together with the and , make up the . They are responsible for formulating in a particular area, for example agriculture, health or education. and their Departments are accountable to the in carrying out their Executive functions. The Assembly appoints Ministers using the formula, which is based on the number of seats held by the political parties represented in the . However the Minister for Justice was elected on a cross-community basis. See .
A set of rules that all www.northernireland.gov.ukmust follow while exercising their duties and responsibilities. The Code requires Ministers to adhere to a Pledge of Office, a Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Seven Principles of Public Life. For further details, go to
A statement made by ato the , usually to announce a new policy initiative. It may also be about a meeting or current issue.
Formal proposal or statement forin the , usually calling for action
Northern Ireland Act (1998)
The law the UK Parliament passed to allow the implementation of the Belfast/Good Friday. The ’s powers come from this law, the and the Act (2006).
Northern Ireland Assembly
The devolved government of Northern Ireland. It consists of 90 electeds. The Assembly was established following the signing of the Belfast, or Good Friday, . It has full legislative authority over (the power to make about local matters). The Assembly appoints an to carry out executive functions. See .
Northern Ireland Government
Theof Ministers in charge of , led by the and
Northern Ireland Office
A department of the UKthat serves the for Northern Ireland. Under , the Secretary of State and Ministers had responsibility for Government in Northern Ireland. Now, with powers devolved to the Northern Ireland , the Secretary of State retains responsibility for and .
North–South Implementation Bodies
Six North–South Implementation Bodies were established by the. They implement policies agreed by in the and develop cross-border co-operation on practical matters of mutual concern. The six bodies are:
- Waterways Ireland;
- The Food Safety Promotion Board;
- The Special EU Programmes Body;
- The Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission; and
- The Language Body, composed of Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch.
North–South Ministerial Council (NSMC)
A forum, established by the, for from the Northern Ireland and the Irish Government to co-operate on an all-Ireland basis. They consult on matters of mutual interest, for example agriculture and transport. The six bodies are: , headed by the . It has a wide range of responsibilities including economic policy, , international relations, children and young people, and the Civic Forum. It also has overall responsibility for the .
A person who works for aor is involved in public administration
Since May 2016, parties which are entitled, under d’Hondt, to a Minister or Ministers on the Executive Committee may choose to opt out and form an Official Opposition. The Official Opposition is entitled to research and financial assistance, extra speaking and questioning rights in plenary meetings, and the right to determine Assembly business on 10 plenary days per year. Other, smaller parties not in the Executive Committee perform an ‘unofficial opposition’ role.
Official Report (Hansard)
The official record of what members say in theeach day and of all the decisions the Assembly makes. It also records written answers to Assembly questions and reports on specific meetings. It is also known as , after Thomas Hansard who began publishing a daily record of proceedings in the House of Commons in the early 19th Century.
Oral Questions/Questions for Oral Answer
Questionss ask that require an oral answer during Assembly
A publication that lists the order of business (agenda forof the
Orders in Council
Under, most legislation for Northern Ireland went through Westminster as Orders in Council. This is a form of in the UK context, but in Northern Ireland it was equivalent to .
The UK Parliament at Westminster. Northern Ireland elects 18 Members of Parliament (MPs). The UK Parliament legislates for Northern Ireland in respect ofand .
The home of the, on the Stormont Estate on the outskirts of Belfast. It was originally built to house the Northern Ireland Parliament.
Petition of Concern
A notice signed by at least 30s and presented to the Speaker. It usually expresses concern about a motion before the Assembly. If the Speaker rules that the petition of concern should apply to a motion, the vote will require .
A meeting of thein the . These meetings are open to the public and usually held on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Point of Order
A matter concerning the rules of parliamentary procedure raised during consideration of a motion. In the Chamber, if afeels that another has broken the rules of the ‘House’, they can interrupt the debate by rising from their seat and saying: ‘Point of Order, Mister ’. The Member then explains why they think a rule has been broken. The Speaker must decide whether the MLA has a valid point and make a ruling if necessary.
Proposals for public services, such as education and healthcare.state their policies in their election manifestos. Government Departments and also develop and implement policies.
A group of people with similar views about how a country or region should be run. They try to get members elected so that they will have the power to influence decisions and.
A chairperson. The other UK devolved institutions – the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly – use this term, rather than Speaker.
Acts of the Northern Ireland(or the Westminster Parliament) that set out the framework of the law (parent legislation). , also known as Statutory Rules in Northern Ireland, contains the details. See .
Priority Written Question
A questions that amust answer within five working days of being asked
Private Member’s Bill
A Bill introduced by an individualwho is not an
Private Member’s Motion
A motion for, introduced by an individual . The decides what motions to put on the agenda for business.
Special rights granted to elected representatives. For example,s cannot be sued for libel if they say something in the Chamber that may damage the reputation of a person or company.
Programme for Government (PfG)
An outline of the’s priorities and plan of action, incorporating the . The must pass the Programme for Government and Budget. A vote on the Budget requires .
How the Assembly conducts its business
An electoral system (there are several types) where the number of seats won corresponds closely with the proportion of total votes cast for each party. For example, in a perfectly proportional system, a party that gains 30 percent of the votes in an election will win 30 percent of the seats. See.
A petition requesting action by government on a particular issue, signed by numerous members of the public. The Petition is presented to the Assembly by an MLA. In practice the Member will make some brief introductory remarks about the content of the petition and the number of signatories before formally presenting it to the Speaker. The Speaker then arranges for the petition to be sent to the relevant Minister and copied to the Chairperson of the relevant statutory committee. The Minister will normally respond to Members or to the Speaker at some stage thereafter outlining what action is being taken on the issue.
Services provided by government for the general public, for example hospitals, schools, road and water services
See, , and .
Questions for Urgent Oral Answer
Questions submitted bys at short notice. They must be, in the opinion of the , of an urgent and important nature. must be given at least four hours’ notice before they have to answer. These questions are normally asked immediately after .
The time set aside each week (usually 2.00 to 3.30pm on Mondays and Tuesdays) fors to question about their ’ work. The questions asked in the are known as . They are submitted by MLAs and then randomly selected by computer. Questions selected but not answered orally, during the time allowed, receive a written answer from the Minister. See .
When a government asks theto vote yes or no on a single political question
Referrals for Executive Review
A procedure the Assembly uses to refer a Ministerial decision to thefor consideration. At least 30 Members must petition the Assembly, expressing concern that the decision contravenes the or is a matter of public importance that needs to be considered by the Executive as a whole. The and , acting jointly, can also determine whether the Executive Committee (rather than an individual ) should deal with a significant or controversial matter.
Register of Members’ Interests
s must declare any interests held outside the (for example jobs, consultancy work, gifts or membership of organisations) that might affect their behaviour in the Assembly. See .
This refers to representative, when people vote to elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf. For example, the people of Northern Ireland are represented by s in the , Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK Parliament's House of Commons at Westminster and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the European Parliament.
Matters concerning Northern Ireland that the UK Parliament still has the power to make laws about. The UK Parliament may transfer responsibility for these matters (for example postal services and the minimum wage) to thein the future. Policing and justice powers were reserved matters before Westminster transferred them in April 2010. Bills can only refer to reserved matters with the Secretary of State’s consent. See and .
The last stage of the legislative process. When the Assembly has passed a, it must receive the approval of the Monarch (Royal Assent) before it becomes (an of the Northern Ireland Assembly).
How theholds and their departments to account by monitoring and scrutinising their work
Secretary of State
A seniorof the UK in charge of the . He/she represents Northern Ireland’s interests in the UK Cabinet and is responsible for and .
Single Transferable Vote
The proportional voting system used to elects to the . In a multi-member the voters rank candidates in order of preference, with one being their first choice, two their second etc. A candidate is elected once his or her votes reach a set quota (target). The candidate’s votes are then redistributed according to voters’ second preferences. A formula is used to reduce the value of each vote transferred. If there are still unfilled seats, candidates with the least number of votes are eliminated. Their votes are transferred to second preference candidates. The process continues until all five seats are filled. This system allows voters to choose between candidates from the same party, as well as between those from different parties. See .
Another term for ameeting in the
An election which is called earlier than expected. Following the resignation of Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister on 9 January 2017 and Sinn Féin’s refusal to re-nominate within a week, the Secretary of State called for an election to take place on 2 March 2017, only 10 months after the May 2016 election. The next election had not been due to take place until May 2021.
The Presiding Officer of the. The elects the Speaker on a cross-community basis, to preside over (chair) plenary meetings of the Assembly. The Speaker makes sure that the rules governing how the Assembly operates are followed at all times. The Speaker determines whether s are within the legislative competence of the Assembly (deal with and comply with human rights and equality legislation). He/she chairs the Business Committee, which schedules plenary business and recommends membership of . He/she also has a role in selecting questions and deciding whether to allow . The Speaker usually maintains a politically neutral stance and does not vote on any matter in the . See .
MLAs present a proposal forto the Assembly in the form of a . It must pass through several stages of scrutiny before the Assembly can pass it as an and it can become law.
St Andrews Agreement
An agreement, reached on 13 October 2006, between the British and Irish Governments andin Northern Ireland. It led to the establishment of the , to prepare for the restoration of the , which had been suspended since 14 October 2002. After the 7 March 2007 , devolved powers were restored on 8 May 2007. See .
Permanentof the Assembly. There are currently six Standing Committees. They are mostly concerned with running the , for example the Business Committee arranges business and the Committee on Procedures reviews . The Audit Committee and the Public Accounts Committee assist the Assembly in scrutinising the spending of Government Departments and their agencies.
The rules, agreed bys, governing how the operates. The Committee on Pro .
There are currently 9 Statutory. Each Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultative role in relation to its corresponding Department. They may initiate . There are 11 s on each Committee. Membership broadly reflects the strength of parties in the . Chairs and Deputy Chairs are appointed using the system.
Stormont House Agreement
Reached on 23 December 2014 to resolve disagreements over welfare reform, flags, parades and dealing with the past. There would be: extra money from the UK government (£500m) to ease the impact of welfare reform; action to deal with the past; devolution of corporation tax and parades; provisions for an Official Opposition; new measures to promote greater Executive efficiency; reduction in number of government departments from 12 to 9, post the 2016 election, and in the number of MLAs from 108 to 90 in the following election; a review of the Petition of Concern; agreement on a draft Programme for Government within 2 weeks of the first meeting of the Assembly after an election (instead of 1 week); a new commission to consider flags, identity, culture and tradition; endorsement by the UK and Irish governments of the need for respect for linguistic diversity. The agreement on welfare reform later broke down and a further agreement was required. See Fresh Start Agreement.
The detailed rules and procedures of law amakes under powers deriving from a ‘parent’ ( , which outlines the framework of the law). In the Westminster Parliament, these detailed rules are commonly known as Statutory Instruments. In Northern Ireland they are called Statutory Rules. Amending subordinate legislation, for example for annual fee changes or road closure for a period of maintenance, allows the Assembly to make changes in the law quickly and avoids the elaborate procedures involved in .
Additional questions thats ask a at . They are based on an original, published question. Ministers do not know in advance what the supplementary questions will be. They will be well briefed by departmental officials on the original question so they can answer supplementary questions on any related topic. The supplementary question must relate to the original question.
This refers to the suspension of– the removal of transferred/devolved powers from the and the restoration of . Since power was devolved to Northern Ireland in 1999, the Assembly has been suspended four times. During suspension the assumes responsibility for directing the Northern Ireland . See .
Questions to Ministers on topical (current) issues, asked for 15 minutes at the end of the traditional 30 minute Question Time. Ministers are advised 3 days in advance of the names of MLAs asking Questions, but not the questions. Topical questions can be about any constituency or regional matter within the Minister’s area of responsibility. No supplementary questions are allowed during Topical Question Time.
Matters that thehas been given the power, under , to make decisions/laws on. These are also known as devolved matters. See and .
An interim assembly, established by theAct (2006) to prepare for restoration of the . The Transitional Assembly first met on 24 November 2006 and ceased to exist on 8 May 2007.
Comprises parties in the Assembly which do not have enough MLAs to qualify them for membership of the Executive Committee under d’Hondt and independent MLAs.
The power to stop an action or overturn a decision. In the system of government established by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, one side of the community can prevent a decision or law being made that it does not support. The requirement forin certain decisions is, in effect, a veto.
How themakes decisions and passes laws. s vote by saying ‘Aye’or ‘No’. Then, the decides whether the is carried (passed). If the result is unclear, or MLAs challenge the Speaker’s decision, the Speaker may call for a .
s in each party who are responsible for keeping party members informed about business. They also make sure MLAs attend the Chamber, especially when there is a vote. Whips try to ensure that MLAs vote in line with their party’s policies. Most parties appoint a .
Questions toabout the work of their that do not require an oral answer in the . s submit questions almost two weeks in advance. Ministers give written replies that are then published weekly in the Written Answers Booklet.