The Role of the Speaker

The Speaker is the Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Speaker’s most visible role is chairing plenary meetings in the Assembly Chamber. Outside the Chamber, the Speaker also chairs:

  • the Business Committee, which decides what business will be discussed in the Chamber; and
  • the Assembly Commission, which is responsible for ensuring that the Assembly has the accommodation, staff and services it needs to carry out its work.

After an Assembly election, the first task for MLAs is to choose a Speaker and the decision requires cross-community support. In carrying out this important role, the Speaker must be politically neutral. The Speaker does not take part or vote in debates, or become involved in party politics.