Home > Post 16 > Snapshots of devolution

Snapshots of Devolution

Northern Ireland’s challenges did not end when it achieved Devolution.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement paved the way for Westminster to devolve powers to Northern Ireland. Although Direct Rule ended on 2 December 1999, devolved power was initially short-lived. The Assembly was suspended between February and May 2000 and again from October 2002 to May 2007. During these periods there was a return to Direct Rule. Parties continued negotiations to agree on decommissioning and other obstacles to the survival of the new institutions.

Political developments and the St Andrews Agreement led to the Assembly’s restoration in 2007. Westminster devolved Policing and Justice powers to the Assembly in April 2010, following the Hillsborough Agreement. Further agreements were required, including the Stormont House Agreement of December 2014 and Stormont House Agreement, Mark II, called 'Fresh Start',  in November 2015. These addressed issues which were still outstanding, including how to deal with the past, as well as concerns about how the Assembly was working and failure to agree on the issue of welfare reform.  

The Northern Ireland Assembly currently has 90 elected members from 18 constituencies. The power-sharing government - which must include unionist and nationalist parties - is known as the Executive Committee. Following the Stormont House Agreements and the 2016 election, the UUP and SDLP formed the first Official Opposition when they declined to take up their positions on the Executive Committee. The number of government departments was also reduced from 12 to nine. In the election of 2 March 2017, the size of the Assembly was reduced from 108 to 90 - five MLAs elected from each of the 18 constituencies, instead of six.

Try snapping photographs of the significant milestones from the early years of devolution. Can you peg them up in chronological order when you reach the dark room?