Primary Glossary

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The Agreement

This is the shortened term for the Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement.  The British and Irish Governments worked with the politicians in Northern Ireland to agree a deal that set up the Northern Ireland Assembly and ended ’The Troubles’.

Ballot Paper

This is the piece of paper voters use to mark their choice of candidate in an election. It lists the names of the candidates. In elections to the Assembly, voters put numbers beside the names of candidates they would like to see elected. They put 1 for their first choice, 2 for second choice and so on.

Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement

This is why we have the Northern Ireland Assembly. The British and Irish Governments worked together with the politicians in Northern Ireland to come up with a deal that would work for everyone, ending ’The Troubles’.


A Bill is a proposal for a new law. All Bills about local issues, called transferred or devolved Matters, have to be passed by the Assembly before they become laws. Once passed, a Bill is called an Act.


These are people who are trying to get elected. At election time you will usually see posters with these people’s faces on them.


At election time, Northern Ireland is divided up into 18 areas called constituencies. Each constituency elects five MLAs. If you multiply 18 × 5, you get 90. This is the total number of MLAs.


This is when people vote to decide who they think would be the best people to run a country. Back in ancient Greek and Roman times, people used elections to decide leaders – but not all countries have elections today.

European Parliament

This is a group of people elected to make laws for the countries in the European Union. The word ‘parliament’ comes from the French word ‘parler’, which means ‘to speak’.

European Union

These countries work together on things like trade between countries.

Good Friday Agreement/Belfast Agreement

This is why we have the Northern Ireland Assembly. The British and Irish Governments worked together with the politicians in Northern Ireland to come up with a deal that would work for everyone, ending ‘the Troubles’.


The government is the people who control or make decisions for a country.


These are rules that governments make to protect people and help things to run smoothly in a country or region.

Local Councillors

These are people who are elected to work on local councils. They make decisions about things like leisure centres and bin collections.

Member of Parliament (MP)

Northern Ireland elects 18 Members of Parliament to work in the House of Commons in London. This is because the Government in London also makes decisions about Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. It decides things like the currency we use and the amount of tax we pay.

Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)

There are 90 politicians elected from all over Northern Ireland to become Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). Their job is to work for us and make laws and decisions that will mean Northern Ireland is a better place to live.


People who want Northern Ireland to join the Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland Assembly

This is made up of 90 MLAs who make laws for Northern Ireland. Its home is Parliament Buildings at Stormont Estate in Belfast.

Parliament Buildings

This is where the Northern Ireland Assembly meets, on the Stormont Estate in Belfast.

Political Parties

These are groups of people who get together because they share the same ideas about how a country should be run. Parties try to get people elected as MLAs. They do this by choosing candidates to stand in Assembly elections.

Power Sharing

This is a type of government that can be used after there has been conflict like ‘the Troubles’. It means that the two sides share power and make decisions together about how to run a country.


People who are elected represent us. That means they listen to our views and try to make decisions and laws that will be good for our community.

Single Transferable Vote

This is the method we use to elect MLAs. Voters choose candidates by ranking them in order of preference. They put 1 beside their favourite, 2 beside their second favourite and so on. The votes are counted. The five candidates in each constituency who reach a target number of votes are elected.

The Troubles

The period of violence in Northern Ireland that began in the late 1960s and ended with the Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

United Kingdom (UK)

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


People who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK)


To make a choice. For example, when you vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, you choose the person you want to represent you at the Assembly from a number of candidates.