The Assembly & Executive

The Assembly and the Executive Committee activity link

What is the difference between the Assembly and the Executive?

The devolved government institutions of Northern Ireland are the Assembly and the Executive. They carry out different roles. The Assembly is the devolved legislature, which means it makes the laws for Northern Ireland. The Executive is the devolved Government of Northern Ireland, which runs Northern Ireland on a day to day basis. It provides our public services and implements laws passed by the Assembly.

The Assembly is made up of MLAs elected by the people to represent their views. The Assembly meets in the Assembly Chamber of Parliament Buildings in the grounds of the Stormont Estate in Belfast.

The Executive Committee is made up of Ministers, who are MLAs appointed by the Assembly to run the nine Government Departments. It is led by the First Minister and deputy First Minister. Ministers make decisions about the services that we all need, such as hospitals, schools, roads and public transport. They implement the laws passed by the Assembly. The Executive meets in Stormont Castle, close to Parliament Buildings.

Most proposals for new laws (Bills) come from Ministers and are known as 'Executive Bills'. They must pass through various stages of the Assembly's legislative process and the Assembly can change the Bill along the way.

As Ministers are appointed by the Assembly, the Assembly checks that they are doing a good job. This is called 'scrutiny', or holding Ministers to account.

Play the video to find out more about how the Assembly and Executive work together.

Please see below, current Ministers and their Departments:

  • The Executive Office - First Minister, Michelle O'Neill MLA, Sinn Féin (SF) and deputy First Minister, Emma Little-Pengelly MLA, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 
  • Department of Justice - Naomi Long MLA, Alliance Party (AP) (elected with cross-community support)
  • Department for the Economy - Conor Murphy MLA (SF)
  • Department of Education - Paul Givan MLA (DUP)
  • Department of Finance - Caoimhe Archibald MLA (SF)
  • Department for Communities - Gordon Lyons MLA (DUP)
  • Department of Health - Robin Swann MLA, Ulster Unionist Party 
  • Department for Infrastructure - John O'Dowd MLA (SF)
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - Andrew Muir MLA (AP)

Junior ministers appointed to the Executive Office are Aisling Reilly MLA SF) and Pam Cameron MLA (DUP).