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The Work of an MLA

It’s a busy week for an MLA!

One of the major roles of an MLA is to work on new laws, or 'legislation'. MLAs debate proposals for new laws, called Bills in plenary meetings in the Assembly Chamber and vote on whether or not to pass them. The Speaker chairs these meetings. Plenary meetings take place on Mondays and Tuesdays in Parliament Buildings.

MLAs also work in small teams, called Committees, where they examine Bills in detail and ask experts and the public for their views. Committees might suggest changes, called 'amendments', to improve the Bills. Most committee meetings take place on a Wednesday or Thursday.

The largest parties in the Assembly choose MLAs to be Ministers in charge of the Northern Ireland's nine Government Departments. The Departments are responsible for making sure we have the public services we need, such as health care and education. The Ministers plus the First Minister and deputy First Minister form the Government of Northern Ireland, known as the 'Executive'. Another important part of an MLA’s role is to check the work of Ministers, to ensure that they are doing a good job. MLAs question Ministers about their decisions.

MLAs also have work to do in their own constituencies. It is their role to represent the people living there, by listening to their views and helping them to solve problems. Friday is known as 'constituency day', as there no meetings in Parliament Buildings and MLAs can spend the whole day in the constituency.

Have a go at these activities: