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The Role of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

The Northern Ireland Assembly is made up of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. It is composed of 90 elected members who are the Members of the Legislative Assembly (or MLA's). The First Minister and Deputy First Minister lead the Assembly.

The role of the Northern Ireland Assembly is to represent its constituents within Northern Ireland.

The role of the Assembly is to discuss and debate issues and legislation and ensure cross-community power-sharing (between unionist and nationalist MLAs) is involved when decisions are being made and agreed. Most decisions of the Assembly are taken by a simple majority vote.

When the Assembly is involved in these discussions, it is chaired by a Speaker and three deputy speakers. The Speaker is responsible for chairing debates in the Assembly.

The role of the Assembly is to pass laws on 'transferred matters', that is, areas and matters which devolved governments have the power to make legislation on. The Northern Ireland Assembly has the power to pass legislation on: Health, Education, Agriculture, Environment, Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Social Services and Justice, Policing.

The role of the Assembly is also to scrutinise the work of ministers and government departments in the Northern Ireland Executive, which is made up of the First and Deputy First Minister, 2 junior ministers and 9 ministers who each run a government department.

Where is the Northern Ireland Assembly?

The Northern Ireland Assembly sits at Parliament Buildings in the Stormont Estate, in Belfast.

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