Northern Ireland Assembly
What does it do?
The Northern Ireland Assembly represents the people of Northern
Ireland and has the power to make decisions and pass laws in the
- agriculture and rural development
- culture and the arts
- economic development
- education and training
- the environment
- health and social services
- industry, trade and investment
- local government
- sport and leisure
- town and country planning
- transport and roads
- water and flood defence
These are called transferred matters . Areas
such as policing and criminal justice are called reserved
matters. The UK Government currently makes decisions on
these matters, but can transfer responsibility to the Northern
Areas such as defence and taxation are excepted matters, which
means they remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament.
How is it made up?
There are 108 elected Members of the Legislative
Assembly (MLAs). Six MLAs represent each of the 18
constituencies in Northern Ireland.
The Assembly is led by the Executive which is
made up of the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and the
Executive Committee of Ministers. Each Assembly Minister is
responsible for a specific area of work. Ministers must answer
questions from MLAs about their policies and activities.
How is it elected?
When you vote in an election for the Northern Ireland Assembly
you will be given a ballot paper listing the candidates competing
for the six seats in your constituency.
On your ballot paper, you should put a ‘ 1 ' in
the box next to your first preference candidate, a ‘
2 ' next to your second preference, a ‘
3 ' next to your third preference and so on. You
can do this for all the people you want to vote for. You can vote
for as many or as few candidates as you like, but the influence of
your vote may be limited if you only vote for a few candidates.
The voting system used in Northern Ireland is called the
single transferable vote (STV) system. In the
first stage of counting the votes, first preference votes are
counted and a quota is calculated. The quota is the minimum number
of votes a candidate must have to be elected. Any candidate with a
number of first preference votes equal to or higher than the quota
If fewer than six candidates are elected, the
surplus votes are transferred to second preference
candidates. If there are still seats unfilled because six
candidates have not reached the quota, candidates with the lowest
number of votes are eliminated and their votes transferred to
second preference candidates. The process continues until all six
seats are filled.
So, if your first preference candidate does not get elected or
if they are elected with a large margin, your vote can still be
used to help elect your second preference candidate. Indeed, your
vote may be transferred a number of times as seats are filled and
may play a part in electing several or all of the six
Where can I find out more?
Northern Ireland Assembly