The Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is responsible for passing laws on transferred matters. Transferred matters are those which are now under the direct control of local ministers and the Assembly. They include health, education, agriculture and rural development, and policing and justice.
The organisation of the Assembly
The public elect 108 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). There are six MLAs elected to each of the 18 constituencies across Northern Ireland. The Assembly is chaired by a Speaker and three deputy Speakers. The Speaker is responsible for chairing debates in the Assembly, acting as its representative, chairing its Business Committee and the Assembly Commission, which is the Assembly’s corporate body.
The Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is made up of the First Minister, deputy First Minister, two Junior Ministers and eight departmental ministers.
Meetings of the Executive are jointly chaired by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, and can also be attended by junior ministers and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.
The Executive exercises executive authority on behalf of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It takes decisions on significant and controversial issues - matters which cut across the responsibility of two or more ministers, or which require a common Executive position, and on legislation proposed by ministers.
The Executive also agrees a Programme for Government and the Northern Ireland budget for approval by the Assembly. The First Minister and deputy First Minister are nominated by the largest and second largest political parties respectively and act as joint chairs of the Executive.