Northern Ireland Politics

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  • Created on: 27-05-13 12:25
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Northern Ireland Politics
The Good Friday Agreement
The `Belfast Agreement' or `Good Friday Agreement' was signed on 10 April 1998 by the British and
Irish Governments.
The majority of political parties in Northern Ireland supported the Agreement, which was the
culmination of a `peace process' designed to address the issues that had given rise to conflict in
Northern Ireland over the previous 30 years.
After the Agreement was endorsed by a majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland, the
Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive Committee were established, together with `North-South'
and `East West' institutions.
North/South Ministerial Council,
North/South Implementation Bodies,
British-Irish Council
British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference
The St Andrews Agreement
The St Andrews Agreement, reached on 13 October 2006, was an agreement between the British
and Irish Governments and political parties in Northern Ireland.
It led to the establishment of the Transitional Assembly, to prepare for the restoration of the
Northern Ireland Assembly (suspended since 14 October 2002).
After the election of 7 March 2007, devolved powers were restored on 8 May 2007.
The Democratic Unionist Party is the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland.
Founded by Ian Paisley in 1971 and currently led by Peter Robinson, it is currently the largest
party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fourth-largest party in the House of Commons
in the United Kingdom
The DUP has strong links to Protestant churches, particularly the Free Presbyterian Church of
Ulster, the church Paisley founded, and is considered a Protestant political party.
Following on from the St Andrews Agreement in October 2006, the DUP has agreed with
the Irish Republican party Sinn Féin to enter into power-sharing devolved government in
Northern Ireland.
In the aftermath of the agreement there were reports of divisions within the DUP. Many of its
leading members, including members of parliament (MPs) Nigel Dodds, David
Simpson and Gregory Campbell were claimed to be in opposition to Paisley. All the party's MPs
fully signed up to the manifesto for the 2007 Assembly elections, supporting power sharing in
principle. An overwhelming majority of the party executive voted in favour of restoring
devolution in a meeting in March 2007;
The DUP is the largest party in Northern Ireland, currently holding eight seats at Westminster
and 38 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
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Major issues to the DUP
Good Friday agreement - Anti-agreement (Belfast agreement) Think it is "fatally flawed"
and want a total re-negotiation. Still opposed to it but recast the agreement at St
Powersharing - "No negotiation with unreconstructed terrorists" to 2005. Are now in
government with SF since the IRA disbanded/decommissioned
Irish Dimension/ROI - No Irish dimension. NSMC met 63 times, BIC 10 times. DUP annoyed
at imbalance. Still oppose further cooperation between North and South. No Euro.
Anti-Europe.…read more

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In 2009 the party agreed to an electoral alliance with the Conservative Party and the two
parties fielded joint candidates for elections to the House of Commons and the European
Parliament under the banner of "Ulster Conservatives and Unionists ­ New Force"
The UUP on major issues
Good Friday agreement - Officially support it but there was an internal split (Donaldson
left etc.) Causing major divisions
Powersharing - Support it but are worried about SF.…read more

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Decommissioning- Want both IRA and Loyalists to decommission but recognise the
democratic will of the people and so are willing to powershare with SF.
Suspensions - Main problem for SDLP has been the extraordinary growth in support for SF
in all Catholic/Nationalist areas. Class differences.
Issues 2006-2010 - Opposed to 11 plus. Support the Victims Commission. Want an Irish
language Act. Still losing votes to SF. SDLP has a new leader Margaret Ritchie Jan
2010.They want the Justice job and opposed David Ford.…read more

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Sinn Féin won 178,224 votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2011 giving them
29 MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly, making them the second largest political party in
Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein on Major issues
Good Friday agreement - Support the GFA because it helps them in relation to powersharing
etc. They see it as a step towards united Ireland through peaceful political means.
Powersharing- Support and want a 32 county Ireland through "consent" and no longer
through violence.…read more

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It scrutinises the actions of Ministers and their Departments, including proposals for new
laws - Bills. The Assembly does this through its work in the Assembly Chamber and
in Committees.
Role of an MLA
1. Representation to represent his or her constituents, ask questions to ministers and Office
of the first minister/ Deputy first minster, write letters, hold surgeries in constituency, email and
phone complain about public bodies and lobbying.
2.…read more

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Minister (OFMdFM). The Committee for the OFMdFM co-ordinates the work of the Executive.
It is sometimes called the `Twelfth Department'.
The roles and responsibilities given to Statutory Committees under the Agreement and Northern
Ireland Act (1998) are deliberately extensive. This is because of the lack of formal
party opposition in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Currently, all of the main parties are in the Executive, or Northern Ireland Government. There
is no substantial party outside the Executive to hold the governing parties to account.…read more

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Making Legislation
The Northern Ireland Assembly is a devolved legislature. This means it has the power to make laws,
or legislate, on issues that affect the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland. These issues
are called Transferred or Devolved Matters.
The power to make laws
The Assembly can make primary legislation and secondary (or subordinate) legislation
Primary legislation provides the framework of the law.
Secondary legislation contains the details. The power to make secondary legislation is
set out in primary legislation.…read more

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Speaker announces this at the next plenary sitting of the Assembly. The Bill is now an Act
of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The enacted law may come into effect at once, or after a
period of time.
How long does it take to pass a law?
Bills usually take months to get through the Assembly.
However, under the Accelerated Passage procedure, a Bill can pass through all stages in as
little as ten days. This process skips the Committee Stage.…read more


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