Assembly Explained

Welcome to Assembly Explained!

Whether you're a curious citizen, a business owner, or someone who just can't get enough politics, this series is your insider guide to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Through engaging articles, informative videos, and insightful podcasts, we'll demystify the Assembly's workings, explore current hot topics and empower you to understand how the Assembly's decisions impact your daily life.

Guide to Procedure

Each guide is presented as an alphabetical list of common procedural and parliamentary topics and terms. To learn about a particular topic or term, simply click on a letter. For each term you'll find a definition of the topic, some further descriptive information, as well as signposts to related topics or information.

What is Legislative Consent?

The UK Parliament has retained authority to legislate on any issue, whether devolved or not. However, by convention (known as the Sewell Convention) it is not normally the case that the UK government will legislate on devolved matters.

Under the Sewel Convention,

“It is ultimately for Parliament to decide what use to make of that power (to legislate on devolved matters). However, the UK Government will proceed in accordance with the convention that the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters except with the agreement of the devolved legislature. The devolved administrations will be responsible for seeking such agreement as may be required for this purpose on an approach from the UK Government.”

Learn more about legislative consent

Video - Portrait of former Speaker William Hay unveiled

On Tuesday 23 April 2024, a portrait of former Assembly Speaker, William Hay, was unveiled in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings. Artist Stephen Johnson, current Speaker Edwin Poots and William Hay himself discuss the work that went into the portrait and the significance of the role of Speaker.

Video - The Assembly and Legislation

Jim Fitzpatrick looks at the role the Northern Ireland Assembly plays in the legislative process.

If you prefer, you can also read a written transcript of 'The Assembly and Legislation' video.

Video - The Assembly and the Executive

Jim Fitzpatrick explains what it is that sets the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive apart and how one holds the other to account.

Video - How the Speaker is Elected

In this video Dr. Gareth McGrath the Assembly's Director of Parliamentary Services outlines the process to elect a new Speaker and Deputy Speakers of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Video - How are the First and deputy First Ministers nominated

In this video Dr. Gareth McGrath, the Assembly's Director of Parliamentary Services, explains how the First and depty First Ministers are nominated and appointed.

The Assembly Podcast

Do you know the difference between the Assembly and Executive? What happens after an Assembly election? How a bill goes from idea to law? In our podcast we try to explain the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly and cover events in and around Parliament Buildings.

As well as listening to all our episodes here you can also subscribe via Spotify, Apple or Amazon.

3rd to 9th February

It was a momentous and busy week at Parliament Buildings and for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Edwin Poots MLA was elected as Speaker, a new Executive was formed, and Parliament Buildings hosted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris MP and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD.The building was filled with a buzz of public and media attention. We've captured some of the highlights which you can watch in our catch-up video above.

Find MLAs

Find your MLAs

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News and Media Centre

Visit the News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

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Follow the Assembly

Follow the Assembly on our social media channels

Keep up-to-date with the Assembly

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Useful Contacts

Contact us

Contacts for different parts of the Assembly

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