The Northern Ireland Assembly
After 30 years of violence and unrest in Northern Ireland, commonly referred to as ‘The Troubles’, the Loyalist and Unionist factions finally agreed to a non-violent resolution by signing the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
In this treaty it was agreed that a democratically elected legislature would be established in the parliament building in Stormont, Belfast, which would assume the role of governing Northern Ireland, devolving power away from Westminster.
The first elections of the 90 MLAs ( members of the Legislative Assembly), were held in June 1998, and was seen as a triumph of diplomacy over the armed combat between Loyalists and Unionists, whilst the North/South Ministerial Council was established to improve relations with the Republic of Ireland.
Unfortunately it has not been smooth-running for the Assembly, with it’s function being suspended on several occasions when the major parties have been able to form a working Executive.
The longest suspension so far extended from October 2002 to 2007, when the governance of Northern Ireland returned to the direct rule of The Northern Ireland Office, under the auspices of Westminster.
Theresa May might have hoped, that as she confronts the weighty matters of the day, like Brexit, that she could count on her ministers to take care of business on the domestic front. However, the Northern Rail crisis is becoming a real béte…