What does the Northern Ireland Assembly do?

The Northern Ireland Assembly represents the people of Northern Ireland.

It has the power to make decisions and pass laws in the following areas:

  • agriculture and rural development
  • culture and the arts
  • economic development
  • education and training
  • the environment
  • health and social services
  • housing
  • industry, trade and investment
  • local government
  • policing and criminal justice
  • sport and leisure
  • tourism
  • town and country planning
  • transport and roads
  • water and flood defence

These are called transferred matters .

Reserved matters

Areas such as broadcasting and import and export laws are called reserved matters .

The UK Government currently makes decisions on these matters, but can transfer responsibility to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Excepted matters

Areas such as defence and taxation are excepted matters . This means they remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament.

Find out more about the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly

How is it elected?

The voting system used in Northern Ireland is called the Single Transferable Vote system.

When you vote in an election for the Northern Ireland Assembly you will be given a ballot paper listing the candidates competing for the five seats in your constituency. You should rank these candidates in order of preference – you can rank as many candidates as you like.

When is it elected?

Northern Ireland Assembly elections take place every five years.

Who is eligible to vote?

To vote in a Northern Ireland Assembly election, you must be registered to vote in Northern Ireland and 18 years of age or over on polling day. You must also be:

  • a British or Irish citizen, or
  • a Commonwealth citizen, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK, or
  • a citizen of another European Union country
Last updated: 1 November 2019
Next review: 11 September 2020