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The Northern Ireland Assembly is now dissolved. But what does that mean?

 

Stormont Estate at dusk. Blue banner across the image with text that reads "The Nothern Ireland Assembly is now dissolved. Read more about dissolution and the election..."

Dissolution is the official term for the end of an Assembly mandate. 

An Assembly mandate is five years in length, beginning on the date that the first sitting of the Assembly takes place following an election. The Assembly was dissolved at 00:01 on Monday 28 March, 2022. Elections to the next Assembly will take place on Thursday 5 May, 2022.


Dissolution means that no Assembly business takes place. That is no committee meetings or Plenary meetings. MLAs stop being MLAs, they go back to being members of the public. Losing any privileges associated with being an MLA. For example, access to the offices in Parliament Buildings and other resources. This is to ensure that former MLAs don't have an advantage over other candidates. Anyone who wants to be an MLA again must stand in the Election.


As the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive are two separate institutions. Ministers remain in office during dissolution. They have a caretaking role, managing the work of the Departments, until the day of the election. The Speaker, Alex Maskey, along with the Deputy Speakers, Roy Beggs and Patsy McGlone also remain in office during dissolution. The election of a new Speaker (and deputies) takes place when the Assembly meets after the election.


The Northern Ireland Assembly podcast team are busy creating episodes which explore the work of the Assembly and its committees. Episode 1 seeks to explain what it means for the Assembly to be dissolved and what happens next...after the election. You can find the Assembly Podcast on Acast, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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