Devolution in Northern Ireland: Union and autonomy

The devolution settlement in Northern Ireland collapsed in January 2017 following a row over the handling of a renewable energy scheme. This came after almost 10 years of continuous power-sharing between the Unionist and Nationalist parties – principally the DUP and Sinn Féin. As part of this arrangement, various powers were devolved from the UK Parliament to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

How is this devolution settlement supposed to operate in Northern Ireland? How is Northern Ireland being governed in the absence of a fully functioning Assembly or Executive? And what impact is Brexit having on Northern Irish politics? We tackle these questions and more in this episode of the Commons Library Podcast.



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Talking us through these issues is David Torrance, the devolution and constitution specialist in the House of Commons Library. He spoke to us on 8 April 2019.

To go straight to the answers that interest you the most, skip to: 

  • How did devolution in Northern Ireland begin, and how has it developed? (2:00) 
  • What policy jurisdiction do the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland have? And how does this differ from Scotland and Wales? (3:35) 
  • Why did the devolved settlement in Northern Ireland collapse in early 2017? (7:00) 
  • What is hindering the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland? (8:43) 
  • How is Northern Ireland being governed in the meantime? (9:15) 
  • For how long can this method of government continue? (11:11) 
  • How is Brexit impacting upon Northern Irish politics and attempts to restore devolution? (12:20) 
  • What happens next? (14:31) 
  • Recommended Commons Library briefing papers for further reading (16:33) 

Transcript

Further reading

To dig deeper into the issues discussed in this episode, you might find the following Commons Library briefings and Insights useful: 

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