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Early on Tuesday 30 January 2024 Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), announced that his party had endorsed a deal to restore the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. These have not been fully functioning since February 2022.

A Command Paper outlining the deal – Safeguarding the Union – and accompanying draft Statutory Instruments were published on Wednesday 31 January. The deal comprises two main elements:

  • Changes to the Internal Market Act/Windsor Framework
  • Measures relating to Northern Ireland’s constitutional status

Separately, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland had already outlined details of a financial package worth more than £3 billion. This was conditional upon the successful restoration of power-sharing institutions.

The focus of this research briefing is the restoration of the devolved institutions and the constitutional aspects of the Command Paper. After summarising the key events since the collapse of the Assembly and Executive almost two years ago, it examines the main elements of the deal. It then explains the procedure followed when the Assembly met on Saturday 3 February, chiefly:

  • The election of a Speaker and three Deputies
  • The nomination of a First and deputy First Minister
  • The nomination of other Executive ministers

Documents to download

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