Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, the twentieth-largest on Earth. Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers five-sixths of the island, Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland. The island's geography comprises low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland, its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate, free of extremes in temperature. Much of Ireland was woodland until the end of the Middle Ages. Today, woodland makes up about 10% of the island, compared with a European average of over 33%, most of it is non-native conifer plantations.
There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus moderate, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD; the island was Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the 12th century Norman invasion, England claimed sovereignty. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became sovereign over the following decades, Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom.
Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures in the field of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language; the island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, sports such as association football, horse racing, golf. The names Éire derive from Old Irish Eriu; this in turn comes from the Proto-Celtic *Iveriu, the source of Latin Hibernia. Iveriu derives from a root meaning'fat, prosperous'. During the last glacial period, up until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice. Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland to become separated from Great Britain. Around 6000 BC, Great Britain itself became separated from continental Europe; the earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC, demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare. It is not until about 8000 BC, that more sustained occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic communities around the island; these Mesolithic communities lived as hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC. Some time before 4000 BC, Neolithic settlers arrived introducing cereal cultivars, domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, large timber building, stone monuments; the earliest evidence for farming in Ireland or Great Britain is from Co.. Kerry, where a flint knife, cattle bones and a sheep's tooth were carbon-dated to c. 4350 BC. Field systems were developed in different parts of Ireland, including at the Céide Fields, preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day Tyrawley.
An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls. The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. Wheat and barley were the principal crops; the Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel. According to John T. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that included Britain, western France and Iberia, that this is where Celtic languages developed; this contrasts with the traditional view that their origin lies in mainland Europe with the Hallstatt culture. During the Iron Age, a Celtic language and culture emerged in Ireland. How and when the island became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies.
The most recent genetic research s
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; the Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain".
At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order initiated by the debtor. Bankruptcy is not the only legal status that an insolvent person may have, the term bankruptcy is therefore not a synonym for insolvency. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, bankruptcy is limited to individuals. In the United States, bankruptcy is applied more broadly to formal insolvency proceedings. In France, the cognate French word banqueroute is used for cases of fraudulent bankruptcy, whereas the term faillite is used for bankruptcy in accordance with the law; the word bankruptcy is derived from Italian banca rotta, meaning "broken bench", which may stem from a widespread custom in the Republic of Genoa of breaking a moneychanger's bench or counter to signify their insolvency, or which may be only a figure of speech. In Ancient Greece, bankruptcy did not exist.
If a man owed and he could not pay, he and his wife, children or servants were forced into "debt slavery", until the creditor recouped losses through their physical labour. Many city-states in ancient Greece limited debt slavery to a period of five years. However, servants of the debtor could be retained beyond that deadline by the creditor and were forced to serve their new lord for a lifetime under harsher conditions. An exception to this rule was Athens; the Statute of Bankrupts of 1542 was the first statute under English law dealing with bankruptcy or insolvency. Bankruptcy is documented in East Asia. According to al-Maqrizi, the Yassa of Genghis Khan contained a provision that mandated the death penalty for anyone who became bankrupt three times. A failure of a nation to meet bond repayments has been seen on many occasions. Philip II of Spain had to declare four state bankruptcies in 1557, 1560, 1575 and 1596. According to Kenneth S. Rogoff, "Although the development of international capital markets was quite limited prior to 1800, we catalog the various defaults of France, Prussia and the early Italian city-states.
At the edge of Europe, Egypt and Turkey have histories of chronic default as well." The principal focus of modern insolvency legislation and business debt restructuring practices no longer rests on the elimination of insolvent entities, but on the remodeling of the financial and organizational structure of debtors experiencing financial distress so as to permit the rehabilitation and continuation of the business. For private households, some argue that it is insufficient to dismiss debts after a certain period, it is important to assess the underlying problems and to minimize the risk of financial distress to re-occur. It has been stressed that debt advice, a supervised rehabilitation period, financial education and social help to find sources of income and to improve the management of household expenditures must be provided during this period of rehabilitation. In most EU Member States, debt discharge is conditioned by a partial payment obligation and by a number of requirements concerning the debtor's behavior.
In the United States, discharge is conditioned to a lesser extent. The spectrum is broad in the EU, with the UK coming closest to the US system; the Other Member States do not provide the option of a debt discharge. Spain, for example, passed a bankruptcy law in 2003 which provides for debt settlement plans that can result in a reduction of the debt or an extension of the payment period of maximally five years, but it does not foresee debt discharge. In the US, it is difficult to discharge federal or federally guaranteed student loan debt by filing bankruptcy. Unlike most other debts, those student loans may be discharged only if the person seeking discharge establishes specific grounds for discharge under the Brunner test, under which the court evaluates three factors: If required to repay the loan, the borrower cannot maintain a minimal standard of living. If a debtor proves all three elements, a court may permit only a partial discharge of the student loan. Student loan borrowers may benefit from restructuring their payments through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan, but few qualify for discharge of part or all of their student loan debt.
Bankruptcy fraud is a white-collar crime. While difficult to generalize across jurisdictions, common criminal acts under bankruptcy statutes involve concealment of assets, concealment or destruction of documents, conflicts of interest, fraudulent claims, false statements or declarations, fee fixing or redistribution arrangements. Falsifications on bankruptcy forms constitute perjury. Multiple filings are not in and of themselves criminal, but they may violate provisions of bankruptcy law. In the U. S. bankruptcy fraud statutes are focused on the mental state of particular actions. Bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime in the United States. Bankruptcy fraud should be distinguished from strategic bankruptcy, not a criminal act since it creates a real bankruptcy state. Howeve
A newspaper is a periodical publication containing written information about current events and is typed in black ink with a white or gray background. Newspapers can cover a wide variety of fields such as politics, business and art, include materials such as opinion columns, weather forecasts, reviews of local services, birth notices, editorial cartoons, comic strips, advice columns. Most newspapers are businesses, they pay their expenses with a mixture of subscription revenue, newsstand sales, advertising revenue; the journalism organizations that publish newspapers are themselves metonymically called newspapers. Newspapers have traditionally been published in print. However, today most newspapers are published on websites as online newspapers, some have abandoned their print versions entirely. Newspapers developed as information sheets for businessmen. By the early 19th century, many cities in Europe, as well as North and South America, published newspapers; some newspapers with high editorial independence, high journalism quality, large circulation are viewed as newspapers of record.
Newspapers are published daily or weekly. News magazines are weekly, but they have a magazine format. General-interest newspapers publish news articles and feature articles on national and international news as well as local news; the news includes political events and personalities and finance, crime and natural disasters. The paper is divided into sections for each of those major groupings. Most traditional papers feature an editorial page containing editorials written by an editor and expressing an opinion on a public issue, opinion articles called "op-eds" written by guest writers, columns that express the personal opinions of columnists offering analysis and synthesis that attempts to translate the raw data of the news into information telling the reader "what it all means" and persuading them to concur. Papers include articles which have no byline. A wide variety of material has been published in newspapers. Besides the aforementioned news and opinions, they include weather forecasts; as of 2017, newspapers may provide information about new movies and TV shows available on streaming video services like Netflix.
Newspapers have classified ad sections where people and businesses can buy small advertisements to sell goods or services. Most newspapers are businesses, they pay their expenses with a mixture of subscription revenue, newsstand sales, advertising revenue; some newspapers are at least government-funded. The editorial independence of a newspaper is thus always subject to the interests of someone, whether owners, advertisers, or a government; some newspapers with high editorial independence, high journalism quality, large circulation are viewed as newspapers of record. Many newspapers, besides employing journalists on their own payrolls subscribe to news agencies, which employ journalists to find and report the news sell the content to the various newspapers; this is a way to avoid duplicating the expense of reporting from around the world. Circa 2005, there were 6,580 daily newspaper titles in the world selling 395 million print copies a day; the late 2000s–early 2010s global recession, combined with the rapid growth of free web-based alternatives, has helped cause a decline in advertising and circulation, as many papers had to retrench operations to stanch the losses.
Worldwide annual revenue approached $100 billion in 2005-7 plunged during the worldwide financial crisis of 2008-9. Revenue in 2016 fell to only $53 billion, hurting every major publisher as their efforts to gain online income fell far short of the goal; the decline in advertising revenues affected both the print and online media as well as all other mediums. Besides remodeling advertising, the internet has challenged the business models of the print-only era by crowdsourcing both publishing in general and, more journalism. In addition, the rise of news aggregators, which bundle linked articles fro
Government of the United Kingdom
The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is commonly referred to as the UK Government or the British Government; the government is led by the Prime Minister. The prime minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet; the government ministers all sit in Parliament, are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to make primary legislation, since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the monarch selects as prime minister the leader of the party most to command the confidence of the House of Commons by possessing a majority of MPs.
Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister and the cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. In most cases they exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments, though some Cabinet positions are sinecures to a greater or lesser degree; the current prime minister is Theresa May, who took office on 13 July 2016. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the general election on 7 May 2015, when David Cameron was the party leader. Prior to this and the Conservatives led a coalition from 2010 to 2015 with the Liberal Democrats, in which Cameron was prime minister; the Government is referred to with the metonym Westminster, due to that being where many of the offices of the government are situated by members in the Government of Scotland, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive in order to differentiate it from their own.
A key principle of the British Constitution is. This is called responsible government; the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by Parliament; this constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215. Parliament is split into the House of Commons; the House of Commons is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills, most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons – and most of those are introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must pass through a number of readings before becoming law.
Prior to introducing a bill, the government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses, may have introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen's Speech, or in an election manifesto or party platform. Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House. For most senior ministers this is the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There have been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis sat in the Lords and were responsible to that House during the government of Gordon Brown. Since the start of Edward VII's reign in 1901, the prime minister has always been an elected member of Parliament and therefore directly accountable to the House of Commons. A similar convention applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be politically unacceptable for the budget speech to be given in the Lords, with MPs unable to directly question the Chancellor now that the Lords have limited powers in relation to money bills.
The last Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a member of the House of Lords was Lord Denman, who served as interim Chancellor of the Exchequer for one month in 1834. Under the British system, the government is required by convention and for practical reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, it requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply and to pass primary legislation. By convention, if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held; the support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House; the House of Commons is thus the Responsible house. The prime minister is held to account during Prime Minister's Questions which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject
Belfast is a city in the United Kingdom, the capital city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is second-largest on the island of Ireland, it had a population of 333,871 as of 2015. By the early 19th century, Belfast became a major port, it played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, becoming the biggest linen-producer in the world, earning it the nickname "Linenopolis". By the time it was granted city status in 1888, it was a major centre of Irish linen production, tobacco-processing and rope-making. Shipbuilding was a key industry. Belfast as of 2019 has a major aerospace and missiles industry. Industrialisation and the inward migration it brought made Belfast Ireland's biggest city and it became the capital of Northern Ireland following the Partition of Ireland in 1922, its status as a global industrial centre ended in the decades after the Second World War of 1939–1945. Belfast suffered in the Troubles: in the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the world's most dangerous cities.
However, a survey conducted by a finance company and published in 2016 rated the city as one of the safest within the United Kingdom. Throughout the 21st century, the city has seen a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, has benefitted from substantial economic and commercial growth. Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as for the arts, higher education and law, is the economic engine of Northern Ireland. Belfast is still a major port, with commercial and industrial docks, including the Harland and Wolff shipyard, dominating the Belfast Lough shoreline, it is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport 15 miles west of the city. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network listed Belfast as a Gamma global city in 2018; the name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, spelt Béal Feirste. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde/feirste is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth.
The name would thus translate as " mouth of the sandbar" or " mouth of the ford". This sandbar was formed at the confluence of two rivers at what is now Donegall Quay: the Lagan, which flows into Belfast Lough, its tributary the Farset; this area was the hub. The Irish name Béal Feirste is shared by a townland in County Mayo, whose name has been anglicised as Belfarsad. An alternative interpretation of the name is "mouth of of the sandbar", an allusion to the River Farset, which flows into the Lagan where the sandbar was located; this interpretation was favoured by John O'Donovan. It seems clear, that the river itself was named after the tidal crossing. In Ulster-Scots, the name of the city has been variously translated as Bilfawst, Bilfaust or Baelfawst, although "Belfast" is used. Although the county borough of Belfast was created when it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888, the city continues to be viewed as straddling County Antrim and County Down; the site of Belfast has been occupied since the Bronze Age.
The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old henge, is located near the city, the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills. Belfast remained a small settlement of little importance during the Middle Ages. John de Courcy built a castle on what is now Castle Street in the city centre in the 12th century, but this was on a lesser scale and not as strategically important as Carrickfergus Castle to the north, built by de Courcy in 1177; the O'Neill clan had a presence in the area. In the 14th century, Cloinne Aodha Buidhe, descendants of Aodh Buidhe O'Neill, built Grey Castle at Castlereagh, now in the east of the city. Conn O'Neill of the Clannaboy O'Neills owned vast lands in the area and was the last inhabitant of Grey Castle, one remaining link being the Conn's Water river flowing through east Belfast. Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century after being established as a town by Sir Arthur Chichester, it was settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.
In 1791, the Society of United Irishmen was founded in Belfast, after Henry Joy McCracken and other prominent Presbyterians from the city invited Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell to a meeting, after having read Tone's "Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland". Evidence of this period of Belfast's growth can still be seen in the oldest areas of the city, known as the Entries. Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, at the end of the 19th century, Belfast overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland; the Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers. In 1886 the city suffered intense riots over the issue of home rule. In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned.
The accompanying conflict cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onwards. Belfas
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive, it sits at Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. The Assembly is in a period of suspension, after it collapsed in January 2017 due to policy disagreements within the leadership and the resignation of Martin McGuinness following the RHI scandal. Subsequent discussions to restore the Assembly have been unsuccessful; the Assembly is a unicameral, democratically elected body comprising 90 members known as Members of the Legislative Assembly. Members are elected under the single transferable vote form of proportional representation In turn, the Assembly selects most of the ministers of the Northern Ireland Executive using the principle of power-sharing under the D'Hondt method to ensure that Northern Ireland's largest voting blocs and Irish nationalists, both participate in governing the region.
The Assembly's standing orders allow for certain contentious motions to require a cross-community vote. The Assembly is one of two "mutually inter-dependent" institutions created under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the other being the North/South Ministerial Council with the Republic of Ireland; the Agreement aimed to end Northern Ireland's violent 30-year Troubles. The first Assembly election was held in June 1998. Disagreements between the main unionist and nationalist parties have stalled the formation of an Executive and the commencement of the Assembly on several occasions, forcing the Northern Ireland Office of the UK Government to suspend the institutions; the longest suspension lasted for the entirety of the Assembly's second term, from 14 October 2002 until 7 May 2007, during which time the Assembly's powers reverted to the Northern Ireland Office. Negotiations during this period of direct rule resulted in the St Andrews Agreement in November 2006, following a third election in March 2007, full power was restored to the devolved institutions on 8 May 2007.
This third Assembly was the first to complete a full term, saw powers in relation to policing and justice transferred to its second Executive on 12 April 2010. A breakdown of trust brought down the Assembly and Executive on 26 January 2017, a fresh election was held on 2 March. Negotiations mediated by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland missed the three-week deadline provided in law for the formation of an Executive; the passing of an extended legal deadline of 29 June left decisions on funding allocations in the hands of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, a budget for the ongoing 2017–18 financial year began its passage through the UK Parliament on 13 November. From 7 June 1921 until 30 March 1972, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland was the Parliament of Northern Ireland, which always had an Ulster Unionist Party majority and always elected a UUP government; the Parliament was suspended on 30 March 1972 and formally abolished in 1973 under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.
Shortly after this first parliament was abolished, attempts began to restore devolution on a new basis that would see power shared between Irish nationalists and unionists. To this end a new parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, was established in 1973. However, this body was brought down by the Ulster Workers' Council strike and was abolished in 1974. In 1982 another Northern Ireland Assembly was established at Stormont as a body to scrutinise the actions of the Secretary of State, the British minister with responsibility for Northern Ireland, it received little support from Irish nationalists and was dissolved in 1986. The current incarnation of the Northern Ireland Assembly was first elected on 25 June 1998 and first met on 1 July 1998. However, it only existed in "shadow" form until 2 December 1999 when full powers were devolved to the Assembly. Since the Assembly has operated intermittently and has been suspended on five occasions: 11 February – 30 May 2000 10 August 2001 22 September 2001 14 October 2002 – 7 May 2007 9 January 2017 – presentAttempts to secure its operation on a permanent basis had been frustrated by disagreements between the two main unionist parties and Sinn Féin, the largest nationalist party.
Unionists refused to participate in the Good Friday Agreement's institutions alongside Sinn Féin until they were assured that the IRA had discontinued its activities, decommissioned its arms and disbanded. The 2002-2007 suspension occurred after unionists withdrew from the Northern Ireland Executive after Sinn Féin's offices at Stormont were raided by the police, who were investigating allegations of intelligence gathering on behalf of the IRA by members of the party's support staff; the Assembly suspended, dissolved on 28 April 2003 as scheduled, but the elections due the following month were postponed by the United Kingdom government and were not held until November that year. On 8 December 2005, three Belfast men at the centre of the alleged IRA spying incident were acquitted of all charges; the prosecution offered no evidence "in the public interest". Afterwards Denis Donaldson, one of those arrested, said that the charges "should never have been brought" as the police action was "political".
On 17 December 2005, Donaldson publicly confirmed that he had been a spy for British intelligence since the early 1980s. Mr Don