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Northern Ireland Act 1998

Status:

This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

Part IPreliminary

1Status of Northern Ireland

(1)It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1.

(2)But if the wish expressed by a majority in such a poll is that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland.

2Previous enactments

The [1920 c. 67.] Government of Ireland Act 1920 is repealed; and this Act shall have effect notwithstanding any other previous enactment.

3Devolution order

(1)If it appears to the Secretary of State that sufficient progress has been made in implementing the Belfast Agreement, he shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council appointing a day for the commencement of Parts II and III (“the appointed day”).

(2)If the draft Order laid before Parliament under subsection (1) is approved by resolution of each House of Parliament, the Secretary of State shall submit it to Her Majesty in Council and Her Majesty in Council may make the Order.

4Transferred, excepted and reserved matters

(1)In this Act—

  • “excepted matter” means any matter falling within a description specified in Schedule 2;

  • “reserved matter” means any matter falling within a description specified in Schedule 3;

  • “transferred matter” means any matter which is not an excepted or reserved matter.

(2)If at any time after the appointed day it appears to the Secretary of State—

(a)that any reserved matter should become a transferred matter; or

(b)that any transferred matter should become a reserved matter,

he may, subject to subsection (3), lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council amending Schedule 3 so that the matter ceases to be or, as the case may be, becomes a reserved matter with effect from such date as may be specified in the Order.

(3)The Secretary of State shall not lay the draft of an Order before Parliament under subsection (2) unless the Assembly has passed with cross-community support a resolution praying that the matter concerned should cease to be or, as the case may be, should become a reserved matter.

(4)If the draft of an Order laid before Parliament under subsection (2) is approved by resolution of each House of Parliament, the Secretary of State shall submit it to Her Majesty in Council and Her Majesty in Council may make the Order.

(5)In this Act—

  • “the Assembly” means the New Northern Ireland Assembly, which after the appointed day shall be known as the Northern Ireland Assembly;

  • “cross-community support”, in relation to a vote on any matter, means—

    (a)

    the support of a majority of the members voting, a majority of the designated Nationalists voting and a majority of the designated Unionists voting; or

    (b)

    the support of 60 per cent of the members voting, 40 per cent of the designated Nationalists voting and 40 per cent of the designated Unionists voting;

  • “designated Nationalist” means a member designated as a Nationalist in accordance with standing orders of the Assembly and “designated Unionist” shall be construed accordingly.

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