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Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006

Schedule 2: Restoration of Devolved Government on 26 March 2007

113.Schedule 2 will come into force automatically on 26 March 2007, unless the Secretary of State has brought Schedule 3 into force before that date (see section 2). Paragraph 2(1) ensures that when a restoration order under section 2(2) comes into force, those who previously held Ministerial office (and certain other offices) at the time of suspension will not resume that office. Paragraph 2(2) and (3) makes clear that those nominated under paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 will hold the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister when the restoration order comes into force. However, paragraph 2(4) is clear that those Ministers cannot take office until they have affirmed the pledge of office. Paragraph 2(5) requires the other Ministerial offices of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be filled by applying section 18(2) to (6) of the 1998 Act (i.e. the d’Hondt mechanism) on 26 March 2007. When d’Hondt is run, paragraph 2(6) of the Schedule will require that it be the first day on which the Transitional Assembly meets following the election that is used to determine the number of Assembly seats held by members of the parties.

114.Paragraph 3 provides that the Presiding Officer and deputy Presiding Officers of the Transitional Assembly immediately before restoration shall be deemed to have been elected Presiding Officer and deputy Presiding Officers of the Northern Ireland Assembly (under section 39(1) and (2) of the 1998 Act). This means that the Northern Ireland Assembly need not elect a Presiding Officer or deputy Presiding Officers as its first business, but may choose to replace them at any point.

115.Paragraph 4(1) provides that the restoration order under section 2(2) may make any other necessary provision required in order to carry forward the preparations for devolution undertaken by the Transitional Assembly members, and treat them as having been undertaken by the Northern Ireland Assembly. For example, it could be used to avoid the need for members to sign the Roll again. Paragraph 4(2) disapplies section 2(3) of the 2000 Act, which provides that the Secretary of State must take account of a review conducted under the 2000 Act. This is to ensure that the restoration order can be made quickly.

116.Paragraphs 5 and 6 provide for modifications to how “d’Hondt” is run for the first time after 26 March 2007, under both section 29(3) of the 1998 Act (relating to Assembly Committees) and paragraph 7(7) of Schedule 1 to the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (relating to political members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board). In both Acts, the meaning of S is changed so that the day when the Assembly is considered to have first met is deemed to be the first day that the Transitional Assembly meets after the 7 March election.

117.Paragraph 7 provides that section 1(1) and (2) and Schedule 1 shall be repealed when Schedule 2 comes into force. This will ensure that the Transitional Assembly will cease to exist on 26 March 2007.

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