Government of Northen Ireland

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Government of Northen Ireland
Government: The 1937 Constitution makes provision for a President, elected by the population every 7 years or lower house of Parliament, with 166 members and a Seanad (pronounced 'shannad') or upper house with 60 members. The Government consists of a cabinet led by the Taoiseach (pronounced 'tee-shock') i.e. Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections are held every five years, or less if the President dissolves Parliament on the advice of the Taoiseach before its full term. The present Government was formed in June 2007 after Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail party won elections. Following Bertie Ahern's resignation on 6 May 2008, Brian Cowen succeeded Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach following a confirmation vote in Parliament. Mr Cowen now leads the Fianna Fáil/Green Party/Progressive Democrat coalition.
History:Each of the three elections since the Assembly was created in 1998 has resulted in an Executive or potential Executive consisting of the four largest Northern Irish parties - the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party - though the number of ministries allotted to each has waxed and waned with their varying electoral fortunes. The Executive first officially took power on December 2, 1999, but has been suspended on various occasions, the last effective from 15 October 2002 until 8 May 2007, as the Ulster Unionist Party, then holding the office of First Minister, walked out after a high-profile Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation into an alleged IRA spy ring. No convictions resulted. While it was suspended, the functions the Executive exercised reverted to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Structure:In contrast with Westminster System cabinets, which generally need only be backed by a majority of legislators, ministerial positions in the Northern Ireland Executive are allocated to all of those parties with significant representation in the Assembly. The number of ministries to which each party is entitled is determined by the D'Hondt system. In effect, major parties cannot be excluded from participation in government, and power-sharing is enforced by the system. The Executive can not function if either of the two largest parties refuse to take part, as these parties are allocated the First Minister and deputy First Minister positions. However, other parties are not required to enter the Executive even if they are entitled to do so; instead, they can choose to go into opposition if they wish. There were some calls for the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Ulster Unionist Party to do just this after the 2007 Assembly elections[1], but ultimately the two parties chose to take the seats in the Executive to which they were entitled.
FRAME:First Minister and deputy First Minister,Junior Ministers.Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure,Minister for Education,Minister for Employment and Learning,Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment,Minister of the Environment,Minister of Finance and Personnel,Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety,Minister for Regional Development,Minister for Social Development
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