Northern Ireland Devolution Wait Continues

Northern Ireland has been unable to form a government as devolution broke down in 2017.  The political parties there have been in talks to restore devolution and the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 was meant to give the parties more time to talk before another Assembly election was called for:

Talks have still been unable to allow a government to be formed, something the Northern Ireland secretary called “hugely disappointing”.  So, now, the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill 2019 proposes to extend this deadline further: 

  • To the 21st of October 2019 with the option to extend this to
  • The 13th of January 2020


Global Payroll Association Comment

For UK payroll professionals, the above bill is one to keep an eye on as it does through parliament given that this part of the UK has been without a functioning government for over 2 years. 

 Two amendments were put forward which do more than the intentions of the original bill:

  •  Legalising same-sex marriage and
  • Legalising abortions

These are issues that are devolved to Northern Ireland but Westminster has stepped in to ensure they do happen.  But they will not become rights automatically in Northern Ireland unless an Assembly isn’t formed by the 21st of October 2019.  Then, it will be Westminster that amends the law in Northern Ireland.

The two main parties in Northern Ireland (Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)) have opposing views on both of these topics, with Sinn Féin being for the changes and the DUP being against them.  We wonder if this bill will end up bringing in these rights to Northern Ireland whilst at the same time being a disincentive for Sinn Féin to get back to the negotiating table.

There is more to this bill than just extending the deadline by which devolution starts again in Northern Ireland and the wait for a government in this part of the UK goes on.