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The Northern Ireland Assembly is now dissolved and the Assembly election will be held on 5 May 2011. When the Assembly comes back after the election all 108 MLAs, from 18 constituencies, will serve for a four year term.
Every four years, in accordance with the Northern Ireland Act 1998, elections to the Assembly must be called. Before the election can take place, the Assembly is dissolved and MLAs stop being elected representatives. The work of the Assembly—debating in the Chamber and working on Committees—also stops until the new MLAs sign the Members’ Roll.
So what has this Assembly done since it was elected in 2007 with the restoration of devolved government?
Since 2007 78 Bills were debated in the Assembly. Not all of these Bills became law—53 of them have received Royal Assent (when the Queen agrees it should become law), with a further 16 currently awaiting Royal Assent.
The MLAs have held 277 debates in the Assembly Chamber and the Committees which oversee and examine Government departments have met a total of 2,091 times.
MLAs have put a total of 11,624 questions to Ministers and the Assembly Commission in the Assembly Chamber and have asked a further 32,411 questions that were given written answers.
Over the past four years nearly 250,000 visitors have come to see Parliament Buildings and take part in tours with nearly 2,000 events also taking place. The Assembly has also welcomed 226 foreign VIPs to its historic home.
So even though the MLAs are not here, Parliament Buildings will be open for visitors. If you fancy coming up to have a look around, the building is open 9.00am-4.00pm, Monday-Friday. Or, take our on-line tour by accessing this link http://archive.niassembly.gov.uk/vtour/tour_home.htm.