• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the view that, since 2007, politics in Northern Ireland is increasingly dominated by two political parties.

Extracts from this document...


Transfer-Encoding: chunked (a) Assess the view that, since 2007, politics in Northern Ireland is increasingly dominated by two political parties. The DUP and Sinn Fein have been the dominant parties in Northern Ireland since 2007 and this was reinforced in the recent 2016 election, with Arlene Foster of the DUP becoming First Minister and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein maintaining his post of deputy First Minister. This unbroken record of dominance has led many to claim that politics in Northern Ireland is increasingly dominated by the two parties. In examining this view, a good place to start is considering how the strengths of the parties have changed since 1998. The relative strengths of parties in the Assembly have changed significantly since 1998. Leading up to the St Andrew?s Agreement of 2006, Northern Ireland had been under direct rule from Westminster after the assembly was suspended in 2002. From 1998 until 2002 the Ulster Unionist Party had been the largest party with David Trimble taking the post of First Minister and the SDLP?s Seamus Mallon was deputy First Minister, later changing to Mark Durkan. Since 2007 there has been a dramatic shift in politics and the DUP and Sinn Fein have emerged as the biggest parties. Peter Robinson The number of UUP MLAs has decreased from 28 in 1998 to 16 today, the SDLP has also seen the number of their MLAs decrease from 24 to 12. ...read more.


However, they didn?t have the numbers for a veto. The use of the D?hondt system to select ministers is another way in which the DUP and Sinn Fein dominate. The system was devised by a Belgian lawyer in the 19th century, and ministerial seats are allocated based on highest averages. It was devised for countries which have an executive consisting of many parties with different ideas. In the previous assembly the DUP had 5 ministers and Sinn Fein had four, compared to Alliance who got two and the SDLP and UUP who got one each (Environment and Regional Development, respectively). It used to be that under the Good Friday Agreement the minister had the final say on issues relating to his department, meaning that the other parties still had considerable power over their departments, but St Andrew?s changed this and it means that Sinn Fein and the DUP can still dominate because they will have the majority of members in the statutory committees. On the other hand, the alternative view is that a plurality of parties will continue to operate in Northern Ireland as the growth in support for the DUP and Sinn Fein will peak and perhaps even decline. The 2016 elections saw a rise in the amount of MLAs that did not designate themselves as Unionist or Nationalist, including 8 Alliance, 2 Green and 2 People Before Profit. ...read more.


There have been good examples of where legislation has the support of both communities in Northern Ireland. For example, the Taxi Bill that was introduced in 2007/08 by Arlene Foster DUP, who was the Minister for Environment, was supported by MLAs from all sides. It regulated the taxi industry; taxis for example must be registered and licensed. This proves that the DUP and Sinn don?t totally dominate legislation, at least on non-contentious issues. Finally, it could be argued that politics in Northern Ireland is not entirely dominated by two parties because the secretary of state, currently Theresa Villiers, has overall responsibility for the Northern Ireland Office, advances UK government interests in Northern Ireland and represents Northern Ireland interests in the Cabinet. This proves that the DUP and Sinn Fein aren?t totally dominant because there are still issues over which the executive has no control such as financial markets and national minimal wage. To conclude, the arguments presented above show that the two largest powers have the most power in the executive and this means they can dominate what legislation actually makes it through to the assembly. As long as the DUP and Sinn Fein can remain the leading parties in their respective communities, their domination could continue for a generation. The proposed reduction in Westminster constituencies which is due to take place by the 2020 general election would also strengthen the DUP and Sinn Fein at the expense of the smaller parties. The true effects of this are yet to be seen. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. Government & Politics Revision Notes

    Representative democracy therefore has the advantage that it creates a division of labour enabling citizens to get on with their working life and domestic existence. Advantages of a Representative Democracy > Knowledge of Experts- Elected representatives may be expected to use superior knowledge, judgment and experience to consider issues more deeply and so avoid over emotional hast decisions.

  2. Assess the view that since 2007 the Northern Ireland Assembly has been a legislative ...

    Taxis for example must be registered and licensed. It is worth noting that in producing this legislation the Environment Committee, chaired by Patsy McGlone SDLP, produced over 70 changes to the initial bill after consulting the various interested parties, a good example of legislative scrutiny. Assembly Statutory Committees in particular have displayed a growing maturity as MLAs have

  1. Assess the view that the unionist/nationalist division is becoming less significant in Northern Ireland ...

    The party fared well at the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election winning seven seats, including a seat won by Anna Lo, the first Chinese person to be elected to a European legislature. The slight increase in their vote between then and now proves that their non-divisive approach is becoming more popular.

  2. Explain how the DUP has changed its policies (26)

    Edwin Poots has been accused of homophobic policies over his ban on blood from homosexuals. This harkens back to the days of Paisley and his ?save Ulster from sodomy? campaign, proof that the DUP hasn?t totally abandoned its fundamentalist routes.

  1. Explain how the DUP dominates Unionism

    killed before it is initiated if either of the ?big two? do not like it. MLAs have the possibility of raising a Petition of Concern if they believe there is an issue which is a serious concern to their community.

  2. Explain the problems that the DUP face in Northern Ireland.

    The Party recently made what many consider a major mistake when it pulled (all but 1 minister) out of the NI Executive over allegations of IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan. They were wrong footed by the UUP, who initially took the decision to pull out.

  1. Explain the reasons behind the rise of Sinn Fein and the problems they now ...

    The SDLP suffered for many reasons: 1998 saw it meeting many of its long term policies, leaving it fighting for relevance for a while. The retirement of John Hume - a man of towering stature was a severe blow. The party went through a series of leaders trying to reclaim their touch.

  2. Assess the view that Sinn Fein has abandoned many of its traditional policies.

    Once they agreed to the GFA, decommissioning became inevitable. This was an area of contention between SF and the DUP, because the DUP insisted on no ?government before guns.? The result was that Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams was walking a tightrope between appeasing the unionists and hardliners within the IRA ranks.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work