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Senate of Northern Ireland

Senate of Northern Ireland

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The Senate of Northern Ireland was the upper house of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

. It was abolished with the passing of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973
Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973
The Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which received the Royal Assent on 18 July 1973...

.

Powers


In practice the Senate of Northern Ireland possessed little power and even less influence. While intended as a revising chamber, in practice, debates and votes typically simply replicated those in the Commons. As early as 1926, five years after its first creation, calls began for its abolition.

Location


From 1932, when the building was completed, until 1972, the Senate of Northern Ireland met in the Senate Chamber of Parliament Buildings in Stormont on the outskirts of Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

. To make parallels with the British House of Lords members of the Senate sat on red benches.

Senators


The Senate consisted of 26 members. Twenty-four members elected by the House of Commons of Northern Ireland
House of Commons of Northern Ireland
The House of Commons of Northern Ireland was the lower house of the Parliament of Northern Ireland created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. The upper house in the bicameral parliament was called the Senate. It was abolished with the passing of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act...

 elected using the Single Transferable Vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

 (STV), elected in blocks of twelve with each senator's term lasting for two parliaments (i.e. two House of Commons) and two ex-officio members: the Lord Mayor of Belfast
Lord Mayor of Belfast
The Lord Mayor of Belfast is the leader and chairman of Belfast City Council, elected annually from and by the City's 51 councillors.The Lord Mayor is Niall Ó Donnghaile of Sinn Féin, while the Deputy Lord Mayor is Ruth Patterson of the Democratic Unionist Party, who were elected in May 2011.The...

 and Mayor of Londonderry. Convention held that, in the event of a by-election, only members of the Commons from the same county would vote on their replacement. The election system was maintained even after the abolition of STV for the House of Commons.

The Senators to retire after the end of the first parliament were selected by lot. At the subsequent election, voting papers from the Nationalist MPs and George Henderson
George Henderson (Northern Ireland politician)
George Henderson was a farmer and politician in Northern Ireland.Henderson worked as a farmer in County Antrim. Around the time of his retirement, he was appointed Chairman of the Unbought Tenants' Association. Standing as a representative of that group, he won a seat in Antrim at the Northern...

 were deemed to have been submitted late, and were not considered. All these members had given a high preference to the Nationalist candidate, Vincent Devoto, and a subsequent analysis of the transfers showed that these would otherwise have been sufficient to elect him.

Office-holders


The key offices in the Senate were:
  • Speaker
  • Deputy Speakers (2)
  • Leader of the House
  • Deputy Leader of the House (abolished in 1961).

Political composition


During its history 142 people sat in the upper house. With the addition of the Unionist Lords Mayor, of Londonderry Corporation and Belfast Corporation; together with boycotts of the Commons at various times by nationalist parties and fragmentation of the opposition into some parties too small to elect a Senator alone, the upper house proved to be even more heavily unionist than the lower house. However a Nationalist is recorded as having been deputy speaker at one stage.

The table below shows the political composition of the twenty-four elected members of the Senate, after each election. It does not show subsequent changes of party allegiance, nor changes resulting from by-elections. Following the 1969 election, there was one vacant seat. Other than Hugh O'Doherty
Hugh O'Doherty
Hugh O'Doherty was an Irish nationalist politician.O'Doherty worked as a solicitor in County Londonderry. A supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell, he was a founder member of the Irish National League. Following Parnell's death, O'Doherty withdrew from politics until 1918, when he was elected to...

, Mayor of Londonderry until 1923, all the ex officio members were Ulster Unionists.
Election Unionist
Ulster Unionist Party
The Ulster Unionist Party – sometimes referred to as the Official Unionist Party or, in a historic sense, simply the Unionist Party – is the more moderate of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland...

Labour
Northern Ireland Labour Party
The Northern Ireland Labour Party was an Irish political party which operated from 1924 until 1987.In 1913 the British Labour Party resolved to give the recently formed Irish Labour Party exclusive organising rights in Ireland...

Nationalist
Nationalist Party (Ireland)
The Nationalist Party was a term commonly used to describe a number of parliamentary political parties and constituency organisations supportive of Home Rule for Ireland from 1874 to 1922...

Ind. Unionist
Independent Unionist
See also Independent .Independent Unionist has been a label sometimes used by candidates in elections in the United Kingdom, indicating a support for Unionism, retaining the unity of the British state....

Independent
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

1921 24 0 0 0 0
1925 23 1
Robert Dorman
Robert Dorman , often known as Bob Dorman, was an Irish socialist activist.Dorman was born in Dublin, and was brought up as a Quaker. He served with the Royal Navy and with the Young Men's Christian Association, later working in insurance. Around 1885, he was living in Derry and was already...

0 0 0
1929 20 1
Robert Dorman
Robert Dorman , often known as Bob Dorman, was an Irish socialist activist.Dorman was born in Dublin, and was brought up as a Quaker. He served with the Royal Navy and with the Young Men's Christian Association, later working in insurance. Around 1885, he was living in Derry and was already...

3 0 0
1933 18 0 5 1
James Woods Gyle
James Woods Gyle was an Independent Unionist politician in Northern Ireland, member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. He was suspended from the Orange Order in 1934 for seven years, because he visited Joseph Devlin MP for Belfast Central on his deathbed.He was elected in the Northern Ireland...

0
1937 20 0 4 0 0
1945 18 1 2 1 0
1949 17 1 5 1 0
1953 18 0 5 0 1
John Patrick Donaghy
John Patrick Donaghy was an Irish nationalist politician and a physician.Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donaghy studied medicine at Queen's University Belfast, graduating in 1943, and working at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital in Belfast from 1948 until his retirement in 1984...

1957 19 0 4 0 1
John Patrick Donaghy
John Patrick Donaghy was an Irish nationalist politician and a physician.Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donaghy studied medicine at Queen's University Belfast, graduating in 1943, and working at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital in Belfast from 1948 until his retirement in 1984...

1962 18 1 4 0 1
John Patrick Donaghy
John Patrick Donaghy was an Irish nationalist politician and a physician.Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donaghy studied medicine at Queen's University Belfast, graduating in 1943, and working at the Mater Infirmorum Hospital in Belfast from 1948 until his retirement in 1984...

1965 18 2 4 0 0
1969 16 2 5 0 0

Peerages


Peers of the Realm were disproportionately represented in the Senate. Nine Senators were or became peers of the realm at the time of their membership of the Senate. These were two Dukes of Abercorn, Lord Bangor, Lord Charlemont, Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Lord Glentoran, Marquess of Londonderry, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and Lord Pirrie. Lord Bangor and Lord Charlemont held Irish titles only; Lord Charlemont had been elected as an Irish Representative Peer and so sat in the House of Lords, Lord Bangor however did not. At least another 3 Senators subsequently became members of the House of Lords by different routes. Lord R.G. Grosvenor inherited the title of Duke of Westminster, Sir Basil Brooke was created Viscount Brookeborough and Victor Cooke was created as a life peer Baron Cooke of Islandreagh.

Abolition


The Senate, along with the House of Commons, was prorogued by the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
The Northern Ireland Act 1972 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced direct rule in Northern Ireland with effect from 30 March 1972....

, and abolished completely by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973
Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973
The Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which received the Royal Assent on 18 July 1973...

. The old Senate chamber is now used as a committee room of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

.

External links