Westminster agrees that Stormont seats belong to parties not individuals

The Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) (Amendment) Order 2009 (No.256) new article 6B alters the rules for appointing members to the Assembly. If an elected representative becomes an independent or switches allegiance and their seat later becomes vacant it travels back to the party they originally belonged to – the substitute list remains for members who started as independents.

6B. — (1) The Chief Electoral Officer ( “the Officer”) must act in accordance with this article where—

(a)he has been notified by—

(i)an election court or the High Court under section 144 or 146 of the 1983 Act, as applied by article 3 of, and Schedule 1 to, this Order; or
(ii)the presiding officer of the Assembly under section 35(3) of the 1998 Act, that a vacancy exists in the seat of a member of the Assembly;

(b)at the time that member was returned he belonged to a registered party ( “the relevant registered party”) whether or not he continued to do so; and

(c)the vacancy has arisen other than as a result of the resignation of a person who has been returned as a member for more than one constituency.

(2) As soon as practicable after being notified that a vacancy exists under paragraph (1) or the circumstances in paragraph (4) arise, the Officer shall ask the nominating officer of the relevant registered party to nominate in writing, within seven days of receipt of the Officer’s request, a person to fill the vacant seat and be returned as a member of the Assembly.

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