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.


  • How does this affect Gerry McHugh?

  • Mark McGregor


    No impact at all. If he vacates the seat it goes back to SF. Used to be it would go to someone on his list of substitutes, now Westminster is saying MLAs are elected as members of parties and no matter what happens later if they no longer hold the seat it goes back to their former party.

  • DUP troll

    This is a good thing

  • William

    DUPe Troll….I agree with you…David Burnside’s seat goes to another true Unionist from the Ulster Unionist Party !!!!

  • Mark McGregor

    Maybe someone else can help clarify but Stormont seems at odds with the other devolved administrations on this.

    IIRC they have Individual members who are replaced through by-elections and Regional members from the party list who are replaced by their party.

    It seems to me that our local system elects members as individuals but replaces them as if they are from a party list.

  • veritas

    can someone explain this to me as if I was a 5yr old?

    I`m totally lost.

  • Mark McGregor


    I doubt you need it explained on that level but here’s were my thoughts are going:

    The normal system of replacing members of a legislative body in Britain is through a by-election. Unless they were chosen from a regional List vote, then the party they are part of replaces them.

    In Stormont there is no regional list and replacements were previously taken from a substitute list submitted by the candidate during the election (none of Michael Ferguson’s replacements could/would accept and he wasn’t replaced). This is now changed to a system where the party the candidate was a member of at the time of his election (even if he subsequently resigns or jumps ship) can select a replacement with no list involved.

    In Stormont we have candidates being elected as individuals but Westminister giving parties absolute control over replacements (not even a list system).

    I’m still trying to get my head round it but it seems as if Stormont is the only Administration in the ‘UK’ that treats replacement of members in this way.

    I’m not sure if I care, so don’t assume you should.

  • Dr Ian K Arcel Parcel

    If you join a party of dinosaurs and stand for election as a dinosaur, then it is only right that your place, should you be struck by a meteor or a piece of creationist codswallop, should be taken by another dinosaur. The people vote for dinosaurs time and time again, so naturally any gaps in the evolutionary chain should be filled with dinosaurs. Their tiny little brains slot into place in the Assembly and their roars all sound the same. Perfect.

    Long live the Land that Time Forgot!