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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Northern Ireland 1921–72

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Northern Ireland 1921–72

Governor of Northern Ireland
Privy Council
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland

Craigavon ministry · Andrews ministry
Brookeborough ministry · O'Neill ministry
Chichester-Clark ministry · Faulkner ministry

1921 · 1925 · 1929 · 1933
1938 · 1945 · 1949 · 1953
1958 · 1962 · 1965 · 1969

1921 · 1925 · 1929 · 1933
1938 · 1945 · 1949 · 1953
1958 · 1962 · 1965 · 1969

Parliament of Northern Ireland

Speaker of the Senate
Leader and Deputy Leader of the Senate

House of Commons


See also
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Elections in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973

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Politics portal

The Senate of Northern Ireland was the upper house of the Parliament of Northern Ireland created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It was abolished with the passing of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.



In practice the Senate of Northern Ireland possessed little power and even less influence. As early as 1926, five years after its first creation, calls began for its abolition.


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


The Senate consisted of 26 members. Twenty-four members elected by the House of Commons of Northern Ireland elected using the Single Transferable Vote, elected in blocks of twelve with each senator's term lasting for two parliaments (ie, two House of Commons) and two ex-officio members: the Lord Mayor of Belfast and Mayor of Londonderry.


The key offices in the Senate were

  • Speaker
  • Deputy Speakers (2)
  • Leader of the House
  • Deputy Leader of the House (abolished in 1961).

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 precise political make-up of the Senate is however impossible to clarify with certainty. Such was its low profile that the political allegiances of members were not usually recorded either in official records or in media coverage and records pertaining to the Senate (other than Hansard reports of debates) are sparse.


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. [1]


The Senate, along with the House of Commons, was prorogued in 1972 and abolished completely in 1973. The old Senate chamber is now used as a committee room of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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