World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Senate of Northern Ireland

Senate of Northern Ireland
Devolved Parliament
Coat of arms or logo
Arms of Northern Ireland, 1924–1972
Established 7 June 1921
Disbanded 30 March 1972
Elected by the Commons via STV
Meeting place
Senate Chamber
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast
The Ulster Banner
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Northern Ireland 1921–72

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.


  • Powers 1
  • Location 2
  • Senators 3
    • Office-holders 3.1
    • Political composition 3.2
    • Peerages 3.3
  • Abolition 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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.[1] As early as 1926, five years after its 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 eastern 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 using the Single Transferable Vote (STV), elected in blocks of twelve with each senator's term lasting for two parliaments (i.e. two terms of the House of Commons) and two ex-officio members: the Lord Mayor of Belfast 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.[2] The election system was maintained even after the abolition of STV for the House of Commons.[3]

The Senators to retire after the end of the first parliament were selected by lot.[4] At the subsequent election, voting papers from the Nationalist MPs and

  • ARK paper on Senate elections and membership

External links

  1. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, pp.122–123
  2. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.122
  3. ^ "Abolition of P.R. in Ulster", Manchester Guardian, 6 March 1929, p.7
  4. ^ "Ulster Senate", Manchester Guardian, 4 June 1925, p.2
  5. ^ "Missing voting papers", Manchester Guardian, 15 July 1925, p.18
  6. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, pp.178–180
  7. ^ "Members of the Northern Ireland Senate, 1921–72". Retrieved 18 April 2010. 


See also

The Senate, along with the House of Commons, was prorogued by the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972, and abolished completely by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The old Senate Chamber is now used as a committee room of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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 the third and fourth Dukes of Abercorn, Viscount Bangor, Viscount Charlemont, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Lord Glentoran, the 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 peers by different routes. Lord Robert Grosvenor inherited the title of Duke of Westminster from his brother, Sir Basil Brooke was created Viscount Brookeborough and Victor Cooke was created a life peer as Baron Cooke of Islandreagh.[7]


Election Unionist Labour Nationalist Ind. Unionist Independent
1921 24 0 0 0 0
1925 23 1 0 0 0
1929 20 1 3 0 0
1933 18 0 5 1 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
1957 19 0 4 0 1
1962 18 1 4 0 1
1965 18 2 4 0 0
1969 16 2 5 0 0

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.[6] Other than Hugh O'Doherty, Mayor of Londonderry until 1923, all the ex officio members were Ulster Unionists.

During its history 142 people sat in the upper house. With the addition of the Unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast Corporation and Mayor of Londonderry 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.

Political composition

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

The key offices in the Senate were:



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.