Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
|Secretary of State|
for Northern Ireland
|Northern Ireland Office|
|Style||Northern Ireland Secretary|
The Right Honourable
(within the UK and the Commonwealth)
|Status||Secretary of state|
Minister of the Crown
on advice of the Prime Minister
|Term length||At Her Majesty's pleasure|
|Precursor||Lord Lieutenant of Ireland|
Governor of Northern Ireland
|Formation||24 March 1972|
|First holder||William Whitelaw|
|Deputy||Minister of State for Northern Ireland|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
the United Kingdom
The secretary of state for Northern Ireland (Irish: Rúnaí Stáit Thuaisceart Éireann; Scots: Secretar o State for Norlin Airlan), also called the Northern Ireland secretary or SoSNI, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom. They are in charge of the Northern Ireland Office. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. They are 17th in the ministerial ranking.
History[change | change source]
Historically, the main ministers for Irish (and Northern Ireland) affairs in the UK Government were:
- the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (c.1171–1922);
- the Chief Secretary for Ireland (1560–1922); and
- the Home Secretary (1922–1972).
Scotland and Wales have had the Secretary of State for Scotland (1885) and Secretary of State for Wales (1964) for a long time but Northern Ireland did not have a Secretary. This was caused by the Government of Northern Ireland and Parliament of Northern Ireland. The office of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was created after the Northern Ireland government (at Stormont) was suspended. The government was later ended after civil problems. The British government was worried that the Parliament of Northern Ireland was losing control of the situation. On 30 March 1972, the country was put under the direct rule of the british Parliamen. The Secretary of State replced three jobs from the previous government. These were:
- the Governor of Northern Ireland - The main representative of the British monarch
- the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland - now the First Minister of Northern Ireland and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
- the Minister of Home Affairs - Now the Minister of Justice
Direct rule was expected to last for only a short time. Sharing the pwer was preferred as the solution. It has been renewed by a vote in Parliament each year. The Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 created the Northern Ireland Executive from 1 January 1974. It was ended by the Ulster Workers' Council strike on 28 May 1974. The Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention (1975–1976) and Northern Ireland Assembly (1982–1986) could not restore the government. Following the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) on 10 April 1998 removed many of the duties of the Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland Office.
Many of the powers of the Secretary have been given to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. The secretary of state in now limited to representing Northern Ireland in the UK cabinet and controling the operation of the administration. They are also in charge of several other areas. These include security, human rights, some public inquiries and elections.
List of secretaries of state for Northern Ireland[change | change source]
|Portrait||Name||Term of office||Length of term||Party||Prime Minister|
MP for Penrith and The Border
|24 March 1972||2 December 1973||1 year, 253 days||Conservative||Edward Heath|
MP for Cambridgeshire
|2 December 1973||4 March 1974||3 months and 2 days||Conservative|
MP for Leeds South
|5 March 1974||10 September 1976||2 years, 189 days||Labour||Harold Wilson|
MP for Barnsley
|10 September 1976||4 May 1979||2 years, 236 days||Labour||James Callaghan|
MP for Spelthorne
|5 May 1979||14 September 1981||2 years, 132 days||Conservative||Margaret Thatcher|
MP for Lowestoft (until 1983)
MP for Waveney (from 1983)
|14 September 1981||11 September 1984||2 years, 363 days||Conservative|
MP for Witney
|11 September 1984||3 September 1985||11 months and 23 days||Conservative|
MP for Bridgwater
|3 September 1985||24 July 1989||3 years, 324 days||Conservative|
MP for Cities of London
and Westminster South
|24 July 1989||10 April 1992||2 years, 261 days||Conservative|
|Sir Patrick Mayhew
MP for Tunbridge Wells
|10 April 1992||2 May 1997||5 years and 22 days||Conservative|
MP for Redcar
|3 May 1997||11 October 1999||2 years, 161 days||Labour||Tony Blair|
MP for Hartlepool
|11 October 1999||24 January 2001||1 year, 105 days||Labour|
MP for Hamilton North and Bellshill
|25 January 2001||24 October 2002||1 year, 272 days||Labour|
MP for Torfaen
|24 October 2002||6 May 2005||2 years, 194 days||Labour|
MP for Neath
(also Welsh Secretary)
|6 May 2005||28 June 2007||2 years, 53 days||Labour|
MP for St Helens South
|28 June 2007||11 May 2010||2 years, 317 days||Labour||Gordon Brown|
MP for North Shropshire
|12 May 2010||4 September 2012||2 years, 115 days||Conservative||David Cameron|
MP for Chipping Barnet
|4 September 2012||14 July 2016||3 years, 314 days||Conservative|
MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup
|14 July 2016||8 January 2018||1 year, 178 days||Conservative||Theresa May|
MP for Staffordshire Moorlands
|8 January 2018||24 July 2019||1 year, 197 days||Conservative|
MP for Skipton and Ripon
|24 July 2019||13 February 2020||6 months and 20 days||Conservative||Boris Johnson|
MP for Great Yarmouth
|13 February 2020||Incumbent||2 years, 99 days*||Conservative|
* Incumbent's length of term last updated: 23 May 2022.
Notes[change | change source]
- "2008 ANNUAL REPORT North South Council o Ministers" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
- "Buaileann an Tánaiste le Rúnaí Stáit Thuaisceart Éireann - Buaileann an Tánaiste le Rúnaí Stáit Thuaisceart Éireann, an Feisire Theresa Villiers - Department of Foreign Affairs". www.dfa.ie. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
- "Secretary of State for Northern Ireland". gov.uk. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
- "Her Majesty's Government: The Cabinet". parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 17 November 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
- "Home Office". National Archives Catalogue. National Archives. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- Melaugh, Martin. "A Chronology of the Conflict – 1972". Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN). University of Ulster. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- "Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972" (PDF). legislation.gov.uk. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- "About the NIO". Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.