Direct rule (Northern Ireland)

In Northern Irish politics, direct rule (Irish: riail dhíreach[1][2][3]) is the administration of Northern Ireland directly by the Government of the United Kingdom. It was practised for 26 straight years between 1972 and 1998 during the Troubles, and has since then been temporarily applied during suspensions. The most recent period of direct rule came to an end on 8 May 2007 when power was restored to the Northern Ireland Assembly following April elections and a power-sharing agreement among major parties.

Although everyday matters under direct rule were handled by government departments within Northern Ireland itself, major policy was determined by the British Government's Northern Ireland Office, under the direction of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and legislation was introduced, amended, or repealed by means of Order in Council. Direct Rule did not mean that the people of Northern Ireland had no democratic say in how they were governed; like other parts of the United Kingdom, they elected (and still elect) members of parliament to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, to which the Northern Ireland Office is responsible. But it did result in the existence of an administration specific to Northern Ireland which did not have a specifically Northern Irish mandate.