Local government in Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland is divided into 11 districts for local government purposes. In Northern Ireland, local councils do not carry out the same range of functions as those in the rest of the United Kingdom; for example they have no responsibility for education, road-building or housing (although they do nominate members to the advisory Northern Ireland Housing Council). Their functions include waste and recycling services, leisure and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development. They are not planning authorities, but are consulted on some planning applications. The collection of rates is handled by the Land and Property Services agency.

Local Government Districts

District Council Meeting Place Population[1]
Antrim and Newtownabbey Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Newtownabbey and Antrim (alternately) 139,000
Ards and North Down Ards and North Down Borough Council Bangor 157,000
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Craigavon 200,000
Belfast Belfast City Council Belfast 334,000
Causeway Coast and Glens Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Coleraine[2] 142,000
Derry and Strabane Derry City and Strabane District Council Derry 148,000
Fermanagh and Omagh Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Omagh and Enniskillen[3] 113,000
Lisburn and Castlereagh Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Lisburn[4] 135,000
Mid and East Antrim Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Ballymena[5] 135,000
Mid-Ulster Mid-Ulster District Council Dungannon[6] 139,000
Newry, Mourne and Down Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Downpatrick and Newry 172,000

Composition of District Councils

District SF DUP SDLP UUP APNI TUV Green PUP UKIP NI21 PBP Independents Total
Antrim and Newtownabbey 3 15 4 12 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 40/40
Ards and North Down 0 17 1 9 7 1 2 0 0 0 0 3 40/40
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon 8 13 6 12 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 41/41
Belfast 19 12 7 7 8 1 1 3 0 0 1 1 60/60
Causeway Coast and Glens 7 11 6 9 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 40/40
Derry and Strabane 16 8 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 40/40
Fermanagh and Omagh 17 5 8 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 40/40
Lisburn and Castlereagh 0 18 3 10 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 40/40
Mid and East Antrim 3 16 1 9 3 5 0 0 1 0 0 2 40/40
Mid-Ulster 18 8 6 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 40/40
Newry, Mourne and Down 14 4 13 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 41/41
TOTAL 105 125 63 89 32 13 3 4 2 0 1 24 462/462


The current pattern of 11 local government districts was established on 1 April 2015, as a result of the reform process that started in 2005.

The previous pattern of local government in Northern Ireland, with 26 councils, was established in 1973 by the Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 and the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 to replace the previous system established by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. The system was based on the recommendations of the Macrory Report, of June 1970, which presupposed the continued existence of the Government of Northern Ireland to act as a regional-level authority.[7]

From 1921 to 1973, Northern Ireland was divided into six administrative counties (subdivided into urban and rural districts) and two county boroughs. The counties and county boroughs continue to exist for the purposes of lieutenancy and shrievalty.[8] This system, with the abolition of rural districts, remains the model for local government in the Republic of Ireland. (See also List of rural and urban districts in Northern Ireland for more details.)


Councillors are elected for a four-year term of office under the single transferable vote (STV) system. Elections were last held in May 2014. To qualify for election, a councillor candidate must be:

In addition, he or she must either:

  • be a local elector for the district, or
  • have, during the whole of the 12-month period prior to the election, either owned or occupied land in the district, or else resided or worked in the district.


The districts are combined for various purposes.

Education and Library Boards

There are currently five education and library boards (ELBs) in Northern Ireland.

As part of the Review of Public Administration process, the library functions of the ELBs were taken over by a new body, the Northern Ireland Library Authority (branded Libraries NI) in April 2009.[9]

The education and skills functions were to have been centralised into a single Education and Skills Authority in January 2010, but this has been postponed.[10][11] As of June 2013, legislation was still pending but under active development.[12]

The boards are as follows:

Name Area
1. Belfast 200px
2. North Eastern Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newtownabbey
3. South Eastern Ards, Castlereagh, Down, Lisburn and North Down
4. Southern Armagh, Banbridge, Cookstown, Craigavon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Newry and Mourne
5. Western Derry, Fermanagh, Limavady, Omagh, Strabane

Eurostat NUTS level 3

In the Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), Northern Ireland is divided into five parts at level 3

Name Area
UKN01 Belfast NUTS 3 regions of Northern Ireland map.svg
UKN02 Outer Belfast Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Down
UKN03 East Antrim, Ards, Ballymena, Banbridge, Craigavon, Down, Larne
UKN04 North Ballymoney, Coleraine, Derry, Limavady, Moyle, Strabane
UKN05 West and South Armagh, Cookstown, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Magherafelt, Newry and Mourne, Omagh

Former Health and Social Services Boards

There were four health and social services boards which were replaced by a single Health and Social Care Board in April 2009.[13]

The former health and social services boards were as follows:

Name Area
1. Eastern Ards, Belfast, Castlereagh, Down, Lisburn, North Down 200px
2. Northern Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Cookstown, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newtownabbey
3. Southern Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Newry and Mourne
4. Western Derry, Fermanagh, Limavady, Omagh, Strabane


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In June 2002, the Northern Ireland Executive established a Review of Public Administration to review the arrangements for the accountability, development, administration and delivery of public services. Among its recommendations were a reduction in the number of districts.[14] In 2005 Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced proposals to reduce the number of councils to seven.[15] The names and boundaries of the seven districts were announced in March 2007.[16] In March 2008 the restored Northern Executive agreed to create eleven new councils instead of the original seven.[17][18][19] The first elections were due to take place in May 2011. However, by May 2010 disagreements among parties in the executive over district boundaries were expected to delay the reforms until 2015.[20] In June 2010 the proposed reforms were abandoned following the failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to reach agreement.[21][22] However, on 12 March 2012, the Northern Ireland Executive published its programme for government, which included a commitment to reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland to 11.[23]

See also


  1. http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/census/2011/results/key-statistics/summary-report.pdf
  2. https://www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/contact-us
  3. http://fermanaghomagh.public-minutes.com/
  4. https://www.lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk/contact
  5. http://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/downloads/Schedule_of_Mid_and_East_Antrim_meetings_Jan_-_June_2016.pdf
  6. http://www.midulstercouncil.org/Council/Council-Meetings/Council-Meetings/2016
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  8. The Northern Ireland (Lieutenancy) Order 1975 (S.I. 1975 No.156)
  9. librariesni.org.uk – News, Campbell officially launches a new era in libraries. Ni-libraries.net. Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
  10. 09 December 2008 – Assembly Supports New Education Authority | Northern Ireland Executive. Northernireland.gov.uk (9 December 2008). Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
  11. [1] Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  12. http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/about-the-department/8-admin-of-education-pg/education-and-skills-authority/latest-developments.htm
  13. Health and Social Care Board
  14. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.[dead link]
  15. Major reform of local government, BBC News
  16. Revised Recommendations for new council boundaries unveiled, press release, 30 March 2007
  17. NI councils reduced from 26 to 11
  18. Proposal for 11 new NI councils, BBC News
  19. Foster announces the future shape of local government, NI Executive
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External links