The Northern Ireland Assembly will resume once again after its previous coalition collapsed three years ago. The DUP and Sinn Fein have now restarted their mandatory coalition, following lengthy talks over the last year.
Both parties have now agreed to a wide-ranging deal, breaking the three-year deadlock.
The Parliament Buildings in Belfast, known as Stormont for their location on the city’s Stormont estate, saw the return of parties on Saturday.
Along with the DUP and Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Alliance Party will also be entering the new executive.
Arlene Foster of the DUP has been elected first minister, and Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has been elected deputy first minister.
READ MORE: George Galloway makes shocking prediction on the future of Ireland
Northern Ireland: What is devolution? How did Northern Ireland Assembly collapse?
Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, with party colleagues, make their way into a session of the Northern Ireland Assembly on Saturday
What is devolution?
Under the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the UK parliament transferred some legislative and executive powers over to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The transfer of power meant the Assembly and its Executive Committee of Ministers have the power to govern over local matters.
This includes issues such as health, education, roads and housing, and ministers undertake the Northern Ireland Government Departments.
Cross-community power sharing at an executive level is one of the key features of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill pose outside Stormont on Saturday
The First and deputy First Ministers, one unionist and one nationalist, have equal powers, and one cannot be in power without the other.
Based on the d’Hondt system, the number of seats a party wins in a general election determines the proportion of unionist or nationalist ministers in a sitting Executive.
Certain decisions, such as the election of a new Speaker, have to be made with cross-community support.
This means the decisions must be supported by a certain percentage of nationalists and unionists, not just a majority.
Brexit LIVE: US to work ‘day and night’ to secure trade deal with UK [LIVE]
Brexit news: We’re not plotting to grab your NHS, insists US chief [INSIGHT]
Labour’s new leader will continue to ‘keep Britain shackled to EU’ [ANALYSIS]
How did the Northern Ireland Assembly collapse?
For a while before the collapse of the coalition in 2017, there had been growing tensions between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
The parties disagreed on major issues such as same-sex marriage and the Irish language.
But in January 2017, Sinn Fein pulled out of government after then enterprise minister, Arlene Foster, refused to step aside.
Northern Ireland: Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) attend a session of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time in three years
Ms Foster had set up the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which offered long-term financial assistance for those who replaced their fossil fuel heat generators for generators powered by renewable energy.
However, once the scheme was put into place, the cost of these fuels cost much less than the subsidy claimants could receive from the Government, meaning users could earn more money if they burned more fuel.
The scheme ran significantly over budget, threatening to cost the taxpayers up to £490 million, and an inquiry was launched into the scheme.
DUP leader Arlene Foster refused to step down as First Minister during the inquiry, and since the coalition breakdown Stormont had remained vacant.