Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 21 December 2011
2011 in the Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland's water problems made international news as 40,000 people across the country were left without water for the first week of 2011.
Some people were left without a supply for eight days when severe weather conditions caused water pipes to burst.
Northern Ireland Water came under severe criticism for the handling of the crisis, and the chief executive Laurence MacKenzie was forced to resign.
Regional development committee chairperson Fred Cobain nevertheless criticised Mr Cobain for failing to appear at the emergency committee session.
2) Justice at last
Justice Bill makes its way through the assembly
The first piece of legislation on justice to be passed by a Stormont assembly in 30 years did not come easy.
Many hours of debate led to stalemate over the definition of the term "sectarian", and amendments on sectarian chanting were defeated on a cross-community vote.
However, that was a perhaps a small concession for a piece of legislation which would pave the way for a renewal of the regulation of law and order in Northern Ireland.
The final stage of the Justice Bill passed just in time for the end of the first mandate.
In a warm address Speaker William Hay said he believed the best years of the assembly lay in the years ahead.
'We serve the people'
3) Back with more bite
'Stop the bickering'
The May election had delivered a clear message to politicians from the electorate to stop fighting, Martin McGuinness told the assembly as he was elected deputy first minister for the second time.
First Minister Peter Robinson said he would be a "thorn in the flesh" of those who tried to disrupt the work of the assembly from outside or from within the assembly.
However, a familiar landscape began to emerge over the next few weeks, when a debate calling for an official opposition was carried, with newly elected MLA TUV leader Jim Allister dubbing the Northern Irish system a "blot on the democratic landscape of the western world".
Call for an official opposition
4) Cameron counts the cost of division
David Cameron visits Stormont
In his first prime ministerial address to the assembly David Cameron underlined the need to put "normal mainstream politics first".
Division costs Northern Ireland up to £1.5bn a year, he said.
He also paid tribute to Constable Ronan Kerr, the 25-year-old Catholic police officer murdered by dissident republicans in March 2011.
5) 'Too many schools'
The effects of cuts to the Northern Ireland budget continued to trickle down throughout the year.
At the end of September the direction of education was made clear.
Education Minister John O'Dowd said the number of empty desks represented "more than 150 schools" and outlined his plans for a viability audit saying he would target schools that were failing pupils.
Minister announces education audit
6) No judicial inquiry for Finucane murder
The death of solicitor Pat Finucane's was the last remaining murder subject to an independent inquiry included in the 'Weston Park' agreement made by former prime minister Tony Blair in 2001.
Allegations of collusion by government agents defined the Weston Park list. David Cameron apologised to the Finucane family and affirmed the likelihood of collusion in the case, but offered the family a review of case papers by a QC.
The SDLP's Stormont motion to call for a full judicial inquiry fell.
A motion calling for a judicial inquiry fell
7) Acute cuts continued...
Finally, the year ended with the largest ever review of health and social services in Northern Ireland's history.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said that the number of hospitals providing accident and emergency care could be halved, but insisted the statement should not be read as foreshadowing whole scale jobs losses.
The minister's attitude to how the health service should change was made clear later in the week when he referred in committee to people treating the NHS as a "sort of garage repair shop".
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