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Minutes of Proceedings
WEDNESDAY 19 September 2007

Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Tom Elliot
Francie Molloy
Jim Shannon
Jimmy Spratt

In Attendance:
Christine Darrah ( Assembly Clerk)
Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Lynda Mulholland (Clerical Supervisor)
Marion Johnson (Clerical Officer)
Eileen Regan (Senior Assembly Researcher)

The meeting opened at 2.04 p.m. in public session.

  1. Apologies

Dolores Kelly, Stephen Moutray, Barry McElduff, Martina Anderson.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that the Assistant Assembly

Clerk to the Committee, Mr Joe Sloan is currently absent on sick leave and sent him a message of goodwill, wishing him a speedy recovery.

  1. Chairperson’s business

The Chairperson briefed the Committee on a meeting that he held with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). The Committee agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister seeking its views on the issues raised by NIHRC at that meeting.

Members noted an invitation from the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom to the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Committee Members to meet with him on Tuesday 2 October and agreed to advise the Clerk of the names of those who would attend.

The Chairperson advised the Committee that he was speaking at the launch of the Global Peacebuilders project on 21 September 07. A press release would be issued.

  1. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 12 September 2007

The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday 12 September 2007 were agreed by the Committee.

  1. Matters arising

Review of the Civic Forum

The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM in relation to Review of the Civic Forum and agreed to await the update on the progress on the Review scheduled for the end of November 2007.

Review of the Planning Appeals Commission

The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM, but expressed grave concerns regarding the backlog of appeals and the potential impact of the ongoing delays. The Committee agreed to write again to the Department on the matter.

Mr Shannon joined the meeting at 2.16.p.m.

Maze / Long Kesh Costs and Business Case

The Committee briefly discussed the breakdown of OFMDFM and Strategic Investment Board (SIB) Expenditure on the Maze/Long Kesh project.

The Chairman advised that in his letter to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister recording late receipt of papers and slippage on key issues, he had requested a definitive date on which officials will come to the Committee to consult on the Maze/Long Kesh project.

  1. Programme for Government /Budget / Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2008 process

Officials joined the meeting at 2.22 p.m.

Departmental officials, Paul Priestly, Linda Wilson, Tom Reid and, briefed the Committee on the approach to be taken with regard to the Programme for Government (PfG) 2008 - 11 and the timescales involved.

Mr Elliot left the meeting at 2.30.p.m.
Officials left the meeting at 2.44. p.m.

Following discussion, the Committee agreed to consult other statutory committees on the cross-cutting issues contained in the PfG and ISNI ’08 at the appropriate time.

  1. Disability Discrimination Policy and Guidance

Officials joined the meeting at 2.52p.m.

Department Officials Gerry Mulligan, Carol McCabe and Margaret Glass were advised that the Committee had agreed to defer the OFMDFM presentation until 3 October 07, due to the extensive briefing paper that had only been made available earlier in the day and therefore tabled that day, not allowing Members the opportunity to undertake a meaningful scrutiny of the Disability Discrimination Policy and Guidance.

Officials left the meeting at 2.55 p.m.

  1. Forward Work Programme

Members were briefed by the Clerk, and agreed the priorities for the Committee’s forward work plan. The Committee also agreed to consider , subject to a proposed itinerary for the event, to hold its committee meeting in Derry/Londonderry on 24 October 2007 in conjunction with a visit to the Ilex Urban Regeneration Company Site. Further consideration would be given to undertaking a European Union familiarisation visit, in the New Year.

  1. Update on Review of Public Administration (RPA)

The Committee agreed to await the update on progress of the RPA from the Department, scheduled for the end of November 2007 before considering further action.

Mr Kennedy, Mrs Long, Mr Molloy, Mr Spratt and Mr Shannon all declared an interest as local councillors.

  1. Public Appointments Commissioner

The Committee agreed to invite the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Public Appointments to brief the Committee in mid October 2007.

  1. Correspondence

The Committee noted the correspondence from Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action regarding access to committee meetings and engagement with the public inside and outside parliament buildings. The Chairperson advised the committee that the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group would be writing to the Speaker with regard to reducing the number of seats reserved for the press.

The Chairperson also asked Members to consider holding some committee meetings outside Parliament Buildings as part of the proposed inquiry into child poverty.

  1. Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 September 2007 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 144 Parliament Buildings.

  1. European Reform Treaty

Official join the meeting at 3.20p.m.

Departmental Official, Paul Geddis briefed the Committee on the key issues for devolved administrations in relation to the draft European Reform Treaty. Members questioned the official on aspects of the treaty which would have particular relevance to Northern Ireland and the Assembly. Following discussion, and given the short notice for response by the Committee, Mr Geddis gave an undertaking that he would make the views of the Committee known to the Executive.

Official left the meeting at 4.09 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.10 p.m.

Mr Danny Kennedy
Chairperson, Committee for the Office
of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

12 September 2007 / Menu