COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 11 JUNE 2008
Room 144, PARLIAMENT bUILDINGS
Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Damien Martin (Assembly Clerk)
Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Keith McBride (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Marion Johnson (Clerical Assistant)
The meeting opened at 2.02 p.m. in public session
Martina Anderson, Jimmy Spratt.
2. Chairperson’s Business
Correspondence to First Minister
The Chairperson advised the Committee that he had written to the First Minister wishing him well in his new post and to the outgoing First Minster thanking him for his engagement with the Committee.
CPA International Parliamentary Governance Seminar
The Chairperson informed the Committee that he had agreed to participate in a seminar on the work of Assembly Committees, as a part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association International Parliamentary Governance Seminar to be held on 12 June 2008.
Request from Early Years
The Chairperson informed the Committee that a request had been received from Early Years asking if any Member would be available to welcome delegates to their annual conference on Friday 13 June 2008. The Clerk undertook to liaise with Members of the Committee in relation to their availability.
Consultative Group on the Past
The Committee agreed, subject to confirmation of arrangements, to meet informally with the Consultative Group on the Past on Tuesday 1st July at 12:30 p.m. in the Private Members Dining Room.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 4 June 2008
The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday 4 June 2008 were agreed by the Committee.
4. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM in relation to the draft strategic audit report, which advised that Ministers would be considering the methodology to identify the longer term strategic priorities of the Executive and that the Committee would be notified in due course of the proposed approach.
Children and Young People’s Funding
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM to the Committee’s request for more information regarding the final position in relation to the funding of children and young people’s priorities and seeking clarification on the action being taken to address the financial difficulties facing school age childcare services.
The Chairperson drew Members’ attention to the announcement by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding the extension of funding to a number of children’s programmes and agreed to write to OFMDFM asking how the department proposes to resolve such issues on a permanent basis.
Good Relations Panel
Members discussed the response from OFMDFM, to the Committee’s request for more information regarding the role and remit of the Good Relations Panel. The Committee agreed to consider the role of the Panel further in the context of proposals for the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration for a shared and better future.
5. Victims and Survivors Strategy
Officials from OFMDFM Good Relations and Reconciliation Division joined the meeting at 2.15 p.m.
Colin Jack and John Clarke from OFMDFM’s Good Relations and Reconciliation Division briefed the Committee and answered questions on the outline draft strategic approach for Victims and Survivors. The Committee raised a number of concerns with regard to the proposed roles, responsibilities and funding of the Victims and Survivors Service and the Commission for Victims and Survivors and their relationship with OFMDFM.
Officials from the OFMDFM Good Relations and Reconciliation Division left the meeting at 3.18 p.m.
Following discussion, Members agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister seeking clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the various organisations with responsibility for implementing the strategy. The Committee agreed to delay its response to the draft strategy until this information has been received and the Committee has had the opportunity to hear from the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
Mr Shannon left the meeting at 3.43 p.m.
6. Research briefing on delivery of cross-cutting themes in the Programme for Government
Mrs Jane Campbell, Assembly Researcher, briefed the Committee on ensuring delivery of cross-cutting themes in the Programme for Government, in response to Members’ concerns about how cross-cutting priorities are being delivered. The Committee agreed to commission further research on the potential role of legislation and finance in ensuring delivery of cross-cutting priorities.
7. Sustainable Development
Following its mini-review on Sustainable Development, the Committee considered a draft response to the First Minister and deputy First Minister. The Members agreed amendments to the response and that the response should be published on the internet.
8. Forward Work Programme
The Clerk advised Members of the Forward Work Programme for the remaining meetings before summer recess and of the uncertainties in relation to the scheduling of business relating to the Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration for a shared and better future. Members requested that an explanation be sought from OFMDFM as to the reason for the delay in substantive business items coming before the Committee.
9. Child Poverty Inquiry
The Committee discussed the launch of its report on child poverty and agreed to the Chairperson issuing a press release, in advance of the report’s release, highlighting the key issues raised in the report. The Committee agreed to share the report with Ministers and a small number of key stakeholders before publication.
UK Children’s Commissioners’ Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Members noted the UK Children’s Commissioners’ Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Submission from Equality 2000
Francie Molloy MLA, drew Members’ attention to the Bill of Rights submission from Equality 2000. The Committee agreed to forward the submission to OFMDFM.
Correspondence from Learn and Grow
The Committee noted correspondence from Learn and Grow, regarding the provision of learning opportunities for the unemployed.
Invitation to seminar on How the European Institutions Work
The Committee were advised of a seminar organised by Agenda NI, on “How the European Institutions work” to be held on Monday 23 June in the Stormont Hotel .
Correspondence from OFMDFM on the Youth Debate in the Assembly Chamber
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM providing clarification on a number of issues relating to the youth debate.
The Committee discussed the request from the Junior Ministers for Members of the Committee to attend the event and to work with the young people in preparation for the debate. Mr Kennedy, Mrs Long, Mr Wells and Mr McElduff advised that they wished to participate in the event.
11. Date of next meeting
The Committee agreed to schedule next week’s meeting in the Senate Chamber in light of the briefing from the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 18 June 2008 at 2.00 p.m. in the Senate Chamber.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.31 p.m.