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End of Session Report 08-09

Remit and Powers

The Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is a Statutory Committee established in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Belfast Agreement, Section 29 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and under Assembly Standing Order 48. The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and has a role in the initiation of legislation.

The Committee has power to:


Committee Members:

Chairperson - Mr Danny Kennedy
Deputy Chairperson - Mrs Naomi Long
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Alex Attwood 2
Mr Tom Elliott
Mr Ian McCrea 1
Mr Barry McElduff
Mr Francie Molloy
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Jim Shannon
Mr Jimmy Spratt

1 with effect from 15 September 2008 Mr Ian McCrea replaced Mr Jim Wells
2 with effect from 29 June 2009 Mr Alex Atwood replaced Mrs Dolores Kelly

Over the 2008-09 session the Committee held a total of 35 Committee meetings.

The main work of the Committee this year has been centred on the Committee’s European Inquiry.

The Committee decided that it wished to look at how legislation and directives originating from the European Institutions are implemented in Northern Ireland, and in particular, what may be the best approach for the Assembly and the Executive to take. The Committee also wished to consider how Northern Ireland is promoted as a region of Europe and how Northern Ireland can improve its interaction with the European Institutions.

As expected the Committee’s work has generated substantial interest, with 41 written submissions received. The Committee conducted 34 oral evidence sessions, including oral evidence from Northern Ireland’s MEPs, the Chairperson of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee and the Houses of the Oireachtas’ Joint European Committees.

As well as taking evidence locally, the Committee has proactively been seeking to examine best practice in other legislatures, with visits to Catalonia to meet with the Catalonian European Committee, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Scottish Parliament and the House of the Oireachtas. The Committee also met with the Saxony-Anhalt Committee on Federal, European Affairs and Media, and held a video conference meeting with the National Assembly for Wales European and External Affairs Committee.

The Committee expects to finalise its report early in the 2009-10 session and make a number of key recommendations on the way forward.


The Committee scrutinised the Public Authority Reform Bill, consulting widely and produced its report on 19 November 2008. In January 2009 the Committee also considered and agreed a proposal from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to seek accelerated passage for the Financial Assistance Bill.

The Committee also scrutinised the Fair Employment Specification of Public Authorities Order and the Public Appointments Prerogative Order.


The Committee carried out its scrutiny role in relation to the Strategy for Children and Young People produced by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. The Committee considered the Department’s draft Action Plan and forwarded to a number of interested stakeholders to seek their views. Following input from the Committee, the Action Plan was agreed by the Executive in July 2009. The Committee will be monitoring progress of the Action Plan against its objectives in the 2009/10 session.

The Committee was also actively involved in the scrutiny of the Executive’s response to the Report of the Northern Ireland Taskforce (Barroso Report). In order to ensure that the response was comprehensive, the Committee commissioned the views of other statutory Committees of the Assembly and provided a response to Ministers; this will continue to be a priority for the Committee in the coming year.

The Committee met with the Victims and Survivors Commissioners on a number of occasions regarding the draft strategy and proposals for a forum and service. The consultation and development of the proposed Victims Service will be a key priority for the Committee in this session.

The Committee also met with the Older Peoples Advocate and departmental officials regarding legislative proposals for a Commissioner for Older People. The Committee will continue to consider this important issue.

The Committee also commenced a mini review of the Gender Equality Strategy and the accompanying Strategy Actions Plans. The Committee will receive oral evidence on this issue over the coming months.

Forthcoming Priorities

The Department of Justice Bill
European Report
Commissioner for Older People
Victims Service
Gender Equality
Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations

OFMDFM Committee meeting with the President of the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona

OFMDFM Committee meeting with the President of the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona

Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister – Expenditure for the period 1 September 2008 – 31 August 2009

Budget area
Committee Travel - committee members and staff travel and subsistence in relation to visits and meetings outside Parliament Buildings Includes the cost of committee visits to:
  • Wales – To meet with Welsh and Scottish Equal Opp Committees – Nov 08.
  • Dublin – To meet with the House of Oireachtas Joint European Committees – Dec 08.
  • Edinburgh – To meet with the Scottish European Committee – Feb 09.
  • London – To meet with the HoC and HoL European Committees – Mar 09.
  • Washington – Chairperson – St Patricks Day – Mar 09.
  • Barcelona – Fact finding visit in relation to how other regions consider European issues – May 09.
  • Edinburgh – Europe Day seminar, also met with representatives of Saxony Anhalt – May 09.
Printing of committee reports Includes the cost of committee reports on:
  • Public Authority Reform Bill
Advertising – the cost of public notices relating to committee inquiries, the committee stage of bills and meetings held outside Parliament Buildings Includes the cost of public notices in relation to:
  • Public Authority Reform Bill
General expenses Cost of refreshments for committee meetings, working lunches, seminars, room hire and witness expenses £3455.81