Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo



Members Present:
The Speaker (in the Chair)
Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MP MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Lord Morrow MLA
Dr William McCrea MP MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
Mrs Iris Robinson MP MLA

In Attendance:
Ms Nuala Dunwoody Clerk Assistant
Mr John Torney, Principal Clerk
Mrs Christine Darrah, Clerk to the Liaison Group
Mrs Valerie Artt, Assistant Clerk
Mr Paul Breen, Clerical Supervisor
Mr Jonathon Young, Clerical Officer

Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA
Mr Sammy Wilson MP MLA

The meeting opened at 12.05 p.m. in closed session

  1. Chairperson’s Introduction

The Speaker welcomed all present to the meeting.

  1. Role of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group

The Group considered the role and purpose previously adopted by the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group in January 2002 which was to fulfil a practical liaison role in relation to the work of Assembly committees, helping to develop common approaches to common problems and promoting good practice.

Agreed: The Chairpersons’ Liaison Group would be re-established and meet on a monthly basis to carry out the role and purpose adopted by the previous Group.

  1. Arrangements for chairing meetings of the Group

The Group considered arrangements for chairing meetings of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.

12.08 p.m. Mrs Hanna joined the meeting

Agreed: The positions of chairperson and deputy chairperson should be rotated annually on the basis of party strength.
Agreed: The DUP should be invited to nominate a chairperson from amongst the membership of the Liaison Group to act as chairperson until the end of June 2008. Mr Sammy Wilson was nominated.
Agreed: Sinn Féin should be invited to nominate a deputy chairperson for the same period. Mr Mitchel McLaughlin was nominated.Agreed: The Speaker should continue to chair the first meeting of the Group.
  1. Procedures for the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group

The Group considered the procedures adopted by the previous Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.

12.12 p.m. Mrs Robinson joined the meeting

Agreed: The procedures adopted by the previous Liaison Group would continue to apply.

Agreed: An additional procedure to allow a chairperson to be elected for one meeting only, where a quorum existed but the chairperson and deputy chairperson were both absent, would also be adopted.

  1. Staff contact details

Chairpersons were advised that the Group was supported by the Central Committee Office and noted the staff contact details which had been circulated.

  1. Information on the work of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group in the First Mandate

Chairpersons noted the information on the work of the Group during the first mandate which had been provided. The possibility of improvements to committee rooms and facilities were discussed, particularly in relation to press access to public galleries in committee rooms and waiting facilities for witnesses invited to give evidence to committees.

Agreed: Procedures in place to provide access for the media to committee meetings should be reviewed during the summer recess and recommendations for action during the autumn session would be discussed at the next meeting.

Agreed: The Group may also wish to revisit some of the other issues at a later date.

  1. Letter from the Speaker regarding the scheduling of committee meetings

The Group briefly discussed the scheduling of committee meetings on Plenary days.

Mr Durkan joined the meeting at 12.25 p.m.

Agreed: Further consideration would be given to the matter in the context of the inquiry into committee systems and structures being conducted by the Committee for Procedures.

  1. Future work programme

The Group briefly discussed letters from the Committee on Procedures on its inquiries into electronic voting in the Assembly and committee systems and structures.

Agreed: Responses to the Committee on Procedures in relation to both inquiries would be considered at the next meeting in September.

The Group considered a letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure outlining items he wished to have placed on the agenda of a future meeting.

Agreed: The items would be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Group in September.

The Group noted a paper setting out possible future work items.

Agreed: A draft forward work programme would be prepared for consideration at the next meeting.

  1. Any Other Business

Mrs Robinson highlighted her concerns over the methods used by departments to select members of groups established to advise on specific matters.

Agreed: Departments should be challenged if committees were not given the opportunity to scrutinise the nomination process for such groups.

  1. Date and time of next meeting.

The next meeting will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday 18 September 2007.

The meeting closed at 12.56 p.m.

Mr Sammy Wilson,

18 September 2007