MINUTES OF THE THIRTY FIFTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER 2008 AT 5.25PM IN ROOM 106
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Dr Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
In Attendance: Mr T Reaney, Mr T Logue, Dr G McGrath, Mr R Stewart, Mr S Welch , Mr R Good and Ms C McGowan.
1. CHAIRMANS BUSINESS
The Speaker thanked Members of the Commission for taking the time to engage in the visit by the Houses of Oireachtas Commission. He highlighted the useful nature of the visit in developing relationships between the Assembly and the Oireachtas and in progressing the development of the North South Parliamentary Forum.
The Speaker updated Members on the agreement to establish a working group, in each jurisdiction. He informed Members that he and the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Mr John O’Donoghue would independently chair each of the groups.
The Speaker proposed that the groups would bring forward recommendations to their respective Commissions, for the development of a North-South Parliamentary Forum by April 2009. The Speaker concluded by informing Members that further details would be provided at the next Commission meeting on the 4 th of November 2008.
2. MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETINGS
The minutes of the meeting held on the 7 October 2008 were agreed.
3. MATTERS ARISING
3.1 Senior Salaries Review Body – Update
The Clerk/Director General informed the Commission that the report from the Senior Salaries Review Body was still being finalised. He discussed again the process the Commission might consider for the handling of the report and possible options for the agreed future publication of the full report.
3.2 Commission Off-Site Meeting
Mr Logue informed Members that an off site meeting had been arranged for 26/27 November 2008 and that he would forward details of the programme outline to Members.
3.3 Provision of shelving to lecterns
Mr Welch presented Members with a mock up of two possible options in relation to the provision of a shelf to the back lecterns within the Chamber. The Commission agreed that the shelf should be inclined to offer more leg room and suggested that a temporary shelf be installed within the Chamber for Member’s consideration.
4. ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
Mr Maginness joined the meeting
Mr Moutray joined the meeting.
Dr McGrath provided the Commission with a presentation updating them on work to progress the development of the strategy for outreach and public engagement.
Members highlighted specific areas for inclusion within the development of the strategy and requested that these be reflected in a future paper to the Commission.
Dr McGrath informed Members that he would provide a draft engagement strategy to the next meeting of the Commission taking into account the issues raised during discussions. Dr McGrath also agreed to provide a detailed action plan outlining potential resource implications and timescales. Members congratulated Dr McGrath on the detail and quality of the proposals contained within his presentation.
5. PROVISION OF PROCUREMENT SERVICES TO NI ASSEMBLY
Mr Stewart appraised the Commission in relation to the provision of procurement services within the Northern Ireland Assembly. Following consideration, Members noted the view of the Secretariat Management Group to retain an in-house procurement service.
6. MEDIA ACCESS
The Commission agreed to discuss media access to Parliament Buildings as part of their off-site meeting on the 26 November 2008 and in the context of the wider Engagement Strategy.
7. EQUALITY SCHEME ANNUAL REPORT 2007/2008
The Commission approved the annual report on the Northern Ireland Assembly Equality Scheme and Disability Action Plan and agreed that it be submitted to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
8. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
8.1 Eurest Pay Award
The Commission approved a proposal from the Director of Properties for this year’s pay award for Eurest staff.
8.2 Freedom Of Information Update
Mr Logue provided the Commission with an update in relation to recent requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
8.3 IT Services
Mr Moutray reported that he and several of his colleagues were experiencing difficulties in relation to accessing the internet during working hours. Mr Logue reported that the NICS were in the process of upgrading the server. The IS Office hope that this will result in quicker access times, however, should this not occur then the IS office would consider further options and report back. Mr Moutray also raised concerns about the poor operational quality of the fax machines.
8.4 Staff Briefing Sessions
The Clerk/Director General informed the Commission that he had arranged two staff briefing sessions for Wednesday 22 October and Friday 24 October 2008.
He reported that the purpose of the meetings would be to follow-up on the staff events held in early September and to update staff on a number of issues, including the separation project; the recruitment programme; the engagement strategy; the accommodation project; and the proposed review of the delivery of security and related services.
8.5 Health and Safety
The Assembly Commission agreed that a full fire drill should be conducted within the next six months.
8.6 Assembly Christmas Card
Members agreed the picture for use in the Assembly Christmas Card for 2008.
9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission was agreed for Tuesday 4 November 2008, 15 minutes after the rise of House or earlier if no Commission Member is involved in the Adjournment Debate scheduled for that day.The meeting ended at 6.47pm