COMMITTEE FOR CULTURE, ARTS AND LEISURE
THURSDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2008
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Francie Brolly MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Nelson McCausland MLA
Mr Pat Ramsey MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA
Mr Jim Shannon MLA
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Martin Wilson (Principal Clerk)
Mrs Linda Gregg (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Miss Mairéad Higgins (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Angela Aboagye (Clerical Officer)
The meeting opened at 10.32 a.m. in public session.
Apologies as detailed above.
Mr Shannon arrived at 10.36 a.m.
Mr Brolly arrived at 10.38 a.m.
Mr Robinson arrived at 10.40 a.m.
2. Libraries Bill – Consideration of Draft Report
The Committee considered the Draft Report on the Libraries Bill paragraph by paragraph.
Paragraph 1-4, read and agreed
Paragraph 5, read and agreed as amended
Paragraph 6-9, read and agreed
Paragraph 10, read and agreed as amended
Paragraph 11, read and agreed
Paragraph 12, read and agreed
Paragraph 13-19, read and agreed
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 10.45 a.m.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 10.51 a.m.
Paragraph 20, read and agreed as amended
Paragraph 21, read and agreed
Agreed - the Committee agreed the main body of the report.
Agreed – the Committee agreed the Executive Summary.
The Committee ordered the Report on The Libraries Bill (NIA 5/07) to be printed.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2008
Agreed – the draft minutes of the meeting were agreed.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.01 a.m.
4. Matters arising
The Committee discussed Ministerial Statement on the Budget 2008-2001.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to write to the Minister to clarify the points the Minister for Finance and Personnel made in relation to the capita spend on sports in Northern Ireland.
The Committee discussed the response from the Minister dated 28 January 2008 in which he had supplied further budgetary information.
Agreed - the Clerk was asked to compile a list of specific questions relating to the concerns of the Committee in relation to the budget and bring back to the Committee for discussion.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to forward their questions to the Minister and invite him to brief the Committee on his response.
The Committee noted the response from the Department dated 21 January 2008 which provided information on the funding formula to distribute public library funding to the Education and Library Boards (ARNE).
The Committee noted correspondence dated 17 November 2007, which had been carried over from a previous meeting regarding the Human Rights Commission’s response to the provision of Irish Language legislation.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to request a copy of the correspondence from the Human Rights Commission to the Secretary of State and his response.
The Committee noted the information provided by the Clerk on material within the Department/Arts Council in relation to a policy/strategy for drama.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to write to the Arts Council asking for copies of existing policy documents and requesting future policies/documents are provided to and discussed the Committee.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to write to the Arts Council to request information on where drama groups currently exist.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to invite officials from the Arts Council to make a presentation to the Committee on its policy relating to drama.
Agreed – the Clerk was asked to provide a copy of the 2002 Committee report on the Inquiry into Cultural Tourism and the Arts.
5. Chairperson’s Business
The Committee noted a request from NIPSA seeking an urgent meeting with the Committee to discuss the shortfall in the budget for the Belfast Education and Library Board.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to NIPSA’s request for a meeting.
6. Presentation from Research Service on COMEX Report
The Committee received a presentation from Ms Meadhbh McCann on the Comex Report.
7. Briefing from Linguistic Operations Branch
The Committee received a briefing from Mr Brian Smart, Head of Linguistic Operations Branch and Cultural Language Diversity Policy Branch and Mr Stephen Shimmon, Deputy Principal.
Mr Smart agreed to provide further information on a number of issues.
8. Forward Work Plan
The Committee noted the Forward Work Plan
Agreed – the Committee agreed the draft itinerary for the visit to Armagh on 13 March 2008.
Mr Brolly left the meeting at 12.04 p.m.
Mr Brolly rejoined the meeting at 12.08 p.m.
The Committee noted correspondence from NEELB dated 25 January 2008 on maintaining an effective and efficient service within the constraints imposed by the reduced budget in 2008/09.
The Committee noted the Minister’s letter of 29 January 2008 on proposed redundancies to Education and Library Boards.
The Committee noted the response from the Community Relations Council (CRC) dated 28 January 2008 on the request for release of interview notes with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) regarding the multi sports stadium.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to invite CRC to appear before the Committee at the earliest opportunity to clarify its views as reported in the PWC report.
The Chairperson reported that PWC has stated that it believes that it is unreasonable for it to be asked to travel from London to appear before the Committee regarding the interview notes of discussions with the GAA and CRC when it can add nothing further on this matter.
The Chairperson reported that the Department has offered to brief the Committee on 21 February 2008 on the business case for the multi sports stadium. The Department has also suggested that PWC could attend this meeting at the Committee’s invitation.
Agreed – the Committee agreed that the Department and PWC should attend a Committee meeting on 21 February 2008 to brief the Committee on the business case for the multi sports stadium.
Mr Brolly left the meeting at 12.13 p.m.
The Committee noted the Minister’s letter of 23 January 2008 on issues relating to the meeting of 13 December 2007 regarding proposals for the multi sports stadium.
The Committee noted the Minister’s letter of 4 February 2008 concerning the Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC). The letter issued in response to a letter from the Committee asking the Department to expedite the process to create a Museums Development Policy.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to write to the Minister to request a timescale for the development of policy for the development of museums.
The Committee noted a copy of correspondence dated 5 February 2008 from the Minister to Mr Gregory Campbell, MLA regarding the Charities Bill.
The Committee noted a notification received by email from POBAL in relation to an event to be held in Belfast on 7 March 2008 on the development of a comprehensive policy for the Irish language.
The Committee noted the Minister’s letter of 5 February 2008 on the transfer of the Fisheries Conservancy Board (FCB) and the role of stakeholders.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek clarification whether the specialised sub committees which may be established, will include angling representatives.
10. Briefing from Waterways Ireland
The Committee received a presentation from Mr John Martin, Chief Executive, Mr Colin Brownsmith, Director of Finance and Personnel and Mr Martin Dennary, Director of Marketing and Communication.
The officials from Waterways Ireland agreed to respond to a number of issues.
11. Any other business
The Chairperson advised the Committee that notification had been received from the Press Association at Stormont to advise that its political staff have been assigned Committees to cover and that there may be occasions when photographs may be considered appropriate.
The Chairperson advised that the Clerk had tabled documents relating to the Varney Review of the Competitiveness of Northern Ireland offering the Committee an opportunity to contribute to a call for evidence.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to consider the Varney Review in greater detail at the next meeting.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to issue a further letter to the Chief Executive of the Irish Football Association (IFA) requesting details of its modernisation programme and to copy the letter to Raymond Kennedy, President of the IFA.
12. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure will be held on Thursday 14 February 2008 at 10.30 a.m. in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.55 p.m.
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure