Assembly Insider 31 January 2020

NICVA's Assembly Insider is a weekly email bulletin providing information on the work of the Northern Ireland Assembly and in particular the issues which are of interest to the voluntary and community sector.

Last week in the Assembly

The Assembly met this week on Monday 27 January in Parliament Buildings. The sitting was delayed until 4.30pm as a mark of respect to the passing of Seamus Mallon. The sitting began with MLAs paying tribute to the former deputy First Minister.

Ministerial Statement: Public Expenditure: 2019-2020 January Monitoring Round

Minister of Finance Conor Murphy advised that he has to quickly move to reallocate budget underspends in Departments to areas where there are pressures.He stated that there is £35.8million resource DEL and £5.8 million capital DEL available for reallocation. See here for more details of reallocations. The Minister also advised that he will put a Budget Bill before the House in February.


A Legislative Consent Motion on Direct Payments to Farmers was debated in the Assembly on Monday evening. That motion was as follows:

That this Assembly, noting the urgency of the issue resulting from the absence of legal powers needed to continue making direct payments to NI farmers in the 2020 scheme year, agrees that the provisions in the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill, as introduced into the House of Commons on 9 January 2020, should be considered by the UK Parliament.

The Assembly agreed to this motion. You can read the full debate here.

Keep up to date with the latest 'No Day Named Motions' here. Submissions this week included motions on:

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing in Primary and Post-Primary Education
  • Fair Employment and Treatment in Education
  • Ongoing Paramilitarism in NI

Written Questions

Although there was no Oral Question Time scheduled for this week, MLAs are continuing to submit written questions.

All full list of daily questions submitted can be found here and include questions on:

  • Which voluntary and community groups receive PHA funding for support through drugs and alcohol addition - Carál Ní ChuilIn MLA, Sinn Féin
  • Provision of advice from the voluntary and community sector to people moving to Universal Credit or PIP - Trevor Lunn MLA, APNI
  • Renewable energy strategies - Daniel McCrossan MLA, SDLP
  • Community Halls grant schemes - Jim Wells MLA, DUP

All Party Groups

No All Party Groups met this week in the Assembly. For a full list of APGs, see here.


The Week Ahead

Assembly Business

Motion: Nomination of the Acting NI Public Services Ombudsman.

Private Members' Business (rescheduled from w/b 27 January)

Motion: Autism Training in Schools
That this Assembly recognises the specific needs of pupils with autism in our schools; values and supports the role of all educators in ensuring pupils with autism have the best educational outcomes; and calls on the Minister of Education to explore the introduction of mandatory autism training for all teachers and classroom assistants. - Pan Cameron MLA & David Hilditch MLA, DUP

Motion: Climate Emergency
That this Assembly recognises that we are facing climate breakdown and a biodiversity crisis which are impacting here and now, and will affect all aspects of our lives in coming years; declares a climate emergency; and calls upon the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the Minister for the Economy to implement urgently the commitments as
agreed in the New Decade, New Approach agreement to include reviewing the Executive’s strategies to reduce carbon emissions in respect of the Paris Accord and the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100; developing a new energy strategy which will set ambitious targets and actions for a fair and just transition to a zero carbon society; bringing forward a climate change act to give environmental targets a strong
legal underpinning; establishing an Independent Environmental Protection Agency to oversee this work and ensure targets are met; developing an economic strategy which will support clean and inclusive growth and create jobs as part of a green new deal; creating a plan to eliminate plastic pollution; and closing down the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and replacing it with a scheme that cuts carbon emissions effectively
. - Caoimhe Archibald MLA, Philip McGuidan MLA, Declan McAleer MLA - Sinn Féin

Question Time

Four different Ministers will face oral questions from the Assembly on Monday:

  • The Executive Office
  • Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
  • Communities
  • Economy

See the full Order Paper for Monday 3 February http://here

All Party Groups

The APG on Sports and Physical Recreation will meet on Tuesday 4  February at 1pm in Parliament Buildings.

The APG on Early Education and Childcare will meet on Monday 3 February at 11am in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings. For more information, or if you would like to register to attend, please email [email protected]


The Committee for Education will receive briefings from the Education Authority on an overview and finance issues of EA and youth sector provision.

The Minister for Infrastructure will provide a First Day Briefing to the Infrastructure Committee.

The Minister for the Economy will provide a briefing on Departmental Priorities to the Economy Committee

The Committee for Finance will receive oral evidence from NICVA Chief Executive Seamus McAleavey and Public Affairs Manager Geoff Nuttall and Esmond Birnie from PWC on Fiscal Powers: A Review of the Fiscal Powers of the NI Assembly.

The Executive Committee will be joined by the First and deputy First Ministers to provide an overview of the key challenges and priorities and proposed programme of work.

The Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will receive an oral briefing from DAERA on:

  • Food and Farming Group
  • Environment, Marine and Fisheries Group

The Committee for Justice will receive an overview briefing on NI Courts and Tribunal Service, Reducing Offending Directorate/Youth Justice Agency and the General Justice Budget.

For full details of committee business, see here.



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