Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 19 April 2012

Venue: Room 115

This was a special meeting of the Assembly Commission.

Meeting began at 2.10pm

1. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed. None were declared.

2. CHAIRMAN’S OPENING REMARKS

An apology was received from Mrs Judith Cochrane. The Speaker highlighted the purpose of the meeting was to consider matters relating to the marking of historic anniversaries and exhibitions  within Parliament Buildings and also to receive a formal presentation of findings from the Internal Audit on Good Relations undertaken by Holywell Consultancy.

3.  URGENT BUSINESS - PLANNING PERMISSION FOR FRONT RAMPS

The Director of Facilities raised an item for urgent consideration in relation to progressing the scheme for ramp access at the front of Parliament Buildings.  Mr Welch confirmed that planning approval had been given and provided the Commission with an overview in relation to proposed timings and costs.  Following consideration, the Commission agreed that the scheme should progress during Summer Recess.

4. 80th ANNIVERSARY OF PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS

Mr Robin Ramsey presented a paper to the Commission seeking views on the potential for marking the 80th anniversary of Parliament Buildings in November 2012.  Mr Ramsey highlighted that the occasion provided an opportunity for enhancing good relations and presenting the building as an architectural asset and iconic feature within the Belfast landscape.

Mr McElduff raised the issue of the lack of directional signage to Parliament Buildings for visitors entering the Belfast area and proposed that the appropriate authorities are contacted to remedy this situation.

Following discussion, the Commission agreed to consider the content of the paper and proposals detailed and to provide further comment to the next meeting.  It was also agreed that Commission Members would forward any comments to Mr Robin Ramsey in advance of the next meeting to allow for inclusion in future papers.

5.  EXHIBITIONS POLICY

The Speaker’s Adviser, Mr Ramsey presented a paper to the Commission seeking consideration on a draft exhibitions policy and proposals on a range of art exhibitions for 2012.  Mr Ramsey highlighted that the Speaker had also appointed an Arts Advisory Group which was currently chaired by the Principal Deputy Speaker and consisted of a member from each of the larger political parties and representatives from the Arts Council.  He informed the Commission that the purpose of the group was to advise the Speaker on general matters relating to the display of works of art in Parliament Buildings and make proposals on the siting of relevant pieces.

Mr Robin Ramsey also drew Members attention to the range of exhibitions which had been displayed within the Great Hall over the previous year.  He highlighted that these exhibits had been agreed on a pilot basis through the recommendation of the Arts Advisory Group and by approval of the Speaker.

The Commission considered the content and governance elements of the proposed policy on art exhibitions and agreed that further time was required to review the policy.  It was agreed that Members would consider the paper with a view to providing further comments at the next meeting. It was further agreed that the Commission would have the ultimate role in any decision making in this area.

Mr Pat Ramsey specifically raised a proposal within the schedule to hold an exhibition on “Hands around the World – Peace Murals” by Creative Peace Mural Society for May 2012.  The Commission agreed that the exhibition should progress on the existing pilot arrangements. 

6. HISTORIC ANNIVERSARIES

The Speaker’s Adviser, Mr Ramsey presented a paper to the Commission which outlined a series of dates to be marked by the Assembly and made proposals on a range of events.

The Commission considered the proposed principles which would apply to marking historic anniversaries and the suggested dates and agreed that further time was required to consider the detail of the recommendations.  The Speaker proposed that Commission Members review the detail of the paper and forward comments to Mr Logue or Mr Robin Ramsey in advance of the next meeting to allow for inclusion in further papers.

7.  INTERNAL GOOD RELATIONS AUDIT

The Speaker welcomed Mr Gerard Deane, Mr Eamon Deane and Ms Maureen Hetherington from the Holywell Consultancy and Partners to the meeting.

Mr Logue reminded the Commission that the Internal Good Relations Audit Report was completed by the Holywell Consultancy in July 2011 and considered initially by the Commission at their November 2011 meeting.

Mr Gerard Deane provided the Commission with a presentation highlighting the reports methodology, main findings, challenges identified and recommendations proposed.

The Commission sought clarification on a range of issues arising from the report and agreed that they would consider the draft Good Relations Action Plan and associated Strategy at their next meeting. The Commission further approved the content of a press release and agreed that it should be issued immediately.

A written submission was provided on behalf of the Alliance Party in respect of the items for discussion on the Agenda.

8.  ANY OTHER BUSINESS

8.1 Defibrillators in Parliament Buildings

Mr McElduff sought clarification in relation to the number of defibrillators held within Parliament Buildings.  The Director of Facilities informed the Commission that there were three defibrillators currently within the building.  Following further consideration, the Commission agreed to the purchase of an additional defibrillator for siting on the first floor.

8.2  Training on dealing with Emergencies

Mr Weir highlighted training made available through the Northern Ireland Heart, Chest and Stroke Association in relation to the provision of the skills required to address emergencies and it was agreed that the Director of Facilities/ Keeper of the House would consider and provide an update to the next meeting.

9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

It was agreed that the Commission would hold another meeting on 8 May 2012 at 4pm.

Meeting ended at 4.20pm

Tony Logue
Head of the Commission and Corporate Support Unit

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