Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 08 June 2015

The meeting commenced at 11.10 am.

1. APOLOGIES

No apologies were received.

2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest.

3. CHAIRPERSON’S BUSINESS

The Speaker extended condolences on behalf of the Commission to Mr Ramsey MLA on the recent death of his brother.

The Speaker also welcomed Ms Bradley MLA to the Assembly Commission.

The Speaker reminded Members that this was a formal Commission meeting and as such would be minuted.

4. FLAG INCIDENT

The Speaker asked The Clerk / Chief Executive and Director of Facilities to update the Commission on the actions taken by officials since the briefing on Thursday 4 June 2015.

The Clerk / Chief Executive outlined the background to the incident and reminded Members of the ongoing PSNI investigation. The police investigation followed complaints from members of the public and was not instigated by the Assembly.  He reiterated that the incident was being treated very seriously due to the security and safety issues raised and also the reputational impact.

Mr Welch spoke to his paper distributed to Members on 5 June 2014. He reiterated that the fourth floor and roof are currently a construction site under the control of the contractors. Mr Welch also explained that contractors are all put through Access NI checks and those without a completed check are escorted to the construction site and handed over to the main contractor.

Members were assured by Mr Welch that following a report on Tuesday 2 June that the two Union flags, flying to commemorate Coronation Day, were flying at different heights, Usher services investigated immediately.  It appears that one flag had become twisted in the wind and once this was rectified, the flags flew correctly. Later the same day, it was reported that one of the Union flags was not visible from the West Glen. On this occasion the flag had slipped due to the weather conditions. Again, Usher services rectified the problem straight away. At this stage and pending the outcome of the police investigation there is no evidence of foul play.

Following the incident on Wednesday 3 June the two unauthorised flags were removed within 13 minutes.  At 4.30pm the PSNI formally advised that they had received two formal complaints from the public and the flags were handed over to the PSNI.

Ms Ruane reiterated that any investigation needed to be proportionate.

Mr Welch advised Members that since the incident, a number of security measures had been put in place to ensure a similar incident could not take place again.  He also drew attention to the preparation of a paper on the wider security arrangements and associated balance of risk to Parliament Buildings.

Following a discussion, Commission Members agreed to issue an update report to all Members today.

Agreement: Commission Members agreed to issue an update report to all Members.

Members agreed to issue a press release regarding the incident.

Action: Corporate Support Office to issue an update report to all Members.                     

5. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 17 June 2015 at 2pm in Room 106.

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