Minutes of Proceedings

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 22 January 2019

Meeting Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings

Meeting date: Tuesday 22 January 2019

Meeting Time: 2.00pm

Commission Members:
The Speaker
Mr Jim Wells MLA
Mr Alex Maskey MLA
Mr Alex Attwood
Mr Robin Swann MLA
Mr Stewart Dickson MLA

Officials present:
Mrs Lesley Hogg, Mr Richard Stewart, Mr Robin Ramsey, Ms Frances Leneghan and
Mrs Janet Hughes

Others in attendance:
Ms Sinéad McDonnell, Head of HR
Ms Angela Kelly, Senior Legal Adviser
Mr Simon Burrowes, Head of Public Engagement

The meeting commenced at 2.00pm.

1. APOLOGIES

Apologies were received from Mr Stewart Dickson MLA.

2. DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

There were no declarations of interest.

Sinéad McDonnell, Head of HR and Angela Kelly, Senior Legal Adviser joined the meeting at 2.00pm for agenda item 3.

3. STANDARDS OF CONDUCT POLICY: POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

Angela Kelly outlined the legal issues associated with four options presented in relation to the political activity of staff under the Standards of Conduct Policy.

Following discussion, it was agreed to undo the suspension of the political activities section of the Policy but that the Policy be amended to advise Commission staff members that whilst they may seek permission to run as a candidate for a local council, they cannot continue working for the Assembly Commission if co-opted or elected to a local council. In that instance, they would be expected to resign from their employment with the Assembly Commission or request permission to take a career break.

It was also agreed that the criteria under which the Head of Human Resources would make a decision to grant or deny a Commission employee permission to participate in local political activities is expanded and included in the policy.

Sinéad McDonnell stated she would now consult formally with Trade Union Side.

Sinéad McDonnell and Angela Kelly left the meeting at 2.35pm.

Simon Burrowes, Head of Public Engagement joined the meeting at 2.36pm for agenda item 4.

4. REQUEST FOR EXTERNAL LIGHTING OF PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS TO MARK THE EUROPEAN DAY FOR VICTIMS OF TERRORISM

Simon Burrowes presented a paper outlining a request that had been received from a Member for the external lighting of Parliament Buildings to mark the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism.

Mr Maskey asked why this request had come before the Commission. Mrs Hogg confirmed that all requests for the lighting of the building are considered by the Commission following advice from officials on the application of the policy.

The Commission noted the advice that the request should be declined because it fell outside the scope of the policy in that the requesting Member was not sponsoring a third party organisation’s event, but rather the Member’s own event. Mr Wells stated that he anticipated that the situation could be easily rectified by the Member to bring it within the scope of the policy.

The Commission agreed to return to this request at the next Commission meeting.

5. AOB

Robin Ramsey, Adviser to the Speaker/Head of Corporate Support, reminded Members that “Perspectives on the First Sitting of Dáil Éireann” the next event in the ‘Perspectives On’ series will take place on Wednesday 30th of January 2019.

Mr Ramsey informed Members that a number of Assembly Questions had been received in relation to sundry expenses and a letter had also been received from a Member which would be tabled at the next Commission meeting.

Robin Swann stated that Party Whips had met in relation to the same issue.

6. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, 5 February 2019 at 10am.

Simon Burrowes left the meeting at 2.53pm.

The meeting concluded at 2.53pm.

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