The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 16 October 2012

12.35pm The meeting opened in closed session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chairperson’s Business

Mr Alex Maskey welcomed members to the meeting and informed chairpersons that, in accordance with the agreed rotation by Party, he had been appointed as Chairperson to the Liaison Group for the remainder of the session and that Mr Basil McCrea had been appointed as Deputy Chairperson.

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Daithi McKay MLA to the Group. The Chairperson also welcomed Ms Roisin Fleetham as Clerk to the Group and Mr Oliver Bellew as Assistant Clerk.

3. Minutes of the meeting on 15 May 2012

The minutes of the meeting on 15 May 2012 were agreed.

4. Electronic Committee Packs – Recommendations arising from pilot scheme

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Stella McArdle to the meeting and invited her to brief Chairpersons on the recommendations from the pilot scheme on Electronic Committee Packs.

12.44pm Mr Givan left the meeting.

Ms McArdle outlined the key conclusions of the pilot which were:

  • 78% of members interviewed agreed that the Electronic Committee Pack allowed them to carry out their committee duties as normal and that this new system should be rolled out to replace paper packs;
  • upon roll out of the system, support should be provided in order to familiarise Members with the new Cloud technology;
  • one specific tablet was identified as the most efficient and fit for purpose device following tests by Members and consultation with the IS Office; and
  • for members wishing to print copies of the ECP, more efficient and high specification printers would need to be used;


Ms McArdle advised Members that consideration should be given to the most efficient way to progress the scheme, particularly in relation to procuring electronic tablets; the future use of paper packs for meetings; storage of data in the cloud; and training and support on the use of electronic packs.

12.52pm Ms Boyle joined the meeting.          

Agreed: Members agreed to suggest that a centralised, standardised approach should be adopted in relation to the procurement of the electronic tablets and that the issue of improved printing provision needed to be addressed. Ms McArdle agreed to bring Chairpersons comments to the Assembly Commission and to report back to CLG with a further update.

1.00pm Ms Ramsey left the meeting.

1.07pm The Chairperson thanked Ms McArdle and she left the meeting. 

1.08pm The Chairperson left the meeting and the deputy Chairperson assumed the Chair.

5. Recommendations from the Business Efficiency Review of Clerking

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Trevor Reaney, Clerk/ Director General, to the meeting and invited him to brief the Group on the recommendations from the Business Efficiency Review of Clerking.

Members noted correspondence between the previous Chairperson of the Group and the Business Efficiency Programme Project Board from May 2012.

Mr Reaney outlined the recommendations from the Review and emphasised the importance of maintaining support of Committee and Plenary business whilst achieving budgetary targets.

1.09pm Mr Moutray left the meeting.

1.12pm Mr Kelly left the meeting.

1.13pm The Chairperson thanked Mr Reaney for the presentation.

6. Monitoring EU Issues – Proposed Committee Pilot Scheme

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Shauna Mageean, EU Scrutiny Co-ordinator, to the meeting and invited her to brief the Group on the proposed Committee pilot scheme on the monitoring of EU Issues.

Ms Mageean advised Members of her role in developing an Assembly EU Report and proposed action plan on the future role of the Assembly in a European context. Members noted a proposed pilot project to stimulate and support statutory committees in engaging on European issues. Members noted that the pilot project would be considered by the OFMDFM Committee at its meeting on 17 October with a final list of priorities for scrutiny being produced in February/March 2013.

1.20pm Mr McKay left the meeting.

1.21pm The Chairperson thanked Ms Mageean for the presentation and she left the meeting.

7. Professional Development Programme for Members

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Kevin Shiels, Clerk of Business, and Ms Eva Grosman, NI Assembly Legislative Trust, to the meeting and invited them to brief the Group on the pilot programme for the professional development of Members.

Mr Shiels advised Members that a NIA Legislative Strengthening Trust had been established, funded entirely by Atlantic Philanthropies, to develop a capacity building programme for MLAs and political representatives. Members noted Mr Shiels and Ms Grosman’s roles in co-ordinating a programme of development opportunities for Members which is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees at its meeting on Thursday 18 October 2012.

1.34pm The Chairperson thanked Mr Shiels and Ms Grosman for the presentation and they left the meeting.

8. Leaked Papers – Consideration of Interim Commissioner for Standards Recommendations 

Mr Damien Martin, Clerk Assistant, briefed Chairpersons on the proposed response to the Interim Commissioner’s recommendations on the handling of committee documents, which were produced in response to the leaking of a PAC report.

Agreed: It was agreed that the response of CLG would be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee, the Assembly Commission and to the Committee for Standards and Privileges.

9. Northern Ireland Government Affairs Group Correspondence – Publication of Committee Documents 

Members noted correspondence from NIGAG in respect of the publication of committee documents and the impact of papers which are delivered late.

Agreed: It was agreed that Central Committee Office would research practice in other legislatures in relation to the publication of documents, and revisit the protocol with departments on the provision of papers to committees, in conjunction with OFMDfM Officials, and update CLG at a future meeting.

10. October Monitoring Round – Committee Expenditure 

Damien Martin, Clerk Assistant, updated Members on Committee Expenditure, particularly in relation to the October Monitoring Round.

11. Draft Forward Work Programme 

Agreed: Members noted, and agreed, a draft forward work programme for the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.

12. Any other business

Agreed: It was agreed that the Central Committee Office would give consideration to the issue of the provision of refreshments for witnesses in the event of a Committee adjourning during extended meetings.

Agreed: It was agreed that Central Committee Office would investigate the availability of rooms for witnesses in the event of a need arising for private space, prior to, or after attending a committee.

Agreed: It was agreed that the Central Committee Office would investigate the policies and procedures relating to use of Assembly equipment for the purpose of streaming All Party Group meetings.

13. Date, time and venue of next meeting

The next meeting of the Liaison Group is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 20 November 2012 at 12.30pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

1.55pm The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting. 

Mr Alex Maskey, Chairperson
20 November 2012

Find former MLAs


Locate former MLAs


News and Media Centre


Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly


Keep up to date with what’s happening at the Assem

Find out more

Contact information


Contact us for further information about our work.

Contact us