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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 22 March 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting began at 10.11am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Inquiry into Research and Development: Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute

Officials joined the meeting at 10.12am.

Members received an oral briefing from Professor Seamus Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mike Camlin, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Professor John Davis, Director of Economics and Joel Ferguson, Acting Head of Corporate Services, AFBI.

Key issues discussed included the role and work of AFBI, current structures for supporting research and development and centres of competence for research and development..

Daithí McKay joined the meeting at 10.34am.

Paul Frew joined the meeting at 10.39am.

Gordon Dunne joined the meeting at 10.50am.

Stephen Moutray left the meeting at 11.02am.

Officials left the meeting at 11.21am.

3. Inquiry into Research and Development: DETI

Officials joined the meeting at 11.26am.

Members received an oral briefing from Graeme Hutchinson, Head of Policy Division, Ciaran McGarrity, Principal, Innovation Policy Unit and Bernard McKeown, Principal, Foresight and Horizon Scanning Unit, DETI.

Key issues discussed included structural and cultural systemic problems relating to research and development, how larger organisations can support SMEs and the need for government to be less risk averse.

Members noted the lateness of papers from the Department and expressed concern at how this was occurring more frequently.

Agreed: for Officials to report this back to the Department and for Committee staff to monitor the situation.

Paul Frew declared an interest as a former member of the Public Accounts Committee.

Paul Frew left the meeting at 12.10pm.

Agreed: to provide results of mapping exercises on Research and Development undertaken by the Department.

Officials left the meeting at 12.37pm.

4. Minutes of meeting held on 15 March 2012

Agreed:  The draft minutes of the meeting on 15 March were agreed.

5. Chairperson’s Business

Members noted a request from Energia, a member of the Viridian Group, for a short meeting with the Chair and Deputy Chair to introduce Energia and to discuss pertinent energy issues relevant to the Single Electricity Market and to Renewable Targets.

Agreed: Chair and Deputy Chair to meet with Energia.

The Chair informed members of a meeting Phoenix this week in relation to the company’s referral by the Utility Regulator to the Competition Commission over its refusal to accept the Regulator’s decision on gas price controls. 

Agreed: to arrange a meeting between Chair, Deputy Chair and the Utility Regulator to consider the issue.

Members discussed the fact that the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) can be used for energy efficiency in housing Members noted a Hansard extract of a question asked of the Minister of Finance and Personnel in the House on Tuesday 20th March 2012.

Agreed: to commission Assembly Research to research the issue of ERDF funding for energy efficiency in housing.

6. Matters Arising

Members noted correspondence from the OFMDFM Committee on the proposed dissolution of DEL, including a list of stakeholders consulted by the Committee for Employment & Learning.

Agreed: to inform the OFMDFM Committee that the Committee did not come to an agreed position on the matter.

7. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

(i) Response from the Department to a Committee query regarding the Implementation Plan for the Single Electricity Market.

(ii) Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Budget Allocations.

(iii) Email from Energysaver NI Ltd on Voltage Optimisation.

Agreed: a response to Energysaver NI was agreed.

(iv) Email from members of the public regarding hydraulic fracturing.

(v) Invitation to the Committee to NICS Live 2012.

8. Any other business

Members discussed an initiative recently announced by the Minister to support small retailers, particularly in town centres.

Agreed: to request a written briefing from the Department on the proposal.

9. Date, time and place of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday 29 March at 10.30am, Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 12.37pm.

Mr Alban Maginness
Chair, Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
29 March 2012

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