The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) supports the work of the media, provides office space and facilitates access within Parliament Buildings and its immediate environs (Parliament Buildings). This Media Handbook (Handbook) sets out the parameters within which media personnel are facilitated within Parliament Buildings. The Handbook also sets out the requirement for all media personnel to adhere to a Code of Conduct while they are in Parliament Buildings.
Media personnel access
Rules for media personnel accessing Parliament Buildings can be found in Section 2 of this Handbook.
General media enquiries
The media’s primary contact in Parliament Buildings is the Assembly Commission’s Communications Office (Communications Office), located in Room B4. Media enquiries are dealt with between 9am and 5pm, Monday – Friday (excluding Public and Bank Holidays). For information and support, telephone 028 9052 1405 / 5938 / 1606 or email email@example.com .
If you require a response (a line) on issues relating to the work of the Assembly, the Speaker, committees, plenary, the Assembly Commission etc. you will need to submit your request to the Communications Office using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- A clear and detailed account of the request and any likely supplementary questions.
- Your contact details.
- The preferred timescale for answering the media/information request.
As some queries may be complex, making your request in writing ensures that the Communications Officer has the necessary information to respond appropriately.
NB: The Communications Office strives to respond to all queries within the timescales requested; where this is not possible, the Communications Office will provide an indicative time for the response.
If your enquiry is in relation to an Executive Department or Ministerial activity, please contact the Executive Information Service (EIS) via the relevant Departmental press office.
If your enquiry is in relation to a political party, please contact the party directly.
Interviews with committee chairpersons/deputy chairpersons, in respect of their committee responsibilities, should be arranged through the Communications Office.
In addition, interviews with the Speaker, Assembly Commission members, or Assembly Commission officials, in respect of their official responsibilities, should be arranged through the Communications Office.
To help facilitate the request, please supply the following:
- The purpose/context for the interview.
- The timescale for responding.
- Whether the request is for TV/radio/print/down the line/pre-recorded interview.
- Whether anyone else will be on at the same time as the Assembly interviewee.
- The proposed location (please note that during term time, interviews in Parliament Buildings will be easier to facilitate—particularly for filmed interviews).
- The proposed time of the interview.
NB: If you are contacting an MLA to speak in their individual, Party or political capacity, you will need to contact the appropriate party press officers directly.
Interviews with individual MLAs should be arranged and agreed with their parties. Please note that media personnel will need to be accompanied by the MLA or party support staff when accessing rooms/offices on the second, third and fourth floors.
Other than MLAs, interviews are allowed in the Great Hall with committee witnesses, members from other legislatures and anyone else who agrees to be interviewed. Official press conferences, where media personnel are invited to attend, can only be organised by the Speaker, Assembly committees, political parties, individual MLAs or by the Assembly Commission.
Apart from press conferences, if you are not a Media Passholder and are requesting permission to film or take photographs in Parliament Buildings or within its environs, you should contact the Communications Office for guidance and approval. You can view the Filming and Photography Policy Procedure and the application at this link.
NB: Parliament Buildings may not be used as a backdrop for party political purposes, including interviews with elected Members or those standing for election. Parliament Buildings must not be used for election canvassing purposes at any time.
Parliament Buildings is a shared workplace. Media/media equipment must not impede access into or around the building. Common work areas like kitchens and photocopying rooms are for MLAs, party staff, and Assembly Commission staff only. Media personnel are allowed access to certain corridors (dependent on the type of pass held) but they must not film, photograph or record there without prior arrangement with the Communications Office, unless otherwise stated within this Handbook.
MLA, party support staff and Assembly Commission staff offices are private. Media personnel must be accompanied by a member of Assembly Commission staff, an MLA or party staff member before entering any office. Media personnel may record/film within MLAs’ offices only with permission of the MLA and when accompanied by the MLA or Party staff.
Code of Conduct
Parliament Buildings is a working environment. All media personnel should treat Assembly Commission staff, MLAs, their staff and visitors to Parliament Buildings with due courtesy and consideration and conduct themselves appropriately.
Media personnel are required to sign a ‘Code of Conduct’ form in which they will agree to adhere to the stated regulations within this Media Handbook. Alleged breaches of this code will be notified to the pass holder's employer or in the case of freelance personnel, to their sponsoring organisation and to the Assembly Commission’s Head of Communications. The Head of Communications can enforce a penalty to withdraw media accreditation, whose decision will be final. All breaches will be recorded for monitoring purposes.
All media personnel must observe the requirements of this Handbook, agreed Assembly Commission regulations about areas that are out-of-bounds and other agreed conventions. Impromptu ‘door-stepping’ interviews on camera, on tape or in person are strictly prohibited. Media pass holders are also reminded that they must observe and respect the privacy of Assembly Commission staff and visitors to Parliament Buildings. Please note that Assembly Commission staff, include ushering staff, should not be filmed or photographed without their express permission.
Media personnel should not act as paid or unpaid lobbyists for any individual or organisation that might seek to influence the political process or benefit from inside knowledge of it and may not use their accredited status to do so.
Security requirements take precedence and arrangements may be redefined at any time to meet specific security needs. Media personnel must comply with any request or instruction communicated to them by Usher Services or a member of the Communications Team. Health and safety guidance must be observed at all times.
Members of the media who do not have a permanent media pass should present themselves to staff on the reception desk in the Great Hall. Proof of media accreditation must be presented at this time (current NUJ card, proof of employment with/or a letter of introduction from a recognised media outlet).
Those who do not have a pass must complete a Code of Conduct form at this time. Alternatively, applicants can complete, sign and email the form available in Section 10 of this handbook to email@example.com in advance with evidence of media accreditation as outlined above. Please see Section 10 for further details.
Permanent media passes are provided to media personnel who attend Parliament Buildings on a regular basis and issue is at the discretion of the Communications Office.
Applications for a permanent media pass should be made through the Communications Office. Permanent media passes are valid for two years from the date of issue. The expiry date will be printed on the pass and when this date has been reached the pass will become invalid. You will then have to apply for a new pass. Permanent Media pass applicants will be expected to complete and sign a Code of Conduct form, please see Section 10 for further details.
Media passes must be worn and displayed at all times in Parliament Buildings.
All those holding a permanent Media pass (Regular, Intermediate or Correspondent) must swipe in when they enter Parliament Buildings and swipe out when they leave.
There are four categories of media pass:
1. Media DAY pass
A temporary daily pass for those who attend Parliament Buildings occasionally or for specific events. These passes will be issued at the reception desk where a photograph will be taken for use on that day and future passes. In line with our personal data handling procedures, photographs will be deleted from the system after 90 days. Applicants wishing to obtain a Media Day Pass beyond that period will be required to have their photograph taken again. (More information for Media Day Pass holders is available here).
2. Media REGULAR pass
A permanent pass for those personnel who attend Parliament Buildings regularly. (More information for Media Regular pass holders is available here).
3. Media INTERMEDIATE pass
A permanent pass for those personnel who attend Parliament Buildings regularly, and who also require the right to escort visitors. (More information for Media Intermediate pass holders is available here).
4. Media CORRESPONDENT pass
A permanent pass for the Assembly Correspondents Group - media who are primarily based in Parliament Buildings and report on the business of the Assembly. (More information for Media Correspondent pass holders is available here).
Where can I go?
- Media facilities in the basement.
- The Blue Flax Restaurant in the basement
- The Speaker’s Corner Coffee Shop on the ground floor
- The Members’ Dining Room on the first floor (for dining purposes only)
- The Great Hall.
- Committee rooms on the ground floor (during public meetings when the meeting is open to the public).
- The Senate Chamber Press Gallery (during Committee sessions and/or to attend events to which the media have been invited).
- The Long Gallery (to attend events to which the media have been invited).
- Offices on the ground, first, second, third and fourth floors, when accompanied by an MLA, party staff or Assembly Commission staff.
- The Assembly Commission’s permanent exhibition in the corridors, Assembly Rotunda and Senate Rotunda on non-sitting days.
All areas not mentioned above are off limits. For further information, please contact the Communications Office.
Where can I record without permission from the Communications Office?
- Any position in the Great Hall (subject to Communications Office and Health and Safety guidance. During high profile events the Communications Office may allocate areas in the Great Hall where media may not access for filming or photography).
- Media facilities in the basement
- At the front of the building to get external shots of Parliament Buildings.
Any area not mentioned above are off limits for filming. For further information, please contact the Communications Office.
Please note that filming inside, into or from any position in the car parks to the East and West of Parliament Buildings is strictly prohibited.
Where can I go?
Correspondents can access all areas open to Media Day, Regular and Intermediate pass holders. In addition, Correspondents may also access:
- The Assembly Library.
All areas not mentioned are off limits. For further information, please contact the Communications Office.
Where can I record without permission from the Communications Office?
Correspondents can record in all areas open to Media Day, Regular and Intermediate pass holders. In addition, Correspondents may also record in:
- · The balcony area outside the Members’ Dining Room on the first floor which overlooks the Great Hall, as well as the left and right wings of the balcony.
- · Please note that the Members’ Dining Room is open to the public and access to it must not be impeded.
NB Different rules for filming may apply during events and visits; the Communications Office will provide further information.
Where can I record with pre-arranged support from the Communications Office?
- The Assembly Chamber Rotunda on non-sitting days, but not with the Assembly Chamber in the background shot.
- The Senate Chamber when not in use.
- The Senate Chamber Rotunda when not in use by a Committee or other event.
- The Long Gallery when not in use.
- Committee rooms.
- Committee meetings, with the consent of the Committee and by prior arrangement with the Communications Office.
- Other internal/external locations may be available for live broadcasts (contact Communications Office for details).
The Assembly Commission does not allow drones to be flown either within the curtilage (the black metal fence surrounding Parliament Buildings) or over Parliament Buildings and its environs. Please read the Assembly Commission’s policy on drones.
Intermediate pass holders and members of the Assembly Correspondents Group can escort up to five people to the areas they are permitted to go to. Accredited media personnel wanting to escort people beyond these areas should contact the Communications Office. Visitors must be escorted by their media pass holder at all times, except in the Great Hall.
In instances where Intermediate pass holders and members of the Assembly Correspondents Group need to invite external visitors to Parliament Buildings after the Building is closed to the general public, pass holders should contact the Communications Office. The same escort conditions apply as when the Building is open to the general public.
NB: Leaving visitors unattended breaches security guidance and can result in the removal of escort rights.
Mobile Phones and Electronic Equipment
The use of mobile/smart phones and electronic equipment is permitted within Committee Rooms as long as the equipment is utilising the Parliament Buildings wifi network and switches off the mobile signal which interferes with the broadcasting equipment. It is not permissible to record the proceedings or to take photographic stills or footage in the room without the express permission of the Committee. This permission must be sought before the meeting begins and should be coordinated through the Communications Office.
It is recommended that media personnel connect to the Assembly media wifi network as it has more functionality for media use, as opposed to the 'open' network. To access the 'media' wifi (NIA_MEDIA), each individual device will need to be paired with the network which can be done by filling in an access form, available from the Communications Office.
The facilities listed below are described collectively as the Media Facilities.
They are located in the basement of Parliament Buildings. They include:
- Press Room
- TV studio 1
- TV studio 2 (B2)
- TV studio 3
- Radio studio 1
- Radio studio 2
- Three dedicated offices for BBC, UTV and Press Association
- BBC ( to cover all BBC outlets )
- UTV ( to cover ITV/ITN )
The Communications Office usually holds a briefing for the media every Monday at 11.30am in the Press Room (B38) when the Assembly is in session.
The Assembly Broadcasting service provides the sound and vision feeds from the Assembly Chamber. Live vision and sound feeds, in various formats, of the proceedings in the Chamber are fed to various points in the Press Room. Those seeking to use these should contact the Communications Office. Assembly proceedings are distributed throughout Parliament Buildings on the internal TV system.
Broadcast recordings of the proceedings can be made available by request. Video and audio files suitable for Non Linear Editing systems (NLE) can also be provided during a sitting.
Footage can be requested from the Communications Office by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assembly Broadcasting provides audio and video coverage of all Assembly public meetings. All Committee rooms output audio coverage, however only the Assembly Chamber, Senate Chamber, Committee room 29 and Committee room 30 output video.
There are 3 HD/SDI circuits to broadcasters’ studios and 2 circuits to HD/SDI journalist wall boxes.
The televised circuits usually follow the below format:
1 or 2, depending on day of week and other scheduled business. Normally CCT 1.
Test cards of each circuit will be indented to help broadcasters allocate recordings at their end.
Lawn box feeds
The lawn box at the front of Parliament buildings has two assignable SDI only feeds that can be routed from Assembly Broadcasting. The SDI has embedded audio. For radio purposes analogue audio can be made available.
Great Hall distribution
A pool microphone is in place for broadcasters in the Great Hall on Assembly sitting days. An XLR feed from this microphone can be obtained from the distribution amplifier beneath the bench closest to the microphone.
Assembly Broadcasting: Front office
028 9052 1396
Assembly Broadcasting: Engineering
028 9052 1490
Assembly footage requests
Sound and Vision webmail
Media personnel can park in the Visitors’ Car Park and overflow car park, or in the designated areas on Prince of Wales Avenue. In some circumstances, and by prior arrangement only with the Communications Office, media personnel may be permitted to drop equipment off via the Upper Carparks at Parliament Buildings, and subsequently park in the Visitors’ Car Park.
Media personnel requests for parking/dropping off/picking up equipment must be made at least one hour in advance to ensure that Usher Services can process and/or accommodate the request.
Most of the public areas in Parliament Buildings, including the Assembly Chamber, the Senate Chamber, the Great Hall and the Committee Rooms, are fitted with induction loops. Users can avail of this facility by switching their hearing aid to ‘T’.
Wheelchair access is available at the Front entrance and at both the East and West Doors.
Toilet facilities, including those with disabled access, are on the Ground Floor (near the front door), and in the basement.
Changing Places toilet
Parliament Buildings has a Changing Places toilet on the ground floor. Facilities in this toilet include a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a tracking hoist system. Please ask at reception if you require access to this facility.
The Blue Flax restaurant in the basement is open from 8.00am – 4.00pm Monday to Friday when the Assembly is in session. If Assembly business continues after 4.00pm, service will be available until 6.00pm or for 30 minutes after completion of business. In the case of a late sitting, hot food will be available until 8.00pm and hot snacks after 8.00pm. The Blue Flax Restaurant closes at 4pm when the Assembly is not in session.
The Members’ Dining Room is open to all Parliament Buildings passholders, visitors and media personnel from Monday to Friday, with lunch available from 12pm – 3.00pm. Please note that reservations should be made in advance by telephoning 028 9052 1041 in order to check availability.
The Speaker’s Corner Coffee Shop is open from 9.00am - 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.
NB: Members of the media are asked to respect the fact that catering facilities within Parliament Buildings are social areas. Therefore, comments made by an MLA, party staff, Assembly Commission staff, Executive departmental staff, witnesses and visitors are ‘off the record’ unless specifically indicated otherwise, and in advance. Media personnel who wish to discuss business matters with MLAs are encouraged to clarify whether they would prefer to meet elsewhere by arrangement.
Parliament Buildings is a non-smoking area. There is a designated smoking area to the rear of the West carpark accessible via the West door.
Door Opening and Closing Times
On Assembly sitting days: Main Front Door - from 7.30am to 10.30pm and at other times by special arrangement.
East Door (nearest the visitor car park) – from 7.30am to 10.30pm.
West Door – from 7.30am to 10.30pm.
On Assembly non-sitting days (normally Wednesday, Thursday and Friday): Main Front Door - from 7.30am to 7.00pm and at other times by special arrangement (opening times may vary during recess).
East Door (nearest the car park) – from 7.30am to 7.00pm (opening times may vary during recess).
West Door – from 7.30am to 7.00pm (opening times may vary during recess).
During recess: Media pass holders should contact the Communications Office if they intend to be in the Building during periods of recess when the Building is closed to the general public after 4.00pm.
During dissolution prior to an Assembly election: Special rules apply to media personnel during the period before an election. During dissolution, media personnel may access their offices in the basement of Parliament Buildings but may not record any election related pieces to camera or interviews commentators, parties or candidates within Parliament Buildings.
Information about Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Assembly’s website.
For media enquiries relating to:
• The Speaker
• Assembly Commission
• Clerk/Chief Executive
For media enquiries relating to:
• Committee for Finance
• Committee for Health
• Committee for Infrastructure
• Committee for Justice
• Public Accounts Committee
• Audit Committee
• Standards and Privileges
Office: 028 9052 1405
Mobile: 07920 864221
Deputy Communications Officer
For media enquiries relating to:
• Assembly and Executive Review Committee
• Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
• Committee for Education
• Committee for Communities
• Assembly events
Office: 028 9052 5938
Mobile: 07899 864368
Deputy Communications Officer
For media enquiries relating to:
• Committee for the Executive Office
• Committee for the Economy
• Assembly Community Connect
• Education Service
• Northern Ireland Youth Assembly
Office: 028 9052 1606
Mobile: 07900 278992
In the event of an evacuation please exit the building via the nearest exit unless directed otherwise. Assemble at the bottom of the front steps until it is safe to return to the building. If you require first aid assistance, or want to report an accident, please contact the Health and Safety Office (B10) on 028 9052 5932 or the front reception on 028 9052 1990.
You can access the Media Pass Privacy notice at the following link: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/news-and-media/information-for-journalists/media-pass-privacy-notice/
If you would like to apply for a pass in advance, please download and complete the Code of Conduct Agreement and email it to email@example.com