Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 04 December 2012

Venue: Room 274, Parliament Buildings

Sammy Douglas MLA Chair
Mark H Durkan MLA
Chris Lyttle MLA
Robin Swann MLA
Michael Hughes Rural Community Network
Avila Kilmurray Community Foundation NI
Seamus McAleavey NICVA

In Attendance:
Susie Brown Secretary
Louise Close Deputy Secretary
Gareth McGrath Director of Clerking & Reporting
John Stewart Director of Information & Outreach
Maria Bannon Assembly Equality Manager
Stephanie Mallon Community Outreach
Pauline Carlisle Clerical Officer

Maeve McLaughlin MLA Deputy Chair

1. Apologies

Apologies are noted above.

2. Declaration of interest:

No members declared an interest in relation to the agenda items.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the above meeting were agreed.

4. Matters arising:

Social Economy Representative

Further to the discussion on the inclusion of a social economy representative on the Advisory Group, Ulster Community Investment Trust Ltd (UCIT) was put forward. Mr McAleavey informed the group that UCIT is a financial organisation and that he was a Board member. The Chair asked members to consider this suggestion and asked for other proposals for a social economy representative to be discussed at the next meeting.

5. Introduction of Voluntary and Community Sector representatives

The Chair introduced the three representatives from the Community and Voluntary sector: Michael Hughes of the Rural Community Network, Avila Kilmurray of the Community Foundation Northern Ireland and Seamus McAleavey of NICVA and thanked them for taking part in this initiative.

6. CAN Training Events

The Chair introduced the training sessions that are currently planned and the Deputy Secretary gave information on the three strands of the programme.

The Deputy Secretary also outlined the proposed CAN training dates for 2013 and proposed topics, while Ms Mallon highlighted the type of groups which could benefit from the Community Outreach programme.

The Chair invited the Group members to suggest further topics, particularly for the insight into the Assembly series.

Ms Kilmurray suggested there should be training on the work of All Party Groups.

Mr Lyttle MLA spoke of his experience of receiving submissions to Committees from charities where the material submitted did not address the topic substantively. He suggested that a template for submissions could be developed that would assist groups in the process.

Mr Swann MLA referred to the frustration of charities, after having produced significant pieces of work (as a result of a Committee request), simply being noted and not read or referred to during Committee proceedings.

Mr McAleavey suggested guidance on the best time to interact with a Committee. He suggested that there is a scope for communicating at the Forward Work Plan stage rather than point of an Inquiry.

The Chair recommended that a mission statement for CAN would be very useful.

Action: The topics recommended for training should be delivered.
Action: That a session on the work of All Party Groups should be considered.
Action: A template for submissions will be investigated that would assist groups in communicating with Committees.
Action: Guidance on the best time to interact with a Committee should be considered.
Action: A mission statement will be developed to be considered at the next meeting.

The Deputy Secretary then gave an overview of the 'Get Involved' conferences, explaining that as the Northern Ireland Assembly is based in Belfast, it was important to address groups from across Northern Ireland.

Previous Get Involved conferences were held in Foyle, Newry and Armagh, Mid Ulster, East Antrim and North Down. The Outreach Strategy states that four regional 'Get Involved' conferences should be arranged each year.

The Chair asked the Group to prioritise the locations for the next set of 'Get Involved' events.

Action: The next four 'Get Involved' conferences will be held in:
February East Belfast
April West Tyrone
June Upper Bann
October North Antrim

Mr McAleavey applauded the offer of training at outside venues, pointing out that there is considerable interest in the work of the Assembly when events are held in charity venues. He referred to how well attended Committee meetings are when they have been held in NICVA.

The Chair welcomed any further ideas to be discussed at the next meeting.

Action: Secretariat to consult with Clerking and Reporting Directorate colleagues
on participation in CAN training events.

7. Outreach Service attendance at Events 2013

Annual Events
The Chair outlined that there are a number of events in Northern Ireland each year which attract a high level of footfall. It is important that the Assembly have a presence at these events, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by high attendance figures or the type of audience attracted by the event. The Balmoral Show and the Mela were identified as the two main events that are currently attended by the Assembly.

Based on the limited resources and budgets available to the Community Outreach team, the Chair asked the group for advice on recommending future events from the list provided in Annex A for the Assembly to attend.

Derry/Londonderry City of Culture

The Chair also welcomed suggestions on how to be part of the Derry/Londonderry City of Culture celebrations and directed that the Outreach team should be notified if any opportunity presents itself at a future point.

Action: The panel to consider the events and make recommendations at the next

8. Managing Requests for participation in Team Sports

The numerous requests for MLAs to participate in team games and sports events were discussed. The Chair noted that, although MLAs are keen to facilitate requests, it is not logistically possible to organise these requests on an ad-hoc basis.

Given the volume of requests it is recommended that the CAN Advisory Group approve the requests.

Mr Lyttle MLA raised the point that the suggested arrangements of a "first come, first served" basis will not allow various annual tournaments to be accommodated. After further discussion, it was decided to take these requests on a case-by-case basis.

The Chair asked MLAs for their views on the best day and time to take part in these requests, given the pressure of Assembly business. After some discussion, where it was acknowledged that there is no perfect time to best suit busy schedules, Tuesday lunch time was selected as the optimum time.

Action: The Advisory Group agreed that the process for managing requests for
MLAs to participate as a team in sports events, is managed through CAN.
Action: A monthly list should be produced for the consideration of the Advisory
Action: The paper on sports events will be amended to reflect the case-by-case basis for allocating requests.

9. CAN Launch & promotion to the voluntary and community sector

The Chair outlined the importance of launching the Network and a number of attendees spoke of colleagues in the community and voluntary sector requesting more details already.

Following the discussion, it was decided that the CAN launch will take place on Tuesday 29th January 2013 in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

The Secretary informed the group she will allocate a dedicated person to promote CAN to the Members, media and general public.

The launch will include an opening address by the Speaker, highlighting the key functions of CAN.

The charity representatives on the Advisory Group were asked if they could provide a list of attendees to invite to the launch. The Assembly Equality Manager also agreed to provide a list of contacts.

Action: NICVA, RCN and CFNI to provide invitees list
Action: Assembly Equality Manager to provide a list of contacts.

Chris Lyttle MLA suggested the name be changed to Assembly Community Network
similar to other groups within the Northern Ireland Assembly eg Northern Ireland
Business Trust (NIABT). Assembly Community Connect was also put forward as an
alternative name to consider. A short discussion was held about the name of the group.

Agreed: The Community Assembly Network (CAN) will be re-named Assembly
Community Connect (ACC). All future references will feature the revised name.

10. Planned Community Activities 2013

The Chair brought the group's attention to the list of planned activities for 2013.
Ms Kilmurray asked for clarification of the listing for an interface activity in May and
was informed that there is no specific plan for an activity at this time. However, placing it
on the plan recognises that there is normally a request to facilitate interface activities around this time of year and placing it on the plan allows planning and resources to be allocated.

11. Proposed dates of 2013 Advisory Group meetings:



Venue and Time


5th February

Room 106         5.00pm


9th April

Room 106         5.00pm


4th June

Room 106         5.00pm


17th September

Room 106         5.00pm


12th November

Room 106         5.00pm

An overview of the proposed dates for the Advisory group meetings in 2013 was given.

The Deputy Secretary stated that papers would be issued three working days before each

The Deputy Secretary also advised there will be Assembly Community Connect (ACC)
fellowships similar to the NIABT. MLAs will spend the day with a community group.

Action Mental Health (AMH) will be the first organisation involved in this. Further
details will be available at the next meeting.

12. Any Other Business:

In concluding the Chair wished everyone a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Meeting finished at 6.20pm

13. Date and Time of next meeting:

Tuesday 5th February 2013, at 5.00pm – Room 106

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