Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 16 October 2012

(referred to in earlier documents as the Northern Ireland Assembly Community Link)

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013
Date: Tuesday 16th October at 5.00pm
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings

Sammy Douglas MLA
Mark H Durkan MLA
Maeve McLaughlin MLA
Robin Swann MLA

Peter Hall, Head of Outreach & Education
Louise Close, Outreach Manager
Maria Bannon, Assembly Equality Manager
Susie Brown, Head of Communications
Stephanie Mallon, Community Outreach
Pauline Carlisle, Clerical Officer

Chris Lyttle MLA
Gareth McGrath, Director of Clerking & Reporting
John Stewart, Director of Information & Outreach

1. Apologies
Apologies were noted above.

2. Overview

As this was the initial meeting of the group, the Secretary gave an overview of the Network and its purpose.

  • To form an Advisory Group to provide input and guidance to the Community Assembly Network (CAN)

CAN is a new structure which will allow the consolidation of the work of the Assembly's Community Outreach Unit. Membership of CAN will be free and open to organisations in the Third Sector. Regular sessions will be held under the auspices of CAN to engage these organisations with the processes, structures and work of the Assembly.

The key functions of CAN are as follows:

  • Provide input and guidance regarding the work of CAN;
  • Identify communities/regions/hard to reach groups which could be involved in and benefit from the Community Outreach Programme;
  • Provide guidance for the development of an NI Assembly Community Outreach Fellowship Programme; and
  • Provide recommendations for resources for use by the sector.


3. Membership of the Advisory group

A representative from each of the five political parties represented on the Assembly Commission:

DUP: Sammy Douglas MLA
Sinn Fein: Maeve McLaughlin MLA
UUP: Robin Swann MLA
SDLP: Mark H Durkan MLA
Alliance: Chris Lyttle MLA

Other information on the Advisory Group is contained in Appendix 1.

ACTION: It was agreed to elect Sammy Douglas MLA as Chair, and Maeve McLaughlin MLA as Deputy Chair.

A short discussion was held regarding the name "Assembly Community Link Advisory Group".

ACTION: It was decided that the Northern Ireland Assembly Community Link will be replaced with Community Assembly Network (CAN). All future references will feature the revised name.

The Secretary then asked the group to nominate three Third Sector organisations to sit on the Network. The organisations should be umbrella groups representing a wide range of interests and will provide their own knowledge and expertise of the sector and provide advice accordingly.

After a short discussion of the proposed groups it was agreed to select the following organisations.

ACTION: Third Sector representatives selected for the Community Assembly Network:

Community Foundation NI (CFNI)
Rural Community Network (RCN)
Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA)

Ms McLaughlin enquired if there were any social economy groups that could be put forward, and mentioned that Employers for Childcare is a leader in the field having recently secured a departmental contract. The Secretary suggested a fourth group could be considered at the next meeting.

ACTION: Ms McLaughlin agreed to provide information and contacts for social economy groups, for further consideration.

ACTION: The Secretary to contact the selected charities to set up a briefing.

An overview of the Community Outreach team's activities in 2012 was given and MLAs were encouraged to join these events.

Meeting concluded at 5.45pm.

4. Date and Time of next meeting

Tuesday 4th December, at 5pm - Room 106.

Appendix 1

Operation of the Community Assembly Network (CAN)


1. The organisation shall be known as the "COMMUNITY ASSEMBLY NETWORK" ("CAN")


2. CAN will offer Third Sector organisations an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with elected representatives; whilst also allowing them to develop a greater understanding of the processes, structures and work of the Assembly and how they can get involved in this.


3. CAN shall have the following categories of membership:

(a) Assembly Member:
i. This shall be open to all current Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. All Members will automatically become a member of CAN when they are elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly. All Members will be able to become involved in the activities of CAN.
(b) Community and Voluntary Sector Member:
i. This shall be open to all organisations connected with Third Sector organisations that wish to engage with the Assembly, its processes and structures.
ii. Membership is free, and on registration applicants will identify the sector, or sectors, in which they work.
iii. Interested individual may attend events, but will not officially become part of the Community Assembly Network.


4. Input and guidance to CAN will come from the "Community Assembly Network Advisory Group" (the Advisory Group) which shall consist of:

  • A representative nominated by the Party whip of each of the five political parties represented on the Assembly Commission.
  • Three representatives from Third Sector organisations agreed by the MLAs on the Advisory Group.
  • The Director of Information and Outreach.
  • The Director of Clerking and Reporting.
  • The Assembly Equality Manager.

The Head of Outreach and Education will act as Secretary to the Advisory Group.


5. Representatives from each of the five largest political parties shall be nominated by their Party Whip following a letter from the Head of Outreach and Education requesting a nomination at the start of each mandate.

6. The Member will remain the representative on the Advisory Group until the end of the mandate, unless replaced by another Member as nominated by the Party Whip.


7. One representative from three appropriate Third Sector organisations will be invited to sit on the Advisory Group in an advisory capacity with the agreement of the MLAs on the Advisory Group by a nomination and seconding process.

8. The organisation can then nominate a representative to sit on the Advisory Group.

CAN Advisory Group CHAIR

9. An MLA will Chair meetings of the Advisory Group.

10. The Chair will be selected from the MLAs on the Advisory Group following the d'Hondt procedure.

11. The role of Chair will be rotated bi-annually. Terms will run from April to October and November to March.


12. The Secretary to the Advisory Group will be the Head of Outreach and Education. The Outreach Manager act as Deputy Secretary to the Advisory Group and will be delegated to fulfil the role of Secretary if required.


13. The Advisory Group will meet every six weeks.

14. The date of the next meeting of the Advisory Group will be agreed at each meeting of the body. Papers for meetings will be sent to the Advisory Group members three working days before each meeting.

15. The quorum for a meeting of the Advisory Group shall be three. The quorum must consist of two Assembly Members and one representative from the Community and Voluntary Sector members of the Advisory Group.

16. In the absence of the Chair another MLA present at the meeting will be nominated to fulfil the role of Chair of the Advisory Group for that meeting.


17. An Annual General Meeting will be held in or as close as practicable to the month of June and at least 21 days' notice must be given of such a meeting and of the business to be transacted.

18. The business on the agenda of the Annual General Meeting shall include:


  • An overview of the activities for the previous year
  • Plans for the upcoming year


19. The Chair or, in their absence, another MLA sitting on the Advisory Group shall preside at the AGM.


20. No membership fees shall be payable for membership of CAN and there will be no budget controlled by CAN or the Advisory Group.

October 2012

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