22 April 2008

Synopsis: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Northern Ireland Assembly Branch meeting on Tuesday 22 April 2008 at 5.00pm in the Commonwealth Room, Parliament Buildings

Present:

The President, Mr William Hay MLA
Mr Billy Armstrong MLA
Mr Roy Beggs MLA
Rev Robert Coulter MLA
Mr Leslie Cree MLA
Mr Samuel Gardiner MLA
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Mr Alan McFarland MLA
Mr Stephen Moutray MLA
Mr Sean Neeson MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Ms Dawn Purvis MLA
Mr Jim Wells MLA

Mr Peter Gregg, Head of External Liaison Unit
Mrs Judith Murdoch, External Liaison Unit

Apoligies:

Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Mr John Dallat MLA
Mr Nelson McCausland MLA

1. APOLOGIES

The President welcomed members to the CPA NI Branch meeting and agreed that apologies received would be reflected in the minutes of the meeting.

2. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The draft minutes of the Branch Meeting held on 29 January 2008 were agreed as amended.

3. MATTERS ARISING

There were no matters arising.

4. NI BRANCH CPA BUDGET REPORT

The President referred members to a brief report on the CPA NI Branch budget 2007/2008.

Mr Gregg provided a brief verbal update to Members on the CPA NI Branch Budget position up to 31 March 2008.

5. REPORT ON CPA UK BRANCH INTERNATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE – TACKLING DRUGS, CHANGING COMMUNITIES, WESTMINSTER 3 - 8 FEBRUARY 2008

The President explained that as no nominations were received from Branch Members to attend this conference, an Assembly Research Officer attended and provided a report. The President referred Members to the report on the conference, for their information.

6. REPORT ON SRI LANKAN MPS VISIT TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY, 28 FEBRUARY 2008

The President referred Members to a report prepared by Branch Secretariat on the recent visit of a delegation of Sri Lankan MPs, this was part of a wider visit organised by the CPA UK Branch, for their information only.

7. REPORT ON CPA NI BRANCH COMMONWEALTH DAY 2008 EVENTS

The President referred Members to a report on the Commonwealth Day Commemoration events held in Parliament Buildings on Monday 10 March 2008. The President thanked those Branch Members who supported the event, with special thanks to (Rev Robert Coulter MLA, Mr Simon Hamilton MLA and Mr David McClarty) who sat on the sub-committee which oversaw arrangements for the event.

At the President’s request, Mr McClarty MLA gave a brief verbal report of the Youth Parliament event, which he chaired as Deputy Speaker.

8. UPDATE ON BRITISH ISLANDS AND MEDITTERANEAN REGIONAL (BIMR) CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN GIBRALTAR, 11-15 MAY 2008

The President reported that the CPA NI Branch had been invited to send four delegates to the Conference and as only four nominations were received from Branch Members, it was unnecessary on this occasion to apply the new protocol on the Selection of Members to attend Conferences/Seminars and Visits. The President reported that he had approved the four nominations and that Mr Billy Armstrong MLA, Ms Dawn Purvis MLA, Mr Robin Newton MLA and Mr Jim Wells MLA would represent the NI Branch at the Conference, and they will be accompanied by Mrs Judith Murdoch (Branch Secretariat) who will act as secretary to the delegation.

The President referred Members to the draft programme for the Conference and papers relating to the BIMR Annual General Meeting which will take place during the Conference.

The President explained that the host Branch have requested the name of the Leader of the delegation. Members agreed that Ms Dawn Purvis should lead the delegation.

Agreed: Members agreed that Ms Dawn Purvis would be Leader of the CPA NI Branch delegation to the BIMR Conference in Gibraltar.
9. 54 TH ANNUAL COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN MALAYSIA 1-10 AUGUST 2008

The President reported that the CPA NI Branch have been invited to send one delegate to the Annual Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 1-10 August 2008. The President explained that the invitation also invites the Branch to send observers, however the host Branch has a limitation on the number of observer places. The President explained that it had been normal practice in the past to send one delegate and two observers to the Annual Conference.

Agreed: Members agreed that the CPA NI Branch should send one delegate and two observers to the conference.

Mr Gregg explained that the Branch had been invited to send a Secretary who would serve as Secretary to the delegates from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales Branches.

Mr Gregg explained that an email would be issued to all Branch Members on 23 April 2008 inviting them to apply to attend the conference, applications should be returned within seven days and the new protocol on the Selection of Members to attend Conferences/Seminars and Visits would be used in selecting the NI Branch delegate and observers to attend this conference.

Mr Gardiner proposed that the President should attend the Conference as the NI Branch delegate. The President thanked Mr Gardiner for his support, but declined the offer, due to other commitments.

10. PROPOSAL FOR A CPA NI BRANCH CONFERENCE

At the President’s request, Mr Gregg updated Branch Members on the proposal and explained that the Branch Secretariat had met with two Members of the sub-committee (Mr Danny Kennedy MLA and Mr Robin Newton) which was established to oversee arrangements for the Conference and updated them on the proposal. Mr Gregg explained that although initial thoughts had been to arrange the conference for the Autumn 2008, for a number of reasons it was proposed to re-schedule it to the Spring of 2009.

Agreed: Members agreed that the NI Branch Conference should be arranged in the Spring of 2009.

Mr Kennedy MLA pointed out that Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA had agreed to sit on the sub-committee before he had been appointed Junior Minister and suggested that the Branch Secretariat may wish to check with him if he is still content to carry out this role given his Ministerial duties.

Action: Branch Secretariat to contact Mr Donaldson to confirm his commitment to the sub-committee.
11. CPA SCOTLAND BRANCH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, VISIT TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

The President invited Mr Gregg to brief Members. Mr Gregg explained that the CPA Scotland Branch Executive Committee had planned to visit the Assembly last year, however, the visit had to be postponed and they have now been in contact to rearrange the visit. The provisional date for the visit is Tuesday 20 May 2008. During the visit the Executive Committee of CPA Scotland Branch have asked to meet with the Executive Committee NI Branch. Branch Secretariat is currently developing a programme for the visit and details will issue to NI Branch Executive Committee Members in due course.

12. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
(a) CPA UK Branch Governance Seminar – June 2008

The President invited Mr Gregg to brief Members on this item. Mr Gregg explained that the CPA UK Branch hold an Annual Governance Seminar for two weeks in June, and as part of this seminar the delegates visit a devolved legislature. The President has approved a visit to the Northern Ireland Assembly by the seminar delegates (approximately 60) on Thursday 12 June 2008. NI Branch Secretariat is working with UK Branch Secretariat to develop a suitable programme for the visit and Members were encouraged to support the visit by offering to take part in the programme.

(b) Appointment of Chairman of CPA International Executive Committee

The President referred Members to correspondence from the Secretary to the CPA UK Branch regarding the intention of the UK Branch to nominate Lord Paul of Marylebone to be the new Chairman of the CPA International Executive Committee.

Agreed: Members agreed to support the UK Branch nomination.
(c) Nkabom Project, Cyprus 13 September 2008

The President invited Mr Gregg to brief Members on this item. Mr Gregg explained that the NI Branch Secretariat had been contacted by Mr Nigel McCollum, Head of Public Affairs at the Royal Commonwealth Society regarding the Nkabom Project 2008. (Nkabom means “coming together in the Twi language of Ghana). The Nkabom project is a successful youth development and exchange programme which has evolved into a unique space for talented young people to share experience, deepen their understanding of key global issues and informally interact with peers from around the Commonwealth. Nkabom 2008 will take place in Cyprus from 13-20 September with the theme ‘Conflict, Migration and The Commonwealth. The week long programme will bring together 20 delegates, from 18-28 years old from countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, North America, Australia and the Carribbean.

In his correspondence Mr Nigel McCollum invited CPA NI Branch to put forward a young person from Northern Ireland to take part in the project.

Agreed: Members agreed that the NI Branch should nominate a young person to represent NI in the Nkabom Project in Cyprus and meet associated costs.
Action: Branch secretariat to issue a paper setting out the criteria together with a suitable application form to Branch Members.
13. DATE & TIME OF NEXT MEETING

The next NI Branch meeting will be held towards the end of June 2008, Branch Secretariat will circulate details of the date and time to Members in due course.

WILLIAM HAY MLA
The President

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