End of Session Report 12 May 2011 – 31 August 2012

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 12 November 2012

ISBN: Only available online

Remit and Powers

The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure is a Statutory Departmental Committee established in accordance with paragraph 8 and 9 of the Belfast Agreement, Section 29 of the NI Act 1998 and under Assembly Standing Order 48. The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role in respect of the Minister of Culture, Arts & Leisure and has a role to play in the initiation, consideration and development of legislation.

The Committee has the power to:

  • Consider and advise on Departmental budgets and annual plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
  • Approve relevant secondary legislation and take the Committee stage of primary legislation;
  • Call for persons and papers;
  • Initiate inquiries and make reports; and
  • Consider and advise on matters brought to the Committee by the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

The Committee has 11 members, including a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, with a quorum of 5 members.

The membership of the Committee is as follows:

Miss Michelle McIlveen (Chairperson)
Mr William Irwin (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley                               
Mr Oliver McMullan[1]
Mrs Brenda Hale                          
Mr Cathal Ó hOisín
Mr David Hilditch              
Mr Pat Sheehan
Mr Michael McGimpsey        
Mr Robin Swann
Mrs Karen McKevitt

[1] Mr Oliver McMullan replaced Mr Gerry Kelly with effect from 12 September 2011

This report covers the work of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure from 12 May 2011 to 31 August 2012.

Committee activities, outputs and achievements

Committee meetings and visits

During this session, the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure met 44 times. Six of these meetings were held outside Parliament Buildings.

The Committee has stated a preference for not meeting in closed session unless absolutely necessary. As a result, 94% of the total duration of all meetings have been held in open session.

The Committee held six meetings outside Parliament Buildings. These were at the Arts Council offices in Belfast, Derry City Council premises at the Guildhall, W5 in the Odyssey Complex, Bangor Townhall, e3 campus in Belfast and at National Museums Northern Ireland offices in Cultra.

CAL Committee Members at NMNI, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra

CAL Committee Members at Guildhall with the then Mayor, Maurice Devenney

The Committee also visited the Game of Thrones set in Dromore, The Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena,  and the construction sites of the 50m swimming pool in Bangor, the Titanic Signature building and the MAC Theatre.

CAL Committee Members at the site of the MAC Theatre

CAL Committee Members at site of 50m swimming pool in Bangor

The Committee also undertook a visit to Edinburgh and Dundee as part of its inquiry into ‘Maximising the Potential of the Creative Industries’. The visit included meetings and roundtable discussions with a variety of stakeholders, with a view to gaining a full picture of the support mechanisms available in Scotland.

CAL Committee Members with Paddy Sinclair and Grant Alexander of Proper Games, Dundee

Inquiries and Reviews 

Maximizing the potential of creative industries in Northern Ireland

During the Assembly year 2011 – 2012 the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure undertook an inquiry into “Maximising the Potential of Creative Industries”.  The purpose of the inquiry was to investigate the policies, strategies and frameworks which underpin the development and growth of the creative industries in Northern Ireland. It did this by examining whether these are fit for purpose and have effective support delivery mechanisms which maximise and harness the economic benefits of the creative industries within Northern Ireland.

The Committee considered over 80 written submissions and took oral evidence from 26 organisations across the sector.

In addition, the Committee held two stakeholder events. The first was in Parliament Buildings at Stormont and the second at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh.  33 organisations were represented at these events and Members of the Committee moved from table to table to hear views on the terms of reference of the inquiry.

Creative Industries inquiry stakeholder event in Long Gallery

During its visit to Edinburgh and Dundee, the Committee met with representatives from Creative Scotland, the Universities of Abertay and Dundee, Screen Academy Scotland, Scottish Government officials, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Ms Fiona Hyslop MSP, and practitioners within the creative industries

CAL Committee Members with Ms Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Cuture and External Affairs of the Scottish Parliament

It is expected that the Committee Report on the inquiry will be published in the Autumn.


Primary Legislation

The Committee has responsibility to consider primary legislation that originates from the Department. The Department did not introduce any primary legislation during this period.

In May 2012, the Committee responded to the Committee for the Environment’s call for evidence as part of the latter’s scrutiny of the Marine Bill.  Areas of interest to the CAL Committee were sport and inland fisheries. The Committee submitted its response after hearing evidence from both DCAL Inland Fisheries and Sport NI officials on issues relating to sporting activity in the marine environment; and the need for consultation on proposed bye-laws which impact on the development of sporting activities. 

Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered and supported the approval of the following four pieces of subordinate legislation:

  1.  Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011;
  2.  Eel Fishing (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011;
  3.   Safety of Sports Grounds (Fees and Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012; and
  4.   Legislative Consent Motion to the Cultural Gifts Scheme Provisions of the Westminster Finance (No.4) Bill.


At the start of the new mandate, the Committee received a briefing from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) on its Final Budget Allocation for 2011-2015; and also received updates on the management of its annual budget including a range of adjustments that affected spending profiles in advance of each monitoring round.  

Members questioned officials on Departmental bids, reduced requirements and surrendered resources and on underlying policy and budget priorities where necessary, particularly in relation to budget allocations for libraries, museums and the UIster Scots Academy.

The Committee has also undertaken a scrutiny role in relation to the Executive’s investment of £110m for stadia development and the £12.6m funding for the City of Culture programme. It has requested and received a number of briefings from both DCAL and the delivery bodies to seek assurances that these projects are on time and within budget.


The Committee has exercised its scrutiny role in a wide range of policy areas including: 

Programme for Government, Investment Strategy and Economic Strategy

The Committee responded to the consultations on the draft Programme for Government, Investment Strategy and Economic Strategies after seeking the views of DCAL’s Arm’s Length Bodies. Of the 82 commitments in the Programme for Government, DCAL has responsibility for three of those commitments. As these three commitments will be delivered by DCAL’s Arm’s Length Bodies and sports governing bodies, the Committee sought assurances that DCAL has robust monitoring and support mechanisms in place and that there would be accountability at a Departmental level.


The Committee sought assurances from Libraries NI and the Minister that the needs and views of local library users would be paramount in any decision by Libraries NI regarding library closures and reduction of opening hours. The Committee welcomed the announcement by the Minister in January 2012 that additional funding of £2.39m would be provided to Libraries NI to offset the impact of a reduction in opening hours on local communities reliant on library services. 

Salmon Conservation

The Committee urged the Minister to adopt an equitable, balanced, fair and transparent approach when implementing immediate short term measures to conserve salmon, after taking evidence from anglers, commercial fishermen and DCAL officials; and to take timely measures to avoid infraction fines from the EC. Going forward, the Committee will scrutinize the process and outcome of the Department’s consultation on longer term salmon conservation measures.

Review of Arm’s Length Bodies

The Committee requested and received timely briefings at relevant milestones during DCAL’s review of its Arm’s Length Bodies.

Stadia Development

The Committee sought assurances from DCAL that robust structures and risk management processes were in place to deliver the three sports stadia at Windsor, Casement Park and Ravenhill following a £110m capital investment from the Northern Ireland Executive; and has received briefings from the Irish Football Association, GAA and Ulster Rugby regarding their progress in delivering these stadia on time and within budget.

EU Issues

The Committee monitored policy and legislative developments at an EU level. The Committee particularly focused on EU policy development in relation to sport and the creative industries. The Committee also received an oral briefing from Ms Jane Morrice, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee on engaging with Europe.


Archaeological Archives

On 2 July 2012, the Assembly agreed a Committee Motion that called on the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to address issues relating to the protection of archaeological artefacts excavated from planning led development.

It was a joint Committee Motion with the Committee for the Environment, and was as a result of a stakeholder discussion forum hosted by the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, and attended by museums officials, the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and DCAL officials.

Both Ministers agreed to undertake a number of measures in the short and longer term. The Committee will continue to monitor developments in this area.


Informal Meetings

There were nine informal meetings held where either Members of the Committee or the Chair, on behalf of the Committee, attended. These meetings covered salmon conservation, sport, creative industries and Lough Neagh.

Members of the Committee also attended a meeting with Members of the Joint Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and Gaeltacht Affairs from the House of the Oireachtas to discuss issues of mutual interest including arts and the creative industries. 


The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure sponsored a number of events in Parliament Buildings including: “Health in Mind”, a joint project with Libraries NI and four mental health charities; “NEST”, part of the Cultural Olympiad 2012; and a demonstration by the Irish Sports Stacking team following their recent success at the World Stacking Championships in Germany.

Chairperson with representatives from Ireland’s Sports Stacking Team

Members of the Committee also visited the “Screaming Silence of the Wind” at the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena.  This exhibition by Maurice Orr was commissioned by the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and comprised of five multi-sensory art installations.  Following this visit the exhibition moved to the Great Hall in Parliament Buildings.

CAL Committee Members with “Screaming Silence of the Wind” artist Maurice Orr


The Committee aims to direct its attention on a wide and varied range of issues throughout the 2012-13 Session. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Scrutiny of monitoring rounds and implementation of savings plans;
  • The legacy of the Olympics and Paralympic Games to sport in Northern Ireland, including a review of the challenges facing minority sports;
  • The progress of the delivery of both City of Culture 2013 and World Police and Fire Games 2013;
  • Salmon Conservation Measures;
  • Review of DCAL’s strategy Delivering Tomorrow’s Libraries;
  • Draft strategies on Irish Language and Ulster Scots Language, Heritage and Culture;
  • DCAL’s ongoing review of its Arm’s Length Bodies;
  • Progress in stadia development; and
  • Publication of the Committee’s report into maximising the potential of the Creative Industries.


Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure – Expenditure for the period 

12 May 2011 – 31 August 2012

Budget area



Committee Travel - committee members and staff travel and subsistence in relation to visits and meetings outside Parliament Buildings


Includes the cost of 5 committee visits to:

  • Titanic Belfast Building
  • The MAC Theatre, Belfast
  • NI Screen set of “Game of Thrones”,               


  • The Braid, Ballymena
  • Edinburgh and Dundee


and 6 meetings held outside Parliament Buildings:

  • Arts Council Northern Ireland office;
  • National Museums Northern Ireland, Cultra;
  • Derry City Council office at Guildhall
  • e3, Belfast Metropolitan College
  • Bangor Townhall
  • W5, Odyssey Complex


And 1 Stakeholder Event in:

  • Strule Arts Centre, Omagh
























General expenses


Cost of refreshments for committee meetings, working lunches, seminars, room hire and witness expenses, event entertainment services