Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín made a statement on sub-regional soccer stadia.
  2. MLAs passed the further consideration stage of the Public Service Ombudsperson Bill.
  3. Education Minister John O'Dowd and Employment Minister Stephen Farry appeared at Question Time.
  4. The Assembly considered the Public Accounts Committee reports.
  5. MLAs passed a motion calling for action on climate change.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. Motion and amendment pass

    The DUP's Pam Cameron, deputy chairperson of the Environment Committee winds on the motion.

    After dividing on both the motion and amendment, both are passed.

  2. 'King Canutes standing against tide of opinion'

    Mark H Durkan

    Environment Minister Mark H Durkan says climate change is "the biggest worldwide challenge of our time," and "the greatest risk to our health, environment and economies".

    The minister, who will be attending the Paris conference, says he has been working to build consensus for climate change legislation, describing its opponents as "King Canutes, standing against a growing tide of scientific and public opinion".

  3. 'Decarbonisation not a punishment'

    Claire Hanna

    Claire Hanna of the SDLP talks about the impact of flooding in countries such as Bangladesh and of drought in the Horn of Africa.

    She says "we've got to stop seeing decarbonisation as a punishment and a threat" and "start looking at the benefits it can bring to our economy and lifestyles".

    TUV leader Jim Allister says he has "major issues over the cause of climate change" and does not "swallow all this climate alarmism that it is all man-made".

    He says he believes climate change is cyclical and describes the idea that it an issue over which mankind can exert control as "vanity".

  4. 'NI punching above its weight on climate change'

    Paul Frew

    Paul Frew of the DUP says he supports the aims of the motion, but cannot support a Climate Bill for Northern Ireland.

    "Northern Ireland is already punching above its weight when it comes to the fight against climate change", he says, by producing "20% of its energy through wind".

    But, he says, "if we generate more, that would be great, but not at the cost of crippling our businesses, not to hurt our agriculture bases - these are the people that help turn Northern Ireland into a better place".

  5. 'One of the greatest challenges'

    Cathal Boylan

    Cathal Boylan of Sinn Féin describes climate change as "one of the greatest challenges facing modern society".

    On the Programme for Government target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 35% on the 1990 levels, by 2025 he says "at the very least we must achieve it and if at all possible we should exceed it".

    The SDLP's Alban Maginness says climate change is "not just a scientific issue, this is an issue of social justice as well as a political issue".

    "If our climate deterioriates, if the world overheats, the consequences for the poorer people in the world will be disproportionately devastating".

  6. 'Added strain on farmers"

    Cattle

    The DUP's William Irwin, who chairs the Agriculture Committee, expresses his concern over the potential impact of greenhouse gas emissions restrictions on farmers, particular in relation to methane produced by cattle.

    He says that food additives that may reduce methane production carry a "prohibitive cost " and when combined with the expense of complying with existing environmental directives may produce "added strain" on farmers.

  7. 'Freak weather events more common'

    Steven Agnew

    Green leader Steven Agnew says "it's undoubted that freak weather events, as they were once called, are increasingly becoming commonplace and we're seeing the effects here in Northern Ireland". 

    As well as flooding, he says increasing food prices, "global conflict" and "environmental refugees" are potential risks of climate change.

  8. 'Mitigation measures'

    Ms Lo talks about the important of "mitigation" measures in battling climate change - with "agriculture, transport, energy supply and the residential sector" the "largest sources of greenhouse emissions.

  9. Emissions reduction

    Anna Lo

    Alliance's Anna Lo, who chairs the Environment Committee, is bringing a motion calling on the environment minister and his Executive colleagues to "increase existing efforts and consider innovative approaches to help reduce emissions and move to a low carbon economy".

    The debate is being held to coincide with a UN climate change conference being held in Paris.

  10. 'No inter-party rows'

    John Dallat

    Concluding the debate, the SDLP's John Dallat says there have never been any kind of "inter-party rows" between the PAC members. 

    He says it stands "head and shoulders" above many other Assembly committees.

  11. A strategic review

    Arlene Foster

    Finance Minister Arlene Foster, replying to the debate, says she wishes some of the members "had read the papers before they came into the house".

    She outlines some of the ways in which her department is aiming to improve the use of public resources.

    These include "a strategic review of public sector reform" led by the OECD.

  12. 'Astounding' cost of broadband initiative

    The TUV's Jim Allister says he found it "astounding" that a cross-border broadband internet initiative, the Bytel project, which initially was to receive 300,000 euros in funding actually cost around 4.3m euros.

    He says this was only possible because the company was "wiping the department's eye" or "the department turning a blind eye".

    "How can such a thing happen?" he asks, adding that he looked forward to hearing the explanation.

  13. 'Few charges brought'

    Dolores Kelly

    The SDLP's Dolores Kelly expresses disappointment that "very few charges have been brought" as a result of the committee's reports.

    Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs comments on primary care prescribing.

    He says significant savings could be made, and that there is a "huge variation between GP practices".

  14. Outstanding fines

    Paul Girvan

    The DUP's Paul Girvan speaks on the committee's investigation into the NI Courts and Tribunal Service.

    He says it was discovered that there were £19m in outstanding fines owed to the courts.

  15. Public Accounts Committee reports

    Michaela Boyle

    Sinn Féin's Michaela Boyle, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) opens the debate on its committee reports and memoranda of reply.

    She pays tribute to the role of the Auditor General in informing the committee's work.

    Ms Boyle outlines some of the areas considered by the committee including whistleblowers, fraud, the Belfast Metropolitan College project, and primary care prescribing.

  16. Ombudsperson Bill progresses

    After MLAs vote through a succession of amendments, changing "ombudsperson" to "ombudsman", the bill completes its further consideration stage.

  17. Special Advisers amendment falls

    The amendment proposed by UUP MLA Roy Beggs to make special advisers subject to the NIPSO falls. 

  18. 'Committee want to avoid legal input'

    Mike Nesbitt

    Ulster Unionist chairman of the OFMDFM Committee, Mike Nesbitt, says one of the intentions of the NIPSO (Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsperson) is to avoid involving "legal input" and a requirement that they "ensure a person is represented" would "take away the leeway from the NIPSO".

    Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey agrees that the committee want to "maximise protection for the citizens but not do so in a way which was litigation-driven", something MLAs had wanted to avoid, as "one lawyer begets another".

  19. "Relatively simple"

    Trevor Lunn

    Alliance's Trevor Lunn concurs with Alban Maginness, saying "I hope even at this stage that the house can see the sense in this" and "allow something that is relatively simple and to me, natural justice".

    The TUV's Jim Allister speaks in support of Roy Beggs' amendment relating to special advisers.

    He says it would make it "abundantly clear" that special advisers, as with civil servants, "aren't above the law of the ombusdman, but are caught by it". 

  20. 'Defendant should have right to representation'

    Alban Maginness

    Alban Maginness of the SDLP addresses an amendment that would ensure a right of representation for anyone subject to a complaint - whether by a member of the legal profession, a trade union or an industry body.

    As currently constituted, the bill offers some legal protection to the defendant, but "any representation will be at the discretion of the ombudsman", he says.

    He describes the merits of the amendment as "irresistible".

  21. 'Best dealt with elsewhere'

     Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey, who chairs the Social Development Committee, says while there were "deficits, in terms of accountability" in the special advisers' code of conduct, these were "best dealt with elsewhere", so he would not be supporting the amendment.  

  22. Special advisers

    Roy Beggs

    Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs speaks to his own amendment which would bring special advisers under the remit of the Public Services Ombudsperson Bill.

    Mr Beggs talks about his experience of what he refers to as the "Red Sky affair" -  when as a member of the Social Development Committee, he was involved in the investigation into alleged political interference by former minister Nelson McCausland in managed housing contracts.

    He says the committee had recommended the department initiate disciplinary procedures against a special adviser, Stephen Brimstone, "but nothing happened".

  23. Long-term sustainability

    walking stick

    Mr Hamilton says it is "only right and proper" to reflect on the current market position within residential and nursing care.

    "I have asked officials to bring forward a detailed report into a care market in Northern Ireland with an emphasis on the economic outlook and the longer-term sustainability of the current arrangements", he says.

  24. Other providers

    Alex Easton

    The DUP's Alex Easton asks if any other companies have expressed any interest in taking over the seven homes.

    Mr Hamilton says it is publicly known that there have been expressions of of interest.

    He says he has been in contact with other care home providers "expressing an interest in being in the Northern Ireland market".

  25. 'Baseless attack'

    Chris Lyttle

    Chris Lyttle says the problems facing the independent care sector were well-known, and asks if the minister was caught "asleep at the wheel".

    Mr Hamilton says this is "a baseless political attack on me".

  26. 'Great anxiety'

    Simon Hamilton

    The minister says the "business decision" by Four Seasons will cause "great anxiety".

    Mr Hamilton explains the actions being taken by the health authorities to ensure "minimal disruption to residents" as they are moved to alternative accommodation.

    He says it is "a complex and difficult task".

  27. Urgent question on care homes

    Four Seasons care homes

    Chris Lyttle of Alliance asks health minister Simon Hamilton an urgent oral question:

    "To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to outline the action he is taking to assist the residents and staff affected by the proposed closures of local Four Seasons care homes." 

  28. Student fees

    Tuition fees

    Caitríona Ruane of Sinn Féin asks whether "proposals to increase tuition fees would have a negative effect on his department's commitment to wider access to people from disadvantaged areas?".

    Mr Farry says he has not proposed an increase in fees, but the "current system is unsustainable".

    "All options are on the table," he says.

  29. Employment Questions

    Stephen Farry

    Employment Minister Stephen Farry is answering questions from MLAs.

  30. PPP schools

    The SDLP's Seán Rogers asks about the costs of PPP (private-public partnership) education projects, and whether there has been any renegotiation of contracts.

    The minister says there have been no PPP projects undertaken in the current Assembly mandate.

    Mr O'Dowd says that if the Executive were to consider taking on such projects again it would need to examine the example of other jurisdictions "to ensure that the public sector is the beneficiary of it, rather than the private sector".

  31. Levels of Progression

    Oliver McMullan

    Sinn Féin's Oliver McMullan asks about progress to resolve industrial action over the Levels of Progression assessment scheme.

    The minister outlines his communication with the Northern Ireland Teachers Council, and says that the NASUWT, INTO and UTU unions have stepped back from industrial action.

    The SDLP's John  Dallat is concerned that Levels of Progression are intended as accountability tools to judge schools.

    The minister says the scheme's aim is "to ensure that young people's education is up to the standards that it should be, measured by teachers".

  32. Educational underachievement

    Schools

    The DUP's William Humphrey asks what the minister is doing to address educational underachievement in working-class communities.

    Mr O'Dowd says he has "the correct policies in place" and they are beginning to bear fruit.

    He says that while some schools continue with academic selection "we will be unable to eradicate social division".

  33. Question Time

    John O'Dowd

    Education Minister John O'Dowd is answering questions from MLAs.

  34. Defendant's rights

    Trevor Lunn

    Alliance's Trevor Lunn talks about the need to safeguard the rights of a professional subject to a "special report" by the ombudsperson.

    He says if, for example, a patient wishes to make a complaint against a doctor, they can already bring their grievance to a county court.

    The legal redress available to a defendant appealing the ombudsman's decision is judicial review but this "involves a considerable amount of money and the potential for considerable reputational damage", he says.

  35. 'Reputational damage'

    Alban Maginness

    Alban Maginness of the SDLP cautions that a person who was the subject of a special report by the NIPSO could suffer "reputational or professional damage which could be significant", particularly if they live in a small community.

    "We must realise what power we are giving to the ombudsman," he adds.

  36. Executive departments under NIPSO

    Mike Nesbitt

    Mr Nesbitt brings the next group of amendments on the NIPSO (Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsperson) Bill.

    Among the proposed changes are the automatic inclusion of all Executive departments under the ambit of the ombudsperson; a provision that students at local universities would be covered by the bill and a power allowing the ombudsperson to bring a special report to the Assembly if someone had "suffered injustice and that injustice has not and will not be remedied".

  37. Public Services Ombudsperson

    Lord Morrow

    Lord Morrow, who chairs the Assembly's ad hoc committee, formed to advise on the creation of a Public Services Ombudsperson, begins by addressing the use of the term "ombudsman".

    He says that after considering advice on its etymology, the committee had decided the term was "sufficiently gender neutral" and should be used, rather than "ombudsperson".

    Alex Maskey of Sinn Féin says his party would prefer the term "ombudperson" as "it is becoming much more prevalent in common parlance" and is part of "an ongoing public change in narrative around gender".

    The UUP's Mike Nesbitt, who chairs the OFMDFM Committee agrees that "ombudsman" should be used.

  38. Food Hygiene Rating Bill

    Chip shop

    Health Minister Simon Hamilton introduces the debate  on the further consideration stage of the Food Hygiene Rating Bill.

    The bill passes to its final stage

  39. Junior and intermediate football

    Chris Lyttle

    Chris Lyttle of Alliance welcomes the additional funding for junior and intermediate football and seeks the minister's commitment to ensure clubs, particularly in areas of deprivation, are aware of "the opportunities that this fund will create".

  40. 'Missed opportunities?'

    Karen McKevitt

    The SDLP's Karen McKevitt asks if the delay in the initial announcement of the scheme and its initiation may have led to "missed opportunities" for clubs.

    The minister says the work was "never due to start until the next mandate". 

    In response to a question about the IFA's (Irish Football Association) new facilities strategy, from Leslie Cree of the UUP, Ms Ní Chuilín says the scheme has been revised as "other needs from clubs have emerged". 

  41. 'Consultation meaningful and inclusive'

    Nelson McCausland

    Culture Committee chairman, the DUP's Nelson McCausland, welcomes the investment in local football.

    He asks the minister why the consultation period has been reduced from 20 weeks to 12.

    Ms Ní Chuilín says it will be "a quick turnaround" but she is making sure "everything that can be done, will be done" and the consultation will be "meaningful and inclusive".

  42. Three new bills

    Three new bills have their first reading, introducing them to the Assembly.

    They are: the Departments Bill, the Addressing Bullying in Schools Bill, and the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

  43. Executive priorities

    Proposed new stand, Seaview Stadium, Belfast
    Image caption: Proposed new stand, Seaview Stadium, Belfast

    The strategy has five key aims:

    - To ensure local stadia are safe and capable of hosting "high level competition".

    - To develop community-based facilities.

    - To provide funding for lower-tier clubs to upgrade safety provision at their grounds.

    -To create a purpose-built national training centre "to support current talent and nurture future generations".

    - To create "targeted programmes" to grow junior and intermediate football.

  44. Football stadia development programme

    Carál Ní Chuilín

    Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín announces the launch of a consultation seeking input on a scheme to improve local football infrastructure.

    In 2011, the Executive agreed to put together at £36m investment package to improve local football grounds.

  45. Sitting extended

    Mitchel McLaughlin
    Image caption: Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin

    MLAs vote to suspend standing orders to allow for a late sitting.

  46. Good morning

    Welcome to our live coverage of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    Business starts at 12:00 GMT at Stormont with a late finish expected.

    A backlog of Executive bills is beginning to arrive on the doormat at Parliament Buildings with three first readings today.