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Summary

  1. The Culture Committee heard a departmental briefing on its budget for the forthcoming year.
  2. Justice Minister David Ford appeared in the Justice Committee to discuss the funding implications of the Fresh Start Agreement.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. The committee adjourns

    Alastair Ross adjourns the committee.

    Join us on Monday at 12:00GMT. Matters for debate include the Assembly Opposition Bill.

  2. 'These pitiful sights'

    Mr McGuigan says that "prisons will always be there for the most dangerous of people".

    He adds that "when you look at some of these pitiful sights, when you open the door of that prison cell and you look at them you're sitting saying to yourself, 'how have we failed that human being?'".

  3. Losing prison officers to the police

    Edwin Poots

    In reply to a question from the DUP's Edwin Poots about prison officer recruitment, Ms McWilliams says some officers have been attracted away to jobs in the police.

    "We have lost people to the PSNI, which we had told them they were going to do," she says.

  4. Long-term issues

    Brendan McGuigan

    Brendan McGuigan the chief inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) explains how imprisonment may not help people to reform.

    "We're just not structured in a way to support people to be diverted effectively, especially with those longer term issues and needs be it mental health, personality disorder, learning difficulties," he says.

  5. 'No purposeful activity'

    Maghaberry Prison

    Ms McWilliams says a recent visit to the segregated unit at Maghaberry Prison revealed that "there is no purposeful activity currently going on".

    She adds that "the library facilities are non-existent and the teachers have all withdrawn, with the exception of the art teacher".

  6. Prisons 'playing catch-up'

    Prof Monica McWilliams

    Monica McWilliams says the Belfast Agreement did no make any recommendations for refoprms to the prison service.

    "In many ways the prison service is playing catch-up" with other parts of the criminal justice system., she says.

    Ms McWilliams says the oversight team was set up to review the implementation of the recommendations made in Dame Anne Owers' report on the prison system.

  7. Prison Review Oversight Group

    Prison Review Oversight Group

    Three members of the Prison Review Oversight Group arrive to brief the committee on their annual report.

  8. NIACRO and Extern

    The subject now turns to funding for for two charities, NIACRO and Extern that, among other things, work for the rehabilitation of offenders.

  9. The coroner's court

    Raymond McCartney

    Raymond McCartney Sinn Féin asks about resources to address  "the strain that's going to be put on the coroner's court" given the absence of an agreement on dealing with the past.

    "I am absolutely confident that the department does not have the money that is required," the minister replies.

  10. Cross-border drug dealing

    Drugs find

    The DUP's Sammy Douglas asks about drug dealing.

    He says that "over 100 syringes" were found by the railway in one part of his constituency.

    Mr Douglas says the gang dealing the drugs was based in Dublin, and he wants to know if the minister is confident that the Irish police are putting in similar resources to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

    Mr Ford says the chief constable has told him that co-operation is at a "very high level".

    He says that drug dealing gangs operate "on an all-Ireland basis", and not just across the Louth/Armagh border.

  11. Dealing with the past

    Fresh Start Agreement

    The minister says the major drawback with Fresh Start is the lack of a way forward on dealing with the past.

    Mr Ford says this has had "a significant negative impact on those involved in this area - not least on victims' families".

    He says he remains committed to finding a way forward but "there will, however, need to be a political appetite for this to happen".

  12. Justice Comittee

    David Ford

    Justice Minister David Ford is briefing the committee on the  implications of the Fresh Start agreement for the Department of Justice.

    He says it is potentially a very important document for the department, particularly with its emphasis on paramilitarism and organised crime.

  13. 'Taking away the evidence'

    Leslie Cree of the UUP notes that if the department proceed with the remedial building work, "we're taking the evidence away".

    He also says that the supplier of the building materials may also carry some liability for the faults.

  14. 'Appalled'

    Karen McKevitt

    The SDLP's Karen McKevitt says it is "absolutely, totally against DCAL (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure) forking out nearly a million pounds for something they had literally no fault in".

    She says "if I book a flight, no matter what the price, and the air company went bust, there's a responsibility held, like an insurance pot" and "I'm absolutely appalled. When we're sitting here fighting to keep doors open in front line services, I'm totally opposed to this".

  15. Legal action over Mac exterior

    Cracking on the facade of the MAC
    Image caption: Cracking on the facade of the MAC

    The committee resumes in public session.

    Chair Nelson McCausland begins by addressing "issues around the facade of the Mac".

    He says the gallery is pursuing legal redress over degradation of the building's exterior, but "unfortunately the original contractor has gone into liquidation".

    Mr McCausland says a business case for over £900k to carry out repairs has been approved and the Arts Council has sought funding from the Culture Department to cover the costs which are expected to be incurred in 2016/17.

  16. Closed session

    The committee goes into closed session for further discussion of the Casement Park inquiry.

  17. MLAs delay decision on chairman's evidence

    MLAs briefly discuss the possibility of chairman Nelson McCausland, a former Culture Minister, appearing before the committee to answer questions over emergency exiting at the Casement Park project.

    They agree to defer a decision until next week and move into closed session.

  18. 'New minister, new priorities?'

    The SDLP's Karen McKevitt asks if there is a risk that some programmes which are priorities for the current minister will not go ahead if they clash with those of the minister heading the new Department of Communities

    Joanna McConway replies that schemes such as the sub-regional stadia project are executive projects and as such, have ring-fenced funding.

    She says any new minister probably will have differing priorities, but the "underlying objectives" will remain the same.

  19. 'Demand for stadia funding high'

    In response to a question from Sinn Féin's Rosie McCorley about the sub-regional stadia project, Ms McConway says "we expect the demand will be very high".

    She adds there will be disappointment for some clubs, as the £36m funding pot will not be sufficient to meet every need.

    But there will be a second round of funding, she says, which will be open to various clubs, including soccer and GAA, with a view to improving infrastructure.