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Summary

  1. Members of the opposition asked the Education Minister to bring forward an early childhood development strategy.
  2. They also asked the minister to bring forward proposals for the provision of free pre-school childcare.
  3. Members of the DUP called for the Executive to bring forward an updated economic strategy.
  4. Ulster Unionist MLAs asked the Health Minister to detail actions she will take to address hospital waiting times.
  5. East Antrim MLAs discussed the potential for tourism in East Antrim.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Brooke Allen

All times stated are UK

  1. Good afternoon

    The assembly is now adjourned and that's a wrap for today. 

    Join us tomorrow from 10:00 GMT for live coverage of Wednesday's committees at the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

    Have a great afternoon. 

  2. Tourism is a 'key economic driver' for Northern Ireland

    The Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, congratulates his party colleague Gordon Lyons for securing this adjournment debate. 

    He says tourism is "now recognised as a key economic driver in Northern Ireland, attracting 4.5 million visitors in 2015, generating a total of £760m for the local economy". 

    "There are many reasons for East Antrim to be proud of its tourism potential," he says. 

  3. East Antrim MLAs unite over tourist attractions

    Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs continues to the discussion, making fond reference to the various tourism sites in East Antrim. 

    The Alliance party's Stewart Dickson says this is one issue that unites the various MLAs of East Antrim and says "we want to ensure that we get the maximum spend from tourists as they come to us in East Antrim". 

  4. Sites should be 'marketed properly'

    Carrickfergus Castle
    Image caption: Carrickfergus Castle

    Sinn Féin's MLA for East Antrim, Oliver McMullan, says East Antrim's sites should be "marketed properly". 

    He says councils must "put their budgets together" as the issue of budgeting to promote tourism cannot be landed on the minister and tourism organisations alone. 

  5. Tourism in East Antrim

    The Gobbins
    Image caption: The Gobbins

    DUP MLA for East Antrim, Gordon Lyons, is briefing the assembly on tourism in East Antrim. 

    He says he believes East Antrim has "something special to offer" with the Gobbins and Giant's Causeway. 

    In relation to tourism, he addresses the issue of connectivity and says "we need to be better connected with the rest of the world". 

    He also mentions tourism VAT and says it is an "issue for Westminster, to be dealt with at that level". 

    "We should see tourism as a sector and industry that has huge potential and can deliver more prosperity and opportunity to our people," he says. 

  6. Motion passes

    Doctor writing

    Ulster Unionist, Robbie Butler, says "health is an issue which is far too important to get caught up in political wrangling". 

    He reads through the various comments made by MLAs on the motion and makes reference to the fact that health was "the last department to be chosen during the d'Hondt process". He says he is disappointed by this. 

    The motion passes on an oral vote. 

  7. Minister's response

    Michelle O'Neill

    Health Minister Michelle O'Neill says we "have to deal with the immediate issue and the immediate issue is getting patients seen". 

    "I will not be apologetic in bidding in for additional funding as we have to deal with the here and now," she says. 

    The minister describes the work of Professor Bengoa as . She explains that he will produce his final report towards the end of June and the minister will come back to the assembly "to talk about how we move forward from that". 

    In terms of funding, she says, "June monitoring isn't the solution but it is the solution in the short term. Money isn't just the issue in the longer term. I want to be working on transforming the health service." 

    She says she fully understands why the motion has been brought to the house. 

  8. Focus on mental health

    Mike Nesbitt

    Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt supports the motion and commends his party colleague Jo-anne Dobson for the "very constructive approach she has taken in introducing the motion and pledging to work collaboratively with the minister". 

    He asks the minister, during her term, to focus on mental health. 

    "It's high time it was given the priority and resources needed," he says. 

  9. Reform 'is necessary'

    Paula Bradshaw

    In her maiden speech, Alliance Party MLA Paula Bradshaw pays tribute to her party colleague Anna Lo and says she has "big shoes to fill". 

    She commends and supports the motion. 

    She says the reason why the problem is "worse here than anywhere else in the UK is a product of an unreformed health service". 

    "Reform is what is necessary," she says. 

    "Too many people have waited too long for action on reform to make our health service fit for purpose for the thousands of patients currently waiting for vital treatment."

  10. Health minister's statement had a 'tame tone'

    Jo-anne Dobson

    Jo-anne Dobson says she did not accept the "tame tone" of the statement made by the Health Minister, Michelle O'Neill, in the chamber yesterday. 

    "We desperately need to move to a sustainable model in order to allow our health service to plan for the future," she says. "We need genuine reforms, not ploys and I look forward to working with the new minister."

  11. Motion: Continuing crisis in hospital waiting times

    Hospital staff

    Ulster Unionist MLAs Jo-anne Dobson and Robbie Butler are presenting a motion on the continuing crisis in hospital waiting times. 

    They are calling on the minister of health to detail what action she proposes to take to address this. 

  12. The motion as amendment is passed

    In conclusion, DUP MLA Gordon Dunne says it has been "a very useful debate". 

    The motion is passed on an oral vote. 

    The motion as amended is also passed on an oral vote. 

  13. Minister supports the motion

    Simon Hamilton

    Simon Hamilton says, in supporting the motion: "I want to ensure that there is clear alignment between a refocused economic strategy and the outcomes set out in the Programme for Government (PFG).

    "The refocus of the economic strategy will give us the opportunity to explore those issues identified by the next PFG in more detail and allow us to outline how delivery of these issues can contribute to growing the Northern Ireland economy and ultimately deliver more and better jobs for our people," he says. 

  14. More jobs supported in the west than east

    Invest Northern Ireland

    The Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, says he understands the points made by Daniel McCrossan in terms of the perception of regional imbalance across Northern Ireland. 

    Mr Hamilton describes how more jobs were supported by Invest Northern Ireland in the west of Northern Ireland than in the east in the period between 2011/12 and 2015/16. 

    He says, "In the east, 282 jobs were supported per 10,000 of the population and in the west, 301 jobs supported per 10,000 of the population". 

    The minister re-emphasises that, on a per capita basis, it is a higher figure in the west of Northern Ireland. 

  15. Calls for a 'targeted approach'

    Daniel McCrossan

    The SDLP's Daniel McCrossan speaks about the failure of successive ministers and their inability to "spread the wealth generating potential of the North, across all those who are living here".

    "There needs to be a targeted approach from this assembly on the areas of most need, economically in terms of infrastructure and jobs," he says. 

  16. Welcome back

    Welcome back to our coverage of Tuesday's proceedings at the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

    MLAs are resuming the debate on the motion for an economic strategy. 

  17. Lunchtime

    The sitting has been suspended for lunch and will begin again at 14:00 GMT. 

    This afternoon, MLAs will continue the debate on economic strategy. 

    Ulster Unionist members will then present a motion on the continuing crisis in hospital waiting times, and there will be a discussion from the DUP’s Gordon Lyons on Tourism in East Antrim.   

  18. Ulster Unionist supports the motion with amendment

    Alan Chambers

    Ulster Unionist party member, Alan Chambers, makes his maiden speech in the chamber. 

    He talks specifically the need for educational provision and manufacturing jobs in his own constituency, North Down.

    He says he supports the motion with the amendment. 

  19. More money 'should be spent on skills'

    Trevor Lunn

    The Alliance Party's Trevor Lunn says "investment needs to be scaled up and we need to see a step up by which an additional £85m each year is spent on skills by 2019/20". 

    "This would allow us to address current funding gaps in higher education, continue to freeze tuition fee levels for local students and to expand our provision of high level skills," he says.