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  1. The new Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazzard, briefed the committee.
  2. Department officials also briefed the committee on roads and rivers, including Belfast Rapid Transit project.
  3. The First and Deputy First Minister and Junior Ministers briefed the executive office committee.

Live Reporting

By Brooke Allen and Iain McDowell

All times stated are UK

  1. Good afternoon

    Mr Nesbitt adjourns the committee.

    That's it for our coverage of Wednesday's proceedings at the Northern Ireland Assembly at sunny Stormont.

    Parliament Buildings at Stormont

    Join us again tomorrow morning from 10:30 BST.

    In the meantime, have a good evening.

  2. Keano or Kyle?

    Mr Nesbitt promised earlier he would end on a "provocative" note and asks the question: "Robbie Keane or Kyle Lafferty?"

    Mrs Foster says: "You are asking a Fermanagh person, Robbie Keane or Kyle Lafferty... Kyle Lafferty!"

    Kyle Lafferty

    "What about Robbie Keane and Kyle Lafferty?" asks Mr McGuinness.

    "You pick Robbie Keane and I'll pick Kyle Lafferty," laughs the first minister.

    Mrs Foster says she is travelling to the Northern Ireland vs Poland match on Sunday, but Mr McGuinness is staying at home as he will be answering questions in the assembly the next day.

  3. 'We are a great country'

    The DUP's Philip Logan says it is "important to sell Northern Ireland on the world stage", adding: "We are a great country!"

    He asks what mechanism the executive use to distribute companies coming into Northern Ireland.

    Philip Logan

    Mrs Foster says: "Invest NI will work with companies who have expressed interest in coming in to Northern Ireland."

    "It is up to the investor where they want to be placed," she says.

    Mr McGuinness makes reference to issues in particular constituencies and says in this PfG "we intend to do it in the fairest possible way".

  4. Social investment fund 'a learning curve'

    Christopher Stalford of the DUP asks about the £80m social investment fund, set up in 2011 to tackle inequality and unemployment.

    He asks how they react "when senior politicians have referred to this as a paramilitary slush fund".

    Christopher Stalford

    The executive has been criticised for the length of time it has taken to allocate the money, but Mr McGuinness says "it has been a learning curve for everybody".

    "It was a new idea and we were very careful to ensure that under no circumstances did any paramilitary get their hands on any of the money," he adds.

  5. Mental health trauma service

    The DUP's Pam Cameron, the only woman on the committee, asks for an update on the mental health trauma service.

    Mrs Foster says she hopes that will be augmented by the Peace IV application for 17.6m euros of funding.

    Pam Cameron

    "We are hoping that will get approval from the EU and allow us to draw this money down," she says.

    She describes how she hopes this will be "an integrated model between the victims sector and the Department of Health" as it will be an "innovative and new way of working and one that will make a real difference".

  6. Syrian refugees 'close to our hearts'

    Sinn Féín's Ian Milne asks about victims of conflict from Syria and groups of immigrants coming to Northern Ireland. He asks if there are prospects of more coming in the future.

    Martin Guinness says this is an issue "very close to our hearts to support those who have been through very traumatic experiences".

    Syrian refugees

    Junior Minister Megan Fearon says she and the deputy first minister met with refugees who have been based in Belfast and they have settled in well.

    However, many of them have "complex needs medically, physically and emotionally" and so there are case workers working alongside them.

    She says "there is no exact timeline" for more groups of people coming in to Northern Ireland.

  7. McGuinness 'surprise' over Kingsmills print

    Mr McGuinness says he finds it "absolutely incredible" it took someone 40 years to come up with a palm print in relation to the Kingsmills massacre.

    Police are to re-open their inquiry into the killing of 10 Protestant workmen in South Armagh after the print was found on a getaway van.

    Kingsmills van

    The deputy first minister expresses surprise about the palm print development, but Mr Nesbitt asks him not to say anything else in case it was sub judice.

    An inquest into the deaths is currently being carried out.

  8. Delivering better broadband provision

    Danny Kennedy asks about increased broadband provision, particularly for businesses. He asks what the executive can do to accelerate that because it is an "issue of real importance to the local economy".

    Internet cables

    Ms Foster says the difficulty with broadband is that "when we are given our targets from Ofcom, they are based on population density" and so this "leaves the rural areas struggling".

    She says that Ofcom is looking in to setting up "a dedicated Northern Ireland office in terms of how we deliver communications better in Northern Ireland".

  9. Opportunity to 'find a way forward'

    On dealing with the past, Mr McGuinness says "the difficulty we face centres around the fact that there are victims groups out there who believe that the use of the term 'British national security' is really an attempt by the British government to prevent them getting full disclosure".

    "I am one of those within the process who believes that if the mechanisms through the Historcial Investigations Unit (HIU) are to be meaningful then everybody that was part of the conflict has to make a contribution to support the requests from families around what happened to their loved ones," he says.

    He adds that the issue "needs to be resolved before the summer".

    "The elections are over. There is an opportunity now to find a way forward."

  10. Dealing with the past

    Ulster Unionist and committee deputy chair Danny Kennedy asks about the up-to-date situation on legacy issues, as they were omitted from the Fresh Start Agreement.

    Danny Kennedy

    "Agreement was not able to be reached at that time," Ms Foster says. 

    "We will attempt to revisit this issue on dealing with the past in the next couple of weeks, with a view to try to bring it to a conclusion."

  11. PfG approach 'finds favour with public'

    On the approach to the PfG, Mr McGuinness says "nobody was in the dark, there was no attempt by anyone to pull the wool over anyone's eyes as to what type of approach it was".

    "We are absolutely convinced that the approach that we have adopted is one that not only has found favour with the public, but is one that the public will engage with over the course of the consultation period and that will lead to better outcomes," he adds.

  12. 'Squashing' the EU rumours

    Mr Nesbitt says there are "persistent rumours" that the first minister is in favour of a Remain vote in the EU referendum.

    Arlene Foster

    She says: "I will take that opportunity to squash [those rumours]".

    "I have given a number of interviews endorsing the Leave campaign, so I'm not quite sure where those rumours have come from."

  13. Milking it


    The DUP's Christopher Stalford says the late Mr Paisley's exact words on the EU were: "We'll milk the cow before we slaughter it."

    "Dr Paisley had his own particular style," Mrs Foster jokes.

  14. 'We'll take their money'

    Mr Nesbitt raises the point that one of the listed functions of the Executive Office is to advice to ministers and the civil service on "maximising the benefits of the EU".

    He asks if the department accepts if there are benefits of remaining in the EU.

    The Union and EU flags

    Mrs Foster, who backs a Leave vote in this month's referendum, refers to the view of her former party leader Ian Paisley.

    "We may not like Europe but when we're there we'll take as much of their money as we can get out," she says.

    "That's the case certainly up to the 23 June."

  15. PFG 'will be meaningful to people'

    Arlene Foster says she is glad about "the fact that only those enthusiastic about being in government are taking their places".

    Martin McGuinness

    Mr McGuinness says the "approach and style" of the next programme for government (PFG) "will be different" and there will be a "much clearer idea of what we want to achieve".

    He says that will be laid out in "terms that are meaningful to people rather than those in this administration".

  16. 'Full team' of Executive Office ministers

    First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister martin McGuinness, and junior ministers Alastair Ross, of the DUP, and Megan Fearon, of Sinn Féin, are appearing before the committee.

    The Executive Committee

    Mrs Foster makes her opening remarks in this ministerial briefing to the committee members.

  17. Executive Committee sitting

    Welcome back to our assembly coverage.

    Mike Nesbitt

    The Executive Office committee is sitting now, with Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt in the chair.  

  18. Lunchtime

    The committee has been adjourned, just in time for lunch.

    We will return from 14:00 BST with live coverage of the Committee for the Executive Office. 

    Committee members will receive a briefing from the First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and junior ministers, Alastair Ross and Megan Fearon.

  19. Irwin set to leave committee

    Mr Humphrey thanks the committee deputy-chair, his party colleague William Irwin, "for his sterling work".

    William irwin

    He says Mr Irwin will be "leaving us and forsaking me" and will be replaced next week when he "returns to his natural home in agriculture".