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Summary

  1. Motion calling for end to segregation for paramilitary prisoners at Maghaberry Prison passes with Sinn Féin amendment
  2. Assembly backs DUP motion on nursing shortages calling on health minister to "train and retain" more nurses
  3. Justice Minister Claire Sugden and Communities Minister Paul Givan appear at Question Time
  4. Benefits cap regulations receive assembly approval

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Iain McDowell

All times stated are UK

That's all, folks!

Thanks for joining us on Stormont Live today.

Parliament Buildings at Stormont
BBC

We're back tomorrow from 10:30, with a lengthy list of business, including a statement from the health minister on the Bengoa Report on reforming the healthcare system.

Until then, it's goodnight from us here on the hill!

DUP motion on nursing shortages carried

The SDLP's amendment falls - 91 MLAs voted, with 34 supporting it and 57 voting against.

MLAs in the assembly chamber
BBC

The DUP's motion passes on an oral vote.

And with that, Principal Deputy Speaker Caitríona Ruane adjourns the assembly for the day.

'Shortage costs vast amount of money'

DUP MLA and Health Committee chair Paula Bradley concludes on her party's motion, saying the nursing shortage is "costing our health service a vast amount of money".

Paula Bradley
BBC

She says that when health is debated in the assembly, MLAs tend not to use the issues as a "political football".

The house divides for a vote on the SDLP's amendment.

'Extend care and support to midwives'

Winding the SDLP's amendment to the motion, Sinéad Bradley asks the minister and MLAs to "extend your care and support to all nurses and all midwives".

Sinéad Bradley
BBC

"We're simply asking this house, please extend that to midwives," she says, referring to the DUP and Sinn Féin, who have indicated that they will not support the amendment.

"Let's not be so pedantic to hang on two words."

'Investment will secure nursing workforce for future'

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill rises to give her reaction to the debate, and says she shares the concerns of MLAs on the shortage of nurses in Northern Ireland.

There is "no one quick fix" to solve the problem, she says, but an international recruitment campaign targeting the Philippines, Romania and Greece is under way to try to meet the shortages.

Michelle O'Neill
BBC

About 10,000 people from Northern Ireland applied to study nursing in each of the last three years and "attracting potential nurses into the profession is not a problem".

The Department of Health invests £27m each year in nursing education, the minister says, and the measures she is putting in place will "get us back on track and secure our valued nursing and midwifery workforce into the future".

'Nursing homes spiralling towards crisis'

Jo-Anne Dobson of the UUP says that in recent years there has been a "sea-change" in what nursing involves, with their "role, input, scope and responsibilities" all growing.

Private nursing homes are "spiralling towards a crisis, haemorrhaging staff" as staff are being "enticed away to work for agencies".

Jo-Anne Dobson
BBC

The minister may soon have to intervene on the matter, she adds.

Mrs Dobson says newly-qualified nurses must see a "clear stairway to career enhancement" and receive fair pay for the work they do.

'Nurses hold health service together'

Nurses are "the glue that holds the health service together", making up 36% of the workforce, Sinn Féin's Pat Sheehan says.

Nurse writing notes
gett

He says the shortage in nurses needs investment and a "clear workforce strategy", and adds that he has confidence that Health Minister Michelle O'Neill will deliver on the issue.

He ends by saying that his party will oppose the SDLP amendment as it makes no reference to workforce planning.

'Roles have been widened and targets stretched'

Ulster Unionist Robbie Butler says "party politics shouldn't be brought into today's debate".

He says that "nursing roles have systematically been widened and targets have been stretched" without a corresponding increase in staffing, he says.

Robbie Butler
BBC

Paula Bradshaw of the Alliance Party indentifies problems in workforce planning in the health service, and calls for "concrete action going forward".

She says that nurse training in Northern Ireland is "among the very best in the world".

The DUP's Trevor Clarke rejects the notion that he, as a Brexit supporter, would object to foreign nationals working in the health service, and he pays tribute to "the work ethic and the compassion that those individuals show".

'Nurses must know your minister does care'

Sinn Féin's Catherine Seeley says "our nurses are under immense pressure" and the assembly must send out a message of "hope and confidence" to them.

Catherine Seeley
BBC

The health minister is a party colleague of Ms Seeley, and she says nurses should know that "your minister does care, your minister is aware of your daily struggle and your minister is responding".

'We are heading for midwife crisis'

Introducing the SDLP's amendment is Mark H Durkan, who explains that it extends the original motion to cover the shortage of midwives.

He says nurses are the "backbone" of the health service.  

A midwife talks to a pregnant woman
PA

He says the health service is under severe strain "and we all know that when we're under severe strain it's the backbone that feels it first".

According to the Royal College of Nursing, he says, Northern Ireland "faces a shortage of 100 midwives by 2017".

"We really are heading towards a midwife crisis," he adds.

On the agenda: Addressing nursing shortage

The DUP's Sydney Anderson introduces his party's motion on addressing nursing shortages.

Nurses on a hospital ward
PA

It calls on Health Minister Michelle O'Neill to work to "train and retain more nurses, thus reducing the total spend on agency nurses and assisting long-term workforce planning".

Mr Anderson says that "21% of Queen's University's newly-qualified nurses and midwives left Northern Ireland in 2011-12, compared to 10% in 2009-10".

Amended motion on paramilitary prisoners carried

With Question Time completed, MLAs return to the debate on ending the separation of paramilitary prisoners at Maghaberry Prison.

Principal Deputy Speaker Caitríona Ruane calls the vote on the Sinn Féin amendment and the house divides.

Maghaberry Prison
BBC

The amendment passes by 50 votes to 15, with 30 members voting in both lobbies.

The house divides again, this time on the motion as amended.

The amended motion is carried by the same margin.

'Gay cake judgement puts faith community in ice bucket'

The minister says he is "extremely disappointed" by today's Court of Appeal judgement on the Ashers 'gay cake' case.

"This judgement puts the faith community involved in commercial life into the ice bucket," he says.

He suggests that "people of faith" could face a choice between having to "suppress their conscience and go out of business" or going against religious values they hold.

Ashers Baking Company in Belfast
Getty Images

He says the McArthur family, who own the bakery firm against which the case was taken, have shown "Christian grace" throughout the process.

That stands in "stark contrast", he says, to how the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland handled the case, referring to its "pursuit of the family through the courts" and its request that they its legal costs.

"That reveals the nature of the character that exists within the Equality Commission," Mr Givan adds.

'Disabled people will be financially protected'

DUP MLA Paul Girvan asks what measures the department has in place to improve the quality of life of people with a disability.

disability symbol
Thinkstock

The minister says one in five people have a disability, and some examples of the department's work include the implementation of a new wheelchair accommodation standard for social housing and improved library and museum access.

He adds that measures will also be in place to "financially protect individuals with a disability" from changes to welfare payments to allow them time to adjust to the reforms.

'Robust measures tackles benefit fraud'

Green Party leader Steven Agnew asks why the executive is paying for investigations into benefit fraud while the money recouped in fraud cases goes back to the Treasury.

"Whoever is the end recipient of that saving is not the point," Mr Givan says, but he adds that the executive has proposed that the Treasury bears the cost to allow "further work" on tackling benefit fraud.

Steven Agnew
BBC

There were 272 convictions through the courts for benefit fraud in 2015-16, the minister says, with a further 659 penalties imposed by Stormont.

He says his department has "very robust" measure in place to investigate and tackle fraud, and adds that it see cases of error both on the part of benefit recipients and on the part of its staff.

'Executive support can minimise road-racing risks'

Responding to a question on motorcycle road-racing safety, Mr Givan says the sport is an "extremely popular" in Northern Ireland and "fosters a strong cultural identity".

He says is department has provided "financial assistance that will help to improve safety" at some of the region's major road-racing events that will improve circuit infrastructure, including £124,000 for the North West 200.

Motorcyclists racing at the North West 200
Press Eye

The sport, which he says has a "rich heritage" in Northern Ireland, needs to be supported by the executive, he tells the assembly.

He acknowledges that the risk of danger in the sport may never be eradicated, but adds: "We are seeking to do our best to ameliorate against the dangers that exist."

Question Time for communities minister

Paul Givan
BBC

Now at the despatch box is Paul Givan, who is taking questions on his work at the Department for Communities.

'When do we want to address Troubles legacy?'

The SDLP's Justin McNulty asks the minister about discussions with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) regarding proposals to address the legacy of the Troubles and legislation around legacy proposals.

He says that "devolution and openness is undermined when the minister refers any questions to her department's work to the NIO".

The minister says that legislation in relation to the Historical Inquiries Unit "is led by the UK government".

The aftermath of an bomb explosion during the Troubles
PA

Caoimhe Archibald of Sinn Féin asks the minister whether she has challenged the NIO to release funding for the lord chief justice's five-year plan for legacy inquests.

The minister says she has already indicated that she supports the lord chief justice's proposals.

"Do we want to address this in five years, or do we want to address it in 25 years?" she asks.

'Targeted focus needed against internet paedophiles'

Sandra Overend of the UUP asks about the threat posed by paedophiles who use the internet.

She says a senior police officer recently said that "at least 100,000 men in the UK regularly look at at obscene images of children".

A man using a laptop computer
Thinkstock

Ms Sugden says she believes there is a need for "a more targeted focus" and that she believes that is beginning to happen.

"It's almost one of those issues that I'm not sure we will ever get on top of because it is so colossal," she adds.

Question Time for justice minister

Claire Sugden
BBC

Claire Sugden is answering questions from members on the floor of the house on her brief at the Department of Justice.

'Prisons must be integrated just like society'

MLAs face a "stark choice" between the UUP motion and the Sinn Fein amendment, "which can be easily read as blaming our court system for a separated regime in our prisons", says Roy Beggs as he concludes his party's motion.

Maghaberry Prison
BBC

Housing paramilitary prisoners in separate wings, he says, has a "significant adverse effect on other aspects of the prisons", and this has "consequences outside our jails".

He ends by saying "we must move forward as a community and create an integrated prison just as an integrated society".

'Prisons should be free of political interference'

Winding the Sinn Féin amendment to the motion is Jennifer McCann, who says the reality is that ending segregation is not an option at present.

"You don't force people on the outside to live together, so how can you force people on the inside to live together," she asks.

Jennifer McCann
BBC

"We have to get to a place where people want to do that.

"The prison environment should be kept free of all outside political interference," she adds.

'Time not right to end segregation'

The time is "not yet right" to end segregation of paramilitary inmates at Maghaberry Prison, Justice Minister Claire Sugden says, referring to the views of an independent panel's review on the issue.

There are 42 prisoners in segregation at Maghaberry Prison, with 16 loyalists in Bush House and 26 republicans in Roe House.

Claire Sugden speaking in the chamber
BBC

The "ultimate aim" must be end of a separated regime for paramilitary prisoners, she adds, "as we move to a more normal and peaceful society".

"Forcing these prisoners to [integrate] would have a serious disruptive effect on the good order, discipline and security of the prison as a whole."

The UUP's motion focuses "on a timeframe rather than the right solution", she says, and she cannot support the it.

'Imposing integration will bring whirlwind of violence'

Imposing integration on prisoners in Maghaberry Prison will only "not solve any problem", People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann.

"You will reap a whirlwind, you are going to have serious violence," he adds.

Eamonn McCann
BBC

"You will be making a very serious mistake by trying to push this.

"Separation in Maghaberry? When we begin to look at separation in our schools, maybe we can move on to that more difficult question."

'Segregation perpetuates political prisoners myth'

If the segregation of prisoners in not ended in a "managed and professional way" it will "come back to haunt us all," says DUP MLA Sammy Douglas.

"We need to ensure that the security and safety of prison officers is at the heart of changes come about," he says.

Inside a prison
BBC

Ulster Unionist Robbie Butler says his time working as a prison officer was in the "hardest job I have done to date".

"In no way does it [the policy of segregation] increase the safety of staff or prisoners - in fact, it undermines it," he adds.

"It perpetrates the false narrative that we have political prisoners."

'Forced integration in prisons doesn't work'

Forced integration of paramilitary prisoners "doesn't work" and makes prisons "very difficult to manage", Sinn Féin's Raymond McCartney.

"If you show me a prison system anywhere in the world," he says, "where people are forced to integrate, then I can tell you it hasn't worked and it won't work."

A prison officer unlocks a door
BBC

By bringing their motion, the Ulster Unionists have tried to "pre-determine" the outcome of an independent review into Northern Ireland's prisons, he adds.

"The independent review is the place to bring all these issues."

'If we can't solve this, why are we here?'

Alex Attwood of the SDLP compares the "separate regime" in operation in Northern Ireland with the one that runs in prisons in the Republic of Ireland.

He says separation "needs to be as best as possible addressed across the island of Ireland".

Trevor Lunn
BBC

Alliance Party MLA Trevor Lunn (above) refers to the UUP motion's call to end admissions to separated wings by 2021 and to have a fully-integrated prison by 2016.

"If we can't solve this situation within 10 years, frankly, what are we doing here," he says.

'Prison system creates aura of Mr Bigs'

TUV leader Jim Allister suggests that the "cancer" within prisons is that the system "creates an aura of Mr Bigs".

A paramilitary mural
BBC

"Then when they're out on the streets, they still think they're Mr Bigs who can dictate to government as well as everyone else," he adds.

'Prison staff constantly faced with assassination'

Paul Frew of the DUP chairs the Justice Committee, and he pays tribute to the work of prison staff.

Paul Frew
BBC

He says they "are faced every hour with death, with assassination, with being blown to smithereens".

Agreeing with an intervention from his party colleague, Edwin Poots, Mr Frew says there can be no comparison with the situation prevailing in the rest of the UK, describing it as "pie in the sky".

'Motion completely misses the context'

Moving the Sinn Féin amendment, Declan Kearney is highly critical of the UUP motion.

Declan Kearney
BBC

He says that "comprehensive prison reform should be at the hear of the political and policy framework for the Department of Justice and for this assembly".

Mr Kearney says that "today's UUP motion completely misses both the context and the necessary reform agenda".

'Separation gives paramilitaries precieved credibility'

Introducing the motion, Mr Beattie says it "dovetails" into the content of the Fresh Start Agreement on paramilitary groups and the executive's action plan on tackling paramilitaries and organised crime.

Maghaberry Prison
BBC

Instigating the separation of prisoners at Maghaberry Prison was a case of "terrorists holding a gun to Northern Ireland society and saying; 'Do as we say or we will return to violence.'"

He says the continuation of the separated regime gives paramilitaries "an identity, a centre of gravity, a perceived credibility and an ability to direct terrorism from inside the prison on society outside of the prison".

On the agenda: Ending separation of paramilitary prisoners

Paramilitary prisoners and how they are housed is the subject of this week's first private members' motion, as brought to the floor by UUP pair Doug Beattie and Roy Beggs.

Inside a prison wing
BBC

They want Maghaberry Prison, near Lisburn in County Antrim, to revert to its integrationist policy, saying a decision 13 years ago to separate inmates jailed on paramilitary-linked offences was a "flawed" one.

The motion calls on Justice Minister Claire Sugden to make sure there are no new admissions to separate paramilitary wings by 2021 and there is a fully-integrated regime at the prison in 10 years' time.

'Tories are hell-bent on austerity'

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs says "there is little point in us discussing the merits or otherwise" of the benefit cap since it was agreed to pass control of the matter to Westminster.

He asks the minister what planning has been made for the situation after the mitigation scheme ends in 2020.

Roy Beggs
BBC

Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Féin welcomes the regulations, and says: "The fact is we are dealing with a British Tory part who are hell-bent on austerity."

The regulations pass on an oral vote.

'Benefits cap to encourage employment a draconian incentive'

Mr Givan explains that the benefit cap for families is due to be reduced to £20,000 by the UK government from 7 November.

The regulations being debated today would allow his department to implement mitigation payments for families from that date.

Colum Eastwood
BBC

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (above) supports the motion.

He criticises the idea of the benefits cap as a means of encouraging people to find employment.

"I suppose that not being able to feed or clothe your family, or heat your home is as draconian an incentive as you can get," he says.

On the agenda: Benefit cap regulations

Communities Minister  is seeking approval for the Welfare Supplementary Payment (Benefit Cap) Regulations.

The regulations arise from the part of the Fresh Start Agreement dealing with welfare reform.

Paul Givan
BBC

They provide for making mitigation payments on the reduction of the benefit cap.

The cap is an upper limit on the amount of benefit a household can receive.

'Questions not answered as fully as possible'

TUV leader Jim Allister raises a point of order regarding the answering of written and oral questions.

He quotes order 19.5 that "a question must be answered as clearly and fully as possible".

Jim Allister
BBC

He asks the speaker what sanction can be applied to ministers who do not answer questions fully.

Speaker Robin Newton says he would expect answers to be made in full, however he says there are other ways Mr Allister can follow up his question and advises him to take these up.

May and devolved nations meet on Brexit

The prime minister is to offer the leaders of the three devolved governments a "direct line" to Brexit Secretary David Davis ahead of the UK's negotiations to leave the EU.

Theresa May and the first ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
PA

Theresa May is holding talks with the first ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales at Downing Street.

Mrs May says she is "ready to listen" to their ideas but the final position must work for the whole of the UK.

Court of Appeal upholds 'gay cake' ruling

Appeal court judges have upheld the case of a gay man who was earlier found to have been unlawfully discriminated against when a Christian bakery firm refused to bake a cake with the message "Support Gay Marriage".

Ashers Bakery shop
Press Eye

The judges said Ashers Baking Company was not allowed to provide a service only to people who agreed with their religious beliefs.

Good morning

It's Monday again, and we're here to bring you our Stormont Live coverage of all of today's happenings on the hill.

Parliament Buildings at Stormont
BBC

The Northern Ireland Assembly is due to start at 12:00, and coming up are debates on the housing of paramilitary prisoners and on a shortage of nurses.