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  1. Amended Alliance Party motion calling for action plan on tackling paramilitary groups is passed
  2. Sinn Féin motion demanding Westminster funding to deal with backlog of legacy inquests falls
  3. Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Health Minister Michelle O'Neill face Question Time
  4. Improvements to dual carriageway junctions in North Down subject for adjournment debate

Live Reporting

By Iain McDowell and Erinn Kerr

All times stated are UK

That's all, folks!

Deputy Speaker Danny Kennedy brings today's assembly session to an end, and that wraps up our Stormont Live coverage, too.

We'll be back tomorrow morning with committee business, including a marathon afternoon session with the Public Accounts Committee for its inquiry into the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Goodnight for now!

'Improvements to A2 on the horizon'

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard says moves to improve safety on the A2 are "on the horizon".

Chris Hazzard

He says his department has "long-term plans to improve" several junctions on the A2, with two projects at the "detailed design" stage. 

He adds that he will be outlining his greenway strategy tomorrow, which will provide solutions for cycling between Bangor and Belfast.

'Fear for safety of cyclists using A2'

Ulster Unionist Alan Chambers says one close friend died after a collision on the A2 earlier this year, and another man who he knew was killed when cycling on the same road in the summer.

"I admire the hardy souls who use this road on two wheels and I also fear for them," he says, adding that the "current arrangements, or should I say no arrangements" for cyclists are not acceptable.

Cars on the A2

Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry says making right-hand turns may have to be made illegal on some parts of the A2 to make it safer.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew asks the minister to consider what measures can be put in place to mitigate the dangers that exist for road users, including looking at speed limits on the road.

'A2 road needs investment to make it safe'

This week's adjournment debate, brought by DUP MLA Gordon Dunne, focuses on the need for improvements to junctions on the A2 Bangor-to-Belfast road in his North Down constituency.

The road is one of the busiest in Northern Ireland and carries up to 45,000 vehicles a day, Mr Dunne tells the assembly.

Traffic on the A2

He says there are "two very dangerous" junctions on the road and there is a need for investment for upgrades and maintenance to make them safe.

"North Down residents deserve better," he tells the infrastructure minister, "and I trust this matter will be taken seriously."

'Did ministers mislead house on United flights?'

Ulster Unionist Steve Aiken raises a point of order, suggesting that the first and economy ministers may have "misled this house" yesterday.

In relation to United Airlines' decision to end its Belfast to New York air route, they said the move had been forced by "bureaucracy" by the European Commission.

United Airlines planes

But Mr Aiken says: "It's now come to the attention that the EU Commission did not make any ruling on this issue and it was the executive and the airline that made this decision instead."

Deputy Speaker Patsy McGlone says if Mr Aiken has evidence of that, he should provide it to the speaker's office.

Sinn Féin motion on legacy inquests falls

MLAs in the assembly chamber

With 43 members voting in favour of it and 45 voting against it, Sinn Féin's motion calling for the government to release funding for legacy inquests falls.

SDLP amendment to motion falls

The second amendment, put forward by the SDLP, also falls.

Of the 88 members who voted, 20 were in favour but 68 were against it.

UUP amendment to motion falls

The UUP amendment falls, with only 15 MLAs voting for it and 73 opposing it.

'Executive would fund inquests if it could'

Wrapping up the Sinn Fein motion, Gerry Kelly says if the issue came down simply to money and the executive had to power to give it, "it would be given".

Gerry Kelly

He says the amendments were only submitted as an attack on the executive.

He says the inquests can happen if the government provides the resources and it is necessary for it to "tell the truth".

'Pact of non-aggression between DUP and Sinn Féin'

Winding the UUP amendment, Roy Beggs says Sinn Féin has failed to acknowledge that the Northern Ireland secretary said that if the executive agress a way forward the government will release the funding for legacy inquests.

Roy Beggs

He says Declan Kearney's failure to attack the DUP during his contribution is evidence of a "non-aggression pact" between the executive parties.

He urges support for his party's amendment, asking why a way forward cannot be found for all families, rather than just some.

'Don't allow DUP to veto legacy issue'

The SDLP's Colin McGrath makes a plea to the justice minister, asking her to take the issue of legacy inquests to Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire (below) and abandon attempts to get Stormont to agree a plan going forward.

James Brokenshire

He winds his party's amendment, saying "we should not allow the DUP to have a veto" on the issue.

"By willfully blocking any resolution we are faiing and letting down all families," he adds.

'We owe it to families to provide them with justice'

Northern Ireland's justice system was never funded to address legacy issues, the justice minister says.

Claire Sugden says Sir Declan Morgan's proposals offer "real and tangible hopes to the victims' families that their cases will finally be brought to a conclusion".

Claire Sugden

Politicians in Northern Ireland "owe it to the victims and their families to make the lord chief justice's vision a reality".

She says she supports the motion, and while she cannot give a timeframe for progress she will continue to work to resolve the issue urgently.

'Sinn Féin state-bashing while demanding justice'

TUV leader Jim Allister accuses Sinn Féin of "state-bashing" in bringing its motion on legacy issues to the assembly.


He says there are some members in the chamber who "could tell us a great deal about the innocent victims they removed".

But he adds they now "are on the highest of horses demanding justice for those they present as victims of the state".

'Government would've told truth by now if it was willing'

Sinn Féin's motion does not acknowledge that its executive partner, the DUP, is holding up the inquests, Eamonn McCann tells the assembly.

The People Before Profit MLA says that if the government had any willingness to tell the truth "they'd have told it already".

Eamonn McCann

"If they had told the truth from the outset, there would be no need for any money to be spent," he adds.

Victims "should stand together" in their fight for inquests into their loved ones' killings, he concludes.

'Attempt to rewrite history must be avoided'

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy points out that this is the third motion in last two days that has touched on issues relating to the Troubles.

Mr Kennedy has been long-time campaigner for the families of the victims of the 1976 Kingmills massacre (below), in which 10 Protestant men were shot as they returned home from a day's work.

The scene of the Kingsmills massacre

The current system for progressing legacy inquests is "clearly unsatisfactory", he says, and any news system must be "fairly structured".

"We must avoid at all costs any attempt to rewrite history," he adds.

'More funds needed or we will fail victims'

Pam Cameron of the DUP says she "cannot stress enough the need to bring this matter to a close" for the victims and survivors of the Troubles.

Pam Cameron

It is clear that in order to progress more resources must be allocated and to not act would be to "fail" victims, she adds.

'Executive must agree something rational on inquests'

Good work by the judiciary and civil servants to help to move legacy inquests forward has been "let down by the failure of the executive to agree a way forward".

He says First Minister Arlene Foster has a "veto" on the progress of the inquests and the government might be hiding behind that.


He criticises Mr Kearney for his "rant" aimed at the govenment by saying that a degree responsibility lies with the executive, of which Sinn Féin is a part.

"Unless we have something rational being done here, we will not actually get the opportunity to ask the Treasury to pay what they should be paying," he adds.

'Legacy inquests all come down to cost'

"We will not be supporting the motion or any of the amendments," says DUP MLA Paul Frew. 

"When some victims are left behind there is more hurt and more pain placed on those victims," he adds.

Paul Frew

Every victim needs to be allowed to move forward, he says, but he asks how do we "pick and choose".

He suggests that £150m may not be enough to deal with the problem, and while inquests should not be held up "a lot of this comes down to cost".

'Brokenshire meets victims but doesn't listen'

Alex Attwood prssents the SDLP's amendment, which calls on the executive, the assembly and the government to urgently "play their part in the release of monies".

The West Belfast MLA says he was present at a recent meeting between the Northern Ireland secretary and the families of the victims of the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre, which the families walked out of.

Alex Attwood

"[James Brokenshire] meets and then he does not listen and then he does not live up to his responsibilities under international law," Mr Attwood says, adding that he should "hang his head in shame".

"If we don't support the families," he says, "they will not believe that the process is wholesome and worthwhile."

'Solution needed that works for all, not some'

Doug Beattie puts forward an Ulster Unionist amendment to the motion, saying he "really does not understand" the Lord Chief Justice's five-year plan.

The amendment says the closure of the Historical Enquiries Team has left many people without access to any review into their loved one’s murder.


Mr Beattie calls on the executive to bring forward proposals that are fair, balanced, impartial and proportionate.

He says he does want "justice for all" but says "we need to have lateral thinking" and come up with something that works for all and "not just for some".

He says he cannot support the motion as it stands.

'Denying families inquests offensive to human rights'

Inquests relating to killings carried out during Northern Ireland's Troubles are now on the agenda, with a Sinn Féin motion calling for the government to provide the funding for the investigations.

Earlier this year, the region's most senior judge said the remaining inquests could be dealt with in five years if the necessary funding was released.

Lord Chief Justice

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan's proposals are a "road map" to find a solution, Declan Kearney says as he presents his party's motion.

More than 30 families are taking legal action against the government, he says, and it is "offensive to human and democratic rights that these families have to go to court to secure access" to inquests.

"As more time passes, family members are beginning to die, important witness evidence is being lost and, another generation is being denied closure," he adds.

Amended Alliance Party motion on tackling paramilitaries passes

With Question Time at an end, we return briefly to the matter of tackling paramilitaries.


The Alliance Party's motion with the Sinn Féin amendment passes on an oral vote.

'Health shake-up consultation begins this week'

Consultation on the minister's plan for major reform of the healthcare services in Northern Ireland after the Bengoa Report will begin this week.

The minister unveiled her vision, entitled Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together, last month in the wake of the Bengoa Report, a significant review of the region's health services.

Care worker

She says she has been "encouraged" that her plan has already received positive feedback, and the consultation will run until January.

She says she urges everyone "who has a stake in ensuring that we build a sustainable health and social care system" to respond to the consultation and "make sure their views are heard"

'Need for streamlining means health board must close'

The health minister says she will follow through with the closure of the Health and Social Care Board, as set out by her predecessor Simon Hamilton earlier this year.

Responding to a question from the DUP's Gary Middleton, Michelle O'Neill says there are "opportunities for us to actually streamline how we do things".

Health and Social Care board

"There are some structures which needed to change and the board was obviously one of those," she adds.

Before she proceeds with that, she will talk to staff as she "owes them the courtesy" of discussing their futures and where they will move to.

Gay men set to be granted pardon

Gay men convicted of abolished sex offences in Northern Ireland look set to be granted a pardon.

Justice Minister Claire Sugden has confirmed a motion will go before the assembly seeking approval for the pardon.

Men holding hands

Ms Sugden said arrangements should be brought as soon as possible to ensure equal treatment for gay and bisexual men, after calls for the move were made last month.

"This is an opportunity for the criminal justice system to try and right the wrongs of the past and one which will allow for much earlier resolve than that presented by way of an assembly bill," she added.

Question Time for health minister

At the despatch box now is Michelle O'Neill, who is fielding questions from MLAs on her brief at the Department of Health.

Michelle o'Neill

'Handing same-sex marriage baton to private members'

Mr Ó Muilleoir says he will "hand the baton" to bring legislation for same-sex marriage over to private members after the executive voted down his proposals to begin a consultation on a bill of his own.

Press Eye

"Therefore I can't proceed as minister with that bill on marriage equality," the finance minister adds.

"I know there are a number of private members who wish to bring forward a bill on marriage equality, and that of course will have my support."

'Considerable uncertainty of funding for major projects'

"Considerable uncertainty" remains over funding for projects the executive has in mind as a result of the UK's decision to leave the EU, Mr Ó Muilleoir.

He is responding to a question from Ulster Unionist Philip Smith on the York Street interchange, after the infrastructure minister said Brexit puts it at risk.


Mr Ó Muilleoir says the Treasury needs to "underwrite not only funds up to the point of leaving the EU but also income streams that would've been available to us afterwards".

The York Street interchange project "remains a priority", and a working group has been set up to look at how to move it forward.

Accused of "scaremongering" by TUV leader Jim Allister, Mr Ó Muilleoir adds: "Brexit means Brexit but it is an omnishambles and it has got more confusing in the last seven days."

'Need to find balance in new rates scheme'

Proposals for a "more targeted scheme" relating to business and domestic rates will be brought to the assembly next week, the finance minister hopes.

He says he is not in favour of another range of "temporary measures", and he hopes for "buy-in" from all parties.


"What we'll be trying to do is get the balance right," he says.

"We want to raise revenue for vital public services," he adds, "[and] we have to find a fair a proportionate way to do that."

Teachers protest at pay offer 'insult'

View more on twitter

Hundreds of teachers at 60 primary schools across Northern Ireland formed lunchtime picket lines today to protest against an "insulting" pay offer.

Question Time for finance minister

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is on his feet in the chamber taking questions on the work at the Department of Finance.

That's lunchtime...

There is not enough time before lunch for a vote on the amended motion, so Deputy Speaker Patsy McGlone suspends the sitting.

The Business Committee will meet now to decide the assembly agenda for next week, and we'll resume at 14:00 for Question Time.

Sinn Féin amendment to motion carried

With the first amendment defeated, members vote on the Sinn Féin addition.

MLAs int he assembly chamber

It is carried, with the backing of 56 of the 92 MLAs who voted.

UUP-SDLP amendment to motion falls

The joint UUP-SDLP amendment to the motion, calling for the "inadequacies" of the executive's action plan on tacking paramilitaries to be rectified, falls.


Of the 93 members who voted, 57 were opposed to it, with just 36 in favour.

'Let communities get out from under paramilitary jackboot'

Trevor Lunn winds the Alliance Party's motion by pointing out that some paramilitary leaders have "grown fat and wealthy [and] live lavishly" with financing derived from the "very communities they claim to protect".

"The notion that any paramilitary criminal should have any role in turning round the communities they have a grip of is ridiculous," he adds.

Trevor Lunn

He says these "gangsters and thugs" should be taken off the street to "let our communities get out from under their jackboot".

"We should try and give the police the tools they need to take decisive action," he adds, and the National Crime Agency could "make some inroads into this nonsense".

He says he supports the UUP-SDLP amendment to the motion.

'Minister can't hide from fact government witholding funds'

Winding the SDLP motion is Alex Attwood, who says the justice minister "cannot run or hide from that fact" that the government told the executive it will release funding to tackle paramilitarism "until the executive agrees a more detailed action plan".

Fresh Start

He says "there is error and there is damage" in some of the Fresh Start panel's recommendations, particularly in calling for "ambitious programmes for communities in transition".

"Are we about to see Social Investment Fund II?" he asks.

'Action plan must have buy-in from community'

Sinn Féin's Jennifer McCann winds her party's amendment by saying that while the responsibility rests with the executive to implement the action plan, it must have "buy-in from the community".


To help with that, communities initiatives must be "adequately resourced".

'Rushing to spend money not what we'll do'

Justice Minister Claire Sugden says the executive's willingness to accept the recommendations of the Fresh Start panel on disbanding paramilitaries is a "clear indication of how far we have come".

She accepts that some of the points in the action plan "will be difficult to achieve", but it is not "box-ticking exercise".

Claire Sugden

"Rushing to spend money as a superficial sign that we are prepared to take action is not the way that we are prepared to go," she says.

She says the executive did not ask for money from Westminster because it still has preparation work to do, but £4m has already been spent on new forensic equipment for the police and the start of an anti-paramilitary public awareness campaign.

She says she will be supporting the Sinn Féin amendment to the motion because it is "exactly what this executive will deliver".

'Line blurred between paramilitary and organised crime'

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs asks how and why any paramilitaries still exist 18 years after the Good Friday Agreement.

"They all must go away or they must be forced to go away," he says.

Roy Beggs

The line between paramilitary groups and organised crime gangs is blurred, he adds, and is "not seen by those who face their wrath".

He says the National Crime Agency, the UK's equivalent of the FBI, should be called in to deal with some of the organisations.

'Throwing money won't make paramilitaries disappear'

The DUP's Sammy Douglas says that some former paramilitary members "are on the right road - they want to get rid of paramilitary activity within their communities".

But he says notions that government strategies and funding alone will be the solution are "fanciful".

Getty Images

"It's not going to go away by throwing money at it," he adds.

His point is proven, he says, by the fact that paramilitaries are still on the streets even after years of European peace funding pouring into Northern Ireland.