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  1. Health minister's major 10-year healthcare reform plan debated in UUP motion
  2. DUP motion calling for economy minister to promote growth of sports tourism sector is passed
  3. Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard and Justice Minister Claire Sugden face Question Time

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Iain McDowell

All times stated are UK


That's all from us today on Stormont Live, but we'll be back with a full day of debating tomorrow from 10:30.

Mark Carruthers will have a summary of today's assembly business on Stormont Today from 23:15 on BBC Two.  

Parliament Buildings at Stormont

And if you prefer to catch-up on the wireless, Jayne McCormack will bring you Today At The Assembly on BBC Radio Ulster at 22:02.

Goodnight for now!

DUP motion on sporting tourism passes

A vote is taken on the SDLP amendment, and of the 94 members who took part, 56 were opposed to the proposal while 38 were in favour, and it therefore falls.

MLAs inside the assembly chamber

The DUP's motion is then put to the house and is passed on a oral vote.

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

'No-one for tennis?'

Winding the motion is the DUP's Gordon Lyons, who says the executive has had "success" on attracting major event tourism to Northern Ireland.

But he says the opposition has tried to "get a narrative together" that that has not been the case.

A woman plays tennis

The East Antrim MLA concludes by saying it is "good to hear that the tourism strategy is being developed".

Before calling a vote on the SDLP's amendment, Principal Deputy Speaker jokes that she is disappointed that tennis did not get a mention during the debate.

'United Airlines pull-out poses uncomfortable truths'

Sinéad Bradley concludes the argument for the SDLP amendment, and raises some difficult questions for members.

"There is the uncomfortable truth of the United Airlines story, which should not be repeated in this house," she says.

A United Airlines plane
United Airlines

The US carrier announced it was ending its scheduled service from Belfast earlier this month.

Ms Bradley rejects criticism of the amendment saying it "adds a sense of urgency".

"It asks to address the need for capital, resourcing, marketing, skills and training," she says in wrapping up.

'We've worked hard to build tourism reputation'

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton replies to the debate, and joins other members in celebrating past successes for Northern Ireland's sports tourism and looks forward to future events.

He says the executive is "supportive of the bid" by Ireland to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023, and he is "delighted" that Ireland is through to the second phase of the bidding process.

Australia's Bernard Foley scores a try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup

The minister says the new tourism strategy will run until 2025.

"We have worked very hard in Northern Ireland to improve visitor perception, to build on our reputation as a home of great events," he adds.

'Minister cashing in on NI Open prize'

Alex Maskey of Sinn Féin raises the point for the tourism potential of smaller events, citing co-operation between two boxing clubs from Belfast and Ballymoney.

"They are hoping to bring a party of people over here from Detroit," Mr Maskey says.

Golfer Rhys Davies plays a shot at the Northern Ireland Open
Press Eye

The DUP's Paul Frew talks about the development of the Northern Ireland Open golf tournament (above), and says the minister should get an invitation to play a round.

"I'll take half of his prize money," he says.

'Promote NI as key niche sporting destination'

George Robinson of the DUP speaks up for his East Londonderry constituency and its success in hosting motorcycling, football, golf and cycling events.

Motorcyclists racing in the North West 200

"The potential for developing the tourist sector is immense," he says.

Ulster Unionist Steve Aiken says Northern Ireland should be promoted as "one of the key niche sporting destinations in the world".

'SDLP changing stance over Casement redevelopment'

Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín, a former sports minister, says she welcomes what she claims is the SDLP's change in stance to support the redevelopment of Casement Park GAA stadium in West Belfast.

The project has been controversial for a number of years, and the GAA unveiled new plans for its rebuilding last month.

An artist's impression of the redeveloped Casement Park

Ms Ní Chuilín says she found it "completely ironic" that the SDLP's Alex Attwood "stood outside" the ground to campaign against its redevelopment while complaining about a lack of investment in the constituency.

She says the project will enhance tourism and "add towards good relations" in West Belfast.

'Missed opportunity over shared sports stadium'

He says there has been a "missed opportunity" in Northern Ireland in that it did not opt for a shared football, GAA and rugby stadium, instead choosing to develop three separate stadiums.

It would have brought "greater economies of scale in terms of infrastructure".

Assembly chamber

Agreeing with Mr Chambers's remarks, Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry says the moition has a "self-congratulatory tone".

He says "precious time" is being wasted by the DUP in passing on "congratulations" to the economy minister "at the expense of maybe discussing some of the even more pressing issues that are facing us".

'Back-slapping motion feeds 'talking-shop' perception'

A "back-slapping motion" is how Ulster Unionist Alan Chambers describes what the DUP has brought to the house.

Debates such as this, he suggests only serve "to feed into the perception that this house is a talking shop with no outcomes".  

Alan Chambers

The North Down MLA says his party will support the SDLP's amendment.

He calls for a sporting museum for Northern Ireland and demands that a tourism strategy is put "on the books now".

'More help needed to promote GAA'

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, another Newry and Armagh MLA, says he "struggles to see any merit" in the SDLP's amendment to the motion.

It appears "in a mean-spirited way" to try to "dilute any credit from the executive" in drawing big sporting events to Northern Ireland, he adds.

A GAA football

He says he wants to see a "proper" tourism strategy rather than a rushed one.

He says more effort needs to be made to promote the importance of the GAA in terms of sporting tourism.

'All Blacks on Armagh's Mall a mouthwatering thought'

Back now to the debate on the DUP's motion on major sporting events and tourism linked to them, and the SDLP's Justin McNulty introduces his party's amendment.

The Newry and Armagh MLA's mouth is watering at the thought of the All Blacks based in his constituency for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, for which Ireland has made a bid to host, and doing a "ceremonial haka" on Armagh City's Mall.

The All Blacks perform the haka

But he says the approach to attracting events has been "too piecemeal", and his party's amendment calls on the executive to draw up a "tourism strategy" and be "bold and ambitious" in that regard.

He says infrastructure provision in Northern Ireland needs to be improved and VAT must be reduced in the tourism and hospitality sector.

'Need for care that language doesn't promote hate'

DUP MLA William Humphrey asks the minister if she can do more to rid society of the "scourge" of antisemitism.

His question comes after attacks on Jewish graves in a Belfast cemetery and an "email hate campaign" against a Belfast rabbi.

Damaged Jewish graves
Jewish graves were attacked in Belfast's City Cemetery in August

Ms Sugden says the executive needs ensure the "message is out there that this will not be tolerated in any way".

She adds that members also "need to be careful" with their language in this house.

'Executive not helping break paramilitaries' iron grip'

Organised crime raises its head in the chamber, with DUP MLA Emma Little Pengelly asking the minister what measures she is taking to address the issue.

She says her department plans to review existing legislation with a view to drawing up proposals for the creating new organised crime offences.

UDA mural

Jim Allister points to a UDA man's claim today that he cannot leave the group due to threats from its leaders, and the TUV leader says paramilitaries have an "iron grip" on communities with their links to organised crime.

He asks if the executive's job of "breaking that grip" is made more difficult by "pandering" to paramilitaries, indirectly referring to the case of Dee Stitt, a leading UDA member.

Ms Sugden acknowledges that tackling paramilitaries in a "challenge".

'Prisons in freefall due to low staff morale'

Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie asks for assurance from the minister that the Northern Ireland Prison Service is not in "freefall due to poor management and low morale".

His question comes, he says, in the wake of "prison officers [removing] their labour for 90 minutes", "a death in custody" and "prison officers balloting for industrial action".

Inside a prison

Ms Sugden says she is working with the finance minister to find agreement on a new pay policy for prison officers, and adds that she is "keen to keep pressing on" to find ways to support prison staff.

Edwin Poots says the issue of staff morale needs to be addressed quickly, and the minister insists she has been treating it as a "matter of urgency".

'Zero-tolerance over drug abuse at offenders' college'

Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan asks about the availability of drugs at Hydebank Wood Secure College in Belfast.

The minister says there is a "zero-tolerance" attitude to drug abuse at the college.

Hydebank Wood College sign

Outlining the steps taken by the authorities to address the issue, Ms Sugden adds that "there are currently two women in Hydebank Wood College sentenced to a period of custody for carrying a list-A article into or out of a prison".

'Disgreement over Troubles legacy holds up investigations'

First up for the justice minister are questions on structures envisaged for addressing the legacy of the Troubles, particularly the Historical Investigation Unit, which was proposed in the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014.

Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle asks Ms Sugden is she has a timescale in mind for the establishment of the body.

IRA gunmen during the Troubles

She there will be no timescale set until "political agreement" on the matter is reached, but she is confident that it will happen.

She says that "in order to address our past", the executive and the Northern Ireland secretary must find agreement "as soon as possible"..

Question Time for justice minister

Claire Sugden

Claire Sugden appears at the despatch box to take questions from MLAs on her work at the Department of Justice.

'Speed limits at schools should have legal weight'

TUV leader Jim Allister asks about introducing 20mph speed limits outside rural schools and whether their development is being held up buy a lack of funds.

Men painting speed limit signs
Getty Images

The minister says he wants to make it easier for schools to have speed restrictions.

"I want to do it in such a way that the speed restriction carries legal weight and that it is simply not a suggestion," Mr Hazzard adds.

'Disappointment over delay on residents' parking schemes'

DUP MLA Christoher Stalford asks about plans to introduce parking schemes for residents in towns and cities.

A car parked on a yellow line

Mr Hazzard says he is "disappointed" that the legislation allowing for residents' parking schemes was introduced in 2007 and "we're only on the verge of introducing our first parking schemes" almost 10 years later.

The minister says the lack of schemes has been due "largely to a lack of local support".

'Greenways plan not just about words'

Greenways are raised by Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, after the minister unveiled his plan for a network of 1,000 km (620 miles) walking and cycling routes through Northern Ireland last week.

Mr Hazzard says the plan lays the way for a "world-class greenway network" in the region, and is "not just about words and intentions".

Chris Hazzard walking along a greenway
Michael Cooper

He says he has made money available for the project to councils to allow them to draw up detailed proposals for routes through their areas.

He asks: "Can we afford not to invest in greenways?"

"It is greenways that are truly transformative projects for communities as well as personally for individuals."

'NI Water taking steps to prevent river pollution'

The SDLP's Sinéad Bradley asks about river pollution caused by water treatment plants, and makes reference to a recent incident at the Annsborough River in her South Down constituency.

The Carrigs River in County Down
Albert Bridge/Geograph

The minister says he has met managers from Northern Ireland Water.

After the body's internal investigations, he says, it is to replace plastic pipe fittings with stainless steel fittings at Annsborough and similar waste water plants.

Question Time for infrastructure minister

Chris Hazzard

Question Time kicks off with an appearance from the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard.

'Visitors to our top events leave with fond memories'

Matters move to a DUP motion on major sporting events and the resulting tourism that Northern Ireland has witnessed in recent years.

It calls on Economy Minister Simon Hamilton to invest in the sector to help it to grow and continue to attract top class events in sport and entertainment.

Nicolas Roche at the 2014 Giro D'Italia start at Belfast City Hall
The 2014 Giro D'Italia started in Belfast and took in other parts of Northern Ireland

Gordon Dunne outlines some of the top events - in golf, cycling and motorsport among other sports - that the region has attracted in recent years, bringing with them thousands of competitors and spectators.

"These visitors often go away with very fond memories," he says, and are "touched by the warmth and enthusiasm of our local people."

Amended UUP motion on health reforms passes

Ulster Unionist Robbie Butler wraps up the debate on his party's motion, saying that he hopes more detail will be forthcoming on the minister's healthcare reform plan.

He calls on the minister to set up a role within her department for a "mental health champion", saying that aspect of the health system requires particularly close attention.

Robbie Butler

He puts it to the minister that she needs to set clear targets for the 10-year plan.

The amendment to the motion is passed on an oral vote, and the amended motion is also passed unopposed by MLAs.

'We won't get share of £350m a week for NHS'

Winding the Alliance Party amendment is Stephen Farry, who says his party is supportive of the health minister in her reforms.

Nurse fills in chart

But he says a proper outline of the finances required to fund her plan, adding that those details have "not been as teased out during this debate as I would've liked".

He raises the matter of Brexit, saying Northern Ireland will "not be getting our share of the £350m a week repatriated from Brussels", which Leave campaigners had promised in the case of the UK withdrawal from the EU.

'Change needs financial and political investment'

If "transformation" does not happen in the health service, it will suffer "further significant decline", Health Minister Michelle O'Neill tells MLAs.

She does not mean to be "pessimistic" with her prediction, she adds.

O'Neill speaks in the assembly

She says that change cannot happen without investment, both financially and politically, and asks members "to match my resolve".

Mrs O'Neill is determined that her plan is "not put on a shelf and forgotten about", adding that healthcare staff have told her they have a strong appetite for change and support her reform measures.

'Rural areas will suffer with healthcare reforms'

No sector has been as afflicted with "buzzwords" as the healthcare system, TUV leader Jim Allister says.

Jim Allister

He criticises the plan for its claim that reforms must be "clinician-led", as most clinicians, Mr Allister says, "want a handy time".

He also has a swipe at the consultation document released on Friday for its lack of focus on health services in rural areas, and says he fears the plan will lead to a "reduction" in service for his North Antrim constituents.

'Private companies shouldn't get healthcare cash'

Problems that have arisen in the health service are the result of "systemic cutbacks", according People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll.

He says healthcare workers are the "lions in our health service" but they are "under pressure", and he calls for money spent on private healthcare treatment to be used for recruiting more staff to the NHS.

Gerry Carroll

"Private companies that are designed to make profit at all costs should have no role in our health service," he says.

He says trade unions should be involved "front and centre" of the reforms.

'New health reform plan but same general ideas'

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs draws parallels with previous health reform programmes, including Transforming Your Care, which he says shared many of the "same general ideas".

Pat Sheehan

"Transforming Your Care did not materialise in the way that was envisaged," he says, echoing calls for a detailed action plan.

Pat Sheehan (above) of Sinn Féin says Prof Bengoa told the Health Committee that Northern Ireland was unique among the countries he had observed attempting health reforms, as it intended to bring about transformation and to provide additional funding.

Bristling with excitement...

'Opposition parties have made knee-jerk reactions'

DUP MLA Gary Middleton of the DUP is also critical of the opposition parties.

"I don't think they have given the report a chance," he says, adding that there "have been knee-jerk reactions".

Files and a stethoscope in a GP's surgery

Sinn Féin's Ian Milne begins by praising the minister for her "vision".

He says the supports the view that the focus must move from "one which is based on action-based targets to one based on patient outcomes".

'Glass-half-full approach will get us nowhere'

Sinn Féin's Catherine Seeley welcomes the UUP motion, but says the party has previously "failed to embrace the report and the minister's vision".

She adds that "the same old glass-half-full approach will get us nowhere".

Ambulances outside a hospital

Colin McGrath of the SDLP says he worries about reports that become "bookends or dust-gatherers".

"These series of reports are only useful if they provide a concrete blueprint of what must be done for the future of our health services," he says.

The South Down MLA lists a number of services he would like to see addressed, including ambulance reaction times, trolley waits, a lack of consultants, waiting lists, and better community care.

'Minister needs to put flesh on bones of plan'

Paula Bradshaw moves the Alliance Party amendment, which calls on the health minister to produce a "detailed action plan" for her reforms.

She calls for more "flesh on the bones", and says an action plan is needed so "that we can assess as members of this assembly".

A surgeon in an operating theatre

DUP MLA Paula Bradley, the Health Committee chair, says her party backs the Alliance Party amendment.

She acknowledges that "we do have tough decisions to make" in terms of closures of hospitals and other health units.

'Reform healthcare like repairing plane in flight'

Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson introduces her party's motion taking note of the health minister's reform plan, Health and Wellbeing 2026.

She says that when speaking to Prof Rafael Bengoa, who led the panel behind the recently-published Bengoa Report, she told him that reforming the health service was "like repairing an aeroplane in fight".

Nurses in a hospital ward

She warns against the use of the word "unsustainable" being manipulated to suit the department's agenda.

Mrs Dobson calls for more detail saying "the how, the when and the where" on the healthcare reforms have "not been brought forward".

Committee stage extended for alcohol licencing bill

First up is a motion calling for the committee stage of the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill to be extended.

The bill could lead to changes in Northern Ireland's alcohol licensing laws.

Pints of beer on a pub table

Its scrutiny by the Communities Committee is due to end tomorrow, but the committee wants to extend that until 23 February 2017.

The committee's chair Colum Eastwood and deputy chair Michelle Gildernew both say more time is needed for members to assess the bill and take evidence from relevant bodies.

The assembly grants the request by passing the motion on an oral vote.

'MLAs are challenging speaker's authority'

Business opens with a point of order from Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong, who complains that the infrastructure minister has issued a written statement with an embargo of midday tomorrow.

He is due to appear at Question Time today but Ms Armstrong says MLAs will be unable to scrutinise the matter due to the embargo.

Robin Newton

Speaker Robin Newton says he has written to the first and deputy first ministers saying that "statements, when possible, should be made to the assembly".

On another note, Mr Newton tells members that he has been "disappointed" that some of them have been challenging his authority of that of his deputies "both inside and outside the chamber".

He says he has written to party leaders about this and warns that he will be "proactive" about addressing the problem.

On the agenda: Sports and activity tourism

Later this afternoon, MLAs will debate a DUP motion on the success Northern Ireland has had in attracting major sports events and the tourism that they bring.

Darren Clarke kisses the Claret Jug after winning the Open Championship

Within the last few years, the region has hosted major events such as the World Police and Fire Games and cycling's Giro d'Italia grand tour, while golf's Open Championship will be played at Royal Portrush in 2019.

The motion calls on the economy minister to promote growth in the sector.

On the agenda: Minister's healthcare reforms plan

Last month, Health Minister Michelle O'Neill outlined her plans for an ambitious shake-up of Northern Ireland's health and social care services.

A doctor in a hospital ward

She said her 10-year plan, entitled Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together, would save and improve and the health service, which she described as being at "breaking point".

That plan is set to be debated by MLAs in the assembly this afternoon, in a motion brought to the house by the Ulster Unionists.

Good morning

It's the start of another week up here on the hill, and you're welcome along to our Stormont Live coverage.

Parliament Buildings at Stormont

We'll be keeping tabs on the debates in the Northern Ireland Assembly chamber all day, and you can follow everything here as it unfolds.