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Summary

  1. Final day of assembly mandate, with election set for 2 March
  2. Minister briefs Education Committee on how assembly dissolution could affect schools budgets
  3. Executive Office Committee hears from experts about redress for historical institutional abuse victims
  4. Representatives people injured or bereaved during Troubles brief MLAs on call for special pension

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Iain McDowell

All times stated are UK

  1. Remember to turn off the lights...

    Just 260 days after it started and with only one bill passed, the curtain is drawn on this Northern Ireland Assembly mandate, which never made it out of infancy... and no-one would've guessed that two months ago.

    This evening, the last remaining MLAs will be making their way down from Stormont hill and along Massey Avenue as they head off either to begin their assembly election campaigns, to pursue other work outside politics or to put on the slippers and enjoy their retirement.

    Carson's statue at Stormont

    Thank you for following us here on Stormont Live over the last few months and we dearly hope we'll be back to bring you more soon after the election in March, although the mood among MLAs is not a hopeful one if we're honest!

    So, for the final time (for now), it's goodnight from us...

  2. 'We've created 'Bleak House' at Stormont'

    It's all over bar the shouting now, as chair Mike Nesbitt wraps up the Executive Office Committee for this mandate.

    Parliament Buildings at Stormont

    "Whatever happens," the UUP leader says, "we have created a bit of a 'Bleak House' here at Stormont.

    "Whoever comes back, I think we have to do it differently."

  3. 'We'd dearly love to get this one sorted'

    William Irwin of the DUP says "we as a party would dearly love to get this one sorted".

    Wiliam Irwin

    "Politically it would be to our advantage to do that"," he adds, and he says he says he believes the DUP is being "pragmatic" but "there are parties being unreasonable".

    "I'm not sure there's anywhere in western Europe that if a terrorist walked in with a bomb in his hand to blow someone up and got critically injured he would get a pension," Mr Irwin concludes.

  4. 'There is little that will change this division'

    "Realistically, there is little that will change as a result of today's meeting," Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy says.

    Politics, he adds, "is the reconciliation of pretty obnoxious opposites".

    Danny Kennedy

    Mr Kennedy says that TUV leader Jim Allister's view has been raised a great deal.

    The Newry and Armagh MLA tells the representatives from the Wave Trauma Centre that Mr Allister "does not solely hold that position" and that it is shared by  "a pretty sizeable faction of unionist opinion".

    "I don't see any easy solution to it," he says, "and I say that in all charity".

  5. 'Unionists should challenge Allister over 'provos pension' claim'

    "This is not a 'Provos' pension'," Alan McBride says, and the vast majority of people who would benefit from it "are not involved in paramilitarism in any shape or form".

    TUV leader Jim Allister (below) has been vehemently opposed to any prospect of republican paramilitaries receiving the pension, but Mr McBride says politicians from other parties should not allow him to "dictate" the discussion on the matter.

    Jim Allister

    "To try and describe this as a Provos' pension is an absolute nonsense," Mr McBride adds.

    "It's up to other unionists to tackle [Jim Allister] on that, rather than to be frightened of him - he's one man."

  6. 'Victims want a totally inclusive pension'

    Executive Office Committee chair Mike Nesbitt asks whether victims campaigners have moved to a position whereby the proposed pension should be for people "injured through no fault of their own, or not by their own hand".

    Money

    Paul Gallagher says that "as a group we would be for a totally inclusive pension".

    He says the argument on one side is that "if one terrorist gets it then nobody gets it" and that on the other side the argument is that "if one of our guys doesn't get it then nobody gets it".

  7. 'Not right that pension is held up by 10 hard cases'

    Political agreement has not been reached over the pension for Troubles victims, which has held up its progress.

    The DUP do not want the pension to be made available to anyone with a terrorist conviction, while Sinn Féin will not support it if former paramilitaries are to be excluded.

    About 500 people are eligible for the pension, but disagreement hangs over the status of 10 individuals who were "injured by their own hand" - six loyalist and four republican.

    Alan McBride

    Alan McBride of the Wave Trauma Centre says he can see "something noble" in both points of view.

    But, he adds, that the overwhelming majority of victims "injured through no fault of their own" have been left "stuck in the middle" by the impasse.

    "It cannot be right that the pension for the greater majority is being held up because of 10 hard cases that the two main parties will probably never reach agreement on."

  8. 'Parties' canteen cliques show assembly's failure'

    Mike Nesbitt says the group "come here time and time again".

    "Are you not fed up with us?" the Executive Office Committee chair asks.

    Paul Gallagher

    "Pretty much so," says Paul Gallagher.

    He says one of the few good things about coming to Stormont is the canteen becauseof the quality of the food, but even there "every party sits at their own table".

    Mr Gallagher say that is "a wee sample of how this assembly's failing at the moment".

  9. 'Lack of progress on Troubles victims' pension shameful'

    Next up, campaigners for victims of Northern Ireland's Troubles come before the Executive Office Committee to discuss their desire for a pension for people left for those severely injured through "no fault of their own" during the conflict.

    Alan McBride, Stuart Magee and Paul Gallagher are part of the Wave Traume Centre campaign group, and Mr Gallagher gives the committee a statement on .

    Paul Gallagher was 21 when he was riddled with bullets by UFF gunmen in his home in west Belfast in January 1993.

    Alan McBride, Stuart Magee and Paul Gallagher are part of the Wave Traume Centre

    He was left in a wheelchair and he tells the committee he lives in constant pain.

    A pension for severely injured was part of the Stormont House Agreement, but Mr Gallagher says victims have "heard nothing" from the executive on the matter.

    "It is in the power of the executive to address this issue if they have the will to do it - that they have not is shameful."

  10. 'You are strong and determined'

    Alliance Party MLA Stewart Dickson tells the abuse victims that they "have the admiration and support of many, many people right across the community".

    Drawing the session to a conclusion, Executive Office Committee chair Mike Nesbitt says the victims "are vindicated but you have not had redress".

    Executive Office Committee

    "So, you are only halfway there," he tells abuse survivors Margaret McGuckian and Jon McCourt.

    "You are very strong and very determined."

  11. 'Some abuse victims at a disadvantage'

    Amnesty International's Patrick Corrigan says politicians should not be surprised if many more victims come forward, as had happened in the Republic of Ireland after a similar inquiry into institutional abuse there.

    HIA inquiry

    He says 22 homes were considered by Sir Anthony Hart in the HIA inquiry but another 43 institutions were not further investigated.

    People who were abused at those 43 homes "are at something of a disadvantage, or disparity, because we have not had that depth of investigation of what went on in these homes", he adds.

  12. 'Politicians have duty not to leave victims hanging'

    Mike Nesbitt's suggestion of forming an executive to deal with the issue of redress for abuse victims is backed by the DUP's Christopher Stalford (below).

    "I would absolutely support that, because we have an absolute responsibility to ensure that people are not left hanging," he says. 

    Christopher Stalford

    Mr Nesbitt says that "only a meeting and agreement by the executive can take this forward".

    "That's not to say the executive needs to exist for longer than five minutes," he adds.

    That would be preferable, he tells the abuse victims, than "leave [the issue] and leave you".

  13. GPs move step closer to leaving health service

    Marie-Louise Connolly

    BBC News NI Health Correspondent

    GPs in Northern Ireland have voted to take another step closer to leaving the health service.

    Members of the British Medical Association agreed at a meeting in Belfast that practices could leave at a future date.

    A GP

    In December, hundreds of individual GPs signed undated resignation letters.

    Senior doctors have been warning for some time of a "perfect storm" over recruitment, workload and funding.

  14. 'Memorial should be bright and heroic'

    Sir Anthony Hart's HIA inquiry report suggested contained a suggestion of a memorial for the victims of abuse, and that is raised by DUP MLA Christopher Stalford.

    He asks the panel what form they think this should take?

    Margaret McGookin

    Abuse survivor Margaret McGuckian says she would like to see a memorial based at Stormont, "not an old grey statue, but something bright and heroic".

    Fellow victim Jon McCourt tells the committee he would like "some kind of a reflective space for people".

  15. 'Ministers could hit 'go' button on redress plans'

    Patrick of Corrigan, the Northern Ireland director of the human rights organisation Amnesty International, raises the matter of political uncertainty, which could pose a problem in progressing redress for abuse victims.

    "There are no ministerial decision makers in place for we don't quite know how long ahead," he says.

    Patrick Corrigan

    Mr Corrigan says Amnesty International would welcome the committee's support in asking the department "to task officials" in "designing implementation schemes".

    Incoming ministers could then "hit the 'go' button", he adds.

  16. 'We're not prepared to be the bat and ball'

    Without offering "false hope", Executive Office Committee chair Mike Nesbitt puts forward a "work-around" solution to dealing with the HIA inquiry report in the event of a political impasse after the assembly election.

    He suggests, as he did earlier, that an executive should be formed to look solely at the issue of redress for abuse victims.

    Jon McCourt

    Abuse survivor Jon McCourt says he feels that he and other victims would be "very happy" with that proposal if that if it was to help them to raise their concerns.

    But he adds that abuse victims are "certainty are not going to be prepared to be almost the bat and ball" that brings politicians together when other major political issues need to be dealt with, too.

    "It suits us, but look at the broader issues that are on the table at the minute."

  17. 'Victims should be allowed to make oral submissions'

    Prof Patricia Lundy of Ulster University, who is working with the abuse victims, says there are some concerns about decisions on redress being made "on the basis of a paperwork submission".

    She says they have suggested there should be a choice so that survivors could give oral evidence.

    Prof Patricia Lundy

    Prof Lundy also raises the question of the recommendation that families of deceased victims should receive 75% compensation.

    "Why not 100%?" she asks.

  18. DUP leader Foster 'will have to work with' Sinn Féin's O'Neill

    Gareth Gordon

    BBC News NI Political Correspondent

    Arlene Foster says she will "have to work with" Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Féin's new leader in Northern Ireland.

    Arlene Foster

    "We need now to get to the far side of the election so that we can put these institutions back in place to make them work," the DUP leader (above, left) says.

    The former first minister adds that she will lead the party into the election "front and centre."

  19. Corbyn in 'condolences' gaffe over shot police officer

    BBC News Northern Ireland

    Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has mistakenly told the House of Commons that a police officer who was injured in a shooting at a north Belfast filling station on Sunday had died.

    The officer is in a stable condition in hospital after the attack by a dissident republican group known as the New IRA.

    Video content

    Video caption: Corbyn gaffe over injured police officer

    During Prime Minister's Questions, the opposition leader took to the Commons despatch box to pass on the sympathies of "the whole House" for the "police officer who lost his life".

    DUP MP Nigel Dodds later described Mr Corbyn's gaffe as "one of the worst displays of crass ignorance that could be imagined".

  20. 'HIA report went beyond what abuse victims expected'

    Last Friday saw the publication of the long-awaited report by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.

    The inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, found that children's homes run by some churches, charities and state institutions in Northern Ireland were the scenes of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents.

    The inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995.

    Abuse victims

    Abuse survivor Jon McCourt tells the Executive Office Committee that the report "went beyond what we actually expected from that inquiry".

    But he says victims are "not clear", given the political uncertainty at Stormont, what the role of the assembly and the executive will be in endorsing the report's recommendations.

    He says victims and survivors should be "closely involved" in drawing up the terms of reference for a redress panel.