1 April 2016

Assembly hosts the Pensioner's Parliament

On Tuesday 4th February 2016 the Northern Ireland Assembly, in partnership with Age Sector Platform, hosted the Pensioners’ Parliament in the Chamber of Parliament Buildings. Age Sector Platform is a charity which represents the interests of older people in Northern Ireland.

Assembly Community Connect who work to enhance connections between the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Community and Voluntary sector, welcomed over 80 pensioners from across the province to the Chamber for a 'Question Time' style event.

The attendees had the opportunity to ask questions to, Junior Minister’s from OFMdFM, Jonathan Bell MLA, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Lord Morrow MLA, Minister for Social Development also, Paula Bradley MLA for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and have their voices heard by these key decision makers.

Watch the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament 'Question Time' event, held in the Assembly Chamber on Thursday 4 February 2016:

21 March 2016

Enjoy More Sumptuous Dining On The Hill

Following on from last summer’s successful dining initiative, Parliament Buildings will once more open the doors of the elegant Members’ Dining Room to the public. 

From Monday 21 March –Thursday 5 May 2016 (inclusive)* you can dine in the refined splendour of the Members’ Dining Room and savour morning coffee, a three course lunch or traditional afternoon tea while admiring the beautiful surroundings of the Stormont Estate.

The Members’ Dining Room is a feast of architectural splendour, constructed in the 1920s it features traditional oak panelling with classically detailed carvings and ornate cornicing. The room also boasts an array of portraits of former Speakers and First Ministers from the Assembly’s inception in 1998.      

Morning Tea and Coffee will be served from 10am – 11.30am and you can choose from a delicious range of freshly baked scones served with Jam and clotted cream or a selection of Danish and Pain au Chocolat. It’s the perfect way to round off an early morning walk in the estate or as a prelude to one of our popular Parliament Buildings tours which will run Monday – Friday at 11am and 2pm. You can take our virtual tour on line to give you a glimpse of what’s on offer.

If breakfast has whetted your appetite – just wait until you see what we have on offer for lunch. We have sizzling starters, magnificent mains and devilishly delicious desserts. You can choose one course for £10.50, combine two for £14.00 or three for £17.00. We also have a healthy and freshly prepared Children’s menu for £5.50.

If you didn’t avail of the morning walk in the estate – perhaps a gentle saunter after lunch will help ease the guilt of that scrumptious raspberry and vanilla crème brulee. You can also visit our Gift shop which sells a range of postcards, books and souvenirs alongside individually designed jewellery items and hand crafted goods all made by local independent crafters.

There is nothing quite like a good cup of tea and our traditional afternoon tea resplendent with a selection of freshly prepared finger sandwiches, warmed scones with clotted cream and preserves and a variety of home-made cakes and pastries will create a perfect close to your day here. 

All of our food is lovingly prepared by talented and award winning chefs who are committed to using only locally available fresh produce and ingredients.

While booking isn’t necessary, given the success of last year’s initiative it is advisable to ring ahead to check availability. You can reserve your place by ringing 028 90 521041.

We look forward to seeing you on the hill and would love you to tell us about your dining experience – send us your blogs, comments and photographs via Facebook, twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #PBdining.

*Please note Parliament Buildings will be closed on Easter Monday (28th March) and Tuesday (29th March) and May Day (4th May).  

4 March 2016

Assembly Women's Week - supporting and increasing the participation of women in all spheres of public life.

Speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, is hosting its first Women’s Week programme at Parliament Buildings, which will begin on Monday 7 March and continue through Friday, 11 March.

The events are all built around the theme of supporting and increasing the participation of women in all spheres of public life and will include a range of panel events.

The events taking place during the week are:

Facing the Challenge Leading the Way - Monday, 7 March, 6.30pm, Long Gallery

Discussion with three women who have played leading roles on their experiences, female leadership and the obstacles women face.

Women on Board - Tuesday, 8 March, 1.30pm, Senate Chamber

An event hosted by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust to discuss issues women face when taking up roles on boards in Northern Ireland.

Seen & Heard - Wednesday, 9 March, 5.30pm, Long Gallery 

A debate hosted by Margaret E Ward on why most media commentators are still male and how this can be addressed.

An Inclusive Commonwealth - Thursday, 10 March, 7.00pm, Great Hall

This event, to celebrate Commonwealth Day, includes speakers, music, dance and culture and will focus on the importance of cultural inclusivity in Northern Ireland.

Know Your Power, Friday, 11 March, 6.30pm, Great Hall

This event will include a screening of the film Suffragette, followed by a conversation with Helen Pankhurst, the great grand-daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Find out more about each event and register to attend on the Women's Week website -

18 November 2015

Question Time - Regional Development Tuesday 17 November 2015

The Regional Development Minister, Miss Michelle McIlveen was asked for an update on the Belfast rapid transit system, the Minister stated "I am fully committed to the delivery of Belfast rapid transit, including not only the current phase, which connects east Belfast, west Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre, but future extensions to the north and south of the city. I regard Belfast rapid transit as a transformational public transport project for the city. It represents a great opportunity for Belfast going forward and is a major decision for my Department in relation to the commitment of funding in support of an Executive priority. I have a keen personal interest in Belfast rapid transit and recently visited some of the infrastructure that my Department is developing for the system, including the new 520-space park-and-ride facility at Dundonald and the ongoing works on the routes. The works have been well publicised, and details of the impacts on local traffic are available on my Department's Trafficwatch Northern Ireland website".

The Minister was also asked whether she has any plans to use the EuroVelo to promote her Department's bicycle strategy by Mr McKay MLA. The Minister confirmed "Northern Ireland Changing Gear: A Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland' is based around a three-pillar approach. Those are building a comprehensive network for the bicycle; supporting people who choose to travel by bicycle; and promoting the bicycle as a mode of transport for everyday journeys. That balanced approach underlines the importance of high-quality bicycle infrastructure, good support measures for those who want to use a bicycle and effective programmes for behavioural change. I am particularly keen to explore opportunities to expand the cycling infrastructure, in building better infrastructure for the bicycle so that people can have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for everyday journeys. Current work has focused on the urban bicycle infrastructure and the potential to develop greenways. Both are key elements of the bicycle strategy and fit in with the main purpose of the EuroVelo, which is to provide routes that people can use for daily journeys and for recreation. My Department has had discussions with Sustrans about the route for EuroVelo 1 in Northern Ireland. Those discussions included consideration of how the EuroVelo might form part of the comprehensive network referred to in the bicycle strategy".

The regional Development Minister also answered questions on the A8 Completion Date, Winter Services 2015-16, the Newry Rail Station and Road Safety in Fermanagh.

Question Time - Justice Tuesday 17 November 2015

Oral Questions to the Justice Minister began with questions from Mr Lynch MLA, Mr Allister MLA and Mc D McIlveen asking the Minister to outline how his Department plans to address the findings of the recent published Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland's inspection report on an unannounced inspection of Maghaberry prison 11-22 May 2015. The Minister confirmed that
"Maghaberry is a challenging and complex high-security prison and this report demonstrates that. The progress that the prison made in 2012 continued through to 2014 against a backdrop of experienced staff leaving under the voluntary exit scheme and new staff coming in. The prison has faced three key challenges: resourcing, building a consistent regime and delivering outcomes for prisoners.
The report from the visit in May demonstrated that Maghaberry had been greatly affected by staff absence, which had had a serious impact on the regime and outcomes for prisoners. This has been addressed through robust management of attendance, recruitment and redeployment from other prisons. Since August, sickness levels have fallen sharply, which means more officers on the landings and a more progressive regime.
It is important to reinforce that the context in which Maghaberry operates is not the same as that for any prison in neighbouring jurisdictions. Prison officers are under severe threat, which means that an attack is highly likely. NIPS has effective mechanisms in place to disseminate information relating to threats, and staff are fully supported when security concerns are raised. Any threats to others, including contractors, are a matter for the PSNI, and there are arrangements in place to share information in that respect. In that context, I am very encouraged that over 1,700 people applied in the recent Prison Service recruitment campaign. Those individuals have an opportunity to play their part in building a safer community".
The Minister was also asked to outline the average time taken to process an Access NI check in each of the last three years and to outline the impact that youth engagement clinics are having on young people's experience of the justice system.