The new Department of Justice and the appointment of a Justice Minister were the main issues at the Assembly this week.
The Social Development Minister introduced the Welfare Reform Bill, which will now be scheduled for debate by MLAs.
MLAs then began a lively debate which resulted in them approving the creation of the new Justice Department and moved on to nominating a Minister. Ulster Unionist, Danny Kennedy and SDLP’s Alban Maginness, were both nominated but neither achieved a majority of votes from both unionist and nationalist MLAs. The Alliance Party then nominated David Ford for the post and his appointment was agreed by a majority of both unionists and nationalists. Mr Ford took the Pledge of Office and made a brief speech.
Nominations then took place for the Chair and Deputy Chair of each Committee overseeing the work of all Executive Departments. The order in which the parties selected Committees was in line with their electoral strength in the Assembly.
MLAs debated, and then agreed, the Second Stage of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Amendment) Bill which will provide a framework for dealing with waste and land contamination. The Second Stage of a Bill allows for general debate after which the MLAs vote on whether the Bill should continue its passage to the next consultative stage.
The Agriculture and Rural Development Minister introduced a motion to increase the monies, (for a five year period) that off-course bookmakers pay into a fund which supports Northern Ireland’s two racecourses. After much discussion about the importance of horse racing to the rural community and to the economy the Motion was agreed and the increased levy approved.
MLAs then turned their attention to completing the Committee membership lists.
The Assembly finished its business with a debate on the Saville Inquiry Report and concerns over the delay in its publication.
Previous week's round up