Justice issues continued to be in the limelight at the Assembly on Tuesday, sharing the honours with a Motion brought by backbench MLAs on speech and language therapy in the Foyle area.
MLAs looked at knife crime, asking the Justice Minister to devise a strategy to get knives off the streets. They also called for longer sentences for anyone convicted of using a knife to commit a crime.
Alex Easton MLA quoted the most up-to-date statistics which show that in 2009-2010, knives and sharp instruments were used in 938 incidents here compared with 908 incidents in the previous year. The increase highlights the growing problem of knife crime in our society.
The Social Development Minister shared the Question Time slot with the Agriculture Minister and answered questions on carer’s allowance. MLAs called on the Minister to do more to publicise this important benefit and do his best to make sure that all those who could claim, do claim.
The two plenary sessions may be over for this week, but work continues today and tomorrow with Assembly Committee meetings. Issues sure to attract media interest this week include the Health Committee’s briefing from the Department on its Budget and the Public Accounts Committee draft Report on NI Water.
Ever wondered how Governments are responding to housing investment? Simon Hamilton, MLA and Chair of the Social Development Committee, will discuss this with the Chartered Institute of Housing at a seminar here in Parliament Buildings on Thursday.
Committee meetings - although generally held within Parliament Buildings - can also take place externally as Committees meet and visit stakeholders throughout Northern Ireland. This week the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure is at the Beam Creative Network in Donaghmore to discuss Irish Language Strategy and the role the arts can play in reviving our economy, while the Committee for Employment and Learning visit Magee College to look at the regeneration of education and employment in the North West.
A brief distraction amidst today’s Spending Review announcement is the Commonwealth Games Medallists who will be guests of honour at a reception this evening to celebrate their recent success.