On Friday 30 March, local East Antrim MLAs travelled to Carrickfergus Town Hall to take part in an event organised to help local voluntary and community groups to work better with the Assembly and its Committees. As well as an overview of how the Assembly works, participants also took part in a simulated Committee meeting where they were able to give evidence on a particular issue and receive valuable feedback and advice.
Political broadcaster and journalist Eamonn Mallie was also on hand to host a “Let’s Talk” style debate with a panel of local MLAs and councillors. This offered an excellent forum for local community and voluntary sector representatives to ask very specific questions about local issues and concerns and to discuss the type of help, support and advice the Assembly can provide.
We caught up with the Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly and local MLA Roy Beggs to find out why it’s important for the Assembly to connect at a local level: “MLAs are mindful of the very vital and crucial role that the community and voluntary sectors play across Northern Ireland. It is therefore a great pleasure for me, both as Deputy Speaker and as a local MLA to host these workshops on behalf of the Northern Ireland Assembly and I hope that they will provide tangible benefits for local organisations in East Antrim. The Assembly is committed to engaging with local communities and by doing so, making it easier for all sectors to work with the Assembly, its Committees and our MLAs.
This event also provided a valuable opportunity for Local MLAs to see first-hand the work that goes on in the local community and to do what they can to make working with the Assembly as easy as possible.
The Assembly are in the process of organising similar events at venues throughout Northern Ireland and we will post updates on our web site in due course.