Question Time: Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister Monday 10 February 2014

First Minister Peter Robinson addressed topics such as the Social Investment Fund, Catherine Seeley, EU Funding and shale gas during Question Time today.

Social Investment fund
The First Minister, Peter Robinson said: “I welcome this £33million investment in projects to deliver the Social Investment Fund programme. An enormous amount of work has been done by Steering Groups to identify projects that will address the issues affecting the communities that are most in need in each area.
“Today’s announcement of the first 23 projects confirms where almost half of the Social Investment Fund will be spent. We are determined to see all £80million of this important fund allocated in the coming months.”

EU Funding
Mr Swann asked the First Minister for an update on the drawdown on the EU competitive funding in relation to the Programme for Government target.
The First Minister confirmed that:
"the department continue to make good progress towards meeting the 20% target.  In 2011-12, year one, we drew down £23 million, and in 2012-13, year two, we drew down £18·3 million.  I can confirm, therefore, that at the halfway point in the full Budget period 2011-15, £41·3 million has been drawn down, which represents 64% of the target, so we are on track to realise the total drawdown of £64·4 million by the end of March 2015.  Figures for 2013-14 will be available after the end of this financial year.  We will continue to monitor progress through the all-party ministerial Budget review group, which I co-chair with the deputy First Minister, and the junior Ministers will also continue to encourage Departments to deliver against this target through the Barroso task force working group".
North/South Interconnector
Cathal Boylan asks The First Minister, Peter Robinson if work should be carried out to assess whether north south electricity interconnector is needed.
First Minister Peter Robinson replied:
"I do not think that there is any question about the need for the project.  That was the one thing that we were all very clear about.  How it is implemented is an issue of cost.  I understand that the cost of underground cabling would be so high that it would make the project unfeasible.  From that point of view, it is very clear what needs to happen.  I recognise the rights of people to object because not everybody wants to have the kind of overhead cables that would be necessary going through their land or close to their property.  However, as I understand it, it is absolutely essential that the project goes ahead. "the cost of putting electricity interconnector underground is so high it would make project unfeasible".
Catherine Seeley:  Intimidation
The First Minister stated the he
"deplores intimidation in the workplace, no matter where it takes place or against whom it is directed.  People should get jobs on merit and should be allowed to carry out their employment in a peaceful and dignified way. Of course, there are issues about education; there are also issues about fairness of employment in education.  However, none of those touches on the issue or justifies the intimidation of anybody in the workplace".
Topical Questions covered a range of subjects including Childcare Strategy and the Ballykelly:  Expressions of Interest.

You can read the complete transcript on our website.

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