Question Time: Assembly Commission Tuesday 23 June 2015

On behalf of the Assembly Commission, Pat Ramsey described the actions that have been taken since the unauthorised flying of flags from the roof of Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 3 June 2015. In order to facilitate the renovation of the fourth floor and roof of the building, access to these areas has only been available to the contractors responsible for carrying out the work. Access and egress to the area has been maintained in the event of a fire evacuation procedure. To prevent further recurrence the flag-raising mechanisms on the flagpoles were temporarily decommissioned to prevent flags being raised, access to that area of the roof was restricted and CCTV cameras were installed in the vicinity of the flagpoles. Additionally the Assembly's operational procedures relating to workmen's security clearance and the issue of contractors' passes will also now be subject to review as part of the wide-ranging review of security arrangements in Parliament Buildings to be undertaken by the Commission. In terms of determining who was to blame for the incident Mr Ramsey advised that a police investigation is currently under way and the Commission is not in a position to comment until it has been completed.

Caitriona Ruane then answered a question to the Commission regarding the equality impact assessment on the review of the policy on the flying of the Union flag at Parliament Buildings. On 17 June 2015 the Alliance party proposed the Union flag be flown on designated days. The DUP and UUP supported it while SDLP and Sinn Fein voted against it, and the motion passed. Further information on the equality impact assessment and the outcome of the Commission’s meeting can be found here.

Members of the Commission also answered questions on the language strategy, the gender action plan, and the Assembly’s Education Service.

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