THE WEEK THAT WAS….

Given the banality of much of the proceedings of the Assembly, one could almost forgive MLAs for staying away from debates in droves if they weren’t so handsomely rewarded and not so quick to complain when the press doesn’t demonstrate an appropriate level of interest in their ruminations.

That said, instances of MLAs falling asleep during debates are not evident.  Granted, there are so few in the Chamber, potential sleepers don’t have the ‘support’ of Members sitting as props on either side of them.  Plus, the expanse of green benches available means there’s no sharing of ‘mutual bodily warmth’ to induce a pleasant reverie.

In that regard, the 40 winks taken during this week’s packed Prime Minister’s Question Time by one of our double jobbing MLAs (more a case of ‘double nodding’) is possibly understandable.  However, having managed to survive 13 years of tedium in Stormont, you’d surely be kicking yourself for: 1) falling asleep during the greatest piece of political theatre in the democratic world and 2) having the misfortune to clunk out at the exact moment the MP in front rises to ask his Question.

It’s four years since Stormont Watch was first penned – it feels rather longer.  Now that the institution has settled down, with no major outstanding matters left over from Good Friday or St. Andrews, we’re left with day-to-day deliberations and debates which have all the import of a VIth Form Debating Society, but without the fresh-faced enthusiasm.

This week we were treated to calls for the Crown Estate (ie, those well known philanthropists at the Treasury) to ‘repatriate’ its revenue to the Assembly.  Possibility of that happening? Zilch. There was also a debate about developing an All-Ireland Jobs Strategy.  Chances of those ‘arch-partitionists’, the Irish Development Agency, leaking jobs north of the border – what do you think?  In relation to Northern Ireland their attitude is a take on John Lewis’ slogan – “Never Knowingly Sold”.

It was a more interesting debate than the Weed Control offering a couple of weeks ago, but that may actually have some practical impact, and therein lies the natural level of the Assembly.  It’s not Stormont’s fault it’s institutionally dull, that’s its purpose in life.

DEBATES

Matters of the Day

Pat Finucane Case

Executive Committee

Legislative Consent Bill:  Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders            

Ministerial Statements

None                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Committee & Private Members’ Business

Motions

Adjournment

Sixmilewater River Pollution

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Oral Answers

DRD:               

Twaddell Avenue / Severe Winter Weather / Footpaths / Severe Weather: Water Supplies / Belfast – L’Derry Railway / Walking & Cycling to School

DSD:               

Unfit Properties / Frozen Pipes / Sunday Trading / Child Poverty / North Down Social Housing 

DARD:             

Flood Prevention / Dogs: Microchipping / Mountain Biking / SMEs / Agrifood / Potatoes

DCAL:              

East Antrim Funding / Marching Bands / Chinese Gymnastics Team / Anniversaries: Northern Ireland & Ulster Covenant / Libraries Strategy / Irish Language Strategy

Urgent Oral Answer

DoE               

Organic Manure

THE WEEK AHEAD

Monday 24th October

Executive Business

  • Regulations:     Local Govt Rates Support

Question Time             

  • OFMDFM / DEL

Motions                       

  • Forensic Science Services
  • Car Tax Renewal

Tuesday 25th October

Question Time

  • Education / DFP                      

Motions           

  • Utilisation of former Maze Prison
  • Community Pharmacies

Adjournment

  • Closure of Dunmurry High School & Knockmore PS

AND FINALLY….

If you don’t ask, you don’t get – the mantra of any happy salesman and, apparently, Trevor Clarke (DUP, South Antrim). 

This week he asked the DCAL Minister, Caral Ní Chuilín, if she would invite her counterparts in the Republic and the reigning Monarch to attend the centenary celebrations of Northern Ireland’s founding and the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

The response was less than positive.