Public Affairs

Assembly all-party groups

January 2020 will mark three years since the Assembly at Stormont last sat. In the absence of a debating chamber, all-party groups remain a method by which parties can discuss and debate future policy on specific causes. agendaNi outlines those all-party groups that continue to meet with frequency.

All-party groups provide a forum by which MLAs and outside organisations and individuals can meet to discuss shared interests in a particular cause or subject. Membership is limited to MLAs although it is recognised that outside groups are often welcome to attend meetings, as well as to inform and support the groups work.

Notably, however, all-party groups are not formal assembly groups and do not possess any powers, such as the ability to call witnesses or summon documentation, or formally develop policy.

A Register of all-party groups is compiled and maintained by the Clerk of Standards and is regulated by the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Membership of all-party groups is open at any time to all MLAs but a group must at all times include at least 10 MLAs and all three designations at the Assembly must be represented in the membership.

The Northern Ireland Assembly holds the most up to date information on APGs, most of which held their AGM in 2019, on current membership and a record of meeting dates. APGs must hold an AGM to elect officers. In a new mandate, groups are allowed to continue provided they submit the relevant paperwork within two months of their first meeting. Should they not do so, the group ceases to exist.

According to the Assembly’s recent records, updated “as soon as practically possible” upon receipt of information, the all-party group on Autism is the Assembly’s most active, having met nine times in 2019. Other groups with high activity include the all-party group on domestic and sexual violence (8) and the all-party group on cancer (7).

In contrast, as per current records, the all-party group on congenital heart disease have yet to meet in 2019, nor have the all-party group on cycling. A number of groups have only met, or have given notification of an intention to meet, once in 2019 including the all-party groups on mental health; international development; fairtrade; county sports and construction.


Autism

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 15/10/2019
Number of 2019 meetings: 9
Chair: Pam Cameron, DUP
Vice Chair: Cathal Boylan, Sinn Féin


Domestic and sexual violence

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 8/10/19
Number of 2019 meetings: 8
Chair: Paul Frew, DUP
Vice Chair: Dolores Kelly, SDLP


Cancer

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 15/10/2019
Number of 2019 meetings: 7
Chair: Paula Bradshaw, Alliance
Vice Chair: Pat Sheehan, Sinn Féin


Children and young people

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 5/11/2019
Number of 2019 meetings: 5
Chair: Chris Lyttle, Alliance
Vice Chair: Catherine Kelly, Sinn Féin


Visual impairment

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 14/10/2019
Number of 2019 meetings: 5
Chair: Jim Wells, DUP
Vice Chair: Fra McCann, Sinn Féin


Suicide prevention

Last meeting or scheduled meeting: 17/9/2019
Number of 2019 meetings: 5
Chair: Órlaithí Flynn, Sinn Féin
Vice Chair: Pat Catney, SDLP

*Some all-party groups may have elected officers and have not yet passed the information on to the Clerk of Standards. The Clerk must be informed of any chairperson changes within seven days and a new chair must sign a declaration on compliance with the rules.

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