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  1. The Culture Committee meeting starts at 10am with a briefing from the Northern Ireland Museums Council.
  2. The British Board of Film Classification is also briefing the committee.
  3. At 2pm we have a recording of yesterday's Education Committee meeting.
  4. The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools is giving evidence on shared and integrated education.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

That's all for today

Democracy Live NI be back at noon on Monday for the final week of Assembly business before the Easter break.

In the meantime, why not take a look at the latest

BBC NI politics news.

'Not amalgamating'

Dermot Finlay says there has been some misunderstanding, with people thinking the schools are amalgamating or becoming an integrated school..

"We are not integrating," he says. "We have to manage the level of sharing".

'Two distinct schools'

Michelle McIlveen asks Mr Finlay how the shared campus would work.

He says there would be "two distinct schools" in one building, and there would be "parts of the building that we would share".

Shared campus

St Mary's principal Dermot Finlay says 100% of their children take part in shared education activities.

Dermot Finlay

He outlines the proposal for a shared educational campus in Brookeborough, which he says has the support of 93% of the community and all of the political parties in County Fermanagh.

Mr Finlay says that shared campuses are "about building united communities"

Shared education

Representatives from the Brookeborough Shared Education Partnership are briefing the committee on their experience of shared education.

Hazel Gardiner, principal of Brookeborough Primary School says her school and the nearby St Mary's Primary have been working together since "long before the term 'shared education' was coined".

Hazel Gardiner

She says this "has not diluted our separate cultures", which remain strong.

Teacher misconduct

Department of Education officials Miriam Miskelly and Sam Dempster are briefing the MLAs on teacher eligibility regulations.

Miriam Miskelly and Sam Dempster

Mrs Miskelly explains that a gap was discovered in the regulations regarding the barring of a person from teaching on grounds of misconduct.

Teachers' pensions

Seamus Gallagher

Seamus Gallagher from the Department of Education is briefing the committee on teachers' pensions regulations.

Catholic certificate

The DUP's Jonathan Craig asks about the Catholic certificate, a requirement for teachers in Catholic primary schools.

Jonathan Craig

"Is there going to be a resolution to that?" he asks.

Fr Bartlett says parents have a right to expect that teachers have a "professional and verifiable" qualification to teach within the ethos of a Catholic school.

He says all teachers in Catholic primary schools are RE (religious education) teachers but the individual teacher does not have to be Catholic.

"The real issue is accessibility to the certificate," Fr Bartlett says.


Sean Rogers of the SDLP asks about the opinion that religion should be taken out of schools.

Fr Bartlett says this secular trend "actually becomes an incredibly intolerant space" to religion and religiosity.

"We need to end this attitude, which is frankly offensive, that faith-based schools are of their very nature divisive,"

Academic selection

Pat Sheehan
Pat Sheehan

Sinn Fein's Pat Sheehan asks what the Catholic trustees have done to end "this iniquitous practice of academic selection".

Fr Bartlett says he would "challenge that absolutely and categorically".

"We do not have the influence over those boards of governors," Jim Clarke says.


Trevor Lunn of Alliance says he finds the attitude of the witnesses to parental choice "dispiriting".

Trevor Lunn

He questions the attitude of the trustees in a situation where a majority of parents in a Catholic school might express a wish for the school to become an integrated school.

Jim Clarke says that if the parents intended to take over a Catholic school "that is an issue that we would have to address".

Catholic support for Protestant 'transferors'

Fr Bartlett says the Catholic trustees have discussed the concept of "joint-faith schools" with representatives of the Protestant churches, known as "transferors", and the Education Department.

"We have actively supported the transferors in reclaiming their space in the education sector in Northern Ireland," he says.

Trust and trustees

Committee chairwoman Michelle McIlveen puts it to Fr Bartlett that "it's about control" and the fact that the Catholic trustees own the schools means that they can ensure a Catholic ethos.

Michelle McIlveen

Fr Bartlett says "the word control has a very loaded sense", he emphasises the importance of trustees and the word "trust"


Mr Clarke says shared education has a role in "increased access to the curriculum and curricular choice".

He argues against the use of legislation to enforce shared education.

"There is a tendency to see this in terms of religion," Mr Clarke says, commenting that there are important societal differences in terms of race and class.

Malachy Crudden of CCMS calls for mutual respect.

"We have to accept that we live in a society where we are not all the same," he says.

The integrated sector

Jim Clarke, chief executive of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), says "we have the utmost respect for the integrated sector".

Jim Clarke

He says that in 30 years the integrated schools sector has not achieved what people might have expected.

'Pervasive strategy'

Fr Bartlett says the trustees of Catholic schools do not favour a single approach to education but "a more pervasive and inclusive strategy".

'Openness and inclusion'

Fr Tim Bartlett of the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education says it represents "the largest single sector of education in Northern Ireland".

Father Tim Bartlett

He says that Catholic schools have "a very proud record of openness and inclusion".

Catholic Schools evidence session

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education are giving evidence to the committee's inquiry into shared and integrated education.

Welcome Back

There are no committee meetings scheduled for Stormont this afternoon.

Instead, we're bringing you yesterday's meeting of the Education Committee.

This was held in the Senate Chamber, the meeting place for the upper house of the Northern Ireland Parliament (1921-72).

Senate Chamber

The chamber is now mainly used for committee meetings and special events.

The Stormont House of Commons chamber was destroyed by fire in 1995. It was later refurbished and is used for plenary sessions of the Assembly.

Time for lunch

That's it for the Culture Committee this week.

Make sure you join us again at 2pm for recorded coverage of yesterday's meeting of the Education Committee

On the agenda, shared and integrated education as well as teachers' pensions.

'Users to classify online content'

"By far the greatest amount of content online is user generated," says David Austin.

The BBFC is developing a prototype method for classifying such video content.

A pilot scheme is currently operating in Italy, allowing viewers and those who upload a video to age-rate them, by answering a six-question survey.

This would automatically produce an classification.

It could become a mandatory requirement in order for a video to be uploaded, he says.

"The British government has been very supportive of this and has encouraged platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to look at it", says Mr Austin.

'Spectacularly lenient'

Basil McCrea of NI21 asks about summaries of a film's content that accompany and explain their age classification

BBFC director David Cooke says his organisation have "probably taken it further than any other country at the moment".

France has "spectacularly lenient" classification system compared to the UK and the rest of Europe he says, as a lot of weight is placed on artistic merit.

New child protection measures

David Austin

David Austin explains how classifications are agreed upon - PG, 15, 18 etc.

"We keep up with public attitudes and apply all UK laws relevant to our work," he says.

2 recent legal changes have impacted on their work, he says.

- An amendment to the Video Recordings Act means that certain videos would no longer be exempt from classification, eg. documentaries, sporting or music videos, which previously meant children could freely access "potentially harmful content" without any protection.

- An amendment to the Communications Act which aligned online and offline content. This change requires any content classed R18 (primarily hardcore pornography) will be placed behind access controls on UK regulated online video services and any content they refuse to classify could not be made available on those platforms.

BBFC focus on ratings and child protection

David Cooke and David Austin

David Cooke and David Austin from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) are telling MLAs about the organisation's work.

They receive no government money, says David Cooke, with all funding coming from fees they get from the industry.

He says the BBFC has no role in funding films - "Our role is about classifying films and child protection", he says, "if we did have a funding role, it could give rise to a conflict of interest".

Standards and expertise

Basil McCrea asks Chris Bailey to justify why his organisation should continue to exist.

"What you would see a diminution in standards," Mr Bailey says, "the staffing expertise would also diminish".

Move 'pretty canny'

Rosie McCorley of Sinn Fein asks what the downside of the relocation will be.

Chris Bailey says the board of his organisation had been "pretty canny", as cost of moving sites would carry "a minimal cost".

He says it would mean "At least for next year we will be able to maintain the staffing complement and the level of programme interventions and grants".

Office share to save £15k

Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey

The Museums Council has decided to co-locate with National Museums NI, says Chris Bailey, which means they would no longer have their own office.

They hope to have moved by August 2015 which would give a projected half-year saving of £15,000 in rent, which in addition to office running costs would mean the funding gap was around £12,000.

This would be covered by not meeting the salary of one worker who is on maternity leave.

Museums Council faces £30k cut

Armagh County Museum
Armagh County Museum

Chris Bailey from the Northern Ireland Museums Council is now briefing MLAs on his organisations savings delivery plan.

This will see a reduction of "just under £30,000", he says.

Fixed-penalty 'good for tourism'

Fergus Devitt says the introduction of a fixed-penalty notice could also "enhance the tourism product" as "our research would show that a lot of tourists who come aren't necessarily sure of the licence and permits required and they would therefore accidentally not have the relevant permit. That could in some cases lead to a conviction, which clearly we wouldn't want".

Decriminalising minor fishing offences

Liam Devlin from the Culture Department says over 1,800 individuals and organisations were notified about the consultation.

The department received 57 written responses.

Over 90% of respondents agreed with the introduction of fixed penalties for minor fishing offences.

If paid within specified period of time there would be no criminal prosecution.

De-criminalising "angling errors" would "free up invaluable resources to allow the department to focus on the protection of wild fisheries, the management of commercial fishing activities and to extend its community outreach programmes".

Fisheries Bill consultation

Next up, a briefing on a proposed Fisheries Bill.

Fergus Devitt reports the findings of a consultation on reforms to inland fisheries legislation.

'Don't need to catch fish'

Mike McClure from Sport NI says there should be more effort placed on improving river quality, which in turn would improve the fishing stock.

Basil McCrea
Basil McCrea

"What constitutes a good catch?" asks NI21's Basil McCrea.

"That would depend on the individual's expectations, the type of fish they were after and the type of water they're fishing in," says DCAL's Fergus Devitt.

"I think for anglers, sometimes a good day out doesn't necessarily involve catching something, it can be the experience," he adds.

Basil McCrea responds, "I can tell you as someone who did angle, if you came away with no fish it wasn't a great day".

Angling tourism spend 'on par with golf'

Responding to a question from Sinn Fein's Rosie McCorley, Stephen Bill from Tourism Ireland says angling visitors spend "much more than the average visitor".

"The average golf visitor spends around £308 a day, we would expect an angler to be on par with that".

Angling worth '£20m a year'

MLAs are being briefed on a review of angling by representatives of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), Tourism NI, Sport NI and the Loughs Agency.

Fergus Devitt

Fergus Devitt of DCAL says Price Waterhouse Coopers estimated the value of angling to the local economy was around £20m per annum.

Good Morning

Welcome to Thursday's coverage of business at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

It's a sunny spring day at Stormont.

This morning we have live coverage of the Culture Committee, and this afternoon we'll have a recording of yesterday's Education Committee.