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  1. Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan is bringing a public petition urging the reconsideration of permission for a new housing development to be built next to the Sixmilewater River, County Antrim.
  2. MLAs are debating the outcome of a committee report into how Stormont's departments, ministers and procedures have operated.
  3. A Sinn Fein motion is calling on the Executive to "legislate for marriage equality for same-sex couples".
  4. Question Time sees First Minister Peter Robinson and Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey answering on subjects such as a racial equality strategy, childcare provision and social housing.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

That's all for today

The Assembly is now adjourned.

Join us tomorrow, as MLAs begin the debate on the consideration stage of the Reservoirs Bill.

With over 200 amendments proposed, it looks set to be a marathon session.

'Online abuse'

The DUP's Gregory Campbell raises a point of order around the "online harassment" of Health Minister Jim Wells, and notes that no MLAs condemned it during the debate on marriage equality.

Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein says many MLAs expressed sympathy for Mr Wells and she condemns any abuse online.

The Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin says he does not accept Mr Campbell's point of order.

The motion falls

The motion was defeated by 49 votes to 47. The DUP had submitted a petition of concern, but in the end, it did not come into play

'Many forms'

Mr McKay says that "marriage has changed many times and had many forms".

"What we are talking about in terms of the LGBT community," says Mr McKay, "is civil marriage. We're not talking about marriage in a church".

He speaks about the varying views within religious groups regarding the issue.

Marriage equality debate continues

Daithi McKay

We return to the debate on marriage equality, brought by MLAs from Sinn Fein.

The party's North Antrim representative Daithi McKay is winding on the motion.

Public housing

Mickey Brady

Mickey Brady of Sinn Fein asks the minister if he has considered stopping "the ongoing sell-off of publicly-owned housing".

The minister says he wants to ensure that "in Northern Ireland we have good quality homes".

He adds that his department is considering a request from the Housing Executive board for additional powers to borrow money.

Welfare reform

In reply to a question from Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, Mr Storey says it is unlikely that there will be any agreement on welfare reform until after the general election and the formation of a new government.

"We are totally dependent upon the block grant and the money that comes from Her Majesty's Treasury in London," he says.

Social Development questions

Mervyn Storey

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey is answering questions on his brief.

'Lynch mob'

Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson asks for understanding for Mr Wells who, he says, "has carried on his work during the day and been sitting beside his wife throughout the night".

The first minister asks MLAs not to "take on the characteristics of a lynch mob about this matter".

'Homophobic remarks'

Cathal Boylan

Sinn Fein's Cathal Boylan refers to "a litany of examples of homophobic remarks" made by DUP politicians in recent years and asks if the first minister "intends to deal with these issues".

Peter Robinson says the DUP "opposes any from of discrimination whether they relate to sexual orientation or any other issues".

'Inaccurate and wrong'

Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein's Oliver McMulan asks Jonathan Bell to distance himself from the comments made about single-sex couples by the Health Minister, Jim Wells.

"Jim Wells has made it clear that his comments were inaccurate and wrong," the junior minister replies.

"It is not a DUP view, or policy," he says.


Claire Sugden

Independent MLA Claire Sugden asks the first minister why his department has "failed to spend £8m of the £12m allocated for childcare".

"It's based on the applications we receive," Peter Robinson replies.

He says that he and deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness were disappointed that other government departments had not made big enough claims to use up all the available funding.


Robin Swann

Ulster Unionist Robin Swann asks about steps being taken to introduce the racial equality strategy.

He says the "absence of such a strategy is a hindrance" to addressing racist attacks.

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell says there have been meetings with ethnic minority organisations and "we have listened carefully to what their needs and aspirations are".

He says there is "tremendous local work going on".

Question Time

First Minister Peter Robinson and Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey are answering questions on the floor of the Assembly.

'Deja-vu all over again'

Simon Hamilton

The DUP's Simon Hamilton says it is "deja-vu all over again" as this is "the fourth time this subject has been debated in this Assembly term. Effectively the same motion, proposed by the same people with the same MLAs speaking, saying the same things which most probably the same outcome".

'Separation of church and state'

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy says the proposers of the motion are using the LGBT community for political advantage.

He speaks about the importance of the separation of church and state, adding "the state has no right to dictate the terms of religious marriage".

Alex Attwood
Alex Attwood

Alex Attwood of the SDLP says "Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights "should be the template and the standard we uphold in terms of equal marriage".

This should be done, he says, while respecting religious freedoms.

'Equal legal rights'

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

The DUP's Arlene Foster says the call for "marriage equality" was based on "a factual error", as civil partnerships conferred the equal legal rights on same sex couples.

Chris Hazzard of Sinn Fein says some of the opponents of the motion were "weaponising scripture".

'State-provided service'

Chris Lyttle

Alliance's Chris Lyttle speaks in support of the motion.

He says his party support the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples as a "state-provided service" provided that "robust legislative protection can uphold the religious freedom of faith groups to define and practise religious marriage as they determine".

'Embrace all citizens'

Colum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

Colum Eastwood of the SDLP says "we need to, as an Assembly, as people in positions of power and responsibility, we need to be seen to embrace all members of our community".

Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan speaks about his own evolving view of same sex marriage.

He says a friend in the army was overlooked for promotion because of his sexuality.

"I want a society here in Northern Ireland where no-one is made to feel a second class citizen to any extent and certainly not to sexual definition," he adds.

'Redefinition of marriage'

Peter Weir

Peter Weir, of the DUP says his party will be opposing the motion, which he says is "an attempt at an electoral stunt".

He says the motion is attempting to re-define marriage which risks "losing the essence of marriage".

Mr Weir speaks about the impact of changing the definition of marriage on churches and religious institutions.

"If we see a situation in which the definition of marriage is redefined in this nature and various churches resist that, as they would, how long before pressure comes on them? How long before there is some level of court challenge or indeed pressure is put on them in terms of funding that goes to those churches".

'Legislate on equality'

The South Down MLA says "as legislators we are not here to legislate on the basis of personal belief, but on the basis of equality".

'No excuse for Wells comments'

Ms Ruane speaks about Health Minister Jim Wells' resignation.

She says she is "genuine sorry" for his personal circumstances, but there is "no excuse for the comments made" and describes his stepping down as "the right decision", adding "the only part of the decision I think is wrong is he should have resigned from now, not May 11th".

Marriage equality

Caitriona Ruane

Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein introduces her party's motion calling on the Executive to "legislate for marriage equality for same sex couples".

She says it is the fourth time Sinn Fein has brought the motion before the Assembly.

The motion is passed

The motion is passed on an oral vote.

'A non-report'

Jim Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister says this is "a non-report from what has become a non-committee".

Basil McCrea of NI21 says there will be no agreement on the matters considered in the report.

He says the committee is "a complete waste of time".

Lack of consensus

Gregory Campbell

The DUP's Gregory Campbell welcomes the report.

He says he shares some of Mr Lunn's concerns and that "at times the committee goes over ground that we all know we're not going to reach consensus on".

"A farce"

Trevor Lunn

Trevor Lunn of Alliance reads from the report a number of occasions when the committee was unable to agree on the way forward.

He suggests that the committee "conduct a review of its own operation", and describes it as "a farce".

UUP concerns

Robin Swann

Ulster Unionist Robin Swann looked forward to committee returning to some of the issues.

He said his party was concerned about the arrangements for the election of the first and deputy-first ministers.

Women in politics

Raymond McCartney

Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein expresses his approval of the valuable work of the committee.

He singles out an early review into the transfer of policing and justice powers, and the final review of the committee on women in politics.

Sean Rogers of the SDLP also expresses his approval.

Petitions of concern

Mr Moutray says the reviews covered matters such as the future number of MLAs and Executive departments, and the use of petitions of concern in Assembly debates.

He says these reports proved useful in the discussions ahead of the Stormont House Agreement.

Review Committee debate

Stephen Moutray

The DUP's Stephen Moutray begins the debate on a report of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee, which he chairs.

He says the committee has made reports on 10 issues since its inception.

Benefits up-rating

Mervyn Storey

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey introduces a motion on the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order.

The Order determines by how much benefits payments are to increase.

The DUP minister says payments are to be linked to the Consumer Price Index, which tracks the increase in the cost of household goods and services, in line with the Westminster Department for Work and Pensions guidelines.

Chairman of the Social Development Committee, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, also speaks in support of the motion.

Sixmilewater housing petition

Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan presents a public petition on a proposed housing development on the banks of the Sixmilewater River, in his constituency in County Antrim.

He says the 400 house project was granted permission just after the transfer of planning powers to the new 'super councils', and he hopes "it will be subject to the new area plan, when it's created, and takes into account all the communities views before a decision is made".

'Who is health minister?'

Stewart Dickson
Stewart Dickson

Stewart Dickson of Alliance asks the speaker to clarify who the current health minister is, following the resignation of Jim Wells.

Speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin says Mr Wells will continue in his post until the 11 May.

Good morning

Hello and welcome back to our live coverage of the Stormont Assembly.

On the morning

Health Minister Jim Wells resigned, we begin proceedings with a public petition, brought by Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan, calling for a reconsideration over a proposed housing development on the banks of the Sixmilewater River in County Antrim.