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  1. Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin gave evidence for the Culture Committee's inquiry into the Casement Park GAA stadium redevelopment from 10am.
  2. Officials briefed the committee on the Community Resuscitation Strategy.
  3. Representatives of the Youth Justice Agency briefed the Justice Committee about a revised approach to custodial arrangements for children, from 3pm.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Laura Trueman

All times stated are UK

That's all for today

Alastair Ross runs through the final items of business and adjourns the meeting for the day.

Join us again on Tuesday morning for what is expected to be a lengthy Assembly debate on the Welfare Reform Bill.


Tom Elliott

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliottt asks if there have been any responses from victims.

"Victims are a key part of this," Mr McGeown says.

He adds that the children themselves are victims.

Speech therapy

Paul Frew

The DUP's Paul Frew says waiting times for speech and language therapy seem to be an issue.

He says it appears that 50% of young offenders have problems with speech.

Declan McGeown says he has arranged a meeting with a representative from the Royal college of Speech and language therapists.

'Review of a review'

Raymond McCartney

Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein is also concerned that the study could develop into a "review of a review".

He says they need a clear understanding of "what needs to be done, who will be doing it, and the timescale".

Mr McGeown says they are devising "both a timeline and a terms of reference".

He says these should be ready for circulation "before the end of March, or the first week of June".


Patsy McGlone

The SDLP's Patsy McGlone wants to know what the difference is between the new scoping study and the recent review of youth justice.

He is concerned about duplication of effort.

"This is building on that review," Mr McGeown replies.


Alastair Ross asks about the "buy-in" from the health and education departments.

"We haven't got any agreements per-se," said Mr McGeown, but he adds that the departments seem open to collaboration.

Scoping study

Declan McGeown

Declan McGeown explains the justice minister's decision to commission a scoping study on future development of the youth justice system.

It follows the decision to end the holding of under-18s at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre, in Belfast.

Officials arrive

Officials from the Justice Department and the Youth Justice Agency

Declan McGeown, Phil Tooze, and Mary Aughey of the Youth Justice Agency, and Kiera Lloyd of the Department of Justice (DOJ) arrive to begin their briefing.

In the chair

Alastair Ross

The DUP's Alastair Ross is in the chair for this afternoon's meeting.

And we're back

Business recommences at 3pm with the Justice Committee.

Officials are briefing the MLAs on a revised approach to custodial arrangements for children.

Committee adjourned

That ends our coverage of a busy meeting of the Culture Committee.

Do join us again at 3pm when we will be covering the Justice Committee where department officials and representatives of the Youth Justice Agency will be briefing members on a revised approach to custodial arrangements for children.


Basil McCrea

In response to a question from NI21's Basil McCrea, Dr Margaret Boyle says there is no requirement to register ownership of a defibrillator.

Dr David McManus says the Ambulance Service is encouraging suppliers to request this from those purchasing the items.

Oliver McMullan of Sinn Fein proposes that the committee write to the Executive to call for all departments and arms-length bodies to register for defibrillators.

The committee's chairman, Nelson McCausland, suggests this matter can be raised again in greater detail at next week's meeting.

Defibrillator placement

Dr David McManus

Dr David McManus from the Ambulance Service describes a number of initiatives in which defibrillators can be accessed in Northern Ireland.

The first is where they are placed in decommissioned phone boxes and the Ambulance Service knows of their locations.

The second is placing them in public places that are accessible 24 hours a day.

He explains that the third initiative was having defibrillators in wall cabinets in locations such a local village halls.

The Ambulance Service can then pass on a key code to open it or, in some cases, it can open the cabinet remotely via telephone.

CPR training in schools

According to Dr Boyle, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not mandatory in schools, however, this is something she would like to see changed.

"It would be a good thing if all pupils could receive CPR training in primary and secondary schools as it would be a way of ensuring that a large percentage of the population would at least have a basic knowledge," she says.

What is the community resuscitation strategy?

Dr Margaret Boyle

Dr Margaret Boyle from the Department of Health explains that in 2013, the former Health Minister, Edwin Poots, asked the chief medical officer to develop a community resuscitation strategy.

She says it is aimed at co-ordinating the use of resources available and maximising the number of people trained.

Community Resuscitation Strategy

Health officials

That ends the culture minister's evidence session.

Dr Margaret Boyle and Seamus Camplisson, from the Department of Health, and Dr David McManus, from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Trust, are now briefing members on the community resuscitation strategy.

'Public confidence'

Dominic Bradley

Dominic Bradley of the SDLP asks the minister how likely it is that the project assessment review will be carried out in 12 weeks.

"It will be weeks, not months, and not years," Ms Ni Chuilin replies.

She says that if things are discovered that require more time "then so be it".

"I want to ensure we lift the carpet up and shake it out, and look everywhere to ensure public confidence is achieved."

'Reasonable assurances'

Dr Denis McMahon

DCAL permanent secretary Dr Denis McMahon says the question that the independent review will consider is whether senior officials in the department were satisfied that designs for the Casement Stadium were safety compliant.

It needs to looks at "what are reasonable assurances that we received, and did we act reasonably on the basis of them," he says.

"That is something that definitely does need to be looked at independently by the experts who are going to be doing this project assessment review."

'Very serious issues'

William Humphrey

DUP North Belfast MLA William Humphrey reads from the minutes of a Sport NI board meeting on 23 June 2014.

He says these show that Mr Scott raised a number of "very serious issues".

Mr Humphrey reads from the board minutes:

"Members noted that there are some challenges on the design aspect of Casement which centred on members exiting. Board members noted that DCAL had been made aware of the issues."

Ms Ni Chuilin says she will be taking the minutes and presenting them to the inquiry.

She stresses that "no-one took it upon themselves to elevate it to my level that there were safety concerns".


Caral Ni Chuilin says she was "shocked" when she learned of the allegations made by Mr Scott.

"I was also hurt that someone would accuse me personally of putting at risk up to 30,000 plus spectators and residents in that vicinity," she adds.


David Hilditch

David Hilditch of the DUP says there is a "substantial list of documents which say that safety was an issue at the Casement project" from about 2013.

He describes it as "worrying" that the minister was not made aware of it.

"Is it not concerning that senior Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) officials and perhaps SportNI have kept quiet, hidden, or even covered up some of these serious matters," he asks.

'Not ignored'

Mr McCausland further presses the minister as to whether discussions about safety had mentioned emergency exiting as a problem.

"Absolutely," she replies.

"But it was not an issue that meant that advice that was given was ignored, or suppressed.

"It wasn't that it was an issue that needed to be brought up to a level for my attention.

"I want to make this clear at no time did anyone tell me that there was a Hillsborough-type scenario in waiting and I did nothing about it."


Paul Scott addresses the committee on 30 April
Paul Scott addresses the committee on 30 April

On 30 April, safety expert Paul Scott told the Culture Committee he was put under "undue pressure" to approve plans for the new ground by officials from the minister's department.

He also said he had made a complaint of bullying against them.

Mr Scott, of the Safety Technical Group (STG), said pressure exerted upon him had been "so significant" he had no choice but to raise a complaint.

He told the committee that he had been expressing concerns about the stadium design for two years.

Safety concerns

Mr McCausland asks the minister when she first became aware of concerns over the safety of the stadium design in relation to emergency exiting.

"In relation to the allegations that Mr Scott made to this committee about a Hillsborough-type concern, the first I heard of it was on the 30 April, "Ms Ni Chuilin answers.

She says she would have expected that "any real and pressing concerns" would have been raised with officials at earlier meetings.


Ms Ni Chuilin says an independent investigation will be taking place into whistle blowing in light of "grievances raised" at the

committee on the 30 April.

"We are very sensitive to the duty of care to protect and support the people who have raised concerns," she says.

'Safety paramount'

Caral Ni Chuilin

The Culture Minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, says that for her, "safety is always paramount in the delivery of the stadia programme".

Ms Ni Chuilin says that she has asked her officials to review the project urgently and this will draw on experts in the field of public safety.

In the chair

Nelson McCausland

Nelson McCausland of the DUP is chairing this morning's Culture Committee where the Culture Minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, is giving evidence for the inquiry into the Casement Park GAA stadium redevelopment.

Good morning

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

This morning we'll be covering the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee from 10am, and this afternoon the Justice Committee starts at 3pm.