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  1. MLAs debated the consideration stage of the Justice Bill. It aimed to make a number of changes to the law in relation to the administration of civil and criminal justice.
  2. A petition of concern was submitted to block an amendment to tighten the law in Northern Ireland relating to abortion.
  3. The amendment was intended to criminalise abortion in any setting other than an NHS property.
  4. A DUP amendment proposed the introduction of a paedophile disclosure scheme in Northern Ireland.
  5. The Employment Minister, Stephen Farry, and Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell appeared at Question Time.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Laura Trueman

All times stated are UK


...or should that be good morning!

Voting is completed on the consideration stage of the Justice Bill.

Join us at 10.30 in the morning for coverage of the Finance Committee.

Attorney vote

Sinn Fein's amendment 50, on the attorney general's powers regarding deaths in hospitals, is defeated on a cross-community vote.

Amendment defeated

The abortion amendment is defeated following a cross-community vote in which 39 voted aye and 41 no.

'Potential for uncertainty'

David Ford

The Justice Minister, David Ford, says "nothing has changed" in his view since this amendment was last debated and he still feels it is "misplaced and not fit for purpose".

"This proposal, as in 2013, still provides potential uncertainty and confusion," he says.

"There are issues that could be subject to different interpretations."

'Cloud of secrecy'

Basil McCrea

Basil McCrea of NI21 says he believes that this amendment is an attempt to close down the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.

Mr McCrea says he also supported the petition of concern against the amendment.

Jim Wells of the DUP says he does have "huge problems" with the clinic which he says operates "under a cloud of secrecy".


Chris Lyttle

Chris Lyttle of Alliance says he had not intended to speak but has been prompted to do so by "the ongoing DUP infatuation with misrepresenting the Alliance party".

He says that "for anyone to say that opposition to this amendment is support for pro-abortion is false".

'Unfortunate and sad'

Jim Allister

Jim Allister says it is "unfortunate and sad" that the amendment is to be defeated by the "misuse of a petition of concern".

He says the Alliance Party speakers have "very firmly nailed their colours to the mast in terms of being overtly and unapologetically pro-abortion".

Private clinics

Edwin Poots

Edwin Poots of the DUP speaks in favour of the amendment.

"We don't have the compelling evidence that private clinics are needed," he says.

Anna Lo of Alliance says there is no clear legal guidance for abortion in Northern Ireland.

"This is a very serious failing of previous health ministers," she says.

'No place in this legislation'

Trevor Lunn

Trevor Lunn of Alliance says he will be opposing the amendment brought by the chairman of the Justice Committee as "it has no place in this legislation".

"We should not be discussing the issue on the basis of an amendment to a Justice Bill involving an alteration to the criminal law," he says.

Mr Lunn adds that this is why has had given his name to a petition of concern for the first time.

'Current regulations failing'

Tom Elliott

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott says there is a need for members to respect their differing views on this matter.

He explains that his party has a free vote but that he is more on the side "of support for this amendment" as he feels the current regulations in place are "failing".


Alban Maginness

Alban Maginness of the SDLP says this amendment should not be about whether members do or not support abortion.

"It is about the regulation, supervision and control over a private commercial abortion clinic in Northern Ireland," he says.

'Restricts the right of a woman'

Caitriona Ruane

Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein says this amendment was previously defeated when it was brought before the house on 12 March 2013.

She explains her party's view is that "it's clearly an attempt to restrict the right of a woman to obtain a termination in life-threatening circumstances".

"It is an attempt to further compound trauma by marginalising women at a time in our lives when we are most vulnerable," she adds.

Abortion amendment

Alastair Ross of the DUP, who chairs the Justice Committee, introduces his amendment.

It proposes making any person who ends the life of an unborn child subject to a prison sentence, unless their actions were lawfully performed at a health and social care trust property such as a hospital or elsewhere if the circumstances were urgent and without a fee.

A petition of concern backed by assembly members from Sinn Fein, the Green Party and Alliance, has been submitted to block the amendment.

Group Five

Assembly chamber

MLAs begin to debate the fifth group of amendments tabled at the consideration stage of the Justice Bill.

These concern changes to existing offences and creating new ones.


Mairtin O Muilleoir tweets: "In Assembly chamber for debate on Justice Bill. Believe we will finish debate around midnight".

'Attorney-general's amendment'

Raymond McCartney

Raymond McCartney makes the argument for the Sinn Fein amendment, which he says was referred to in the past as "the attorney-generals' amendment".

He says he will continue with his speech despite the DUP's petition of concern rendering the debate an academic exercise.

Amendment 50

Alastair Ross

Alastair Ross addresses the question of amendment 50.

It originates in a request from the attorney general regarding "deaths that occur in hospital or where there is otherwise a suggestion that medical error may have occurred" and he has had difficulty in securing documents.

He says that the committee ultimately did not agree to back the amendment.

Petition of concern

David Ford outlines the areas covered by the group.

The group includes amendment 50, brought by Sinn Fein, which is subject to a petition of concern.

Group four

Mitchel McLaughlin

Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin introduces group four of the amendments, which includes DNA, fingerprints and photographs.

'More than a little surprised'

David Ford says he is "more than a little surprised by the lack of confidence" shown by members of the committee.

Sammy Douglas of the DUP says that "maybe the minister is taking this a bit personal".

Referring to a comment by another member comparing Mr Ford to the Tudor monarch, Mr Douglas adds that "maybe the next minister may be a Henry VIII figure".

'Rather complex'

Stewart Dickson

Stewart Dickson of Alliance says he will be supporting the minister on Clause 86.

He says the bill is "rather complex and wide-ranging".

For the DUP's Paul Frew the clause is "too wide-ranging".

He says part of the MLAs' scrutiny role is to consider "the indirect consequences of bills and laws".

'Hornet's nest'

Sean Lynch

A number of members speak in opposition to Clause 86 of the bill.

Sean Lynch of Sinn Fein says it is "a power so wide that it can pretty much do anything it wants".

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott describes it as "a pretty wide hornet's nest".

Third group of amendments

David Ford speaks on the third group of amendments which are more technical in nature.

He explains that the majority relate to the bill's single jurisdiction for county and magistrate court's powers.

Vote results

The DUP amendment proposing the introduction of a paedophile disclosure scheme in Northern Ireland wins support.

The SDLP withdraws amendment 6. Its other amendments in this grouping are voted through with no opposition.

SDLP amendments

Mr Ford says that he is in "broad agreement and fully accepts the spirit" of the amendments tabled by the SDLP in relation to domestic violence.

He adds, however, that they contain some detail which needs to be adjusted.

In response to an earlier question from the DUP's Sammy Douglas, Mr Ford says that in his view, domestic violence is "gender and sexual orientation" neutral.

Ford responds to second amendment group

David Ford

Justice Minister David Ford responds to the second group of amendments tabled at the consideration of the Justice Bill.

He says that he will be supporting the DUP amendment but says "minor tweaks" will be required.

"No-one should assume that this is a panacea to prevent all risks to children," he adds.

"It is clearly not that. The proposal addresses only one element of risk, that which comes from offenders with convictions for sexual crime and certain types of violent offending.

"It still needs to be said that most offending behaviour against children is much more likely to come from persons known to the child but not known to the police."

'Empowering legislation'

Paul Givan

Paul Givan of the DUP says this piece of legislation will "empower those with responsibility for children to be able to make decisions for the good of the child".

"It moves the rights of the paedophile, in terms of privacy that they are currently afforded, into the hands of the parents and guardians," he says.

'Affects whole community'

Sammy Douglas

East Belfast DUP MLA Sammy Douglas says he supports the SDLP amendments relating to domestic violence "in principle".

He says this is a problem affecting the "whole community" and he has seen "first hand" the impact of domestic violence on families.

Mr Douglas says he hopes that the amendments relate to all victims, whether they be men or women.

Morrow speaks on his amendment

Lord Morrow

Lord Morrow is speaking on the amendment he has tabled to the bill along with his party colleague, Paul Frew.

It proposes the introduction of a paedophile disclosure scheme in Northern Ireland.

He says he believes "Northern Ireland would be a better place" if this amendment makes it to legislation.

Child protection

Raymond McCartney

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney says he is "broadly supportive" of the minister's amendments regarding disclosure.

He says his party will be supporting the DUP amendment tabled by Paul Frew and Lord Morrow.

"It's about protecting children," he says.

'Person X'

Basil McCrea

Basil McCrea of NI21 asks whether "Person X" is informed that information has been released about them.

"In most cases that is the procedure," Mr Frew replies.

Unreported abuse

Mr Frew reminds members that many incidents of child abuse go unreported, and are often carried out by family members.

"This amendment will not solve that," he says.

Paedophile Disclosure Scheme

Paul Frew

Paul Frew of the DUP speaks on his amendment designed to introduce a

paedophile disclosure scheme in Northern Ireland.

The scheme would be similar to 'Sarah's Law' - the law introduced in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011.

It allows a parent or guardian to ask police if a person who has contact with children is a child sex offender.


Tom Elliott

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott says the SDLP amendments have the potential "to do a lot of good".

He praises the work of Women's Aid and welcomes the proposals regarding Clare's Law.

Backing for SDLP proposals

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch of Sinn Fein backs the SDLP's proposals on domestic violence.

He refers to high levels of domestic violence across the island of Ireland.

"We as politicians in our offices have people arriving at our doors at all times of the days and afternoons," Mr Lynch says.

Clare's Law

Alastair Ross

Alastair Ross of the DUP, who chairs the Justice Committee, says the Department of Justice has acknowledged that there remains a gap for the immediate protection of domestic violence victims in the short term.

He says he looks forward to hearing the minister's response to the proposed amendments which could "potentially provide greater protections".

Mr Ross adds a disclosure scheme similar to Clare's Law would have a "positive impact but must be crafted correctly".

It was named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009 - and came into force across England and Wales in March 2014.

Domestic violence disclosure scheme

Dolores Kelly

Dolores Kelly of the SDLP says that on average, five women in Northern Ireland lose their lives to domestic violence every year.

She says that according to police statistics, 27,628 domestic violence incidents were reported in 2013-14.

Ms Kelly says her party is calling for a domestic violence disclosure scheme, similar to

Clare's Law, to be established in Northern Ireland.

'Victim support'

Mitchel McLaughlin

The Speaker, Mitchel McLaughlin, explains that this second group of amendments proposes administrative measures to protect, make disclosures or share information about vulnerable groups.

He explains the schemes proposed hope to "allow police to disclose previous patterns of offending to the public about domestic violence and child sex offences and allow inter-agency sharing of information to better victim support and safeguards".

Second set of amendments

MLAs begin debating the second group of amendments which relate to prevention, protection and disclosure relating to vulnerable groups.

Vote division

Jim Allister's opposition to a clause concerning reforming the committal and court process is supported with 42 members voting with him compared to 39 against.