Townlands at Balmoral

Chloe Coyle sings at the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure event at the Balmoral Show on the 12th May 2010 while Committee Chair Mr Barry McElduff MLA discusses the importance of townland names.

Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development Meet at Balmoral

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development met at the Balmoral Show on the 13th May 2010. Speaking at the event, Committee Chair Mr Ian Paisley Jr MLA, says that the Committee strives to ensure that the agricultural industry is properly represented.

Committee Member Francie Molloy MLA, states that the Committee were keen to listen to the views of the farming community.

Rural Road Safety and Rural Transport Issues

Cathal Boylan MLA, Chair of the Environment Committee explains why it’s important to hear views on rural road safety at this mornings event at the Balmoral Show.
The PSNI were also on hand to give advice to those driving in rural parts.

Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill

This is a question submitted by a member of the public using the ‘Ask a question‘ page.

If the Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill (Consultation Document) is passed it will mean the introduction of one of the most draconian pieces of legislation in NI in decades.
The draft legislation published by the First and Deputy First Ministers on April 20th, ostensibly to deal with the issue of contentious marches, will encompass all public meetings, demonstrations and protests involving trade unions, political activists, community organisations and various campaign groups.

Under the new legislation, ALL gatherings involving 50 or more persons and which take place in a “public space” will be required to give 37 days prior notification of their intention to hold such a gathering.

In the Explanatory Guide to the Draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, the all encompassing nature of the new laws is illustrated by way of an example which states that “if a group wanted to protest against the closure of a local sports facility….the group’s activity would fall under the definition of a public meeting and would therefore be subject to the notification procedures for a public assembly.”

The term ‘public space’ is defined in the legislation as meaning “any road or footway or any other place, apart from a building, to which the public or a section of the public has access”. Such a wide-reaching definition will include the grounds of both government and council buildings, or the grounds and entrances to factories, workplaces and public service establishments, such as schools and hospitals. Trade union demonstrations outside workplaces which involve more than 50 workers will therefore come under the new law’s remit.

This legislation will impact upon and restrict the ability of trade unions and others to mobilise demonstrations in support of workers. A case in point to illustrate this is the stance taken last year by trade unions, community groups and political parties of the left in mobilising rallies at very short notice in support of the workforce at the Visteon plant in Belfast.

Under the proposals set out in the legislation, 37-days advance notification must be given for such rallies and the organisers would also have to specify which trade unions or community groups would also be taking part. Failure to do so could result in jail terms of up to six months for the organisers and any participants.

The new legislation will severely restrict the ability of trades unionists, political activists, community and campaign groups to organise effective and spontaneous public demonstrations to highlight issues which often require a speedy and immediate public response at very short notice. Protest meetings such as those against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, solidarity vigils held to support the victims of racist attacks, or demonstrations such as those outside the BBC in relation to airtime being given to the BNP will all fall under the remit of the new law.

How can people within this Assembly support such a policy?

What is your view*?

*Comments submitted to this website ( will not be included in the consultation. You can respond directly to the consultation via the nidirect website.

What’s on at the Balmoral Show

Six Northern Ireland Assembly Committees will be at the Balmoral Show across the three days. You can view the schedule of activities and events here and view a map of where we are.

Committee for Regional Development

Public transport and access to transport in rural areas are high on this Committee’s agenda. Visit the Committee at the Show and share your views on these important issues – we will include it in our report on Sustainable Transport.

Committee for the Environment

The Committee for the Environment is currently looking at road safety here. The Department of Environment is consulting on a draft plan to address the number of accidents on Northern Ireland’s roads and the Committee is reviewing this plan. The Committee wants to hear your views on some of the Department’s ideas. Come along on Wednesday 12 May at 10.00 and hear from the PSNI about the problems on our rural roads, view a ‘souped up’ car and hear how to go about it safely.

Committee for Employment and Learning

The Committee for Employment and Learning is currently carrying out a inquiry into young people not in education, employment or training (the so-called NEETs). The Commitee’s event at the Show will focus on access to further education and training, and will highlight the importance of regional colleges to provide innovative training schemes. There will be a chance to speak to the Committee Members and discuss your concerns.

Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure

Do you know what townland you belong to? The Committee is hosting a special exhibition to help you find out more about your heritage and the townland you belong to. There will also be an exhibition of crafts by local artisans and a special performance by All Ireland Talent Show winner Chloe Coyle.

Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

Focusing on the concerns of farm businesses and the rural community the Committee for Agriculture will be holding its regular meeting at the Show. This will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions and air your concerns to members of the Committee.

Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee works on your behalf to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and well. Find out how your MLAs examine Government spending to get value for money on your behalf.

Assembly Youth Panel

The Northern Ireland Assembly is working towards establishing a youth assembly. Our youth panel will be at the Balmoral Show to hear your views on how the youth assembly should work, how its members should be elected, and what its role should be. This is a great opportunity for you to help shape this important and exciting initiative.

Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust

The Business Trust, in conjunction with the Federation of Small Businesses is holding a seminar for small businesses on engaging in Europe. The FSB will share their experiences on making representations to MEPs to how you make your voice heard in Europe.

Balmoral Show

As part of our ongoing commitment to bringing the Assembly to you, we will be attending the Balmoral Show.

The Assembly is committed to creating a better future for us all and we do this by encouraging members of the public to get involved in the democratic process.

We hope that being at the Balmoral Show will make it easier for people to come along and meet their MLAs. As this is Northern Ireland’s top agricultural event we will be focusing on rural issues at the show – but don’t let that stop you asking a question on another subject by going to the Ask a Question section of this site.

You can also get involved by attending Assembly debates and Committee meetings or you can visit our website where you will find a record of Assembly business and can listen to and watch live/recorded meetings.

You can also follow us on twitter, facebook and youtube.

Did you know that members of the public are welcome to visit the Assembly at Parliament Buildings and the wider Stormont Estate? To arrange a tour or find out more visit

Youth Panel

The Northern Ireland Assembly is committed to involving young people in Northern Ireland politics, to do this we are setting up a youth assembly. To help us, we have established a Youth Panel of 30 young people, selected by their peers, who will be holding meetings and listening to the views of people on how a youth assembly should work.

The Panel will be at the Balmoral Show on Friday 14 May and are particularly interested in hearing your views on how the youth assembly should work, how people should be elected to it, what age group should be involved and what issues it should focus on.

If you can’t make it to the Balmoral Show, you can share your views with the Youth Panel on facebook or follow their updates on twitter.