Armenian delegation visit Northern Ireland Assembly
Politics Plus welcomed a delegation of Political representatives and secretariat staff from the Republic of Armenia
On Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th September, Politics Plus, in collaboration with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) welcomed a delegation of political representatives and secretariat staff from the Republic of Armenia for a study visit.
A constitutional referendum was held in Armenia on 6th December 2015. The proposed amendments to the constitution would change the country from a semi-parliamentary to an entirely parliamentary system of government. These changes are expected to take place during the 2017-18 electoral cycle. Currently, the parliament is in the process of implementing this new governance system. This involves making necessary changes, including amendments to the National Assembly, a new electoral process and new law on Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Procedure law is due to be passed by November 2016. In preparation for this, the Armenian delegation visited the Northern Ireland Assembly, to gain insight into best practice with regards to the Rules of Procedure. This work continues to support our knowledge exchange networks on an international scale which helps to promote positive politics- one of the core objectives at Politics Plus.
The first day of the programme included a tour of Parliament Buildings, followed by an information session on the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly, delivered by Paul Gill, Clerk Assistant. Followed by the Clerk of Business, Alex McGarel, meeting with the delegation to discuss the business of the Northern Ireland Assembly, with a particular focus on the new Opposition.
As well as receiving a briefing from Dr Gareth McGrath regarding the work of Politics Plus, with reference to previous international exchange programmes including the Philippines, the delegation met with Neill Jackson to learn more about the Northern Ireland Executive. The first day concluded with a briefing from Angela Kelly, on her role within the Statutory committee.
The second day of the programme included a meeting with the Adviser to the Speaker, Robin Ramsey, detailing the role of the Speaker in the Northern Ireland Assembly, followed by meetings with three MLA’s. Jennifer McCann MLA (Sinn Fein) discussed her role as an MLA and Trevor Lunn MLA (Alliance) talked about his experience as an MLA including Alliance’s role as an informal Opposition. Emma Little-Pengelly MLA (DUP) also discussed her experience and role on the Finance Committee.
Moreover, three Clerks to the committees, Peter McCallion (Education Committee), Kevin Pelan (Communities Committee) and Kathy O’Hanlon (Executive Committee) outlined their experience and the scrutiny role of the Statutory committees.
The Armenian delegation were further joined by Paula Bradley MLA (DUP), Alex Attwood MLA (SDLP), Ross Hussey (UUP) and Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) Marie Anderson, who discussed the role of the Assembly Commission and its role in Public Appointments. Marie Anderson also presented an overview of her work in oversight and scrutiny of Public Sector Bodies.
The visit concluded with a lunch with the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Robin Newton MBE MLA.