The Assembly returned from its Christmas and New Year recess today with the first focus on a finance package to help hard-pressed families.
All the parties have agreed to fast-track a new Financial Assistance Bill, which was being introduced this afternoon and is due to have its second reading tomorrow.
It includes a fuel poverty payment to be channelled through to vulnerable households at a total cost of £15m as well as a redistribution of funds between departments.
First Minister Peter Robinson was also due at the dispatch box for Question Time. He was expected to face a range of queries, including the impact of a further delay on agreeing a work plan for the four Victims’ Commissioners on the strategy for victims.
The DUP leader was also due to be asked about the detail of any discussions the Stormont Executive has had with the UK Government on the “gifting” of former military sites in the province.
Northern Ireland Office security Minister Paul Goggins said recently that proceeds from the sale of former MOD land may go to help finance the cost of army operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The First Ministers Office was also being asked this afternoon to spell out any new potential investment leads which have opened up following a visit to the USA last month.
Meanwhile, the system of mandatory coalition with four parties — the DUP, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionists and SDLP — in the Executive has again come under fire from Traditional Unionist MEP Jim Allister.
Speaking to the current affairs society at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, he said: “The only argument in support of mandatory coalition is the contemptible assertion ‘oh, but you must have a system which guarantees inclusion of Sinn Fein, because if you don't we'll go back to the bad old days’.”
And Ulster Unionist MLA David Burnside said the First Ministers’ Office had been evasive over the issue of contact with the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team, and whether or not Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had engaged with it.