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Executive requests that Assembly limits sitting time amid pandemic

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said it was important that MLAs stayed at home where possible.

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Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during a media briefing (PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during a media briefing (PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill during a media briefing (PA)

Stormont ministers have requested that Assembly business be reduced to only urgent business during the current lockdown.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said it was important that Assembly members stayed at home where possible.

Ms O’Neill said the Executive has written to Speaker Alex Maskey asking that business be limited to essential items, such as consideration of coronavirus regulations.

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Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey (PA)

Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey (PA)

PA

Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey (PA)

“Obviously in previous waves we would have scaled back Assembly business,” said the Deputy First Minister.

“In all these things we have to legislate, so we have to do our job, but where possible we’re encouraging MLAs to stay home and only those that are necessary need to be there.

“We as an Executive have actually written to the Speaker and asked for that to be looked at and we expect that the position in terms of what we do in the Assembly will change after next week whenever there’s a further discussion.

“So I think there will be attempts to try to limit the business to the necessary business that we need to do, particularly around regulations and everything else that’s moving.

“But there shouldn’t be any non-essential business moved, we won’t be bringing people together unnecessarily.”

An Assembly spokeswoman said: “The Committee on Procedures has been looking at the issue of remote participation in Assembly plenary sittings over recent weeks as a priority and is scheduled to consider it further at its next meeting.

“The Speaker has also been involved in discussions with the party whips over the past week to identify what arrangements might be agreed in the context of the current public health restrictions.”

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