Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Ms. Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item




Apologies for inability to attend the meeting were reported from Alderman Rodgers and Councillors Hanvey and Whyte. 




            The minutes of the meeting of 14th January were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st February.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were recorded.





SEUPB - Ms. G. McIntyre and Mr. D. McGarrigle pdf icon PDF 1 MB


            The Chairperson welcomed Ms. G. McIntyre and Mr. D. McGarrigle from the Special EU Programmes Body, (SEUPB) to the meeting.


            Ms. McIntyre thanked the Committee for inviting representation from SEUPB to discuss the proposed consultation process for the PEACE PLUS programme.  She informed the Members that the programme objective was to contribute to a more prosperous and stable society in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland, and that it would leave a lasting legacy.  She stated that the programme would achieve this by funding activities that promoted peace and reconciliation, and contribute to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the programme area, and that the PEACE PLUS programme would build upon the previous PEACE and INTERREG programmes. 


            She reported that SEUPB was engaging with government departments in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland based on their Joint North South Position Papers and engaging with the European Commission with regard to progress and technical areas in the programme.


            Ms. McIntyre outlined the following thematic areas of the programme to the Committee:


·        Building peaceful and thriving communities;

·        Delivering economic regeneration and          transformation;

·        Empowering and investing in our young people;

·        Healthy and inclusive communities;

·        Supporting a sustainable future;

·        Building and embedding partnership and collaboration.


            Ms. McIntyre added that she wanted to involve smaller community organisations, which would not have had the financial capacity to get involved in the previous PEACE programmes.


            Mr. McGarrigle referred to the local authority co-designed community plans and highlighted that the programme would be centred on community regeneration and transformation to build thriving and peaceful communities, and to celebrate culture, diversity and inclusion.  He added that SEUPB would be working with local authorities to produce the PEACE PLUS action plans to prepare for the programme opening.


            Ms. McIntyre outlined to the Members the consultation process and the subsequent steps required to deliver the programme.


            In response to a Member’s question, Ms. McIntyre confirmed that the PEACE PLUS action plans would be co-designed with input from both the community and voluntary sectors and that a letter would be issued to Councils across Northern Ireland to request that support is put in place to have the action plans ready by then end of 2021.


            A further number of Members sought clarity in relation to timescales leading up to the release of funding.


            Following further discussion, the Committee thanked Ms. G. McIntyre and Mr. D. McGarrigle for their presentation and they retired from the meeting.



Queen's University Belfast - Mr. D. Phinnemore


            The Chairperson welcomed Professor D. Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics at Queen's University Belfast, to the meeting.


            Professor Phinnemore provided the Committee with an overview of the post transition EU UK relationship and Northern Ireland’s position within it so far. 


            He advised the Committee that on 1st January, 2021, the UK had exited the transition period and was no longer in the EU customs union and single market, and no longer participating in the EU cooperation arrangements.  He explained that the EU UK relationship was governed by a trade and cooperation agreement which was being provisionally enforced and that the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland annex to the withdrawal agreement had entered fully into force. 


            He informed the Committee that, in December 2024, MLAs would hold a democratic consent vote on the continued applications of Articles 5-10 of the Protocol and if the outcome of the vote was no consent, then Articles 5-10 would cease to apply after a period of two years.  He added that the protocol did not cover the totality of arrangements which a member country of the EU was subjected to, such as the free movement of services or labour.


            He outlined the terms of the UK EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the joint statement by the European Commission Vice-President and the UK Chancellor of 3rd February, 2021, which referred to their full commitment to the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement and to the proper implementation of the Protocol.


            Following several questions from Members of the Committee, Mr. Phinnemore provided clarification on the following areas:


·        Regulatory alignment and divergence;

·        Extension of grace periods;

·        Article 16; and

·        The Special Committee of Ireland/Northern Ireland.  


            Following further discussion, the Chairperson thanked Professor Phinnemore for his presentation and he retired from the meeting.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the discussion and presentation associated with the following item is restricted in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


      Resolved – That the Committee agrees to exclude the Members of the Press and public from the Committee meeting during discussion on the following item as, due to its nature, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Port Health Unit Update


            The Chief Executive, City Solicitor and Director of City Services presented the Committee with an update on the Port Health Unit. 


            The Committee noted the update. 



Brexit Services Review pdf icon PDF 583 KB


            The Policy and Business Development Officer informed the Committee that a review had been undertaken with services which had completed the Brexit readiness templates in order to identify any issues that had arisen since the end of the transition period, and to seek assurances that these were now being dealt with through business as usual processes. .


            She advised the Committee that the majority of services had not identified any issues and the main areas of concern were around the availability of supplies, delays in obtaining supplies and price increases.


            She added that services had been liaising with suppliers and monitoring prices and that any issues would be dealt with through the relevant Council processes and that further updates would be presented to future meetings of the Brexit Committee.


            The Committee noted the update.



Support for Business pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Economic Development presented the Committee with an update in respect of the following report:


“1.0   Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


         At the meeting of the Brexit Committee in January 2021, members received an update on support provided to help local businesses overcome challenges and help them address impact of UK exit from EU.  The purpose of this report is to update members on the impact faced by Belfast businesses in a constantly changing environment and provides an update on the current project status and outline future delivery plans.


2.0    Recommendations


         The Committee is asked to note the work undertaken to date by the Enterprise and Business Growth Unit to deliver support to enable businesses to overcome Brexit challenges.



3.0    Main report


         Key Issues


         Members will be aware that, the Enterprise and Business Growth team are updating evidence-based analysis to determine what impact EU Exit is having on Belfast businesses.  Data and insights from this analysis helps identify if support is required, assess gaps in provision and if appropriate, design support to meet local business needs in a timely manner.


         This analysis builds on earlier work undertaken at the end of 2020 and is based on discussions with professionals supporting Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that are navigating their way through EU Exit.  Main issues include the following:


§    Prior to the Deal, the biggest concerns were among businesses that exported to the EU, particularly RoI.  There was a wide range of issues highlighted reflecting the complexities of the new arrangements and the fact that few businesses have adjusted. Now most issues and confusion are around the operation of the NI Protocol and specifically the import of goods from GB.


§    Where emphasis had been on challenges for exporters, the NI Protocol means there are new paperwork requirements when moving goods from the rest of the UK into or out of Northern Ireland.  This impacts on a larger number of small businesses that purchase from the rest of the UK.


§    With the EU Exit agreement only finalised a few days before it was implemented, both GB and NI businesses had very little time to prepare for new procedures and set up new processes.  This has caused considerable friction with uncertainties around what is required and who is responsible for providing it.


§    It is likely that as businesses and the economy recover from lockdown, and as stockpiles are used up, there will be an increasing number of businesses that have to adapt to the new arrangements.  Many that have been shut owing to lockdown measures arising from COVID are likely to be unprepared.  At this stage, the volume of goods brought across the Irish Sea is estimated to be around half the level prior to the pandemic.


§    There are some smaller businesses, especially microbusinesses, that do not understand what they have to do and have never been importers before.


§    There is a mix of short and long-term issues.  For example,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.