Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Mr Jim Hanna, Senior Democratic Services Officer  028 9027 0549

No. Item




            No apologies were reported.





            The minutes of the meeting of 20th June 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 July.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were reported.



Update on Day 1 Preparedness pdf icon PDF 97 KB


            (Mr. D. Neill, Emergency Co-Ordination Officer, and Mr. D. Connolly, City Protection Manager, attended the meeting in connection with this item.)


            The Strategic Director of City and Neighbourhood Services provided an overview of the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


The purpose of this report is to outline for Members work that is currently being undertaken in relation to the Council’s Brexit Day 1 preparedness.


1.0          Recommendations


Members are asked to note this update.

3.0       Main report


Key Issues


Members are reminded that that the previous Committee had been provided with regular updates on the work that is ongoing in relation to identifying potential Day 1 service implications in relation to Brexit. Members will be aware that there is ongoing uncertainty around the outcome and timings around the exit from the EU, therefore Officers are currently preparing for the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario on 31st October and any disruption that may or may not occur in the period leading up to and after it.


Work previously undertaken


Members are advised that in the period prior to the potential exit on the 29th March the following actions were undertaken:


1)    The Council’s critical services completed Brexit Resilience Measures templates to identify the potential impact that Brexit may have on service delivery over the six week period after exit from the EU and the necessary resilience measures that need to be taken before the exit date.


2)   Responsible officers reviewed and updated their Business Continuity Plans ensuring that it deals with service delivery post Brexit, and have communicated it to relevant staff.


A process was also in place whereby emergency planning staff provided situational reporting and daily position statements to the Council’s senior management team on critical services. A process for internal situational reporting was developed and critical services were asked to email the report to the Emergency Co-ordination Centre (ECC) each morning in order to allow Emergency Planning to collate the information and escalate any emerging issues. Collated information was then sent to the reporting points on a daily basis and where appropriate forwarded to Chief Officers, Heads of Services, Corporate Communications and Elected Members.


Members are advised that this process went live w/c 25th March and reporting took place for several days, however due to the change of the exit date from 29th March and uncertainty around the timings of the exit, it was decided by the NICS that daily reporting was not required at this point and that the frequency of reporting would be kept under review as the situation evolves. Members should note that this period of reporting was a good test of the reporting arrangements and officers are confident that the process works and can be activated as required.


Planned activities


The Council’s critical services are currently refreshing the Brexit Resilience Measures templates that they had previously completed to take account of the planned exit date of 31st October and to also consider normal ‘winter pressures’. These templates will identify  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Brexit Committee Workplan pdf icon PDF 98 KB


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with a draft workplan for their consideration. It is proposed that the draft workplan covers the period up to the exit date of 31st October and that it is revisited after this date when it is likely that the situation around EU exit will be clearer.


2.0       Recommendations


Members are asked to agree the workplan as outlined in this report, subject to any additions or amendments Committee may request.


3.0       Main report


Key Issues


Members are reminded that at its meeting in June it requested that a draft workplan be submitted to this meeting for their consideration and that ‘in terms of the impact of Brexit upon Workers/Human Rights and on the environment, agreed that the following be invited to attend a future meeting:


·        Representatives of Trades Unions

·        Representatives of environmental organisations;

·        Dr. Mary Dobbs – Queen’s University;

·        Professor Colin Harvey – Queen’s University; and

·        Dr. Daniel Holder – CAJ.


The Committee also agreed that the Local Government Auditor be invited to attend a future meeting in order to discuss the section within the Local Government Auditors Report 2019 referring to local government preparations for leaving the European Union.


A request has also been made by the Chair to invite a representative from the Department of Economy to update the Committee on the recently published data paper on Northern Ireland’s trade and investment under ‘no deal’ as part of the Northern Ireland Civil Service’s work on EU Exit.


Members are also advised that Officers have met with representatives from the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels and that their Director, Andrew Elliott has offered to attend the Committee meeting in September to update Members on the programme of work that the Office is currently undertaking. Members are reminded that Andrew and his team were helpful in identifying people to meet and providing contact details during the organisation of the previous visit to Brussels.


Officers have now contacted the various people as outlined above to determine their availability to attend Committee and their responses are outlined in the table below. Subject to Committee agreeing the proposed speakers list, Officers will confirm these dates.


Brexit Committee






Prof. Colin Harvey and Daniel Holder,

Deputy Director




Andrew Elliot, Director

NI Executive Office in Brussels


Shane Murphy, Head of Analytical Services

Department for the Economy


Sean Kelly, Development Manager to co-ordinate forum leads

Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL)


Dr. Mary Dobbs


Has agreed to attend Committee but date not yet agreed

Owen Reidy, Assistant General Secretary

Northern Ireland Committee - ICTU

Awaiting a response

Pamela McCreedy, Chief Operating Officer and Local Government Auditor

NI Audit Office


Members are also advised that a request was sent to Party Group Leaders seeking any additional speakers they wished to add to the list and to date none have been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Visit to Brussels for Open Week of Regions and Cities pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Additional documents:


(Ms. L. Leonard, European Manger, attended the meeting in connection with this item.)


            The European Manager reminded the Committee that, in January, 2019 an All-Party delegation from the Council undertook a visit to Brussels to engage with EU officials. During the visit, members had met with a range of officials and politicians to discuss the different perspectives and views from Belfast and the wider region.


            She highlighted that from 7th - 10th October, 2019 the European Week of Regions and Cities would be held in Brussels and suggested that this might be a suitable time for a further visit of the Brexit Committee. During this event, the Northern Ireland Office, in conjunction with other devolved administrations, would be holding an Open Week event. She advised that, although MEPs had no official duties during the EU Week of Regions and Cities, and might not be in attendance, elected members and officers of city and regional councils from across the EU, plus the EU Commission and Regional offices would be present. As such, the event provided an opportunity to network and see how other regions were managing Brexit, and to discuss future relationships and opportunities within Europe.





            Moved by Councillor McLaughlin,

            Seconded by Councillor Flynn,


That the Committee agrees to an all-party deputation plus appropriate officers from the Council be appointed to visit Brussels in relation to the ongoing Brexit developments and noted that the upcoming European Week of Regions and Cities from 7-10th October has been identified as an appropriate time to attend, subject to a budget being approved by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.


            On a vote by show of hands nine Members voted for the proposal and two against and it was declared carried.



Update on EU Settlement Scheme Information Session pdf icon PDF 88 KB


            The Business, Research and Development Manager provided a brief overview of the EU Settlement Scheme to date. She advised that it would enable European Economic Area and Swiss citizens living in the UK, and their family members, to obtain the UK immigration status they would require to live, work and study in the UK after 30th June, 2021 (or after 31st December, 2020 if there was a no deal exit).


            She highlighted that the Council had participated in Home Office teleconferences with Local Authorities across the UK to update them on the scheme and any relevant updates from these would be provided to Members. The last teleconference was held in July to provide an update on the number of applications that had been received and processed. She advised that statistics were only currently available at a regional level but Members would be notified, in the future, if they became available at Local Level.


            She reported that, in Northern Ireland, the organisations which had received funding from the Home Office funding scheme were Advice NI and a consortium made up of the Law Centre and STEP Dungannon.


            The Members were reminded that information sessions on the EU Settlement Scheme had been planned to take place in the City Hall, one for local organisations who had been granted funding from the Home Office scheme, and a follow up session to target potentially affected individuals.





North South Collaboration Mapping Exercise Report pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:


            It was reported that on 20th June, the Committee on Exiting the European Union had published a UK Government document on North-South cooperation that had been prepared in September, 2017. The scoping exercise, that informed the document, had been undertaken by the UK Government, Northern Ireland Civil Service, European Commission and Government of Ireland. It focused on six areas: agriculture, environment, transport, health, tourism, and education. The purpose of the mapping exercise had been to chart the range of formal and informal cooperation that existed with a view to maintaining North-South cooperation following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.


            The City Solicitor advised that the document provided significant detail and outlined 142 areas of cooperation. For each of these areas, information had been provided as to the extent that they were underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement or existing EU legal and policy frameworks. Of the 142 areas, 54 were classified as directly linked, 42 as partially linked, and 46 as not linked.


            He informed the Committee that Officers had reviewed the 142 areas of collaboration and identified the areas which were most relevant to the Council. That is, in terms of whether the collaborations directly referenced Belfast, or local government, or involved areas where the Council had statutory responsibilities.


He highlighted that further details were available in appendix one of the report and that the items that specifically mentioned Belfast included:


·         10 All-Island Congenital Heart Disease Network; and

·         19 Cross-border Enterprise Rail Services.          


            Items listed that specifically mentioned councils (in general) and local government included:


·         51 Spatial Planning;

·         112 Cooperation beyond North/South Ministerial Council (local councils);

·         111 All-Island Local Authority Programmes; and

·         112 Local authority led cross-border engagements.


            Other items listed with direct relevance to Council functions included:


·         3 Food Safety Promotion Boards;

·         30 Cooperation on checks on third country products of animal origin, including fish products and bivalve molluscs ;

·         8 Tourism;

·         1 Special EU Programmes Body;

·         43 PEACE IV programme; and

·         44 INTERREG funding.


            He advised that officers would continue to monitor outputs from the Committee on Exiting the European Union in relation to cross-border collaborations affecting the Council and the results from the scoping exercise would also feed into Council’s ongoing Day One Readiness work.





Additional Item


Letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi


            With the permission of the Chairperson, one Member raised an additional matter to acknowledge the points made recently by Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senate Democratic leader and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.


            During discussion, a Member raised an objection to the letter and highlighted the importance of UK’s potential trade deals with other countries.




            Moved by Councillor McKeown,

            Seconded by Councillor Flynn,


The Committee agrees to write to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi acknowledging their recent public statements in relation to Brexit, specifically in regards to protecting the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland and avoiding a hard border.


            On a vote by show of hands nine Members voted for the proposal and two against and it was declared carried.