Minutes of Proceedings Monday 20th June 2016

Session: 2015/2016
Date: Monday 20th June 2016
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 4:09pm.

Clare Bailey MLA
Roy Beggs MLA
Jonathan Bell MLA
Sinead Bradley MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Conor Murphy MLA

Norah-Anne Barron, Pi Communications
Michael Bell, NI Food & Drink Association
Nicola Bothwell, NB Chartered Marketing
Chris Brown, MCE PR
Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI, Vice Chair
Gareth McGrath Director, of Parliamentary Services

In Attendance:
Susie Brown Secretary
Louise Close Deputy Secretary
Neal Flanagan Co-ordinator

Noel Brady Consult NB1 Ltd
Barry Turley Barry Turley PR and Public Affairs
John O’Farrell ICTU
Richard Stewart Treasurer

1. Apologies:

  • Apologies are noted above.

2. Declaration of interests:

  • The Vice Chair invited declarations of interest.
  • Jonathan Bell declared an interest in respect of agenda item 16, relating to the China visit. Mr Bell is an honorary Vice President of the Confucius Institute.

3. Adoption of previous minutes:

Agreed: The Board agreed to the contents of the minutes of the previous meeting.

4. Matters arising:

  • The Vice Chair advised that the majority of matters arising from the last meeting formed the agenda items for the meeting.

5. Correspondence:

  • The Vice Chair advised that a letter of thanks in respect of the 2016 President’s Dinner had been received from Peter Spratt of ASG.

Agreed: The Board agreed to note.

  • The Vice Chair advised that email correspondence from the NI Chamber of Commerce had been received, promoting its annual Networking Conference and Business Showcase at St George’s Market, Belfast, on 14th September 2016. It was noted that this date falls within Assembly Week 2016.

Agreed: The Board agreed that the NIABT should be represented at the event.

  • The Vice Chair advised that email correspondence from Eileen Mullan of Strictly Boardroom had been received, inviting the NIABT to take part in its initiative, ‘The Boardroom Apprentice’.
  • The Vice Chair invited Susie Brown to brief the Board on the scheme, which aims to provide training and practical experience to a diverse pool of aspiring non-executive directors.
  • The Board noted the lack of diversity on boards, particularly in respect of gender, age and ethnicity.

Agreed: The Board agreed in principle to engage with the scheme, subject to receipt of further information.

6. Board Membership:

  • The Vice Chair noted that due to retirements, election results and the appointments of the Speaker and Justice Minister, all six of the Parliamentarian Trustee seats on the board had been vacated.
  • On behalf of the Board, the Vice Chair thanked all the previous board members for their input, energy and commitment to the Trust.
  • On behalf of the Board, the Vice Chair congratulated the outgoing Chairperson, Robin Newton, and Claire Sugden on their appointments as Speaker and Justice Minister respectively.
  • The Vice Chair noted that the Board’s AGM had been unavoidably delayed until September, and therefore, in the interim, under article 40 of the Trust’s Articles of Association, the vacant Parliamentarian Trustee seats would be filled via co-option.
  • The proposal was put and agreed that the following nominees be co-opted to the Board of Trustees.
    • Ms Clare Bailey MLA
    • Mr Roy Beggs MLA
    • Mr Jonathan Bell MLA
    • Mrs Sinead Bradley MLA
    • Mr Trevor Lunn MLA
    • Mr Conor Murphy MLA
  • Proposer: Stephen Kelly, Vice Chair
  • Seconder: Norah-Anne Barron

7. Charitable Status and AGM:

  • The Vice Chair invited Susie Brown to brief the Board.
  • Susie outlined to the Board that final approval by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland of the NIABT’s revised Articles of Association and Objects had not been received in time to finalise the documentation for ratification at a June AGM.

Agreed: The Board agreed that a single-item Extraordinary General Meeting should be held on Tuesday 13th September 2016 to ratify the Articles of Association, followed by the AGM on Tuesday 20th September 2016.

8. NIABT Internal Audit:

  • The Vice Chair invited Gareth McGrath to update the board.
  • Dr McGrath outlined staffing and resource issues which had prompted the decision to instigate an NI Assembly Internal Audit Team audit of the external NIABT bank account, additional to the regular annual external audit.
  • Dr McGrath explained that staffing and resource issues had delayed the internal audit.
  • The board discussed the matter, including raising issues of good governance and some concern that the internal audit had not yet begun.
  • Agreed: The Board agreed that the internal audit should be expedited at the earliest practical opportunity.

9. Financial Update:

  • The Vice Chair invited Louise Close to brief the Board.
  • Louise Close outlined the net expenditure up to the end of financial year 2015-16 and expectations for 2016-17.

Agreed: The Board agreed the content of the financial update.

10. Review of Reserves Policy:

  • The Vice Chair invited Susie Brown to brief the Board.
  • Susie outlined the content of the reserves policy and the expected range for the reserves figure for 2016/17.

Agreed: The Board was content with the level of reserves and to review the policy in June 2017.

11. Membership:

  • The Board considered several membership applications.

Agreed: The Board agreed to approve all of the membership applications collectively.

  • The Board noted the list of businesses that had indicated that they wished to remove themselves from NIABT membership in 2016-17.
  • The Vice Chair indicated his willingness to reach out to several of the firms and urged other Board members to do the same.

Agreed: The Board agreed that feedback should be sought from those businesses that had indicated a wish to remove themselves from NIABT membership.

12. Strategic Away Day:

  • The Board discussed the previously agreed need for a strategic planning session to formulate its forward work plan from September 2016, including a desire to align the work of the Trust with that of relevant NI Assembly Committees.

Agreed: The Board agreed to resolve a date and format for the strategic planning day by correspondence.

13. President’s Dinner:

  • The Board noted that 2017 would mark the 10th anniversary of the NIABT since the NI Assembly resumed after a period of “warm storage” in 2007.
  • The Vice Chair outlined that 2017 President’s Dinner would be important opportunity to mark the anniversary by inviting a high-profile keynote speaker.
  • The Board discussed possible guests and the secretariat outlined that efforts were already under way to communicate with high-profile organisations.

Agreed: The Board agreed to explore all possibilities to invite a high-profile keynote speaker for the 2017 President’s Dinner.

14. Recent Events and Forward Work Plan:

  • The Board discussed recent events and discussed the formulation of the Forward Work Plan.
  • Conor Murphy, Chair of the Committee for the Economy, outlined that most Assembly Committees expected to sign off on their forward work plans for the 2016-17 Assembly session in early September.
  • The Vice Chair noted that the Committee forward work plans should help to inform the NIABT’s work. Susie Brown outlined that the secretariat would work closely with relevant Committee Clerking colleagues, perhaps inviting them to the strategic planning day.

Agreed: The Board noted recent events and agreed that the forward work plan should be agreed after the strategic planning day.

15. Induction Pack for New Members:

  • The Vice Chair noted that an induction pack containing the policies and procedures of the NIABT had been circulated to all new members of the Board.

16. China Visit

  • The Board noted the latest draft itinerary for the visit to China in autumn 2016, and that all flights had been booked.
  • The Board noted that two 2hr compulsory training sessions were scheduled to be delivered in September and October by the Confucius Institute. The sessions would include an overview of the Chinese political system, the visa application process, cultural and language training.
  • The Board noted that invitations would be issued on 21 June 2016 to Party Whips to nominate a Member to take part in the programme from each of the five larger parties, and a representative from the smaller parties.

Agreed: The Board agreed that nominations would be submitted as soon as practicable.

17. AOB

  • The Vice Chair confirmed that the Extraordinary General Meeting and next Board meeting would be held on Tuesday 13th September 2016 at 4:00pm in Room 21.
  • The Vice Chair further confirmed that the Annual General Meeting would be held on Tuesday 20th September 2016 at 4:00pm in Room 21.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:59 pm.

Stephen Kelly
NIABT Vice Chair