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Public engagement with Assembly of vital importance – Sinn Féin

3 March, 2009

Sinn Féin Representative on the Assembly Commission and Lagan Valley MLA Paul Butler has said that community engagement must be of vital importance to the Assembly.

Mr Butler was speaking in advance of a motion before the Assembly today stating,

"That this Assembly notes the Engagement Strategy developed by the Assembly Commission, which is aimed at improving public engagement with the Assembly, its committees and MLAs."

On this issue Mr Butler said,

"People are curious about the workings of the Assembly, which is evidently clear from the amount of citizens, tourists, school children and students who visit this place every single day.

The Engagement Strategy references the need to engage with communities from social disadvantaged groups, those who are at a disadvantage because of geographical reasons and other minority groups such as the Gay and Lesbian community, young people, disabled people, older people and ethnic minorities. That is a good thing and it must be welcomed.

The Commission's engagement strategy will see the Assembly go on the road. It will include MLA's and other staff giving talks on the work of the Assembly and how we can improve people's access to it.

This will include making more information available to the public; recently my party comrade Daithí McKay called for broadcasting from the Chamber and Committee's to be made available on You Tube.

This is but one example; others may be how we look at engaging with the Irish speaking community, for example, providing literature and educational material in Irish as well as in other languages. It must also reflect on the total lack of symbols relating to the Nationalist and Republican community.

I look forward to the rolling out of the Engagement Strategy and have no doubt that people will let us know how they feel the Assembly can positively interact with them." CRÍOCH

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