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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 18:01 GMT
Disability call in final session
Stormont
The assembly prepares to close for elections
Assembly members have called for more money to be spent on services for people with learning disabilities.

The call was made during the last day of proceedings of the transitional assembly at Stormont.

The assembly will be dissolved at midnight and politicians can start campaigning for a 7 March election.

DUP leader Ian Paisley proposed a motion calling for the implementation of a recent Review into Mental Health and Learning Disability.

It followed the BBC revealing that 17 children were among 118 patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital who have not been discharged due to a lack of funding.

"A massive amount of time and effort were invested in producing the Equal Lives report, encompassing views from a comprehensive range of backgrounds - the report cannot be allowed simply to gather dust," Mr Paisley said.

"It needs to be dusted down and its proposals need to be studied and they need to be applied."

Members began the session with debates on rates and water charges, but there were also exchanges about collusion.

Sinn Fein had wanted to debate collusion but their motion was blocked by members of the DUP and the UUP.

Sinn Fein's chief whip John O'Dowd asked the Speaker Eileen Bell to confirm that unionists had stopped discussion of Nuala O'Loan's report on the murder of Raymond McCord.

Ian Paisley Jr, DUP, said Sinn Fein had "not convinced others of the merit of debating their motion".

The DUP wanted members to congratulate the police on the level of security they have provided at Stormont in recent weeks.

Mr O'Dowd claimed it was ironic that the DUP wanted to discuss security for assembly members but not for the wider public.

The politicians then debated a report calling for the introduction of water charges to be delayed.

Before the session began, the PUP's Dawn Purvis signed the register to confirm she was taking the seat held by the late David Ervine.

The final debate dealt with aid for local fishermen.

Members voted to call on the government to introduce a package of aid for Northern Ireland fishermen.

Regulations aimed at protecting fish stocks in the Irish Sea mean their boats are tied up for 10 weeks during the spring.

Politicians closed the proceedings by paying tribute to the Speaker of the Transitional Assembly, Eileen Bell.




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