Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

OFMDFM Committee

The level of salary paid to to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman, Tom Frawley, was questioned at the meeting of the OFMDFM committee, on 12 January 2011.

Mr Frawley was giving evidence on proposals to reform the office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

He identified a need to "follow the public pound". This would ensure the ombudsman's jurisdiction extended to areas where public money was spent on services provided by private suppliers, such as nursing homes.

Mr Frawley also suggested that the title of the office be changed to the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman.

He questioned the position of the prison ombudsman given that the justice department had come under his jurisdiction.

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly queried whether the pay and conditions of the ombudsman represented value for money.

She quoted a salary of between £128,000 and £171,000. Mr Frawley said his salary was at the lower end of the scale.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson said her party would not support the role of the prison ombudsman being transferred to the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman. She said that if this were the case the legislation would get nowhere and might not even reach the floor of the house.

Representatives from the Equality Commission then gave evidence to the committee on the Armed Forces and Veterans Bill.

The private member's bill, sponsored by the UUP's David McNarry, makes greater provision for the support of the armed forces and their families.

Bob Collins from the commission said the bill did not appear to be contrary to any existing equality or anti-discrimination legislation, but a close eye would have to be kept on its application.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson questioned the proposal to appoint a co-ordinator "to identify and address matters" concerning the treatment of armed forces members and veterans.

Mr Collins said one of the key matters would be to determine what the term "address" meant. He said the commission were not lawyers and they were not offering legal advice.

OFMDFM committee membership


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