Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Monday, 5 November 2012

Question Time

The Health Minister told the Assembly he would only bring forward guidance on abortion when he felt it was robust, on 5 November 2012.

Edwin Poots reminded MLAs that the previous minister had issued guidelines that had been overturned in the courts.

The minister said that no matter what guidance was issued there was a clear understanding that abortion was illegal in Northern, except in a number of circumstances which he outlined.

Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP wanted to know what retrospective action the minister could take against Fire Service officials who had taken part in the awarding of irregular bonus payments.

Mr Poots, said he had received conflicting advice on this and would therefore be seeking further legal advice on the matter.

In questions to the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said there was a need for services and support for all those who came forward to give evidence to the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse.

The UUP's Danny Kinahan had asked what action OFMDFM intended to take to deal with victims of clerical abuse whose cases were not covered by the inquiry.

Ms McCann said the categories to be dealt with by the inquiry had been selected because the children had been "especially vulnerable" in those institutions.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was asked by the UUP's Michael McGimpsey about the implications of welfare reform on victims' entitlement from the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund and the new Victims and Survivors Service.

Mr McGuinness said his understanding was that payments to victims and survivors would be regarded as gifts, and would therefore not be considered when calculating benefits.

The DUP's Sammy Douglas asked about the regeneration of the old Crumlin Road jail in Belfast.

The Deputy First Minister told members about the "very exciting developments" at the jail, including the leasing of buildings to a "boutique distillery".

It was hoped that 40,000 visitors would be attracted in the first year of operation, rising to 100,000 by year three, he said.


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