First Minister Peter Robinson received a standing ovation following his last Question Time before retiring. During his final Question Time as First Minister, Mr Robinson provided the House with an update on the racial equality strategy 2014-2024. Following the 16 week public consultation phase which generated much debate, the strategy was revised to take the responses into account and has since been considered and commented on by Executive Ministers. Once agreed by Ministers the strategy will be published within a matter of weeks. “The racial equality strategy establishes a framework for action by Departments and others to tackle racial inequalities and to open up opportunity for all, to eradicate racism and hate crime, and, along with the Together: Building a United Community policy, to promote good relations and social cohesion.” The First Minister condemned recent racially motivated hate crimes and believes the new strategy will be a step in the right direction to bringing our community together.
During the topical question period Mr Robinson provided his assessment of the financial package from the UK Government received in last week’s agreement. The new package comes to around £560m which will be used to help the PSNI on security and paramilitary matters and provide “a substantial additional element of funding available to the Executive” with the Minister adding “it is very clear that, without any difficulty, we will be able to make ends meet this year.” The First Minister also confirmed that not one penny of the additional funding is borrowed and “it is all money that is available to the Executive and which our children will not have to pay for.”
During his final Question Time, Mr Robinson also answered questions on the anti-poverty strategy, international promotion of Northern Ireland, the Big Lottery Fund, organ donation and flags, identity and culture.