Northern Ireland: Committee decisions March 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the Committee for Northern Ireland on 9 March 2021 via Microsoft Teams.


  • Mukesh Sharma (Chair)
  • Angelina Fusco
  • Darren Rice
  • Jacqueline Irwin
  • Jim McGreevy
  • Olive Hill
  • Sheila McClelland

Committee Business

1. Welcomes and any conflicts

The Chair welcomed all members to the meeting and made mention of our newest team member, our Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Northern Ireland.

A conflict of interest had been declared for item 7.

2. Minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2020 and matters arising

A member requested an amendment be made to the minutes. This was agreed, with the amendment duly made and returned to the Chair as an accurate record and signed digitally by the Chair as a true record of the meeting.

3. Chair’s Report

The Chair updated the Committee on the following areas:

  • The Board had discussions with regards loss of posts within the heritage sector and the growing concern around this and what support can be offered.
  • The Board approved an award by the National Heritage Memorial Fund for the painting ‘Quiet’ by James Tissot on behalf of the Ulster Museum.
  • Attendance of several meetings and a number of events including the Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) steering group. It was felt that Northern Ireland can feed into this discussion.
  • The Chair attended a small event at the Belfast City Cemetery where work has now commenced. He felt it was a fascinating place. Committee members agreed that when possible this would be ideal for a Committee visit. Agreed this would be organised at the first opportunity available.

4. Corporate Update

Commercial in confidence.

Eilish McGuinness presented the corporate update.

5. Country Overview

Paul Mullan, Director of Country, introduced the report.

We moved to item 7 in the Agenda as a Committee member required to leave the meeting early.

6. Grant Budget Paper 2020-21

Stella Byrne, Head of Investment, presented the paper:

Some of the key points to note:

  • Budgets for 2021/2022 have not yet been agreed by Board and so at this stage only indicative. Northern Ireland may be allocated toward £5.6m, with £4.1m to Committee and £1.5m to Delegated decisions up to £250,000.
  • Applications have been received for the Committee meeting in June.
  • The Countries reserve is potentially £16m for 2021/2022. This can be utilised for Committee level cases that are unable to be met within our existing budget, and will be managed collectively between Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  • Heritage Horizon Awards – one application representing NI for just under £12.5m. This will come to Committee for recommendation in June and a final decision by Trustees at Board in competition with 11 other projects.

SF4 Second round application for discussion and decision

A member declared an interest in the following application which was deemed conflicting – the member did not remain present for the case discussion:

7. Re-rooting our past in the future: Castlewellan Historic Demesne

Applicant: Newry Mourne and Down District Council

Request: Award Grant of £2,695,700 (49%)

Project description: To create a heritage-led destination at the historic demesne. To connect people with their built and natural heritage and aid bio-diversity. The Grange will be developed into a visitor hub and the walled garden will be restored as a living arboretum. External areas beyond the walled garden will undergo park landscaping.

The Committee for Northern Ireland awarded a first round pass of £2,517,900, including a development grant of £247,400 (44%) in December 2018.

The Committee for Northern Ireland agreed the application represented a high priority and awarded a grant of £2,695,700 (49%).

Items for Information

8. Funding Priorities and National Lottery Grants for Heritage 2021-2022

The report was presented by Araba Webber and Paul Mullan to the members.

9. ROSS Framework

The report was presented by Paul Parry and Leo Seymour to the members.

10. Communications Report

The Committee members felt that the profile of the Northern Ireland National Lottery Heritage Fund had substantially increased. Very happy to support.

11. Any other business

No other business.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 8 June 2021