“It is believed overall goals include producing better informed elected Stormont representatives…”

The NIO vetoed the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s further access to US-based charity Atlantic Philanthropies’ largesse – which may have contributed to the Chief Commissioner’s announced early departure.

Meanwhile, according to a Belfast Telegraph report, the NI Assembly is in advanced talks with Atlantic Philanthropies to fund a “political leadership” skills programme for NI Assembly members. From the Belfast Telegraph report

According to Stormont sources, in the region of £1m could be provided for the MLA programme, which would run over a number of years. There would be no cost to the public purse.

It is believed overall goals include producing better informed elected Stormont representatives, with training to assist them in their work of overseeing legislation and the work of Government departments.

Sources say it is hoped to develop future ministers and Assembly committee chairs.

It is thought the scheme could cover such areas as social and economic policy issues, Government accounts, media relations and public speaking.

The programme can also be expected to involve visits to parliaments outside Northern Ireland.

An Assembly spokesperson said: “The Assembly is in ongoing discussions with Atlantic Philanthropies.”

Published minutes from the cross-party Assembly Commission state that its members have agreed “in principle” with the plan.

Alternatively, the political parties could select better informed candidates…