Special Spotlight


In this special edition, Mark Carruthers chairs a debate, with guests Arlene Foster, Raymond McCartney, Conall McDevitt, Mike Nesbitt and David McWilliams.

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Hello, and welcome to Spotlight Special. As ever, we have invited


an impressive panel of movers and shakers to discuss the issues of


the day with our studio audience. Arlene Foster is the Minister for


enterprise, trade and investment at Stormont and a DUP MLA for


Fermanagh and south Tyrone. Raymond McCartney is an MLA, Mike Nesbitt


is his party's economy spokesman and a former Victims Commissioner.


Conall McDevitt lost out to his fellow South Belfast MLA by a


narrow head in last weekend's SDLP leadership race. Is his party's


spokesman on policing and education and finally, David McWilliams is a


Dublin-based economist, broadcaster and best-selling author whose views


on the demise of the Celtic tiger and the crisis in the eurozone area


are widely sought in Ireland and beyond. That's our line-up for


tonight's Spotlight Special. APPLAUSE.


Now, as always, tonight's questions have been chosen by members of our


audience but you can also have your say at home. You can text your


comments throughout the programme. You can also phone and e-mail us


and you can tweet comments to us. The details are on the screen.


Calls cost up to 5p per minute from most landlines, calls from mobiles


may cost more. Our first question is from Karl, who is a student from


Belfast. Given the situation in Europe and Ireland what's more


likely, a united Ireland or united Europe? OK, off the back, of course,


of financial turmoil in Europe and news this evening that the Italian


Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is to resign once he gets a package


for tackling the Italian situation agreed in the parliament. Arlene


Foster, that really has just happened very recently, within the


last few hours. What about the wider situation, and implications


for us on this island. United Ireland or Europe? I don't think


either is going to happen any time soon, I don't think either are


going to happen, because the united Europe ideal came about through the


federalism issue and I am glad to say that the UK stayed out of the


eurozone. There are many here who wanted the kufplt to go into the


eurozone, we have the stability of sterling at present. What you are


seeing across the eurozone are countries strugglingling with the


Sovereign debt their countries have and we should be concerned about


that here in in Northern Ireland because it will have an impact on


us here whether Greece defaults, whether the Italians default,


because there are a lot of companies who are - a lot of banks


that have invested in those countries and that will have an


impact on us here in Northern Ireland. A lot of our companies do


business with those countries as well and that will have an impact


in relation to our export strategy which I have been pushing very


strongly, as well. Aren't we all being dragged into the middle, into


the European centre, if not politically, certainly


economically? Under the control, effectively of Germany? Well, I


think it's very interesting to see what our Prime Minister was saying


today about Germany and the fact that the Germans are standing back


from the eurozone bail-out and very much a need for Germany to get


involved in that eurozone bail-out, to take responsibility. Because


Germany is the main player in all of those interests right across


Europe, whether it's Greece or Italy. But you are right t will


have an impact in Northern Ireland, but we should be glad we are not in


the eurozone, we will be affected by everything going on there and


that's to the second part of the question in relation to the chill


wind we have been feeling in Northern Ireland, in respect of


what's happened in the Republic of Ireland, be that from our small


businesses feeling very sore about not being able to export and get,


as you know, it's our closest export destination, and one that we


have been feeling sore about because a lot of those small


companies haven't been able to export or indeed haven't been paid


by companies in the Republic of Ireland and it is a huge difficulty


for us, never mind the access to finance and the banking


difficulties as well which David will want to touch on, I am sure.


want to hear from Conall McDevitt. United Ireland, Europe? We know how


we will get a united Ireland, because there is going to be


referendum and if the people vote they'll have it. The real issue


around Europe is there's never been a greater need for Europe to unite,


for Governments to unite in a common purpose, to lay down a new


law across Europe, whether it's inside the eurozone or whether it's


on the fringes of the eurozone like the British pound is and this is


all it is, on the fringes and that new law needs to be this: It needs


to be that never again will we allow governments, national


governments or a union like the European Union to be run through


the back door by corrupt bankers. Because that is what has us where


we are. What has us where we are is not a failure for once of politics,


it's a failure of desperately bad and greedy banking. A financial


system that corrupted itself and brought, as of tonight, at least


three governments down, possibly more. Surely it's a political


failure, managed badly by politicians across Europe. We have


lost two Prime Minister this is week alone in Greece and now Italy.


You can't say it's not a political failure, it is. Let me be honest,


the regulatory system failed, of course it did, and the UK


Government had this light touch regulation in London to attract the


world's biggest banks and it failed Europe. The UK Government's light


touch regulation didn't just fail the UK, it failed the whole of the


European Union but the real corruption at the heart of this is


outside of Government, it's in the back offices of money trading and


other types of trading and it isn't until governments unite and resolve


to change the rules of the game so as we can unite Europe around its


people, rather than around banks that we won't come out of this mess.


David McWilliams? Three issues going on. There's an economic


problem, a debt problem, and a leadership problem. The economic


problem is there's no growth in Europe. Growth slowed down. Once


growth slows down all bets are off. Because you can't pay your debt.


Consequently then off growth problem, plus a debt problem and


that's typically fixed by political leadership, but what you have with


respect to Germany and France and the rest of Europe is no political


leadership. So you take those together, you then have people like


Papandreou saying if we have no leadership in Europe why don't we


go to people in Greece and the elite in Europe, France and Germany,


show their true colours last Thursday by saying no way will we


go to the people most affected by these decisions. So, for many


people, both let's say in the Republic of Ireland and other


European members, who was an unusual move last Thursday because


what it did do for the first time is Sarkozy and Merkel said if you


want an opinion on this Greece, the opinion has to be are you going to


be in the euro or not? Rather than defuse the situation, they actually


amplified the situation. Now, what the politicians don't want people


to know is that at every single phase of this European crisis,


every rescue package is actually a bail-out of private, professional


investors by taxpayers, the vast majority of whom never took out the


loans in the first place. APPLAUSE. The minute you are afraid of


democracy, the people, it freaks out others. For example, the


financial markets who say hold on a second f they're not prepared to go


to the people, what we are going to have is yet another shunting on of


the debt to somebody else. Does that all mean, very briefly, that


we are moving towards greater European Union? Whether we like it


or don't like it, is that an inevitability? There's no appetite


in Europe, popular appetite, for greater fiscal integration. We have


had four plebicites in years. Netherlands, France, Ireland all


voted against further integration. There is a sense and disconnect


between the top of Europe and the people and there is a sense on most


people that they don't want further integration and that's before the


crisis. Think about how Germany would vote if asked do you want to


write an open cheque indefinitely for Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal,


the Republic of Ireland? It's not going to happen. What does it mean


for people in Northern Ireland, in terms of where they should be


looking at the moment? Those want to look towards London, hitch their


wagon to the Bank of England and to the Treasury in London. There are


are others who say we should be looking at Dublin. That would take


a serious doze of of nose-holding for a lot of people. I like that


expression! Of all the things that Gordon Brown did, and he did many


stupid things, one of the deliverest things was to do a


classic Whitehall ruse on the euro. Put up five tests and - he played


for time, he did the sensible thing, let's figure out how this works out.


What he has been vindicated in is that the first crisis, major crisis


of the euro, has not been handled well. I believe that Britain is


better outside it. OK. Mike Nesbitt, you are your party's economy


spokesman. I believe it's moving in a different direction to what we


are trying to do in Northern Ireland, it's a clash what we do is


he Assembly is legislate, and enable people to be different and


diverse. Europe seems to want to homogenise everybody and I don't


think the people of Europe want it any more, if they did. If you came


down to my constituency, you wouldn't find a single fisherman


who was grateful for what Europe does for the fishing industry.


Would you be pushed to find a single farmer and we have some of


the best farmland in the whole of Europe Europe who is grateful to


the European Union and we get something like �300 million a year


out of Europe for single farm payments. We also get a lot of


money for cohesion. We have had three peace programmes worth


hundreds of millions of euros. Yet, the appreciation of Europe isn't


there, so there is a fundamental issue and perhaps Europe would do


better to do a little less, better. Do you separate out the political


unity or what David referred to as fiscal unity, they're not terribly


closely linked? People used to look at Europe and say they were linked


and it was Germany, France, Spain, Italy who were all pulling in the


same direction and it is now abundantly clear they are not.


Let's go back to the question, it's about what is more likely here, a


The opportunity for Europe uniting is diminishing by the day. What has


been thrown up his around economic sovereignty. The sovereign


governments are being undermined by events outside their control. It is


important that that issue is raised. Who has the right to choose the


political leadership? That should be one of the issues that we


address. The people should be sovereign. They should decide.


you think that that either of government is weakened because they


had to take money from the UK government? They are weakened


because in a time of austerity they are going to bail out other


countries. Instead of pumping the money back into the economy the am


now going to give it to other countries. A quick word? Regarding


the bailout from Britain, the problem for Britain was that one of


the banks have a high exposure and the calculation was it was better


to make a down-payment on that and hopefully get it back than write it


all off. It was good business for the Treasury. I want to get some


views from the audience. Let us go to the person who asked the


question. Some people are washing rather than seeing what is more


likely. It shows there is a clear divide in Northern Irish politics.


Thank you. Of the two options, I'd do not think either will happen. In


Northern Ireland we need to create jobs so that we can control our own


destiny. Two quick comment. There are 27 countries in the European


Union. All countries in this heat union it should Shea goods - back


trade goods with all other countries. This is why the European


Union is in crisis. All the countries are not working together.


Thank you. My cousin has lived in Greece for many years. They say


that prices have gone up ever since the joined Europe. Next question.


Can we afford to give 60 million to encourage prison officers to


retire? That package was announced today. Some people think it is


attractive. The idea is to get people to take voluntary redundancy.


Raymond McCartney - �60 million, can we afford it? It is something


which we have to do. It is well known that there is a need for


reform. It is well accepted across northern Ireland that the cost of


other prisons is too high. This will ensure that we have a prison


service fit for the 21st century. For too long the emphasis on our


prisons was around security. For too long there was no


rehabilitation processes. We find that many people who leave our


prisons are reoffending. In the long term a you are laying down the


foundations. There will be long- term gains. You see �60 million is


worth paying if it achieves what you see needs to be achieved?


real terms that is the price that needs to be paid. Some people may


feel that is too generous and there is an idea at around that. But the


package is necessary if we are going to reform the system. That


reform is necessary. What if enough prison officers do not volunteer to


leave under this package? It is wrong to report the size what may


happen. There are a number of months for prison staff to take up


the offer. If the offer is not taken up then we find ourselves in


another place. Reduce support compulsory redundancies? We need to


change the culture of our prisons. If the ball on to the process does


not work then we find ourselves in a new situation. OK. The members of


the Prison Service did suffer a lot in the last 29 years. There are


many members of the Prison Service today who are facing threats and a


fat to move homes. If the scheme is to work it has to be unattractive


scheme. Initial proposals were not attractive. We believe that this is


moving in the right direction. We believe that a voluntary scheme is


the right way. We would not support a compulsory scheme. We believe


that people must want to move on. We do not want to be in a situation,


a situation that we found within the police, and that is the


situation of being short staffed. It is important that we have the


staff. You were not short staffed. There was not their experience


there. You are saying no compulsory redundancies? It has to be


attractive to facilitate officers to move. A lot of teachers who have


been made redundant this year will look at this package and wonder.


is not the same. We all agree that reform is needed. But this seems to


be building the lily. This is a political deal. A lot of people


will wonder if that is fair. Do you not think that there is a


recognition that these officers have lived under for the last 14


years? This is 2011. Do you not accept that there are still person


under threat in the prison service today? I never said that there were


not people. We have to approach all these decisions with fairness and


equity. That is what we're doing. If you are facing cutbacks,


teachers are losing their jobs, they will not get this deal. We


will take a close look at this. I am not comfortable sitting here


looking at a very enhanced package for one small section of the public


service when other sections of the public service are not getting this


deal. David but Williams, it is also an economic question, because


the question is can we afford to give �60 million? Money is involved.


Sometimes when you come to Belfast to do not expect that answers you


get. The Sinn Fein spokesperson was saying it is a good thing to


eradicate the memory of the Prison Board. Arlene said something


similar. They are on the same side for different reasons. I am not


sure if you can afford it, but when I look at the rest of the UK and


the austerity that is being imposed there, it would seem to be that to


give special service to one particular group is at odds with


what is happening to the rest of you. Teachers were not targeted by


the IRA. The ought school bus driver was targeted by the IRA. --


the occasional school bus driver. A friend of mine had a very bad


stroke over 10 years ago and that has never been recognised as


following riots duty in the Maze prison. As we make this transition


we should be as generous as possible to those who put


themselves in harm's way. Is this a generous? It is less expensive than


the Patten proposals. I feel sorry for prison -- for police officers


who will look enviously at this deal. What we have not yet seen his


that some of the people who take this deal will only be 50 years old.


One of the things that the police deal recognised was the need for


rehabilitation and retraining. I would like to see that extended to


prison officers. That would entail education and a mental help. This


is the 24th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing. You cannot


just airbrushed this. For too long there was an emphasis on security


policy. Why? Because of the IRA. The reason I said there was an


emphasis on security is because the we are prisons were run, their debt


ratios were the highest. But you were responsible for it.


recognise why there was a security issue in prisons. That has now


moved on. We cannot perpetuate that situation. An independent report


has accepted that. If we do not change this we are wasting money


every day of the week. I want to go back to Declan who also had an


economic emphasis on his question. What do you make of the answers?


There are a number of points. There is a projection for the next 10


years. Projections can go anywhere. The last projection was that the


economy was doing well and good for we are now. 60 million could be


better spent on a dementia unit. We have no money for suicide awareness.


Schools are being closed. This is an issue that has to be tackled and


it will cost money. There is nothing to say that the prisoners


who come out will not reoffend. This idea that every prison officer


will be dead wrong -- dead on. There is a discrepancy between the


private sector and the public sector. Thousands of people in the


private sector are losing their jobs and there is no enhancement


for those people. All we are hearing about his exceptional


circumstances. Every unique family that loses a job is in exceptional


circumstances. Is that there be to treat it? I feel sorry for all the


prison officers that died and were injured. At �60 million is very


high. It is small compared to what was paid for the policing issue.


would pay for a hospital. You do not be it is acceptable question


mark I do not. We will leave it there. Now to our next question.


straightforward question. Does storm and need an opposition?


of as are probably wondering what Stormont is for these days. We have


still not seen any decent legislation after six months. I


lost their head with this today! What I worry about is the fact that


there seems to be not enough accountability. There seems to be


not enough power with the people. The time has come, because when we


next go to elect an Assembly, the time has come to have an honest


debate about a system that is capable of being accountable. We


can talk about that in the years ahead. But I do think we are


reaching the point where we need to get more and to storm it than just


stability. In order to get more out of storeman than just stability, to


get it to work for the people, it will need to be better held to


Your new partier leader -- party leader said that the regime at the


moment, which is headed up by Sinn Fein and the DUP is like Afghan


warLords dividing up the spoils, was he right, is it as bad as that?


A lot of us inside the Assembly really do feel that this is a two-


party Government with another three parties being put in there to make


the two big ones lock good. If I could finish by the reality of life


at Stormont. We don't have seven years into devolution a strategy to


tackle sectarianism. The answer is opposition. Not necessarily, we


have the system we have, Mark, that's the system the people voted


for when they voted in the Good Friday Agreement F we are going to


change the system to be fair to us all we need to agree to change it


all of us, what I am saying is I am not afraid of having an honest


debate about getting a better system than the one we have today


but we are not going to run away from our responsibilities and our


duty and our opportunity to represent our people around that


table. Might that new system involved you and the Ulster


Unionists and maybe the Alliance Party forming an official


opposition? It Might involve me and other people forming the Government


and it might be a more accountable Government and one capable of


agreeing a programme before it sits down. You would need to win an


awful lot more seats. Not one like this one which six months in


doesn't have a programme for Government. Mike Nesbitt? I don't


want to be in opposition, I don't want to the Ulster Unionists to be


in opposition, the principle is good. 13 years ago the aim of the


Good Friday Agreement was to be inclusive, to get everybody


exclusively into the political process and to do that you had to


build an exceedingly big political cake. And that, I believe has


worked 13 years on. The institutions are pretty stable. But


they have yet to really deliver, particularly on the big ticket


issues like the sports stadium, like the reform of public


administration. So, if it's all stable and it's mature, the logical


next step is to say we will go from mandatory coalition to volume


Torrey -- voluntary coalition with opposition T works in just about


every country in the world, why not for stphus why are we so better


than everybody else we want to do it differently? So, that's an


interesting thought, Arlene, is it? You know, I am sitting here


listening to the Ulster Unionist party and the SDLP who gave us


mandatory coalition in - these were the two guys that created the


system. In actual fact, the DUP had to take these guys to court to get


Ministerial papers back in 2001, so it's very interesting listening to


these two guys who when it was working for them, when they were


the two largest parties they were happy with it, they were OK with it.


Now they're the two smaller parties, hold on a second, we are not that


happy with it. You know, the DUP's been asking for reform of the


system since 1998. We asked for reform in 1998, at the time of the


Belfast Agreement. We wanted more accountability in the Belfast


Agreement. It's why we went to the Leeds Castle talks, it's why we


went to the St Andrews agreement and brought about accountability


through the system of Government here and can I say, there are far


too many Government departments as a result of the Belfast Agreement,


there are too many MLAs as a result of the agreement. Let's get it


sorted out, let's get a smaller Government for Northern Ireland


because we need a smaller Government for Northern Ireland and


the people want a smaller Government for Northern Ireland. I


am not disagreeing but I am saying the hypocrisy of you two talking


about... Hypocrisy from the DUP... I don't know what you are laughing


about. The question asked does Stormont need an opposition, well I


think that's the question for those who want to form opposition. But as


the system is designed, then it doesn't appear to be any place for


opposition, if people want to go into opposition that's their choice,


but it's interesting in the first number of years and Arlene has said


this, there was never any talk of need for opposition or encouraging


parties to go into opposition. The only thing that's changed in the


intervening years is that the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists are no


longer... It's because of the way you are operating the system.


what happened Mark, and this has been exposed, at a time when this


was designed, the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists thought they they


would be the lead parties. The people have decided that the DUP


and Sinn Fein are now the lead parties and these two parties just


don't seem to want to accept it. What they do is they carp from the


sides F they want to go into opposition, the opportunity is


there. What else changed? Do you not remember those years ago the


DUP said they would never, never, speak to you? Revert to type, type


- revert to type, Mike. Final point from Raymond, then David. The need


for for an opposition is the choice and desire of the parties. If the


two parties, or any party want to go into opposition they can do it.


The only thing that's changed up to March 2007 is the fact that the two


parties on my right and left are no longer in control and they felt


felt when they designed the agreement that this would put them


at the centre for ever, the people have decided differently. David?


Obviously, a little bit of a spectator here in this regard T


seems to me that from the question that was asked that the system has


been quite successful, but not successful enough. Quite successful


in bringing stable institutions, but not successful enough in going


to the next phase, you know, to answer your question, every


parliamentary democracy needs an opposition and a functioning


opposition and an opposition that works and is a viable alternative,


that's the nature of the beast. But Northern Ireland seems to me it


still is a special case, that if you are saying we have got this far,


but maybe to go to a voluntary coalition basis is a step too far


that in fact the stability isn't as stable as we think. So, to come


back to think it's a sign of success, but on the other hand,


it's a sign that things aren't successful enough. OK. Thank you.


Let's hear from Mark. I think it does need an opposition, we are


talking about delivery and efficiency and I think


accountability was another thing, I think Stormont opposition would


deliver that. Thank you very much. The gentleman there. You have got


the UUP and SDLP talking about the evolution of the St Andrews


agreement. Should the priority not be to implement the agreement first


and ensure there's an Irish language act introduced? Slightly


off the subject, but thank you. I want to stay with the audience.


don't think we need opposition, I think we need co-operation and if


we had we had co-operation maybe Northern Ireland would benefit.


APPLAUSE. You would like to see the parties involved in the Government


working more closely together? We have a set-up where we can co-


operate and now all of a sudden you want an opposition. Co-operate


together and we might all benefit. OK. Thank you. I feel what we need


from the DUP and Sinn Fein also is not so much - they've been given


this power, but could you please exercise the power with a degree of


dignity and not lecture to us. Arlene, you are sitting lecturing


tonight. More dignity in the part you have been given would go down


fantastically. In what fashion? You are talking about the electorate of


Northern Ireland who returned... The point about the hypocrisy, I


think the hypocrisy of the DUP for all those years, I am sure Mike


Nesbitt can give me exact years, that you were outside of the


process, now that you are at the centre everything must revolve


around you. It's stomach-wrenching at times. A quick response. I have


seen this position, I have a unique position because I have seen it


from both sides, I was in the Ulster Unionist party, I have been


in the DUP. The The Ulster Unionist party Minister comes to meetings


with us, at our choice, at our choice every time there's an


executive meeting the Ulster Unionist Minister comes to our


discussions. Do you not think that's inclusive of us? Yet there's


no acknowledgement of that at all. No acknowledgement. That's because


the Ulster Unionist want to make party political points in relation


to the issue. Sinn Fein, DUP, the two largest parties. What are they


frightened of in an opposition? Thank you very much indeed. Thank


you for the question. Next question is from Kathy who is a PR manager


from Belfast. I would like to ask the panel in the present economic


climate do the panel feel that spending a million to bring the


music awards to Belfast was justified? We will hear from Arlene


in a moment or two. Arlene is involved in tourism in Northern


Ireland, and has responsibility for that and various organisations


within her department were a part of that. Let's hear from David


McWilliams. I don't know where you were at the weekend? My perspective


was framed by my 11-year-old daughter who when she heard I was


going to Belfast thought I was meeting lady Gaga. She was meant to


be on the panel! I think it is money very well spent actually. I


think that what it does to the pwrapb of Belfast -- of Belfast, to


project the brand out to a very, very wide audience, executed by MTV,


probably one of the most commercially savvy television


operations in the world, does untold positives that you can't


quantify. Countries like Ireland, where it's north or south, we have


to deal in the world of soft power. That's the power of persuasion, the


power of changing people's minds, the power of brand, the power of


perceptions. What sort of place is that? Now, for Northern Ireland to


have catapulted from the Northern Ireland, the image was 20 years ago


- actually the image didn't change for a long time, to being a place


where, not only does the awards happen, but all these people are


happy to come, I believe will reap a rich dividend for you in the same


way as Dublin over the years changed its image. We got enormous


amounts of tourism in, enormous amounts of different types of


industries in and all this very soft, but very explicit changing in


the image of Northern Ireland and Belfast is an enormous positive


that you cannot quantify. So worth the money? Absolutely. I think it's


worth the money at two levels, for all the reasons David said in terms


of repositioning Belfast and this region in the world's eye and


that's very, very important. It's also, frankly, worth it just


because it lifted the mood in the city. I know a lot of people down


at the Snow Patrol gig, 15,000 there, waking up on Monday morning


with no job to go to, it's not a great life for them at the moment


but it's bet they are week because of the memory of having had that.


If we can follow through, and I do want to pay tribute to the tourist


board and to the work in this regard, it's been good, if we can


follow through and get a lot of sustainable tourism coming in


behind the investment that was made around MTV, maybe some of those


people will get a job next summer. The tourist board very involved,


the council very involved. Have you put a figure on what was spent by


Northern Ireland PLC in actually making the event happen? Well, it


was, the tourist board and Belfast City Council partnered and put in I


think over �1 million into making it all happen, but the estimates


are that �10million will have come into the city and indeed the region


because there are a lot of the stars and executives were staying


outside of Belfast, just over that period of the weekend. I think the


legacy of the MTV ap Awards is more important for Belfast and and


Northern Ireland and we are dealing with the view that some people


across the world have of Belfast and Northern Ireland. We are


dealing with safety and security issues. Isn't it marvellous there


were only seven arrests in the city of Belfast over the weekend, and


that's what you normally have probably over a weekend in Belfast


and there were over 20,000 people in the city and I was very proud of


Belfast. I was proud of Northern Ireland, the way in which we were


able to project ourselves across the world and I think the benefits


of it will really - some of them will be intangible but they'll


encourage people to come to Northern Ireland and to Belfast and


it's a really great start to 2012, which is our year of opportunity,


our year of tourism, our year of getting people to come into


Northern Ireland. Raymond? I agree, I think it was worth the money. I


think even the way it was presented even by the local media and you are


to be congratulated, the commentary and running, because sometimes you


can look at this from a distan and think it's a music awards, what's


all the fuss? But it was interesting part of the commentary,


people from other cities, Dublin, Madrid, who had hosted the


festivals, were part of the local commentary and they said the long


lasting effect effect it had, not just the �10million that was in


Belfast, but the longer selling of a city to a worldwide audience. In


2013 Derry is going to be the City of Culture f I thought today the


tourist board or anybody else could spend �1 million and get out over


the course of a year what Belfast got over... It would cost more than


a million! When you spend a million what you can achieve, so we will


eventually will have to spend more. We need more infrastructure,


Belfast has the infrastructure. But I am trying to say is sometimes �1


million is a lot of money in austere circumstances but if it has


a lasting impact and creates more jobs you have to see it as wise


spending. The numbers stack up as far as you are concerned?


A lot of people realise there is a lot more to it if they're going to


do it to our standards. In terms of the spend, I cannot remember that


the figure, but I think for every �1 we give them, they can generate


�4 for the local economy, so I will support anything that generates


wealth. On the softer side, rather than hard economic factors, is


there a civilisation that has not prospered without a strong


foundation in their acts, creativity, writing? Are you would


hate to think that we would forget the importance of that even in the


austere times. What are your thoughts? It is all very positive.


We feel positive about the weekend. I hope that we do reap the benefits


and it is not just short lived. I hope it is about more than that and


we do get jobs from it and we have more people coming to Belfast.


Thank you. Gentleman with classes. Belfast City Council and the


Tourist Board have to be commended, however although it is great to


spend that money to recruit more money, why not get our politicians


who promise that they would speak to the banks to get them at to lend


appropriately, to recreate the construction industry in this


country? It is appropriate to say this. We want to crawl the tourism


industry so that it can provide jobs for people here in Northern


Ireland. It is the 4th fastest growing industry across the UK.


There are great opportunities in and around tourism. Tourism is a


bright light shining in Northern Ireland and we should be very proud


of it. Wild horses would not have tried me into Belfast to listen to


any of that music, but I share all the views that have been expressed


about how well Northern Ireland that. I would like to congratulate


everybody who was involved. Not for you, but well done! Thank you. Next


question. Is it right that every year we use the symbol of the poppy


as a political football? Raymond McCartney let me go to you first.


There have been issues relating to English football teams over the


weekend regarding this. What do you think of the question? I'd do not


think a poppy should be used as a political symbol. People have a


right to wear a poppy. I have no problem as an Irish republican with


people doing that. Some people opt out of wearing a poppy and that is


not a political statement. But you would like it not to become a


perennial political issue? Absolutely. People have the right


to wear a poppy and honour their dead in the right they see fit.


Those that way it should not see it as a political statement. Enure he


thinks the poppy is a political statement has a problem. Anyone who


thinks that not wearing a poppy is a political statement also has a


problem. We need to respect the right of people to choose to


identify themselves or not with the act of remembrance. I appalled that.


What has gone on with it the English soccer team, I am finding


very difficult to computer. Just for the benefit of those who may


not know, the English team wanted to wear the poppy with their


friendly match against Spain, but FIFA said that religious and


commercial and political emblems cannot be worn in international


matches. There are many states that have different emblems. Would you


have supported the right of the England player to wear it?


course. If every player wanted to wear it. I would rather not have it


on my shirt. But we need to get really serious about dealing with


the past. That is a bigger debate. That is what we need to focus our


attention on. David? One of the biggest issues in the south over


the last 20 years has been the gradual recognition of the tens of


thousands of soldiers from southern Ireland who fought in World War One


and Two were airbrushed bit of history because it was expedient to


do so. The history I learned that in secondary school was that the


First World War was broadly fought by English people. Then people


would talk about relatives that had also fought in that war. In the


last 20 years there has been an important reassessment. But the


problem is that the winner write history. If there were no right


history then the history is jaundiced. If the history is


jaundiced then nobody knows what the truth is. Over the last 10


years their recognition of the Irish battalions, far more


southerners died in World War One than northerners, these are facts,


and it is only now that we are beginning to appreciate that.


Nobody mentions it. I wear a poppy. I am proud to wear a poppy to say


thank you. It is a small gesture. I do notice people who do not wear


poppies at this time of year. I wonder why. Particularly as we're


coming to a new realisation. When I see what has happened over the last


few years, the president of Ireland and the Queen met recently. That


was a spirit of generosity. You might not buy into it but that is a


spirit of generosity. Is that not what the people of Northern Ireland


lead at the moment to get us through these hard times? A spirit


of generosity. This is the 24th anniversary of the Enniskillen


bombing. It is a painful time. I want to recognise that tonight. It


is important that I do that. I welcome the comet that have been


made tonight. The poppy is not a political or religious symbol. I


may that because I want to remember. Others do not. That is entirely up


to them. I have to say that remembering the soldiers currently


in Afghanistan and being in solidarity with them. There is a


new spirit of leadership that was given by her Majesty the Queen when


they looked at remembrance. The passage of time has allowed in the


Republic of Ireland the recognition of the Irish who fought in World


War One. Maybe it will take us some time to deal with those issues. A


lot of those issues are still very raw. If you look at Enniskillen and


the fact that their inquiry team is working with those people at the


moment and there are still issues being addressed, that shows that


there are sensitive issues. People in Enniskillen will wear the poppy


with pride. I will be via on Friday and on Sunday to remember not just


the world wars but also what happened in Enniskillen. And now


look a comment from a questionnaire. There were people of all colours


and creeds who fought and continued to fight in the armed forces for


freedom and democracy and it is a shame that anybody would abuse or


sully the memory of these people. The lady behind you.


politicians need to take a reality pill. The poppy has been used as a


political symbol. It has been used as a political symbol for many


years. For a Sinn Fein person to say that he now has no problems


with that is to deny the truth and not to look at what has happened in


the past. The only have to look at the society we live in. It is now


actually more divided than it has ever been with people being in


their sectarian areas. There is a lot of evidence about that. What is


needed is not to be nice to one another but to actually deal with


their shoes. Yes, we are acknowledging that national sport


in World War One, but we are a long way from dealing with that issue


and many others. It is unfair of the politicians to sit here and say


there is no politics in the poppy. But do we not stack with respect? I


personally do not we're a poppy because nobody in my family was on


the Western Front. They were all in the abbey at that time. That is my


family history. But I know that we have to start getting some respect


into the debate. Whether the poppy has been used in the past, and


there are many symbols, we are island of symbolism, we need to


allow them now to be worn by people who genuinely want to wear them


with respect in that way. The big challenge we are now facing up to


is the challenge of dealing with our past. You're new leader


yesterday said he would not wear a poppy because he said that the


British Legion has introduced a sense of appeals and to the poppy.


What does that mean? I was not aware that that is what my new


leader said. I think you should very carefully check what he said.


That is not a fair quote. What chances as is the fact that we do


not face up to the need to deal with the past. That is what we need


to put their energy into. As you say, there is a bigger debate for


another night. I believe that one there. Thank you very much. Next


question please. Do you believe that Jesus would be at the same


poll's protest and what would he do? Very quick answers please. This


is to do with their Occupy my bed at St Paul's and elsewhere. I would


not presume to guess what Jesus would do. But he would not be happy


with the state of the world, including the state of the Assembly


in Northern Ireland where people are paying -- people are being paid


a lot of money for not doing very much. It is difficult to second-


guess Jesus. I suspect he would be there articulating his views.


he be disappointed that it does become a political hot potato for


the management of the cathedral? am not going to second-guess that.


The question is genuine. I think he would be via raising their issues.


As the only applicant on the panel I have been watching very carefully


what the Archbishop of Canterbury has been saying. It is not a simple


issue of just siding with one or the other. Jesus gave a parable of


the two talents. He told people to invest the two talents and to make


more out of it. I do find it bizarre that people are now taking


up positions out Saeed St Anne's Cathedral. The reason they're


outside St Paul's Cathedral is because of its proximity to the


City of London. But I can understand people being outside St


Anne's Cathedral. It is perhaps just in solidarity with the


protesters. Some people come woman heaving and leave their pens there.


I do not understand that either. There are a lot of issues


surrounding this. I am saying it is much more complex than people would


have you believe. It is a difficult issue for the Church. When they got


involved at issues such as this in the 1980s they found themselves


coming down very firmly on one side of an argument and got into a whole


political debate. There is a much wider debate that he's to be had


about the role of wealth creation. We all want to see more wealth


creation and the UK, but also in relation to ethics and morals.


think he would be there. Protesting? Protesting. APPLAUSE


And his antecedents would also be there.


You say that as a former banker. a former investment banker.


have seen the light? I have seen the light! There is an enormous


issue of morality at play. You have a country like the UK where the


latest figures show that chief executives are paid multiples of


the little Gary's salaries. That is not the way that proper economics


works. Proper economics is about giving everybody a chance. Final


thoughts. The Christianity that I believe in is one that is based on


social justice and solidarity. If those protests are up anything,


they should be about social justice and solidarity. Whether it is just


one person standing up for what is right against a corrupt system,


that is the sort of thing Jesus would have wanted. Interesting to


hear your thoughts on that. Final thought from the questioner.


believe he would be there. I think he would be teaching the protesters


to pray for the Government to help the government changed and bring


prosperity across the land like teaching people to help build an


economic society again. Thank you. Fine to everyone. That is what we


In a special edition of the programme, Mark Carruthers chairs a debate on topical events with a panel of politicians, in front of a studio audience.

The guests are: enterprise minister Arlene Foster, DUP; Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney; SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt; UUP economy spokesman Mike Nesbitt MLA; and Irish economist David McWilliams.

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