Special Spotlight


Special

Mark Carruthers chairs a studio debate in which an audience puts questions on topical issues to a panel of public figures.


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Hello, and welcome to Spotlight Special. As ever, we've invited a

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first-rate panel to discuss the pressing issues of the day with our

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studio audience. Danny Kennedy is an Ulster Unionist MLA for Newry

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and Armagh and the Minister for Regional Development at Stormont.

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Alex Attwood is the Environment Minister and an SDLP MLA for West

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Belfast. Conor Murphy is the Sinn Fein MP and an MLA for Newry and

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Armagh and chair of the Assembly's Finance and Personnel Committee.

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Joanne Stuart is a leading light in the local business world and a

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former Chairperson of the Institute of Directors here. And finally,

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Edwin Poots is our third Executive Minister tonight. He's a DUP MLA

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for Lagan Valley and he's currently in charge of the Stormont Health

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portfolio. That's our lineup for tonight's Spotlight Special. Now

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the questions come from members of the studio audience here but you

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can have your say at home. You can text your comments throughout the

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programme, to 81771. You can phone and e-mail us and geet your

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comments to us. The details are on your screen now. -- tweet your

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comments to us. Our first question tonight comes from Adrian McKinney

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who is a community worker from Armargh. Good evening panel. Based

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on today's hot topic, should the minister of the environment's title

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be changed to minister of the destruction of the environment?

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Well... Alex Attwood, you made a decision to green light this golf

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development on the north Antrim coast, you said you knew it would

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be controversial, have we got your title wrong? Well, James who is the

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head of friends of the earth in Northern Ireland, was at my press

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launch today, and he said the following, these are his words not

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mine. He said that he thought I was a good Environment Minister, indeed

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he went further, and I have to be careful of present company, that he

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thought I was the First Minister for the environment in some time in

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Northern Ireland, and the reason I think he said that was is that over

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the last seven or eight months I have tried to demonstrate that the

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build to natural heritage is one of the assets we have. The scale and

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wonder of what we have needs to be protected but it needs to be

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developed and advanced, in order to grow our tourism, and grow our

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economy, given that some people suggest that we need to increase

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our tourist growth over the next seven, eight years by 100%, to �1

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billion a year industry. So given all of that context, that I do

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think I am strong on the environment, but see the benefit of

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the built and natural heritage being use for economic growth and

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job opportunities in times of need. I think I have made the right

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decision about it, because my decision, fully respects Azerbaijan

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far as you possibly can, the quality of the natural heritage up

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there, the designations up there, including the World Heritage status

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that we have for the giants causeway, and the same time, in

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sympathy with that, develop a golf resort that will profile tourism

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going forward, multi-pie our golfing opportunities going forward,

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grow the economy and jobs in that area going forward. As a

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consequence, hard though it was, difficult judgment though it is, I

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think I've got the balance right. I have the message right and the

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opportunities right, both for the heritage and the economy going

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forward. Just to be clear, about what Jamesor said, he may have said

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you were a good minister for the environment, but he is not happy

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with your decision,, situation he thinks you got that wrong. He said

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opening this golf resort on the north Antrim coast was like opening

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a burger par at the Taj ma hall. think that James and other people

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who make that argument can't reconcile the fact on one hand a

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good environment ministers apparently the First Minister of

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the environment for some time, and the same time make an allegation

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that I would be reckless with the natural heritage up there, to

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compare it with having a burger bar at the Taj ma hall. Far from it.

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What I have done, is recognise that in times of economic need, given

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the need to grow a tourist industry, given the opportunities that we

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have given success of golfer, professional and amateur, I think

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that I have got the balance right, between on the one hand developing

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a golf resort, creating hotel accommodation for a project like

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that and the same time, being highly vigilant, and recognising

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all the necessary heritage standards and protections that are

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required up there. I approved the planning permission that lie lays

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down 19 planning condition, all minded to protect the environment.

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I think that I have the balance right. Yes, people will differ from

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me but I hope most people, including those in the audience,

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will recognise difficult judgment, balance right, good for the north,

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good for jobs and good for heritage. Conor Murphy, is that how you see

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it? He is fix Tait Yateed with his own reputation, I think in terms of

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the planning decision there are balances to be taken, and of course,

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you must protect the environment as best we possibly can, there are

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strong environmental protections, there was a debate over independent

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environmental protection agency for some time but there are strong

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protections for the environment, and I appreciate Alex was damned if

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he did and daped if he didn't. If he had taken the decision in

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negative those in business and those which want to promote tourism

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would have been critical. It is a matter of getting the balance right.

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I do have the detail of the decision but I do think that there

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is prord recognition that we have a beautiful heritage there we has to

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be protected, but at the same time, we are in severe economic

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difficulties and tourism is one potential growth area for us, I

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think you have to in making decisions such as he made today you

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have to be sure and be careful and he says he got the balance right

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and I accept that decision. Edwin Poots, you were of course minister

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for the environment in the past. You didn't have to make a call on

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this very difficult decision. Do you think Alex Attwood did get it

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right today? Absolutely. He has made the right decision, and it

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reflects where the executive is and that is our economy is our number

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one priority, and when we look to Northern Ireland, we see a lot of

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unemployment, particularly in younger people, we do need to be

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transforming the economic landscape. Destroying our heritage won't

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actually transform our economy, so if Alex was making a decision that

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was going to destroy our landscape, that is something that I would have

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been opposed to as someone on the radio said this morning talked

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about bungalows scattered through the site. They are not. They are

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against Bushmills village. The hotel itself, it won't be seen from

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as wide an area as the causeway hotel which was owned by the

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National Trust, and in terms of the dunes themselves, they will not be

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affected. This is a sensitive development and indeed a sensible

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development. It will help create economic regeneration and Bushmills

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and an area where there are lots of people unemployed it is the right

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decision. You didn't think it will threaten the status of the giant's

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causeway. That is what we are not clear about. It is being referred

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to UNESCO. That was a matter for Alex's department. That shouldn't

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be an issue. Because what has been proposed here is not something that

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will be seen from the giant's causeway, there are lots of people

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exaggerating. Can I say if we were to listen to everybody's complaints,

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that criticise planning decisions now, if you lock at the road the

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Coast Road, the Antrim Coast Road, that would never have been qop

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developed. If you look at Parliament buildings in store month

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that would never have been developed. These things shouldn't

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be developed if you listen to the argument but you look at those and

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they are magnificent features on the landscape. Joanne Stuart,

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minister for the environment or destruction of the environment?

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Minister for the environment. I think from a business perspective

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it is great to get a decision I mean this has been five years

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within the planning service, and through that time has gone through

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a very rigorous environmental impact, on, you know, and as Edwin

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said, business remindful and sensitive to our heritage, and that

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is the reason that we get business coming into Northern Ireland, so

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the development is to enhance that, and it is certainly not the

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business won't do anything to ruin the environment. What it shows it

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is good to see the economic considerations are being taken into

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account, as well as the environmental, and it always is a

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balance, but for business it is about getting decisions quickly,

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whether that is a yes or no you want dae circumstances because you

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can decide what do next. When it takes this long to get a decision

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it doesn't help anybody. Danny Kennedy. On balance he has made the

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right decision. I am not across the detail of it but it has been a

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detail that is in the waiting for a considerable time. Almost ten years

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since it was first advocated, so I think we should welcome that. I

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think politics is about making big decision, which are sometimes not

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always popular decisions but I think for economic reason, sound

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economic reasons, the promotion of golf tourism, I think there is a

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huge potential there, in Northern Ireland for that, we have golf

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champion, we should exploit that to its maximum. Yes, there are

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environmental considerations, and they have to be carefully assessed.

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There is also the wider view that local farmers for instance, should

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have the opportunity to build houses of their own in the area,

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that it shouldn't be entirely excluded to those with cheque book,

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I think that is an important consideration too, so I think on

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balance it is the right decision. And I think it is an important

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decision. Let us hear from Adrian, I am not happy with it. Personally

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I think we need this golf course like a hole in the head. We have

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got three in walking distance. I do not have a problem with the

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business. But we have got many more areas that could have taken it. Why

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here? It was all from the outside but not out of my pocket and I am

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happy about that. The developers have said they are not looking for

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public money and we will see if that is the case. I heard on the

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radio, be possible minister for tourism, he said he came across

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here with some friends and travelled from Dublin to Portrush

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to play golf. But they travelled back to Dublin because they did not

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have any hotels. Plenty of golf courses but no hotels. But does the

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hotel have to be there? That is what people are concerned about.

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What they were saying was if they had hotels in that area, he could

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frequent sites in the area. Also, we have got good quality golf

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courses. You think it is a good idea? I do not! Hotels, yes but

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there is enough golf courses in the area. But in that location, you are

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happy. The lady in the red scarf. What assurances will be be given to

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insure that young people will actually benefit from jobs on the

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site and that it does not become a rich playground. --? A very quick

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word on that because other members of the audience wants to get

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involved. Are there any stipulations about local people

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getting jobs? I think that developers in the north of Ireland

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like the government into Northern Ireland need to apply rigorous

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practice around the course. Then we have got to have a local

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involvement. We have got to have social clauses for long-term

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employed people. I previously collapsed a threshold around

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housing associations in order to enable a lot more people to get

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social clauses and get a long-term job as part of the original

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contract. The developers, public and private, government and

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external, must build into the contracts going forward, these

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types of clauses. Do they have to at the moment? In public contracts,

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yes. But not to guess, a private contract? I have asked my

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department to look at a series of proposals whereby there are

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community benefit causes as part and parcel of planning decisions.

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Then we will escalate the opportunities to build into

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planning permissions, funding going to local communities as well as

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opportunities to build into contracts opportunities for

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employment. At the moment, we have got legal restrictions on that but

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that clearly to answer the question is the way to get a better culture.

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It will be interesting to see how the debate continues and stable --

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people will want to express their opinions. Our next question is from

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Jonathan, a student from Lisburn. What science is the Minister basing

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his supposition on the? You have a policy in place that gay men cannot

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donate blood in Northern Ireland which is not the same as the rest

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of the UK. What is your response? Up the slick, this goes back for

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some considerable time and I have not changed or altered anything. --

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obviously.... Actually, the same regulations are in place in North

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America and virtually every other country in Europe. We are not out

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of step in the Europe and America. A but with the rest of the UK.

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There has been pressure in terms of blood donations in the rest of the

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UK because the people that the blood in the UK are from an older

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population base. It has been a pressure for them that is not

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present for us. In terms of the sides involved, we have looked at

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best and my department has made a recommendation. We have to take

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their opinions into consideration and look at the issues of

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compliance. We have asked for papers on compliance. We have not

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made a decision to proceed because we are not happy with the

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information that has come forward. Some people made a remark about

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commercial sex workers but that was not a claim that I made. That was

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about a lesser risk from commercial sex workers. But the rest of the UK

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is satisfied with the scientific evidence. Why are we not satisfied?

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They have made the recommendations and we make the decisions.

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Currently, we do not have a big pressure, perhaps not as big a

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pressure as a part of Great Britain in terms of the blood supply that

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we have got. But what makes it nonsense is that you do not like

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demented debate but in Northern Ireland but we get blood from

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across the water that could have been donated by gay men. We have

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donations per annum across the UK. The number of units we receive

:17:46.:17:56.
:17:56.:17:56.

probably did not even enter into 100s. What is clear to me is that

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this is not about sexuality. It is about the risk applied. I have met

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the officials and I have spoken to people that have engaged in sex and

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being able to get blood from people that have engaged in sex with

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prostitutes. All of these are things I have concern about. This

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is about people receiving blood and it is about maximising the security

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they have that the blood that they are receiving is not something that

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will give them an illness. Some people have died from diseases as a

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result of receiving blood. I know some people have died because of

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receiving blood. I have to be very sure and I am strong about this,

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that I am acting in the interest of people receiving blood. Notts

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people giving blood but the recipient. The has he got this

:18:57.:19:07.
:19:07.:19:07.

right? He has got it plainly wrong. I think we have got an important

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principle that whatever personal morality and values that we have,

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ministers must stand back and take advice. He has not actually

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mentioned morality at all. understand that. But we cannot

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easily divorce personal values and morality is from a public position

:19:28.:19:35.

but we must be very vigilant. When the sides suggests that is the way

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to go, we should follow that. -- science. I think that is the

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principle we should follow. You are saying personal morality issues

:19:51.:20:01.
:20:01.:20:02.

Clio and scientific judgment? -- cloud sighted judgment? -- cloud

:20:02.:20:12.
:20:12.:20:13.

judgment? I previously allowed a conference to be operated in a

:20:13.:20:16.

university involving gay and lesbian people and representing

:20:16.:20:21.

their needs will stop outside the student union, people were trying

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to impose their morality, in their words, Save Ulster from sodomy and

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undermining the student population. Whether it is said or not, there is

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a danger that personal and private about these are influencing public

:20:38.:20:47.

policy. It is a serious charge. You are letting moral convictions cloud

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your judgement as Health Minister. I have questioned regulations about

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a series of things and not just about this issue. If he is

:20:58.:21:02.

suggesting we should be receiving blood from commercial sex workers,

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that is an interesting point of view to have. I think it is

:21:07.:21:13.

difficult to say one whole group presents a risk. Every group,

:21:13.:21:18.

straight and gay, they have got different risks associated. We have

:21:18.:21:26.

to look at the screening and testing of blood. We have to insure

:21:26.:21:31.

that because that has moved on in a number of years and that is what

:21:31.:21:39.

would give me confidence. Are you satisfied that system is

:21:39.:21:44.

sufficiently in place in Northern Ireland? I certainly have

:21:44.:21:49.

confidence on the screening and testing facilities and I think

:21:49.:21:53.

maybe there has got to be a bit more transparency and information

:21:53.:21:59.

in the public domain, so we can look at that in more detail. That

:21:59.:22:03.

is what the brokers should be had not on the person giving the blood.

:22:03.:22:10.

At should be Minister think again? He has not made the final decision

:22:10.:22:15.

yet. But I do not think we should say all of one group is a

:22:15.:22:24.

particular risk with blood. Conor Murphy? The primary objective is

:22:24.:22:28.

that he said that there is not a need and if that is correct then

:22:28.:22:35.

day is no point in carrying on. I think it is a regulation that could

:22:35.:22:39.

be considered insulting and discriminatory and he should move

:22:39.:22:44.

ahead with the decision to lift that ban. I do not think that there

:22:44.:22:48.

is a point of principle here. As long as scientific evidence does

:22:48.:22:53.

not suggest greater risk, this is certainly discriminatory and

:22:53.:22:59.

insulting for that community and it should be lifted. I want to hear

:22:59.:23:06.

from the audience but first, Danny Kennedy? What is crucial and what

:23:06.:23:13.

has already been indicated is that the sexuality of the individual is

:23:13.:23:19.

not the issue at stake. I think we have got issues that our moral and

:23:19.:23:26.

ethical. These have to be considered. But you assemble all

:23:26.:23:31.

the facts. You take the necessary information from the experts that

:23:31.:23:36.

are available and then you make the appropriate decision. I think based

:23:36.:23:41.

on that, I would certainly be relying on people like the Chief

:23:41.:23:45.

Medical Officer of Northern Ireland to provide information on this

:23:45.:23:55.

matter. What do you think, Jonathan? I think the points about

:23:55.:24:00.

screening were very good. Screening has come to a stage where we can

:24:00.:24:05.

detect things in the blood that might be harmful to the recipient.

:24:05.:24:10.

I would like to pick up on the. The Minister made, that it is happening

:24:10.:24:20.

in the rest of the UK. -- the point that the minister made. A very

:24:20.:24:28.

quick response to that. Sometimes the blood is needed very quickly

:24:28.:24:34.

and sometimes some of the screening is very important. I do not

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apologise for not taking risks. I need to make a decision and I do

:24:39.:24:42.

not apologise for taking my time when it is health we are talking

:24:42.:24:52.

about. The gentleman on the left. Important thing is that if I am

:24:52.:24:55.

brought into the hospital, I want a guarantee that the blood I get is

:24:55.:25:02.

100 % not contaminated. I do not care where or whom it comes from

:25:02.:25:10.

but I want to be saved. Do you think the minister is right to hold

:25:10.:25:13.

off or is that irrelevant because you could be getting blood from

:25:13.:25:20.

across the water? Regardless of where it comes from, I want to make

:25:20.:25:24.

sure, 100 % that it is safe to take his blood. That is my interest at

:25:24.:25:33.

the moment. That is the most important thing. Irrespective of

:25:33.:25:38.

the moral of philosophical issues of gay blood donation, what we must

:25:38.:25:44.

remember is that it is the patient that is the recipient. You have to

:25:44.:25:48.

be 100 % sure that he is getting, not necessarily pure blood but but

:25:48.:25:54.

that is not contaminated. anything, this is contributing to

:25:54.:26:03.

the myth that only gay people contract HIV and Aids. What is your

:26:03.:26:06.

message to the minister tonight? He has got to make a decision. What

:26:06.:26:13.

should he do? He needs to be careful not to contribute to these

:26:14.:26:18.

problems. Heterosexual people need to protect themselves from HIV and

:26:18.:26:28.
:26:28.:26:28.

Aids as well. You must consider what message you are putting out.

:26:28.:26:33.

We have looked at these issues with HIV and prostitutes and we have

:26:33.:26:38.

looked at Africa and this is all about safety. It is important that

:26:38.:26:48.
:26:48.:26:49.

we concentrate on not who gets the It is not only the prostitutes who

:26:49.:26:53.

contract aides and HIV. Let us move on. It is something people have

:26:53.:26:58.

strong views on. We won't have complete agreement but it is

:26:58.:27:03.

interesting to give it an airing, when will you make a final decision

:27:03.:27:07.

on that, do you know? We have been taking legal advice from the

:27:07.:27:11.

department's solicitor's office, so there is interesting views. But the

:27:11.:27:16.

bottom line it will take a lot to get you to change your position?

:27:16.:27:19.

is something we will give due consideration to and wise

:27:19.:27:23.

consideration too. Our third question is from Paul, who is a

:27:24.:27:29.

student support officer from Belfast. My question is, how does

:27:29.:27:32.

the panel feel ability Scotland attaining independence and what

:27:32.:27:37.

will this mean for Northern Ireland? Danny Kennedy? I am

:27:37.:27:42.

opposed to Scottish independence. I think the United Kingdom works best

:27:42.:27:47.

when all four constituent parts are working together, co-operating

:27:47.:27:51.

together, and economically, I think that makes sense. I hope very much

:27:51.:27:59.

that the Scottish referendum when it does take place, that it will

:27:59.:28:05.

reject the notion of Scottish independence. I would hope that all

:28:05.:28:09.

the partys in the United Kingdom, like local parties will be able to

:28:09.:28:13.

make a contribution to that overall debate. Edwin Poots, I imagine you

:28:13.:28:18.

don't disagree with much of that? think Alex Salmond to some extent

:28:18.:28:22.

remind me at a dog at the end of a leash barking and slavering,

:28:22.:28:26.

wishing to get off it but sometimes when they do, they don't know what

:28:26.:28:30.

to do I would urge the Scottish people to be careful what you wish

:28:30.:28:33.

for, because Scotland does very well out of the Barnett Formula.

:28:33.:28:37.

Scotland is well ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom, in many

:28:37.:28:42.

things it can offer the public. I suspect if he is reliant on North

:28:42.:28:46.

Sea oil, which may not last forever, it will be a very foolish way to

:28:46.:28:52.

lead the people of Scotland. This United Kingdom is a stronger for

:28:52.:28:56.

having Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and

:28:56.:28:58.

Wales all together, and I am glad that Scotland is currently part of

:28:59.:29:02.

the United Kingdom. I trust that continues to be the case, as I am

:29:02.:29:06.

glad that Northern Ireland as opposed to north that Alex was

:29:06.:29:09.

referring to is part of the United Kingdom and will remain part of the

:29:09.:29:11.

United Kingdom. It is entersing the question is no longer about

:29:11.:29:14.

Northern Ireland. The question is about other parts of the United

:29:14.:29:24.

Kingdom, we are secure within it. Alex Attwood? Unlike Edwin I think

:29:24.:29:30.

Alex Salmond is one of the best politicians in these islands. More

:29:30.:29:35.

than that, I think Alex Salmond, John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon

:29:35.:29:39.

the three leaders of the Scottish Government know best of all the

:29:39.:29:42.

ministers in these islands the difference between in Government

:29:42.:29:46.

and being in power. Whatever happens about the referendum, we

:29:46.:29:50.

have a lot to learn about good Government from the Scottish

:29:50.:29:55.

Government and about pushing the limits of good Government and good

:29:55.:29:59.

politics, we need to get our heads round that here. The second thing

:29:59.:30:02.

is the nature of British union has been changing fundamentally over

:30:02.:30:07.

the last 60 or 70 years. The old certainties are gone. The empire

:30:07.:30:11.

has gone. The character of British monarchy is changing. Devolution

:30:11.:30:16.

has come, and when you give power to people it is likely they will

:30:16.:30:19.

want more power to themselves, be it Wales, Scotland or Northern

:30:20.:30:24.

Ireland. I think we need to encourage this debate. Encourage a

:30:24.:30:28.

definition of the British union and redefine the nature of

:30:28.:30:31.

relationships at the same time. Scotland votes for independence

:30:31.:30:35.

what would that mean for Northern Ireland? I think it will encourage

:30:35.:30:38.

Northern Ireland to consider further its role in the British

:30:38.:30:43.

union. And the future as part of united Ireland. That is for another

:30:43.:30:48.

day. I think for now, we need to get our heads round, if not the

:30:48.:30:52.

issue of independence, at least the issue of devolution Voe max, about

:30:52.:30:58.

more power coming to Belfast, Wales and Edinburgh and the same time,

:30:58.:31:03.

learning from Scottish experience, of a Government that pushes the

:31:03.:31:07.

limits of Government. Pushes the limits of politics, pushes the

:31:07.:31:13.

agenda with London in a way we should measure up to Devo Max is a

:31:13.:31:18.

separate debate to any region of the United Kingdom, most especially

:31:18.:31:23.

Scotland, because independence for Scotland would presumably give them

:31:23.:31:28.

economic independence, and I mean I think it doesn't need to be spelled

:31:28.:31:35.

out to harshly, that that is simply an non-starter. I think it's a

:31:36.:31:40.

matter for the people of Scotland, just as it is for ourselves here as

:31:40.:31:42.

well. I don't think that the British Prime Minister should be

:31:42.:31:45.

interfering or attempting to bully Scotland in terms of deciding when

:31:45.:31:49.

the question is asked or what the content of the question is, and I

:31:49.:31:54.

do think there are lessons to learn in the interim in terms of having

:31:54.:31:57.

more authority, having more say over the issues that affect the

:31:57.:32:01.

people that you are elected to represent, and you know, for

:32:01.:32:05.

instance Sammy Wilson's objection to more fiscal powers to the

:32:05.:32:09.

assembly because he is a unionist doesn't stack up, I think we should

:32:09.:32:14.

continue to press the boat out here for as much powers as we have to

:32:14.:32:17.

affect and at erthe economic and social conditions we are trying to

:32:17.:32:21.

grapple with. Certainly I think the question of sentence -- sentence

:32:21.:32:25.

for Scotland is a matter for the people of Scotland. It shouldn't be

:32:25.:32:31.

dictated to by a British Prime Minister. -- sentence sentence.

:32:31.:32:34.

think Scotland has a progressive Government and certainly they ra

:32:34.:32:37.

Government that have made decisions quicker than we have here. They

:32:37.:32:41.

have a majority Government, but I think they have been more radical

:32:41.:32:45.

in their policies and they have put things in place to help develop

:32:45.:32:48.

their economy. In Northern Ireland, we have good relationships with

:32:48.:32:51.

Scotland from a business perspective but when it comes down

:32:51.:32:55.

it is a more complex question. It is one thing says do you want to be

:32:55.:32:58.

independent but how are you going to do that? And are, do we have

:32:58.:33:03.

that ability within us as a country? I agree with Conor, that

:33:03.:33:08.

it is not for us to influence what Scotland are doing, that is a

:33:08.:33:11.

question down to them, but I think you need to have the question and

:33:11.:33:16.

the decision made, I think the longer that this goes on, without

:33:16.:33:19.

maybe having all the information there, does create an unstable

:33:19.:33:23.

environment, so you know, am glad there is now a date that has been

:33:23.:33:27.

set, so that a decision can be made, and we take it from there. OK. Let

:33:27.:33:32.

us hear from Paul who asked the question. Yes I I agree with what

:33:32.:33:35.

some have said. It is up to the people of Scotland decide. If they

:33:35.:33:39.

decide that is what they want, as Democrat, if you claim to be

:33:39.:33:43.

Democrats you have to respect this butlet maltly that will ask big

:33:43.:33:46.

questions about the future of Northern Ireland and the union, the

:33:46.:33:50.

old certainties are gone. It isn't necessarily great depending where

:33:50.:33:54.

you are coming from to be part of the union, Northern Ireland has

:33:54.:33:59.

been treated as an afterthought and we still experience that today.

:33:59.:34:02.

What do you think the implications would be for Northern Ireland if

:34:02.:34:04.

Scotland was to vote for independence? I think we are going

:34:04.:34:08.

to start thinking about more we will become more independent.

:34:08.:34:12.

independent or just a union with a different country? More independent.

:34:12.:34:18.

We don't have to look to England for support, and that we have, we

:34:18.:34:23.

have our own culture and history. We can do it in conjunction with

:34:23.:34:27.

England. We don't have to be ruled, uniformly from the UK. OK. Thank

:34:27.:34:32.

you. There are a couple of hands, a couple of quick comments. I agree

:34:32.:34:36.

more or less with Conor and the fellow ore here, nobody has the

:34:36.:34:44.

right to say to Scotland don't, you know, sort of determine your own

:34:44.:34:49.

future. So it's a democratic decision as far as you are

:34:49.:34:55.

concerned. Yes. The SNP are looking at a referendum for 2014. I would

:34:55.:34:59.

take one next week because they will be rejected. You think so?

:34:59.:35:04.

Final thought from a gentleman in the front. The thing that suprises

:35:04.:35:13.

me is why England hasn't gone for independence. APPLAUSE. I reckon

:35:13.:35:18.

England could make a fair go of it on its own. Do you think that would

:35:18.:35:22.

make everybody think twice. could get rid of the aping --

:35:22.:35:26.

hangers on and start living the good life. Interest thought! Thank

:35:26.:35:32.

you for that. Thanks for asking the question. Let us hear our next

:35:32.:35:38.

question on youth employment. It is from a student. Good evening. Can I

:35:38.:35:42.

ask what is being done to keep Northern Ireland's talented young

:35:42.:35:47.

people here, to work and study? It's a question I think this time

:35:47.:35:52.

round for Joanne Stuart, it is your area of expertise, you have been

:35:52.:35:59.

written about this and been to conferences, it is a serious issue.

:35:59.:36:03.

I think there are a number of options for young people, and I

:36:03.:36:07.

think there is a rule for business, young people and Government, from a

:36:07.:36:09.

business perspective there is a lot of opportunity out there but we

:36:09.:36:14.

have to get much better at communicating those. And really

:36:14.:36:16.

marketing ourselves to young people, so that you can see exactly where

:36:16.:36:22.

the growth industries are. I mean areas like ICT, in engineering, in

:36:22.:36:27.

health, in the connected health the minister was speaking about this

:36:27.:36:30.

week, tourism, hospitality, there are opportunities out there but we

:36:30.:36:33.

are not marketing those in the right way. But I think from a

:36:33.:36:37.

Government there are programmes out there so for example for graduates

:36:37.:36:39.

there is a graduate acceleration programme, a programme which is

:36:39.:36:42.

about helping you to get some work experience and understand what

:36:42.:36:46.

being in a job is about, there is training for success, to help

:36:46.:36:51.

people to get into work, there is apprenticeships, there is knowledge

:36:51.:36:54.

transfer partnerships working with universities colleges and business

:36:54.:36:57.

but the problem for young people there is some research you need to

:36:57.:37:00.

do of all of the stuff we have, available in Northern Ireland, one

:37:00.:37:04.

of the problems we have and I find this in any area we are looking at,

:37:04.:37:08.

we have great things happening on the ground, we haven't got the way

:37:08.:37:12.

of how do we join it up so it is easier to final the information.

:37:12.:37:17.

The other thing I would say, is because one of the programmes I

:37:17.:37:21.

support is a mentor ship programme which is about giving graduates 12

:37:21.:37:24.

months experience in the US UK, and I do think there is something to be

:37:24.:37:28.

said for getting that sort of international experience, for us to

:37:28.:37:30.

build our economy we need to be looking at markets outside of

:37:31.:37:33.

Northern Ireland, we need to be growing our export, and if we can

:37:33.:37:37.

get people who have got that international experience, got those

:37:37.:37:39.

network, that can bring those skills back to Northern Ireland,

:37:40.:37:43.

then I think that will be the benefit. The key is though, is

:37:43.:37:47.

keeping connected. It is, we can't let young people go off and you

:37:47.:37:53.

know, not stay connected to them, so programmes like the come on over,

:37:53.:37:57.

the Department of Employment run which keeps people connected. We

:37:57.:38:00.

have a programme that keeps people connected so everybody can see what

:38:00.:38:03.

the opportunities are, how do we bring you back, how can you

:38:03.:38:07.

contribute to Northern Ireland? It is not always negative for people

:38:07.:38:10.

to spend some time overseas, learning a different experience,

:38:10.:38:14.

getting a broadening your horizon, I have started to see poom people

:38:14.:38:19.

coming back from the mentor ship programme they have spent in the

:38:19.:38:23.

States. The contact is second to none. They have much more

:38:23.:38:27.

confidence, they have come up with different ideas of how they want to

:38:27.:38:31.

go forward, including creating their own businesses as well as

:38:31.:38:33.

working with smaller business, and the other area is supporting young

:38:33.:38:37.

people, because young people have great ideas. It is how do we

:38:37.:38:40.

support yourselves to actually take those, and make them into

:38:40.:38:44.

businesses as well. And there is different ways of supporting that.

:38:44.:38:50.

There is a lot out there but it is getting it available to young

:38:50.:38:53.

people. Maybe there isn't the joined up approach we need. Do you

:38:53.:38:56.

think first of all that enough is being done by Government? If you

:38:56.:39:00.

open one of the newspapers in Belfast this morning and saw a

:39:00.:39:05.

photograph of the GEA team where two thirds of the members are

:39:05.:39:11.

overseas at the moment, many of them in Melbourne, you would vo to

:39:11.:39:14.

conclude there has been a collective failure. Whatever the

:39:14.:39:17.

economic situation is beyond our control, there should have been

:39:17.:39:22.

more within our control, to ensure that so many didn't go overseas.

:39:22.:39:26.

The fundamental issue for me is that we have to decide in the north

:39:26.:39:31.

where we are going to place ourselvess, when it comes to

:39:31.:39:34.

economic opportunity, in order to have the jobs, so that young people

:39:34.:39:39.

in every other generation can get access to jobs, and those are the

:39:39.:39:43.

fundamental strategic choices we have to decide now. And they are

:39:43.:39:48.

about recognising that renewables is our single biggest opportunity,

:39:48.:39:50.

recognising we can grow agricultural and Agri food in the

:39:51.:39:57.

image of the south of Ireland but 200-300% going forward. Tourism,

:39:57.:40:02.

where we are hoping to have 26,000 new jobs over the next seven or

:40:02.:40:06.

eight years and that by deciding what the global economic strategy

:40:06.:40:10.

is for the north, then applying our resources to have people trained up

:40:10.:40:14.

for the skills, in the short-term we need a lot of urgent

:40:14.:40:18.

interventions, to try to give people some sense of hope and

:40:18.:40:21.

opportunity, so for example, Government, if you look at Belfast

:40:21.:40:25.

City Council, they have announced a major capital project which is

:40:25.:40:29.

looking to build into the body of the council a lot of training

:40:29.:40:31.

opportunities for young peep. We should do the same thing in

:40:31.:40:36.

Government. If we adopted a model I am working up on, we could have

:40:36.:40:40.

2,000 six month placements in Government, as part of the

:40:40.:40:44.

architecture of Government, giving people an opportunity for and those

:40:44.:40:48.

are the short-term urgent interventions as we decide what is

:40:48.:40:56.

the overall economic strategy going forward. Danny? I served as

:40:56.:41:01.

employment and learning minister, and many of the projects and

:41:01.:41:05.

schemes that Alex is referring to are actually happening and Joanne

:41:05.:41:09.

will confirm that, but we need to intensify that, and certainly,

:41:09.:41:15.

there is clear proof to me that at a time of economic downturn, you

:41:15.:41:19.

must always invest in training and skills, and that goes for local

:41:19.:41:23.

companies but it goes particularly for our young people, because they

:41:23.:41:29.

are one of our greatest assets, if not our best asset, so I think the

:41:29.:41:34.

executive is continuing to look at schemes, I know the employment and

:41:34.:41:39.

learning minister has recently circulated a paper to executive

:41:39.:41:44.

colleague, we are studying that, to look at ways we can bring forward

:41:44.:41:46.

positive initiatives to improve the lot. People are still leaving, that

:41:46.:41:52.

is the point and leaving in big numbers. But this is not just a

:41:52.:41:57.

Northern Ireland problem. This is a problem in national terms of almost

:41:57.:42:02.

epidemic proportions and so we need to be careful that we take all

:42:02.:42:06.

necessary measures that we can and can I say the executive has held

:42:06.:42:11.

the issue of student fee, tuition fees, to encourage young people to

:42:11.:42:15.

study here in universities in Northern Ireland, and that was part

:42:15.:42:19.

of the brain drain that for years dogged Northern Ireland and

:42:19.:42:24.

industry in Northern Ireland, a lot of people, the best of our young

:42:24.:42:28.

people left and didn't return. We have to encourage and put in place

:42:28.:42:38.
:42:38.:42:42.

the mechanisms where by the train Conor Murphy? More than half of my

:42:42.:42:46.

family are scattered across the water. I do not think any of them

:42:46.:42:53.

will come back, such is the reality of life here. They are in Australia,

:42:53.:42:59.

Canada and England. Is that a failure on the part of Northern

:42:59.:43:05.

Ireland? It is a failure across the country, in Britain as well and it

:43:05.:43:08.

is a symptom of the economic downturn to. But there are things

:43:08.:43:16.

to be done and Joanne has listed a few of them. We have made the point

:43:16.:43:22.

about contracts. That was made in the last Executive but the

:43:22.:43:26.

Executive is still a big spender had it has got the power, if not

:43:26.:43:32.

the case in the golf courses, they can insure that we have got

:43:32.:43:35.

opportunities for young people in contracts to gain employment,

:43:35.:43:40.

experience, knowledge and skills. There are other areas suited for

:43:40.:43:48.

people in terms of new technology as well. We need to invest in

:43:48.:43:55.

chasing opportunities abroad. In this climate, we should be striking

:43:55.:43:59.

that balance more in favour of investing in local businesses and

:43:59.:44:04.

finding opportunities for young people here. I think we need to get

:44:04.:44:11.

back to basics and I think the economy was too reliant on retail,

:44:11.:44:15.

construction and as Northern Ireland plc, we need to be

:44:15.:44:19.

manufacturing more and selling more services abroad. We need to bring

:44:19.:44:23.

more money into the economy and when that comes in, it will sustain

:44:23.:44:29.

the retail sector and the construction sector will grow again.

:44:29.:44:34.

A considerable amount of work is being done and we have got a lot of

:44:34.:44:39.

job opportunities in Northern Ireland. I can think of farms for

:44:39.:44:45.

example, which employ people. But some people do not want to work in

:44:46.:44:51.

these industries. Why? In the New York Stock Exchange recently,

:44:51.:44:56.

people put up advertising for 40 staff and have not got the workers.

:44:56.:45:00.

We need to encourage people to take up opportunities that actually

:45:00.:45:09.

exist. We will go back to the question. All these programmes

:45:09.:45:13.

sound fantastic and I am sure they cost the taxpayer a fair amount of

:45:13.:45:17.

money but where is the evidence they are working? Where are the

:45:17.:45:24.

employment figures? When will they reduce? Well, they have. Youth

:45:24.:45:32.

unemployment was 21 %, down to 18 %. Against Wales at 27 %. We are

:45:32.:45:36.

bringing in 7% of investment into the United Kingdom in a population

:45:36.:45:41.

of less than 3%. I recognise it is tough but a lot of good things are

:45:41.:45:48.

happening. I want to bring in the audience. The gentleman on the left.

:45:48.:45:53.

We cannot wait eight years for another 26,000 jobs. We can wait

:45:53.:45:58.

eight months but you have had five years to get past the jobs. Perhaps

:45:58.:46:02.

if you put 80 things more through planning had made decisions in the

:46:02.:46:08.

last term a parliament, we would not be in this situation today. By

:46:08.:46:16.

in the second row. One of the things that I have to say is that a

:46:16.:46:22.

lot of the interventions are full 17, 18-year-old but what about 12 I

:46:22.:46:30.

and 17? What about opportunities for the young people here? -- 12-

:46:30.:46:39.

17? These are the things I think are very important and they are

:46:39.:46:47.

neglected in urban and rural areas. The lady in the front. You are

:46:47.:46:50.

talking about giving people skills but a lot of people read social

:46:50.:46:57.

skills before they can get qualifications. They have not got

:46:57.:47:01.

consequences -- concert at -- they have not got confidence to do the

:47:01.:47:09.

job interview. The panel spoke highly of freezing university

:47:09.:47:17.

tuition fees to decrease unemployment. But could be funding

:47:17.:47:21.

not go to increasing employment and not maintain increasingly high

:47:21.:47:28.

graduates in Northern Ireland? gentleman on the ride. Every time

:47:28.:47:33.

we talk about youth unemployment, we talk about university and

:47:33.:47:38.

college graduates. We need investment in working-class areas.

:47:38.:47:46.

How do young people feel? People want to hear about solid investment

:47:46.:47:56.
:47:56.:47:57.

in their areas to help them. final comment. Universities are

:47:57.:48:03.

irresponsibly offering places in jobs, for example, teaching.

:48:03.:48:09.

Careers are really important and we have to work in schools and we have

:48:09.:48:14.

got to teach people how to market themselves better. People pick up

:48:14.:48:17.

skills through hobbies and different things that they have

:48:17.:48:22.

done and not just through jobs. Some people are not understanding

:48:22.:48:26.

the skills that they have got. The market place is competitive but

:48:26.:48:32.

businesses are stepping up to try and get the skills to young people.

:48:32.:48:38.

People feel very strongly about that. The next question is from an

:48:38.:48:45.

administrator from County Armagh. Would putting a minimum price not

:48:45.:48:55.
:48:55.:48:56.

be penalising P-U -- people that drink alcohol sensibly? Sometimes

:48:56.:49:03.

we have what can be considered a clear and short term solutions. --

:49:03.:49:08.

short-term solutions. We have got a broad range of problems. Some have

:49:08.:49:15.

been referred to in the past discussions about self-esteem.

:49:15.:49:19.

About decent people have of themselves and lack of self-worth.

:49:19.:49:29.
:49:29.:49:30.

-- about people with a lack of self-worth. Some people think that

:49:30.:49:35.

the answer is actually a much broader issue. We have to look at

:49:35.:49:38.

health and all of the other departments and education in

:49:38.:49:45.

particular. When people talk about a sense of despair, education is

:49:46.:49:49.

failing people and we are trying to change the education system and we

:49:49.:49:54.

are getting resistance to that. But we have to recognise that we have

:49:54.:49:59.

got a broad level of young people that are affected by the problem

:49:59.:50:03.

that you are talking about and simply applied one solution about

:50:03.:50:13.

prices is not enough and it needs a broader intervention. I support

:50:13.:50:19.

minimum unit pricing of alcohol. Absolutely no doubt about that. 80

:50:19.:50:25.

% alcohol is consumed by 20 % of people. Most people are not a

:50:25.:50:31.

problem drinkers. They are responsible. But we must create

:50:31.:50:36.

disciplines in order for people that do drink to excess, they can

:50:36.:50:43.

be prevented. You have to hit hard on irresponsible might club owners.

:50:43.:50:49.

You hit hard on irresponsible drinking promotions. You hit hard

:50:49.:50:52.

on vehicles driving people consuming vast amounts of alcohol

:50:52.:50:56.

before they get to nightclubs. You create a minimum price per unit of

:50:57.:51:02.

alcohol. That will not inhibit people from buying alcohol when

:51:02.:51:06.

they are responsible but it will restrict access to alcohol from

:51:06.:51:12.

people that are not responsible. A collective measure across a range

:51:12.:51:16.

of interventions is all one way of drilling down on people that are

:51:16.:51:25.

irresponsible. My view is that alcohol is too easily accessible.

:51:25.:51:30.

In terms of price, it is too cheap. It provides any number of social

:51:30.:51:35.

problems that we have to deal with at a later stage. My opinion is

:51:35.:51:39.

that we should be coming forward with measures to deal with it

:51:39.:51:48.

effectively. To respond to the question, for people that drink

:51:48.:51:51.

responsibly, the price increase will not created by most people.

:51:52.:51:57.

But we need to make any impact on people that drink excessively. They

:51:57.:52:02.

are costing the health service millions of pounds every year. They

:52:02.:52:06.

cost the economy around �900 million every year. That is not

:52:06.:52:12.

sustainable. It is not morally right that Northern Ireland, almost

:52:12.:52:17.

300 people last year got killed because of alcohol. It was not

:52:17.:52:27.
:52:27.:52:27.

right during the Troubles. We did not found -- find that acceptable.

:52:27.:52:34.

Joanne Stuart? I think it is one of a number of interventions and one

:52:34.:52:37.

aspect of that his education and how we get the message out to

:52:37.:52:42.

people. A lot of people might not think they are drinking too much

:52:42.:52:48.

and we need to look at this in the round. We will hear from the lady

:52:48.:52:54.

get asked the question. To an extent I do think people will be

:52:54.:53:00.

punished and penalised. Some people want to have a good time and drug

:53:00.:53:06.

people will get drunk no matter what and people will find a way to.

:53:06.:53:10.

Is there any guarantee that this money will come in handy it will

:53:10.:53:14.

actually go back into the health system and education? Are These

:53:14.:53:22.

people damaging their bodies? more audience thoughts? There is a

:53:22.:53:27.

lot of research that indicates that when we have a unit price increase

:53:27.:53:36.

that it actually reduces the harm resulting from alcohol abuse. That

:53:36.:53:39.

is good international research that demonstrates that increasing the

:53:39.:53:46.

price can reduce harm. understand suicide is a big problem

:53:46.:53:49.

and the psychiatrists have said that if we have a minimum price of

:53:49.:53:55.

alcohol it would reduce that problem greatly. I am a recovering

:53:55.:54:02.

alcoholic. I think the system of controlled drinking in bars where

:54:02.:54:06.

people cannot get access to drinking, we have to go back to

:54:06.:54:09.

that system and reduce problems with the drinking and social

:54:10.:54:19.

problems. The gentleman on my right. Primarily, people on low incomes

:54:19.:54:28.

would be penalised by an extra tax on alcohol. Should we not penalise

:54:28.:54:34.

the government for not delivering on a range of issues? Out of these

:54:34.:54:39.

people penalise our government? -- how do these people penalise our

:54:39.:54:46.

government? But is it progress? but many people will see it as a

:54:46.:54:56.

tax on poor families. It will be regarded as a tax by these people.

:54:56.:55:05.

The gentleman at the back. I think having a minimum price is likely to

:55:05.:55:12.

encourage other markets which are already increasing. We will take a

:55:12.:55:17.

final question from Roger, a businessman from Belfast. What

:55:17.:55:25.

would each of the panellists gave up for Lent and why? It is a short

:55:25.:55:31.

one that you might or might not be glad to hear. Joanne Stuart?

:55:31.:55:37.

would have to be me constantly on a diet so I think it will be crisps.

:55:37.:55:47.
:55:47.:55:48.

Will that be easy? I would just have to try! Enjoyed. Plenty of

:55:48.:55:54.

crisps in the studio if you need them. Edwin Poots? I did not have

:55:54.:56:00.

that many bad habits... But I do tend to wind up people closest to

:56:00.:56:04.

me so I could promise not to wind up my wife that but I suspect that

:56:04.:56:10.

would not last very long. instalment? I will have to keep

:56:10.:56:20.

winding them up. -- and in Stormont? Sometimes you start to

:56:20.:56:23.

falter from New year's resolutions and for me it would be more about

:56:23.:56:31.

foodstuffs. Are you good about that? I am generally good during

:56:32.:56:39.

the week but the weekend is always my downfall. Danny? Chocolate bars.

:56:39.:56:44.

I am not sure that you are allowed to advertise chocolate bars on the

:56:44.:56:54.
:56:54.:56:54.

BBC. And wine gums. Not a wine gums. Will they go tomorrow? The jury is

:56:54.:57:00.

still out. You can make a commitment on BBC One. Politicians

:57:00.:57:09.

making a commitment? It would be novel! Looking towards Danny and my

:57:09.:57:14.

other colleagues, I presume they would wish that I was speaking less.

:57:15.:57:24.

Not a chance, is there? Around the executive table I can tell you that

:57:24.:57:32.

is very true. Roger? I think politicians should give up

:57:32.:57:35.

pretending to be competent politicians. They cannot run this

:57:35.:57:45.
:57:45.:57:45.

country. What are you giving up for Lent? I did not recognise Lent.

:57:45.:57:51.

Interesting you asked a question about it. The lady in the middle?

:57:51.:57:56.

What should they give up about welfare reform and the impact on

:57:56.:58:05.

the lips of carers? -- lives. is where we must leave it for

:58:05.:58:08.

another edition of Spotlight Special. Thank you to the panel of

:58:08.:58:12.

Political debate as a studio audience puts questions to a panel of public figures on the week's big talking points. Mark Carruthers presents.


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