Special Spotlight


A studio audience puts questions to a panel of public figures on the week's big talking points. Noel Thompson presents.

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Hello and welcome to Spotlight special with our studio audience.


Our panellists tonight at the TV leader Jim Allister, the DUP leader


Jeffrey Donaldson, the Lions minister Jeffrey Ford and Declan


Kearney and the commentator and former victims Commissioner Patricia


McBride. That is our line-up tonight. You are to have your part


to play. This is how you can get in touch.


You can follow the programme on Twitter. The details are on your


screen. Let's get into the questions. I would like to ask the


panel how do I convince my children to vote given their perception of


the standards and behaviours of MLAs during the expanses? This is a hot


topic this week with the independent financial review panel talking about


secret regulars is for having expenses claims reviewed, denied of


course all around but it has left a bad taste. Jim Allister you have


talked about this, is it a big deal? It is a big deal because it is


public money. This is not party many. This is public money. Public


money that apparently is being squandered through a system which


totally lacks the adequate checks and balances. Your sister programme


did an investigation couple of years ago exposed the fact that ?700,000


of public money had been paid to Sinn Fein front organisation called


Ireland research and yet they couldn't find a single scrap of


research that had ever been completed either Wadi. It had been


set up either financial managers of Sinn Fein. Tell us what research was


done. One of the tragedies is that the Assembly Commission which is


supposed to look at this matter does not seem to have even investigated


whether or not the research was done. Yesterday the DUP and Sinn


Fein were jumping up and down to defend the integrity of the expenses


system. Tonight the job First Minister is having to call for a


review but they had their chance three months ago in the fresh start


document and they said that fundamentally the expenses system,


the architecture is sound. We have Sinn Fein year. ?700,000 is a lot of


money for research that can't be found. As all of the enquiries


demonstrated Sinn Fein was absolutely and completely compliant


with the regulations that were set down by the relevant audience. Sinn


Fein has used the funding available to ensure there has been quality


representation delivered by our representatives. Sinn Fein members


enter the chamber of the assembly, they going fully equipped, informed,


capable of dealing with the issues and the policy formation and taking


forward the legislation that is necessary to try and ensure the


answer to your question the outset, how do you convince your children


that it's worthwhile floating -- voting? We do have a viable


political process which serves the needs of citizens and that gives


your children confidence that is a there but politics year. The parties


have given good representation without that ?700,000. We have


demonstrated time and again we are entirely capable of ensuring that


the political process is benefiting as a result of the public funding


that is available for these purposes. Let me deal with this


particular point. Public confidence needs to be maximised in the


political process. We have come through five years of developing


political instability and last year we came through a serious political


crisis. Politics now needs to be seen in the context of the fresh


start agreement. It did not say anything about expenses and


transparency. It said the architecture was sound. And we


welcome the continued operation of the body and were quite open to the


suggestion that there is merit in exploring other mechanisms that


would enhance public confidence in that little process as proper


compliance. Do we need something like that, and entirely independent


mechanism? I think we do. We have a system at Westminster which is


proven to work. It is independent. I don't think it is a way forward that


MLAs or political parties should be investigating these issues. It


should be investigated by an independent body and we proposed two


years ago when this issue came up that we should introduce the system


at the assembly. We still hold that view. How come that fresh start said


the architecture is sound? The fresh start is an all-party document


agreement. We tried to persuade people and we will continue to try


and persuade people of the need to have an independent system to


oversee the expenses at Stormont. That is our view. That was our view


two years ago and it remains our view. The first Anniston today as


reiterated that position. That is the DUP position. We are in a


Coalition Government. There are now four parties in the government. We


cant take decisions on our own. We have to persuade others to come on


board. If other parties are prepared to do that we will have an


independent system and then we can persuade your children that what we


have in Stormont is more accountable and transparent. The Chief Whip was


talking about the integrity of the expenses system. You did not back


our proposal. If you are doing that now I welcome that. You are not


going to bully me. I am going to speak. If you are coming on board


for an independent system, you did not do it. It's not just about Sinn


Fein and that ?700,000 it's about the back door system apparently that


MLAs are going to members of the staff at Stormont and saying I know


this has been refused his expenses claim but maybe you can fix it for


me. I don't know what the specific start. That is the allegation. If


people are explaining and expenses claim they have a right to do that


but what we do need... Not behind the door though. That is not an


official challenge -- channelling that sense. That is an issue about


transparency. It's an issue about public funding, it's an issue about


how assembly funding is used. It's also about how we persuade young


people to engage in the literal process. Everywhere I go I meet


young people who are engaged in the political process but they are not


keen on what they think politics is a storm on. They are interested in


all kinds of things but not the shenanigans they see at Stormont all


the time. Let's see this in the context of what it is and it's an


issue over accountability. It pains me to say it but I agree with Jim


Allister. We have a serious problem of accountability in the Stormont


structures. There is no accountability in the system we have


now. We need some kind of institutional reform so that our


politicians can be held accountable and that the minute the only


accountability coming from within Stormont is from the naughty corner


of the Green party and the independent MLAs. You mean you want


a proper opposition. That would be nice but we need processes in place.


Any other young people who would like to venture a thought about


their feelings this week with this expenses business? We need to


implement the system we have at Westminster. It is invaluable to


have public trust in politicians and in our politics and it's one of the


only ways we would be able to re-establish that trust. I want to


bring Patricia in. Is your confidence in the assembler at a low


ebb? There are two issues, the first is around the expenses issue itself


and how that is best dealt with. The announcement now that there will be


a further review of how those expenses are as a positive thing but


from what I can see of the investigations to date there has


been, nobody has acted outside of the rules and we need to examine


whether the rules are right or wrong. The second issue is the


original question which is around how do we get young people to engage


and the gentleman talking about accountability. The key to


accountability is the election and that is happening in May. That is


the opportunity for people to put forward their views. Do you think


that issues like this are high up the agenda of the voters? I think


when you look at the trend in elections where we have seen


turnouts in the last number of years it's showing disaffection with the


political situation generally. That is the concern so the challenge for


all the parties when they are campaigning for the assembly


elections will be how do you reinvigorate that vote? And more


importantly what safeguards can you put in place to make sure the public


representatives are accountable. Might the young people be disengaged


from politics because our representatives are failing to


address any of our needs. We have the highest levels of youth


unemployment. Young people in care are disproportionately represented


within our justice system. I could go on. You are not delivering to


young people. I was going to say that we need to ensure that that is


maximum transparency and integrity and if there are other mechanisms we


can introduce that will guarantee that is the case and give confidence


the under people then we should absolutely do that. However, Jim


Allister is no paragon to lead the charge in relation to integrity and


standards and how the system should operate. He does not -- he does


everything a candid giant drag wallet it down. I shine the dark --


the light into the dark spotlight of Stormont. I am proud to shown that


spotlight. But we still haven't heard were the ?700,000 went. What


research it purchased. It went into the cough is of Sinn Fein. This was


a company set up by the Finance managers. We are going to come back


to Alan. Buy you encouraged by what you hear? I have been trying to


convince my two sons to vote but I have not succeeded. Based on what I


am hearing, I don't think I am going to be any more successful.


People have to ask themselves and if you take Sinn Fein, they held the


country to ransom recently for a year based on... I'm talking about


the resistance to austerity cuts proposed by David Cameron's


government. From my point of view, ?700,000 which cannot be accounted


for, I still have not heard anything which says to me where that ?700,000


went. I will move it on. The second question is from Anita Murphy. My


question is, how is Northern Ireland supposed to believe in a sheared


society if our first Minister has declined invitations to the 1916


centenary celebrations. The first Minister is going to Dublin this


week to our Church of Ireland, the historical centenary working group


at Christ Church Cathedral. She will be at that. But it did not set a


very good example, Jeffrey Donaldson, when she said she would


not take part in anything to commemorate a failed revolution


which was a strike against a moxie? Is she not entitled to her a few?


Are we going to rewrite the history of 1916? -- against democracy. You


can be an apologist all you want and whoever else wants to be... But I am


entitled and she is entitled to view an act that when people walk in and


shoot a policeman in a police station whether in 1916 or 2016, it


is wrong. You do not glorify those acts. Arlene Foster is trying to


understand better the views of other people and those -- on this issue


which is why she will go to the event organised by the Church of


Ireland. If your measure of fairness for our future, if your message to


our children is we glorify acts of terrorism, whether they occurred in


1916 or 2016, if that is the way to measure fairness, I disagree


strongly with that. I want our children to understand that violence


and terrorism for whatever reason... Go-ahead. I did not mention the word


horrify. 1916 happened. Arlene Foster, as first minister of


Northern Ireland should respect that and have some sort of involvement


and appreciation of that. Just like we had Martin McGuinness shaking


hands with the Queen. The Queen met with Mary McAleese. We all have to


except that the past she does. The same way that when the Queen visited


the Republic of Ireland the first time, Sinn Fein boycotted the event.


If you are going down the road of giving me lectures on history,


please do not go there because for everything you put in front of me, I


will have something to put in front of you. I am sure you well. The


reality is Arlene Foster is the first Minister of Northern Ireland.


Dublin is not in Northern Ireland. This is not a commemoration taking


place in Northern Ireland, it is in the Republic of Ireland. What do you


think Arlene Foster should do? I think her decision to attend the


event in Dublin tomorrow is a positive one and a brave one, given


that it goes against what she had said... I think whoever organises


the event is irrelevant. This is an event which is part of a series of


events to commemorate 1916. It might be called discussion. The fact she


is attending is positive. The question was around a sheared future


and respect for one another, shading diverse histories. The Easter Rising


wasn't terrorism, it was the end of an empire. It was about Irish


citizens standing up for self-determination and making that


first set. A few Irish citizens. Killing a lot of other Irish


citizens. It was the beginning of a movement towards an Irish Republic


so it is dear to the hearts of not only Irish citizens in this part of


the Ireland but Irish citizens throughout the world. Arlene Foster


is the first Minister for all of the citizens as she has a duty as first


minister to represent all of the citizens, much the same way as


Martin McGuinness did when ye engaged with the Queen and as


Jeffrey Donaldson does when he represents his constituents, as does


Jim Allister. It is no different, she has a duty to do that and should


do so to the fullest extent. What do you think? I welcome the fact that


Arlene Foster is going to attend the event in Dublin. However, Geoffrey


did not add to your question and that type of antagonistic approach


in relation to this debate and then attempting to reducing it down to...


Is the wrong way to approach how we jointly celebrate, commemorate and


remember the events of 1916. Flip it over to the other side, I could make


remarks about the imperialist carnage that was evidenced


throughout 1916. An event such as the Battle of the storm which caused


so much human destruction and carnage, in the interests of


imperialism which led predictably -- directly to conditions which gave


rise to nine -- World War II and that is a fair analysis. We need to


understand that his narrative towards understanding events like


the Battle of the storm and I need to be respectful of that narrative.


We have an opportunity in 2016 to take big iconic universities, Easter


week and the Battle of the storm. The distinct narrative of our


sheared history and begin to exist will work together in a reasoned way


how perhaps we can begin to build a sheared culture of commemoration in


our society that is based on mutual respect. -- Battle of Somme. How do


you explain it Sinn Fein's boycott of the Queen's visit. At that time,


we did not feel it was right. So this sheared future is depending on


your interpretation? It is not because what Queen Elizabeth did


during that visit was quite remarkable. She made a huge


contribution, in my opinion, to the Irish peace process is. In the


period since, the English royal house is dedicated and committed to


the development of the peace process which is far in advance of some of


her unionist political representatives. This is one of the


problems. Declan cannot even come to call my Queen anything other than


English. She is the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and


Northern Ireland. Let me finish. Excuse me. Listen to the year


please. Declan, Declan. Let us have another word from the panel. I


totally repudiate any equivalence between the 1916 rebellion and the


phenomenal sacrifice of the Battle of the Somme. Grubby little


rebellion of the 1916 was trying to take advantage of the fact that


nation when a wartime to liberate Europe. Men of valour were out


fighting that war in Europe. What happens? The Republicans tried to


take at vantage of that with their rebellion of 1916. What we saw at


the storm, the valour of men prepared in a cause of honour and


freedom for us all that we still enjoy, prepare to make that


sacrifice and I utterly repudiate attempts to create an equivalence.


-- Somme. To me the Easter Rising is nothing. You do not recognise its


historical importance? It is important to San but as a unionist,


there is nothing for me to celebrate in rebellion against the British


Crown. -- important to Somme. I think the tone is of celebration. We


had Patricia talk about the sacrifice which she would translate


into more recent time for when those who set about the terrorism of


recent times, she equates with those who set about the terrorism of 1916.


I repudiate that. There is no equivalence between defence of the


realm and what happened at the Somme and what happens at the Easter


Rising? I do not say anything to celebrate. I think it is fair I


should come back. I will let you come back. This gentleman. It is


ironic for Sinn Fein or anyone like them to talk about it quality when


given me murder people on the basis of their politics and religion. They


cannot even let Orange men up our roads, 20 years after the Good


Friday Agreement we still have Sinn Fein creating residents groups. Sinn


Fein is not stopping people marching up roads. Gentleman in the jackets.


It is clear we are not going to agree about the Easter Rising


tonight, tomorrow night or next year. But it is not about glorifying


or celebrating, it is about engaging with it. If Arlene Foster had taken


part in events in Dublin, it would have been more nuanced. I would like


to ask Mr Donaldson and Mr Alistair how our union is going to engage in


a sheared future if it is not through gestures like that? --


Unionists. That is the point I wanted to make. It is not about


commemoration but engagement and shaving at sheared future and


understanding diverse futures. -- shading as sheared future. There is


no comparison. The Easter Rising was about... I understand. You agree


with him on that. I have problems with the concept of celebrating the


Easter Rising. I also have problems with what Unionists did three years


ago when they celebrated the Ulster government because those were two


sides of the same coin. I want no part in either of those. There are


issues to look at seriously and I have opened my diary for


opportunities to travel to Dublin to consider activities regarding 1916


but I was unable to accept an invitation for family reasons. When


I discovered that recognition of the 1st of January, the raising of the


flag in Dublin Castle involved reading out the names of 78


volunteers who died with no reference to civilians, police


officers, the 14 children in Dublin who died, I do think Democratic


politicians in Dublin have a difficult job screening with the way


they feel, the release date the Republic began on Easter Monday


rather than Easter Sunday and yet they have moved into an entirely


different position now in constitutional politics from what


that was about. I think there is a difficulty squealing that, just like


Unionists who celebrate rebellion against the Crown in the Ulster


covenant. There was no comparison with the


bloodthirsty events of 1916. I believe we should look at this. We


have to look at the positives if you could take us back we will never get


forward. We're moving on. I was wondering what the panel thought on


whether there would be run an Irish passports from Unionists if the UK


voted to leave the EU? Because they would be so desperate to remain in


the EU? I think it's more than likely that the Republic of Ireland


will be rushing to following such tough follower of the EU. Look at it


financially, as a nation we pour ?20 billion a year into Europe and we


get 10 billion back so we are ?10 billion on every year. We are a


trading nation but most of our trade is outside the EU. Our trade with


the rest of Europe is falling. Europe now has the lowest GDP of all


enlightened areas of the world. So the future lies outside the EU for a


trading nation and yet because of EU rules we cannot even have a trade


agreement with North America, America which ours who are biggest


trading partner because only Brussels can make trading


agreements. Independent nation states like the UK can't by virtue


of Brussels rules make a trade agreement on their own right. We


cant decide our own laws, we cant decide this and our own borders. We


are subject to all the hideous bureaucracy so getting out of the EU


would be liberating financially and liberating for our freestanding as a


nation. You are shaking your head. I think the point is well made in


terms of people seeking Irish passports. As somebody was science


passport application forms for people I can tell you the vast


majority of senior citizens carry Irish passports because they are


free. That is something that has started to happen but Jim talks


about leaving the U as being positive but that is simply not the


truth. If you are sitting there, let me paint this scenario, URA unionist


farmer and you have a nice big dairy farm and a single farm payment


coming in every and you look across the fence and there is your


neighbour with the same sort of farm getting a nice single farm payment


every year. Do you really think that if Britain comes out of the EU


George Osborne is going to write a cheque for up to get that single


farm payment? If you look at the amount of money in single farm


payments and the amount of money the North has benefited in terms of the


programmes, this part of the island as benefited from the. The figures


the 2014 with 300 million, the infrastructure gave Northern Ireland


was a total of 433 million. Where is your single farm payment coming


from? We get ?433 million back of our own money. What you think our


share of the 20 billion is? It is five or ?600 million a year and in


response to that we get some of it back. Then farmers are leaving the


North because they cannot make a living. Jeffrey Donaldson. There are


various views within the DUP. Will you be voting to leave in the


referendum? I am not going to indulge Patricia in the fantasy


stuff she has come up with. Every penny that goes to the farmers in


Northern Ireland is paid for by the taxpayers of Northern Ireland. Every


time you buy goods and pay VAT on it money goes Europe.


So George Osborne is going to carry on writing a cheque? I believe are


taught to the government and I believe the government will continue


to support the farming industry. It's interesting I think that we


will wait and see what the Prime Minister comes back with. He has


gone and is trying to get a deal for reform. We will make our judgment. I


am highly sceptical. I do think what he wants to deliver will bring the


reforms people in the UK want and if that's the case the DUP will be


voting to leave and we will do so on the basis that the UK pays in far


more to the European Union that we get back and that is an indisputable


fundamental fact. It means that outside of the European Union the UK


will have more money than it has inside the EU. It is interesting I


think that when people like Patricia make the case that the EU all they


want to do is stare us. They want to say if you leave here are the


consequences. The consequences are we will have more money to spend on


the things we need to spend on. A few short weeks ago I asked to


questions and they asked whether except would-be interests of


Northern Ireland and she can answer and there is said with the loss of


all the funding which we have the camera lions upon the terms of our


industry like fishing and infrastructure and in relation to


the peace process, when asked the question would the British


Government replace that funding chief urged that question as well.


The reality is that Ireland's bases in Europe and the best place for us


to be as within the confines of the European Union building and ensuring


the European Union asks as a social Europe benefiting all of our


citizens economic leak of rights. This is an agenda being driven by


narrow in list nationalists and Tory vested interests.


David Ford, Mike Nesbitt came back from America saying America wanted a


strong UK in a strong European Union. President Obama said that.


This question started off with something about passports. I know


lots of people carry passports but the issue of Exeter is not just


about economic 's which we could haggle about all day. It's about the


fundamentals of what the European Union means. The act of establishing


peace post-World War II by the original six members of the hugely


significant stake and. I had the opportunity to be in Copenhagen the


night before ten countries joined a few years ago and one of those I was


with recalled seeing the Soviet altered fleet sailed past Copenhagen


and a few short years later three of the Soviet republics were joining


the European Union. Justice cooperation is much easier because


we are in the European Union. So it's much bigger than economic 's. I


think Patricia has engaged in the usual pro-European scare tactics. It


is very clear. I am a British passport holder and any of the


benefits we get out of Europe we more than people.


I would just like to address a couple of the points. The bottom


line is 50% of what goes on in Brussels is very commendable as the


reason it was put together in the first place to stop another world


war. The other 50% is corporate controlled as is Westminster.


Patricia has eluded that the subsidy coming from Brussels are good that


the subsidies at the same road coming since 2003 that are arriving


today. So by next year they will be worth 32% less than what they were


in 2003. I think we have to consider not looking for the economic


advantage but the other advantage for being a European citizen. I


choose to live here in this territory and if you look what you


are getting in return for what you have given you might consider how


many European citizens are making businesses in the UK and bringing in


coming to the UK. We are going to move on. The next question comes


from David Gleave. With younger generations influenced by issues


like the economy and equality, why do Northern Ireland politicians


refer to the past? It is in the news again that the Lord Chief Justice is


talking about the legacy UNIX needed for inquests. The past is always


there. Declan key any, why will it always be there? We need to ensure


that the past is put in the past and the basis of the agreement that was


signed last November and the fresh start reinstated the mechanisms


which would allow us to move forward. Mechanisms that would give


us the ability to deal with the legacy of our past. The difficulty


is that the British Government having previously agreed to support


those mechanisms during the course of the negotiations leading up to


finality on the agreement in November reneged on its commit went


for information disclosure. The sooner we get the British Government


to recommit to the fresh start agreement and the mechanisms that


all the parties have put in place to deal with the past then we will get


to the place about which you speak. But the biggest government needs as


a matter of absolute urgency to commit to a position where it they


can and should be full information disclosure and start high -- stop


hiding behind the shame of national security but if you look at the


inquest which took place in relation to young Arlene Atkinson's death in


the last 24 hours and learned then that the insulation that her family


is looking for cannot in fact be disclosed because the British


government have agreed to actually refuse information disclosure to


that grieving family, I think that demonstrates that it British


Government has not got to point where they can be trusted. Let's


ensure that the mechanisms we have in place are fully permitted and


let's ensure that all parties to the agreement commits to full


information disclosure. Declan talks about the myth of national security.


If this led to the disclosure of capabilities and techniques which


would be of value to terrorists there would be a veto. Is that a


myth? National security is not a myth but


we suffered when a draft bill was introduced to replace the legacy


issues and had about four layers of security which suggested that was


their priority. The proposal the Lord Chief Justice is making about


inquests looked at the issue of full disclosure from the police, Ministry


of defence and other agencies to the judge who will be conducting the


legacy inquests and it will be for the judge to produce a summary for


families. That puts it away from government and in the hands of


judges and that is something which should be more acceptable. There are


real challenges to get an appropriate measure of national


security. Thankfully as devolved Justice Minister I have nothing to


do with national security but can see the implications and there are


real challenges and to state is a myth is nonsense but to put on the


multiple layers which the government put on before Christmas, with the


result that victims of the past got let down in the deal. The deal that


the DUP and the Sinn Fein did with the two governments. The veto was


described as a smothering blanket, do you agree? I do not. Any state in


the world has to pay attention to national security issues. There is a


bigger agenda going on year. We hear Sinn Fein C the British government


must open their books. We saw what happened when Martin McGuinness went


to this travelling quietly, he took the first. He said his oath as an


IRA man suppressed everything and he couldn't tell the truth. It is very


strange that Sinn Fein are very adamant about getting the British


government to open the books but when are Sinn Fein and the IoD going


to tell the truth about their hideous bloodthirsty terrorism. They


try and turn every incident into a rewrite of history. Take the


incident when eight of the most bloodthirsty terrorists went to do


more murder and because policemen did not put up their hand and say


would you like to come down to the PlayStation for a chat, the British


government is vilified as those responsible for that incident. --


the police station. The SAS did the right thing in dealing with


terrorists armed to the teeth who were going to kill again. What Sinn


Fein is trying to equate the lawful actions of the security forces and


when they step outside the law, the law is there to deal with them. You


cannot equate the actions of the security forces with the deliberate


terrorist actions of those who skulk behind and shoot people. We have to


move on. Patricia. Always about the past? I am surprised about Jim's


disregard for the rule of law, everyone should be accountable under


the rule of law. Please let her speak. Jim, could you please have


the courtesy to let me speak. What concerns me the most is when you


hear that the Secretary of State is refusing disclosure in the murder of


a child by a paedophile, how can we expect there will be disclosure in


the cases of anywhere else in the cases of conflict related deaths. We


do not know what the reasons are for the lack of disclosure? There could


be valid reasons. Why would public interest immunity certificates be


relevant in the case of Arlene Arkinson? Who are we protecting


your? That is concerning and it should be concerning to everyone who


supports the rule of law. I have always been optimistic about the


ability to deal with our past. I engage with everyone in this table


at some stage around that. We need to go back to the blueprint, there


was a lot of positive that came out of that in terms of dealing with the


past. For those who say that Republicans would open up, loyalists


want open up, test them. Put them out in front of the independent


mechanism. We had this travelling quietly, we saw what Mick -- we saw


what McGuinness did, he would not tell the truth. I do not hear


anything coming from you that is forward-looking, positive or


aspirational. I want these murderers dealt with, I do not want a


whitewash like Sinn Fein want a whitewash, it is on the past, let us


forget about it. We do want to deal with the past. I would remind you


that it was Sinn Fein for a year who held up for I hear the Sinn Fein


agreement -- book agreement. Sinn Fein held that agreement to ransom,


no one else. We were the only party blocking implementation and the only


party who disagrees with the British government over the question of


national security, I again blocking the implementation of the Stormont


house at agreement. I spent most of my day today dealing with education


issues, housing, roads and planning, the local council and youth issues


especially. The report for young people in my constituency. A tiny


proportion of my time is devoted towards this issue but it is an


important one and we need to deal with it. That means we have to


strive to get justice for the innocent victims who still chase


after justice. If I hear Declan talk about full disclosure, I was


involved in this medic inquiry which investigated collusion between the


Garda and the IRA. Sinn Fein are invited to take part. Gerry Adams


finally agreed to two senior IoD... This is worth it. With all due


respect, it is the kind of stuff you do not want to put on the BBC but I


will put it on the BBC. They were asked to cooperate with the inquiry.


Every time they were asked a question, they got out of the room,


made a telephone call and called their superiors and returned and


said they could not and so that question. Sinn Fein and the IRA will


not tell the truth. There is no level playing field. I... When it


comes to truth and transparency, Republicans say the majority of


mergers was done by Republicans but most unresolved murders was by them.


The call for the British government to be transparent but... It is


hypocritical. We look at the South Africa getting past apartheid,


Rwanda gets past genocide, Northern Ireland should deal with issues from


the past but also move into the 21st century. Almost 20 years after the


Good Friday Agreement we are still playing the blame game. We can agree


that bloody massacres were done on all sides during the Troubles. We


need commitment from our leaders to move forward and move away from this


divided society. Northern Ireland itself suffered, you cannot move


away with a past which is not dealt with. The factors, young


working-class men on both sides of the community were led by their


leaders. This set -- the psychological damage which was last,


especially my background, a loyalist background, will not go away any


time soon. Playing the blame game does not work any more, pointing the


finger does not work, we need to come up with a constructive week to


ensure that no mother's son comes home in a box again. We want next


question from a legal assistant in Belfast. Can you explain why women


in Northern Ireland don't have the same access to abortion as women


elsewhere in the UK? Clearly the Assembly voted against any change in


the law on foetal abnormality and reports incest. David Ford, the


Ulster Unionists leaders said setting up a six-month working party


was Dickensian and cruel. You said it was any screws to avoid the


issue. The answer to the question is because abortion law is devolved.


The question is why was blocked in the Assembly? -- any excuse. We got


subterfuge and excuse last week. I can respect anyone who stands up and


says I am morally opposed to abortion and I will vote against


this. I was in agreement with the amendment and foetal abnormality but


I cannot respect someone who stands up and says, after a lengthy


consultation with the Department of Justice and proposals which have


been sitting with the Executive since June last year, after all we


have gone through over three years, we need another working group to


look at it. And they say that at the last minute before that vote was


taken. It was a ruse by the DUP which bought the SDLP and therefore


blocked anything happening. The interesting point is who is going to


run the working group? The statement from the leader of the DUP said the


Minister of health was being asked. If so, it is a crosscutting issue


because justice has responsibilities as well. Let me bring in Jeffrey


Donaldson. Pushing it beyond the election? Not at all, David Ford is


being disingenuous. We had this amendment two weeks before the


debate and there was no consultation. This amendment


proposed a fundamental change to the law of Northern Ireland. Listen to


what I have to say. I listened to you and if you do not mind, I will


now speak. The law in Northern Ireland says there can only be


abortion where the life of the mother is at risk. That is wrong.


That is correct. I know what the law on abortion says. It does not permit


abortion in the circumstances you're talking about. The fundamental


change to the law in Northern Ireland and you do not do that by


way of amendment which is put forward two weeks before an


important bill. That is not we do business and that is why we why we


believe we have to look at this more carefully, get experts involved.


David, you're not an expert this, neither am I. Wait on you what they


have to say and then we can take an informed decision. What is needed is


compassionate legislation in the north and we do not have this. This


entire debate, conducted as it is, it ignores the trauma of mothers and


fathers who find themselves in situations where the pregnancy has


been caused as a result of sexual violence or a fatal foetal


abnormality and the child being stillborn or with life limiting


illnesses. We need to move as quickly as possible to a situation


where those parents are given the type of support that we require with


compassionate legislation which allows them and clinicians, doctors


and nurses, to advise them on the best options available to them.


Patricia. Finally the only person at the table with a uterus gets to


speak. As long as you get to speak. I think this week's debate in the


Assembly Alastair was very disappointing. It was a huge fudge


by the DUP in the face of an alleged -- in the face of an election. No


one wants to defend a difficult and emotive issue when the canvassing


for an election. There is a lot of scaremongering going on around this


debate. We're not talking about abortion on demand. It is when


families face the good and dramatic circumstances. We're not saying that


every case of fatal foetal abnormality will end in abortion.


Some people will choose to carry through the pregnancy. Not every


case of incest will carry through to abortion, some people will... We're


running out of time. Yes we do need the legislation. We need to allow


women the opportunity is to have a say over their own bodies. The


question is why is the law as it is? Because that is the democratic will


of those who were elected. Why isn't like that because the proposal from


the Alliance Party was to introduce discrimination in respect of


disabled children, those who would be born unable to live beyond a


short time. Not scaremongering. The proposer wanted to decide that those


children could be aborted, able-bodied children could not be.


Under the UN protection... You cannot link those two. I am sorry


David Ford we have to finish year. We did our best. That is all for


tonight. Thank you to our panel, our studio audience and you for


watching. You can continue the debate online. Until the next time,


a very good night.


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