18/10/2016 Spotlight


A studio audience puts questions to a panel of politicians. With Gavin Robinson, John O'Dowd, Naomi Long, Mike Nesbitt and Colum Eastwood. Noel Thompson presents.

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hello and welcome to Spotlight special, where our studio audience


put questions to our panel of politicians on the week's main


talking points. How guests tonight are Gavin Robinson, the DUP MP for


West Belfast, the leader of the SDLP, the Sinn Fein Brexit spokesman


in the assembly, John O'Dowd, Mike Nesbitt, the Ulster Unionist Party


do, and the acting leader of the Alliance party, and fully expected


to be elected leader very soon, unless it all goes wrong tonight,


Naomi! I'm sure it won't. That is our panel tonight's Spotlight


special. And you at home can take part. This is how you can get in


touch with your thoughts. Textual, throughout the programme: Texts will


be charged at your standard rate. Or you can phone is: Standard


geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply.


You can also e-mail us and to eat your comments to us using the


hashtag SpotlightNI. And you can follow the programme on Twitter. We


are at BBCSpotlightNI. The first question tonight is from Rosemary


Alistair, a PR consultant. Is Hillary Clinton the lesser of two


evils? Well, the election, of course, is on


November the 8th. They are supposed to be the two most unpopular


candidates in the modern history of the American state, Hillary with a


7-point lead currently over Donald Trump in the poll of polls, but it


is far from over yet. Have you been following events stateside?


I have, and I would have to say, I don't think she is the lesser of two


evils. I think she is the better and more qualified of two candidates. I


think ultimately, when you want to elect somebody to the most powerful


post in the country, you want somebody who has the experience, the


gravitas, and the ability to negotiate some fairly complex


issues. She is crooked Hillary, for heaven


's sake! According to Donald. Exactly. Well, the world according


to Donald is not the world I live in, and most of the people I know


would want to live in either. And I have huge respect for Hillary


Clinton, and I suspect that she is fighting a number of issues. When he


had been in politics for a while, you have a record and it will be


held to account for it in the way a fresh face would not be. I think the


second thing is, she has all of the things that anyone who has ever been


president will have. She is tenacious, determined, ambitious,


but when women are those things, it is often seen as a negative, and I


think she suffers greatly from that. I personally think she would be a


great president. I have to say, I do not believe that Donald Trump would


be a great president, but we do not know who will be in the White House,


and he may well prove as all wrong. Good Hillary or Donald of the


groper? Well, it is a matter for the


American people. I believe that Donald Trump's comments about


everybody who is not a white, rich, American are disgraceful, and I


would not endorse them in any way. But the American people will decide


who leads them. If you live there, would you vote


for him? I don't live there.


Oh, come on, everybody has a view. Given his comments, as I am worried


about everybody who is not a white, rich American and a male, I would


not vote for him. But the American people must make these decisions.


The American electoral system, to me, requires radical reform. When


you end up with a constant presidential election campaign


between the two main parties, with very little ideological difference


between them in terms of policy, I think it is worrying for democracy


in general. But we will see what comes out of the other side.


So, Hillary is the lesser of two evils, according to you?


Well, you are trying to put words in my mouth.


You could answer the question. Whoever comes out the other side of


the American election, presidential election campaign, we want them to


have a huge interest in Ireland, in the peace process and the economy


and our future. So there are a lot of things you could say, but I'm not


going to, because I want to ensure that all the parties around this


table, the executive, have access to the most powerful people in the


world, and that we can rely on them to support us if and when we need.


I can as bit, Northern Ireland has something of a special relationship


with Hillary, and all that, but does that blind us to her false?


No, I don't think it should, but if you are looking at one candidate


against the other, what I think is extraordinary is that Donald Trump


has not moderated his views since he became the candidate, and he has not


tried to broaden his appeal beyond a very specific base. But that


actually may turn out to be a very good thing, because that may well be


what costs in the election, and from our point of view...


Wins in the election! I think it is just too narrow a base.


Hillary Clinton is somebody who has invested a lot in Northern Ireland,


not just the Americans, but the Clinton family have invested a lot


in the peace process here. I was with her envoy earlier this morning,


Senator Gary Hart, and naturally being a Democrat, he is incredibly


disturbed at the prospect of somebody like Donald Trump


representing an ideal that is the modern America. So, yes, while


Hillary Clinton has her faults, she has made a mistake and been very


open about it, I think she would be the better candidate, and you would


certainly be a lot better for us here in Northern Ireland.


People have a habit of growing into the office, which is granted to


them. I mean, look at Ronald Reagan, for example. Everyone thought, what


a disaster, a Hollywood actor in the White House. Do you think Donald


Trump, were he to be elected, could become a president people would


respect? No. Donald Trump is not somebody...


Well, he is no Ronald Reagan. I had difficulties with Ronald Reagan. I


new Ronald Reagan, Senator! Exactly. What hears is someone who


has more respect for Vladimir Putin than Barack Obama. That is good


enough for me to understand that he is not a very suitable person.


Well, he respects the strength of leadership that Putin shows. Some


say America needs that kind of leadership.


Well, I don't think Donald Trump is a leader. We should not take this


very lightly. He is somebody who has talked openly and closed about


sexually assaulting women. That is who Donald Trump is, and he is


somebody that will destroy the reputation of America.


Locker room talk? It is not locker room talk to talk


about women like that. He will destroy the reputation of America


and is already doing that, around the world, and that is very


dangerous for here and the world. Hillary Clinton has been a great


supporter of Northern Ireland, a great supporter of our peace


process. But that does not mean she would be


a good leader of America. I think she will be. I don't agree


with everything she does or says, many of her foreign policy, but I


have much more faith in here than that other person, and I don't think


this is funny. This is a very, very serious thing, and I think the


American people will see through it. We should not take it for granted.


If anyone has relatives in America, they should be getting on the phone


to them and telling them what the world thinks of Donald Trump,


because that is very important. Anyone support Donald Trump in the


audience tonight? Go ahead, please. I would like to


know, would you be prepared to work him when he is elected?


Sorry, just a little louder. Will you work with him when he is


elected? Well, I think John O'Dowd said he


would, but what about you, Gavin? I suspect that if he ever wins, we


will work with them -- whoever wins. But I don't think it is a choice, I


think it is a huge dilemma for the people of the United States of


America. I think they're a huge drawbacks with both, but if you


listen to the thereat Barossa T of the campaign of Donald Trump, and


yet he is only seven points behind. All that has been thrown at him, all


the criticism that has been levelled at him, this is not just a small,


narrow base supporting Donald Trump. This is a huge swathe of the


American electorate. Part of me says that is worrying. The other worrying


thing is, Hillary Clinton wins. The last 40 years in the land of


opportunity has been dominated by two families. Had Jeb Bush beat


Donald Trump on the Republican primaries, it would have been


guaranteed that the bar from Barack Obama's eight years, we have had 40


years of uninterrupted control by two powerful families. That does not


suggest it is the land of opportunity that we are led to


respect. But is that partly why Arnold Trump


has attracted the support, because it is seen that he is the to hell


with the rest of you candidate, he is not part of the Washington


bubble, but will do it his way? Absolutely, and I think we're


turning politics on its head in the state, same as in the UK, as someone


said, or across the EU, with many candidates who are to the extreme


right or left succeeding. The other interesting thing is, Donald Trump


and Hillary Clinton have both turned on their head what we recognise to


be Republican and Democratic politics. The Republican party will


be seen as an interventionist party, whereas Donald Trump is an


isolationist. Hillary Clinton is very much an interventionist,


someone who during her time in the state Department took action across


the world, whereas that would not necessarily be the Democratic view,


nor the view endorsed by Bernie Sanders. So both of them are turning


politics on their heads. You a drum supporter?


No! I did want to say, I am American, and I don't want to speak


under half of the American people. We feel your pain.


Yes! It is unfair, but I think there is a lesson here, in that yes, they


are two of the most hated candidates for president, but they were elected


by one third of eligible voters, said two thirds of the American


people said our vote does not matter. Clearly it does, and I think


that is a lesson for the world. That is democracy. Any Trump


supporters? Did you have your hand up? Yes, sir. Go ahead.


You know, in all fairness and honesty, I understand the way people


view Donald Trump. They have got a great deal of disdain towards him,


his comments were very misogynistic, they were vituperative, but they are


just comments. They are just comments, and I am not trying to


placate or excuse them, but when you look back from 1993 to 2001, Bill


Clinton physically abused the presidency of the United States.


Yes, but Bill Clinton is not running for president. I think it is


unfortunate... APPLAUSE


Hillary is her own person, and I are happy for people to attack her


record, but I think to attack her for her husband's behaviour.


They do attack her for her response to that. She is accused of bullying


some of these women. Well, they say that, but Donald


Trump, it is not just words. He has made it clear that he was bragging


and boasting about having assaulted women, so it is not just words, it


is the action that lies behind those words, and for me to say it is


locker room talk or just how men are, actually does a disservice to


most of the men that I know, because they are better than that, in fact.


I wanted to ask you, Mike, because you have been an athlete, a rugby


player, sports man. Did you ever hear talk like that in the locker


room? Not sure I did. No, I don't remember talk like that,


actually, and I know you say these are just comments, but this man is a


politician, and surely our comments define who we are. They reveal our


values, and our thoughts on life. Can you really support that?


Well, you know, in all fairness, again, I am not excusing them, but


he was not really a politician back then, and with regard to attacking


her record... He is a human being. Does that not


tell you about his values as a human being?


Well, certainly does, yes. I want to bring in John O'Dowd


quickly. I think it reflects a broader change


in politics across the Western world, a politics based on fear and


extremism. I was recently in America, in New York, in Manhattan,


and I have to say, I was shocked at the scale of poverty I witnessed on


the streets of New York. In the early morning, when going to the


train station, the shop fronts were full of people sleeping. There are


people in wheelchairs out at night sleeping, people looking through


bins for food. I went for a coffee the afternoon before I left the


airport, and in a plaza just seventh Ave, it was full of poverty.


We'll either of them fixed that, is the question?


Donald Trump and others play on the fears of people who society have


left behind. He talked about immigration and he talks about other


issues and tries to blame are the poverty that has been imposed, the


economic policies he would support. Let us go to our second question,


from a company director. Do you believe that paramilitaries


organisations have a role in a local community groups. This will be


relating to the Charter organisation that has been linked to loyalist


paramilitaries, they got ?2 million of social investment funding to help


promote 300 jobs. A DUP spokesperson said Phil checks had been carried


out and a robust business case made. Martin McGuinness has said it is


cheap point-scoring to talk about the links between money like that


going to groups who have links to paramilitaries but surely people


have a right to know where their money is going and it should not be


going to people with paramilitary links? Should paramilitary groups be


connected with community groups? We should not have paramilitaries


groups on our streets. They should remove the infrastructure from our


communities and allow communities to develop. If there are individuals of


the laws paramilitary organisations who want to contribute to the


community they can do so out with the structures of the paramilitary


organisations. As regards the question and idea specific group I


understand that as Assembly Member sitting on the board of directors,


business people sitting on the board of directors, members of statutory


agencies sitting on the board of directors, former political


prisoners sitting on the board of directors. Former political


prisoners are a reality of our life and many of them have come out of


prison, gone back into their communities, and contributed


significantly to the community well-being and peace building that


has gone on in Irish society so because somebody is an ex-political


prisoner I am not going to label them with another label. But


publicly sever all links. People have information that there is


public money going to paramilitary groups they should bring that


information. The Chief Constable said there is a schizophrenia alone,


there are people who are community leaders by day, but at night they


where a parallel to the barge or carry something on the lapel. He is


not pointing fingers at anybody in particular. He is pointing out there


is a big problem. It is time for a line in the sand. It is time for


sanctions. It is 22 years since the ceasefire. Why on earth are


paramilitary organisation still in existence? I know that the


individuals who properly then, a lot of them are still around. We cannot


expect them all to pop the clogs over the last couple of decades.


They had down the years demonstrated huge energy and commitment in the


most awful week, illegal week, killing, maiming, destroying our


economy, but some of them still have energy and commitment, and I think


as politicians it is a duty to try and encourage them to use that


energy positively for the benefit of the community, and where they do


that, for example in my constituency in Strangford, I will help them if


they are genuine. But if they are trying to use that energy in a


negative way, in terms of controlling the communities... Do


you see evidence of that? Do you know people who are community


leaders by day and paramilitaries by night? I know people who are using


that energy to control communities negatively underlined their back


pockets. There is also the image of drying pitch is damaging our


international reputation. The people who do that need to be told there is


a line and the sand and you are just about to cross it and there must be


sanctions. That is what has been missing for the last 22 years.


Sanctions for those who will not play the game. Arlene Foster threes


of differently, she talked about a fork in the road, she wants to take


people out of society if they are paramilitaries, but also offer


people the chance to change. But surely that fought in the road


should have come a long time ago? Without question but the truth is we


were still, and still do today, have people who are wedded to


paramilitary organisations. Regrettably some are still


benefiting incredibly well from crime, from destroying their local


community. The basis on which the First Minister was talking about was


the fresh start Agreement. For those who want to play a constructive


role, for those who have an ambition to raise aspiration in the local


community where previously there has been none, there will be a path open


to them. We have this Charter NI, the man at the top


is linked to paramilitary organisations. The man you are


talking about is playing an important role in our community. He


is chief executive of an organisation transforming lives in


East Belfast. The answer to the question as, no paramilitary


organisation should be involved in Trinity groups. But when you have


individuals who are prepared to set aside their past, their history,


mistakes that they have made, and want to have a positive contribution


to our society, it is incumbent on all political leaders to make sure


that that space is therefore there. But that does satisfy ourselves with


Republic money is going. The social investment fund is not politicians


doubling money to groups, it is stealing groups made up of our local


community deciding for themselves, what other challengers, and in this


particular case, employment is the genesis of the thrust of the


programme. Saw employment opportunities, what we want to


create, there is an organisation which is great relationships with


statutory agencies, it is renowned for delivering on projects in the


past. Despite the criticisms about the social investment fund and the


many uses it took to get some of these schemes progress, it was


because we were satisfying ourselves about the velocity of the groups,


regarding corporate governance and finance. And having gone through


cheque after check... Let me take Naomi Long first. Go to the stealing


groups. The stealing groups are made up of members of the local


communities who were appointed. The prodigal members are there as of


right but the other members were appointed by Sinn Fein and the DUP.


The management organisations were also appointed by OFMDFM. No other


organisation had a gratuity to bid for this money. This money was taken


from Department of employment and learning and development who were


engaged in deprived communities, engaged in dealing with economic


disadvantage, it is crucial, it is taken away from most apparent in


that responsibility because they would not simply give it to the


people of choice for Sinn Fein and the DUP. That is the history. The


Bottom Line in this there is no paramilitary organisations do not


have a role in community organisations but there are


questions not just report shows but for the police, the Chief Constable


is saying that people are community workers by day and paramilitaries by


night that it begs the question of why action is not being taken on


that. He talks about the need for a pragmatism. I think that is the need


for a restoration of confidence in the rule of law. There may well be


issues around resource. There may be issues around evidence but the


police should be clear that when it comes to them if they are saying


that people are breaking the law they should be actively pursuing


them for that. And ensuring that communities are protectors because


the reality on the ground is that these are not people simply with a


past, a number of these individuals are paramilitaries in the present.


And that is not acceptable. We need to get away from that. I am not


making allegations but individual organisations. I will tell you why.


There are good people who work in those organisations who deserve


credit for what they deliver. But we had to ask questions. We have to


ask. Do you know what? Of course they should have the money if the


bid for it against other organisations in our fair and open


competition, not because they cause the up to the political


establishment. Give us a list of groups that you believe... This has


gone on over many years. It is now up to the political parties... I am


happy to give an example. When Stephen Farry was the Minister for


employment and learning he was approached by the First Minister and


Deputy first bluster and was offered ?7 million for a project to deal


with educational attainment with young people. In Loyalist


backgrounds. In Loyalist backgrounds. The money had to go to


Charter NI, not an open competition, but to that one organisation. He


declined that offer and said that he would run a proper process that any


organisation with the right to dental is good practice at as part


of that Charter NI got a small amount of funding as did other


organisations. I object to due process not being followed and I


object to people getting preferential treatment. Naomi Long


is right, of course people with a past should be involved in the


future. I worked with people with that past every single day. Of


course they should have a future but that does not mean that you continue


to be an active member of a paramilitary organisation. It does


not mean that we can continue to feed young people with drugs and bit


and forced them into situations where they end up taking their own


lives. That is what is happening in our communities. So is the chief


Consul's pragmatism just a copout? There comes a time when society very


hard to see put your guns down, put your drugs away, you are not part of


our society and we will not play due to be part of our society. It is not


good enough. I will not make accusations of individuals. There


are plenty of them. You do not think there is a fine line to be drawn as


people move from one might to another, he one should they be


allowed? I think they have had enough time. We should not throw a


good public money after bad. There are fantastic organisations working


across our communities, many of them are involved with and are led by


people who used to be involved in paramilitary organisations. They


give it up. The decided that I can to do was to move forward. There are


some people who are still involved and are bragging about it and I


getting public money. That leads to stop. It should not be acceptable in


2016. Gentleman in the second row. Regardless of all that.


Paramilitaries well and still do have quite a sweet on communities


within Northern Ireland. What I am asking is how can we get them to act


positively? How can we get them to stop acting negatively? How can you


push them to start acting positively? So they can work with


the community? How can we ever justify giving ?1.7 million to any


of these groups and at time of austerity when our public services


are being absolutely decimated? There are mental health day centres


closing down, nursing homes closing down, we have heard during the week


that children in special needs schools are being deprived classroom


assistants because of lack of funding. This made me wonder what


are the society's priorities. Who do you persuade, force, people who are


still involved in to give it up? They have the choice. The either


abides by what we abide by as peaceful and democratic law abiding


citizens or they do not and they do not it is a matter for George


Hamilton and the police service. It does inject positivity. You would


think money was going to paramilitary organisations. It is


not, it is going to deliver the agencies and our community who are


succeeding in what they do. The first process was for a Dr 's


surgery which sits on the perimeter of short Strand, used by residents


of the Newton Road and the Short Strand community, so investment in


committee health, an important bearing, and I am glad that this


programme was able to support it. Next scheme, in the prison community


Centre. You will know the area and the issues with bonfires in July.


This community has not had investment for 30 years. They got


temporary Portakabins 30 years ago and he litters, ground up, a


community scheme, they are getting a new building for a group that does


not cut ties of paramilitaries but is doing great work in our


community. Other thoughts from the audience? Picking up your points in


respect of investment, I wonder what the panel thinks of the continued


scourge of suicides in our society at a time when mental health funding


is being cut short? That is too much off topic in the time that we have.


Any other points on that? OK. Let us move on to question three which is


from a teacher. I live on the border. He will Brexit affect my


life and prospects? That is a very good question. You could be a


remain, a denier, whatever, there is so much going on, does anybody know


what is really going on? Mike Nesbitt, who will that person's


might be affected by Brexit? Nobody knows. Everything is uncertain. 23rd


of June has opened an era of uncertainty which will last at least


five years, and maybe ten. It depends whether we are going to


remain within the single market, within the customs union. These are


things that we have not answered. But I can tell you that you and


Northern Ireland will be the most affected nation and region of the UK


by this decision and yet our executive is the least prepared. The


UK Government has a new ministry with a set -- with the Secretary of


State for Brexit, Scotland has an advisory panel, even the UUP has an


advisory panel, the executive has nothing. When David Davis came over


to speak to the executive he had to have two meetings. He had to meet


the DUP and Sinn Fein separately. A divided House has no leverage in


negotiations and we have to decide what our policy options? From that


they have to decide what our priorities are. Crucially we have to


figure out whether those priorities complement or clash with the UK's


overall priorities because where they clash we have a huge problem.


You have lost me already, it is so complicated! You are wanting special


treatment in Northern Ireland and the assembly yesterday, but it is


really nonsense. Why should Northern Ireland have special treatment?


It is not nonsense. I live on the border too, on a city surrounded on


three sides by the border. I think we'll remember how those of us who


voted to remain on the -- felt on the morning of the 24th. People in


our city were devastated, because we understood the real detrimental


effect this would have on all others. Anyone who tries to tally


there are real great opportunities from Brexit, they are not telling


you the truth. We are facing a very, very difficult economic time and a


very difficult political time as well ahead.


But you can't deny that there may be some opportunities?


But I don't know what they are. Well, we had the Northern Ireland


Food And Drink Association saying that while there were certainly


problems for the food industry, there could be opportunities for


exports to England, because you would not have the problems of the


euro or the single market. The English market right there for the


taking. Our job is to make sure we get the


best possible result of the people here who are so badly affected by


it. I want us to remain as members of the EU. We are still fighting to


do that. But that is a lost battle!


Just let me finish. At the very least, we need to have access to the


single market, we need to have the ability to move around this island


and move around the European Union as freely as we need to, because


people are telling us, everybody is saying, to reason they said it


today, in the letter we eventually got out of the executive, thank you


very much for that, by the way - Theresea May is is telling us we're


not going to return to the borders of the past. No one is saying about


largely look like. Because in my view, this referendum is about


immigration, therefore, the British nation will have to control their


borders. They should not be allowed to do it on the island of Ireland.


If they want to do it, let them do it at airports in Britain. That is


where this is going. We need to maintain the freedom of movement and


freedom to trade within the European Union.


Couple of questions, was there a separate meeting with David Davis?


He had four meetings in Northern Ireland, with various ministers.


He met with the First Minister, he met with the finance minister, he


met with the economy minister, and he met with the agriculture


minister. He had four separate meetings.


But not one meeting that Sinn Fein and... There was no meeting which


involve members of the DUP on Sinn Fein to discuss policy?


What the British government did get whenever the opposition parties were


running around, chasing their tails, they got an agreed position from the


Northern Ireland executive. Are you incapable of reading the


letter? Was published. It identifies five areas of concern.


No vision. While many were saying we want to


see this happen, the UK is leaving the EU, and for as long as you go


around saying this disastrous, this is going to be catastrophic, and so


on, there are some of us... We said that before the referendum


as well. There are some others in politics or


want to make sure the Northern Ireland succeed. There are some in


politics here, recognising that there are issues in Northern Ireland


and issues with our relationship with the Republic, have a job of


work to do, and I am pleased that not only are we committed to that,


Sinn Fein are committed to that, CBI yesterday, very important statement


from them, and the Food And Drinks Association, saying it is not the


result they wanted, but here is what we can do for Northern Ireland, so


we're saying, small businesses affected by regulation, what did


they say yesterday? We would like to have equalisation and harmonisation


of regulation that the good of business. Now we have the ability,


let's get rid of the regulations and red tape. We had this letter...


People in England voted to leave. Happily through positive engagement,


the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said it is not known to


happen. You wanted to happen. You seem wish


it so. Do you want it to happen?


You wanted to happen. You argue for a Brexit. How is it going to work?


All right, let's widen the discussion to the other panel


members. John O'Dowd, Theresa May has responded to the letter of the


First Minister and Deputy First Minister. She has basically said, we


feel European, but it is all up for discussion. She wants to encourage


low energy prices, structural funds, and not to have a hard border, but


no idea how to go about any of it given to put that question to


ton-macro too, because I agree with you.


It is quite clearly Conservative Cabinet, and Mike has said this, and


I want to expand on this point, the Conservative Cabinet do not know


what Brexit means. In fact, there is internal feuding


considering within the Cabinet, well sourced media reports now suggesting


that the Chancellor Mr Hammond is either going to resign or be sacked,


because he has identified that the issue around access to the European


single market is crucial to the economy of these islands. Your


question once know how Brexit will affect them. No one around this


panel or anywhere else knows the definite, and that itself can cause


an economic shock. But I do know this. Your petrol and diesel costs


have risen by ?27 a month. Your home heating costs have risen by almost


?60. Anyone who is on family tax credits as a result the rise of is


going to lose up to ?140 a year as a result of the rise in inflation. So,


thus far, the impact of Brexit is going to be negative, it is going to


impact on peoples incomes, peoples outgoings in terms of shopping and


their household budgets. So, what are we going to do about Brexit?


Well, it is very difficult for the executive to organise a response


when those who are monitoring Brexit in the Westminster have not got a


clue what is happening, what way this is going, or how it is going.


You should be kicking down the door of number ten!


Well, walking in on Monday. The first Deputy First Minister...


Forcefully! Settle yourself.


The first Deputy First Minister, I am meeting him on Monday.


The start of the negotiation process with the British government as to


how they respond to Brexit. Our position is quite clear, the vote


should be respected and we should be allowed to remain within the EU.


That should be what is happening as a result, if democracy means


anything, and that has to be the outcome of what we're going.


Well, it will not happen, will it? I'm not so sure that there isn't a


possibility of special treatment in Northern Ireland. We are a special


situation here already, in terms of how we are treated, our


constitutional arrangements under the Good Friday Agreement. The EU is


an incredibly fragile organisation despite the fact that it is


enormous, and it can reach accommodation for many oddities


around its borders and how it handles things. So the idea they


could come up with special arrangements for Northern Ireland is


not beyond cup retention. But then Scotland and Wales would


want them! England would want them! The reality of the situation is that


we are unique in terms of our current position, so to expect that


to continue is not unusual. I have to say, in terms of what


people know and don't know, there are some things we do know. We know


that it took been learned three and a half years to exit the European


Union. -- Greenland. And with due respect to them, their only interest


is fish. So by comparison, we have a very complex set of negotiations to


undertake in two years, so we know that we are up against a ticking


clock. We'll soon know, with all due respect, regardless of what Theresa


May has written on her knowledge and letter back to the First Minister


and Deputy First Minister, we know what her responses. She set up a


Brexit Cabinet did not even bother Secretary of State for Northern


Ireland on it, so she has as good as told us that the British government


will do what they wish to do and we can lump it. Now, I don't think that


is a good message to be sending to the of Northern Ireland. It will


affect you at the border, particularly, because whether people


like it or not, if we are going to have a differentiation in markets,


you will have customs controls. That is unavoidable. If you are going to


control immigration, you have to have immigration controls. Whether


those are hard or soft controls, we do not know, but those controls have


to exist. I want to go to the floor here.


When food costs rise and we get inflation, we know that banks


control inflation by raising interest rates, so you will pay more


for your food, and more for your mortgage.


The gentleman here. I want to know, does Brexit make it


more likely or an unlikely for unemployed people like myself to get


a job. That is a good question. Let me go


around everyone. The lady asked if that would affect


her at the border. It is already affecting us now. Inflation has gone


up. It will affect the Good Friday Agreements, with freedom of


movement, and does that mean that people with an Irish passport living


in the north of Ireland are going to have to show their pass but when


they want to go down to Dublin airport to go on holiday, for


example. This gentleman in the middle here?


My question is directed more at Mike and Gavin, particularly in light of


the well made comments that have been made and the need for Northern


Ireland to get as good a deal out of this, and I think perhaps more


salient Lee, Naomi's point about where the power in this really lies.


Why are you ruling out an all Ireland Summit?


And the lady at the back here? A few minutes ago, it was asked what


the opportunities were for Brexit, and Mr Eastwood replied he did not


know. So why on earth should we listen to him on Brexit?


I didn't argue for Brexit. That is why I don't know what the


opportunities are. In a second.


Does Brexit mean that the proposal for a reduction in corporation tax


is now dead in the water? Very, very quickly then, and


deployment, employment of this young man here.


These issues, employment, corporation tax, which are resolved,


and we will have to to the bottom of those. The point I want to make is,


it you said if we have a special status, England, Wales and Scotland


were wanted. That is fair enough. But so will the Czech Republic,


Hungary and Romania. Don't think the rest of the EU nations will sit


around and think, we will give the UK a better deal and we are giving


ourselves. Your party leader has said she will


not take part in the all Ireland Forum, as it would lead to


grandstanding. Why not? Is that not a very sensible approach, if there


is so much confusion? The summit is going to go ahead. It


is up to Kenny, whoever he wants to speak to an invite. But the notion


we need and Kenny, to engage on our behalf with civic society in


Northern Ireland, is a nonsense. We have nothing to gain from attending


this, because we are fully engaged in the North-South ministerial


council and the British Irish council, both in the DUP and Sinn


Fein and the northern Ireland executive. We have nothing to fear.


We have got time for this discussion.


Why does the minister for agriculture not engage with the


Parliament in this? Let's just stop it right there,


because we could go on all night, and there are other topics to cover.


That go to our fourth from Belfast. My question is for the gentleman


from the DUP. My gentleman was killed -- my grandfather was killed


in 1871, in the highest meeting, which we walked out on, he says that


the buck stops with them and Stormont, so I just want to know why


his party leader is refusing to give funds to all victims of the


Troubles? OK, this is the case of the legacy inquest, of something


like 56 potential inquests involving 90 or so deaths. Michael's


grandfather was killed in Bally Murphy in 1971 in two days of


shooting by the army. Three days. I do beg pardon. The Secretary of


State says the job of the assembly to do it, but Arlene Foster Saturday


singers that. Why? It is not that she has set her


face against it, she would not allow time for it to be discussed.


There are funds a lot of legacy matters.


I'm sorry, she has set her face against it. She would not allow


it... There is an unresolved issue about


national security. But she has set her face against it.


Until that is resolved, I suspect there will not be movement on this


issue. There is an unresolved issue with national security. The British


government have challenged since then. -- challenged Sinn Fein. He


says repeatedly that it ends with Arlene Foster.


Explain the background. I appreciate you adding that.


I assume what you want to do is go through an inquest situation and get


answers. And unless the national-security


issue is resolved, you will not get the answers from that process. I


have met with, I assume, relatives of yours, people involved with the


campaign about that massacre, and I did so when I was in Belfast City


Council. I know there is pain, and I know there is pain right across


society amongst victims, throughout, your community, my community, and


the community of Northern Ireland in which we live. Until that is


resolved, I don't see there being progress on the issue.


But on the specific matter, the whole thing could be cleared up in


five years, it is said, these 56 cases, but until it gets started,


nothing will be done? Until the British Government 's move


on the position they have on national security there will be no


answers forthcoming. You could lose years going through the process and


should you not get the answers you say get the end of it you will be


asking. That is the outstanding impediment to progress. That is one


that is going to have to be resolved. The Government is saying


it is the responsibility of the Assembly. And if Sinn Fein --... You


are the ones raising the objections. On behalf of the families and we are


happy to do that. National Security Council used to block access to the


truth. Every state will have national security interests and what


we have said to the British Government is that there should be


independent monitoring of national security issues. When there is a


dispute between the body and the British Government you bring in


independent bodies to adjudicate on where and how those national


security interests are dealt with, or they are set aside. But the issue


of funding being released to these families should go ahead because not


feel these cases will be around national-security. The Lord Chief


Justice said that he would be able to deal with the outstanding cases


within five years, the British Government should release the


funding and enter into discussions and negotiations about resolving


this so-called national security issue. Mike Nesbitt, it said one of


the reasons there is reluctance on the Unionist side is because the


predominant number of cases are alleging security force killings and


therefore it is a rewriting of history and a sense according to


some of the DUP, or a new interpretation of history, is that a


valid argument? That would not be my concern. From whatever faction of


society you came from it is simply wrong and it is unjustifiable to


have two weeks for more than 40 years for some process to establish


the truth. My difficulty is, we talk about having no hierarchy of


victims, that is good, but we have a hierarchy of investigation, so at


the moment the victims Commissioner reckons that over 1000 people who


have lost loved ones during the Troubles have had nothing because


the historical investigation team has been disbanded. All they did was


review the file. It was not a new investigation. They just looked at


what was held in box files. That goes all the way up to very


expensive public inquiries. If you have a hierarchy of investigations


you inevitably have a hierarchy of victims and that is our concern.


These legacy inquest would establish a hierarchy? Just having different


processes means there is a hierarchy. We felt, imperfect as it


was, that we should have finished the previous process. Republicans


made clear at the Starbuck postdocs that they wanted the option to see


two families -- at the Stormont House talks that they wanted the


option. We go back to the issue of holding up of funding for legacy


requests, cannot be cleared in five years? The Lord Chief Justice has


done a good piece of work. I sat in the court during some of the


proceedings to figure out how it could be moved forward. He said he


can deal with the specific part of the legacy of our past in five years


if the money is available. Michael and his family have waited for 44


years to even get access to the truth. 46 years. To even get the


opportunity to get that beard and a court. That is not good enough. I do


not think any of us from whatever side... Do you think linking the


legacy inquest to national security disclosure is acceptable? No, any


organisation whether paramilitaries or state should be coming forward


with the truth, nothing should stand in their way. Society and victims


need this. Secretary of State should release this money anyway. He should


not be giving Arlene Foster Peter Wanless. That is what has happened.


Arlene Foster now has a veto. It has been going on for months. They


should take it back on the specific issue to deal with the concerns of


the families from Ballymurphy and the other families caught up. Is


that a good President? Start taking back bits of devolved power? That is


not the issue. Do we hold up a process which we know could get


resolution for the families who are beating for inquests on the basis


that we are feeling other families? I do not think that there's much of


a way to handle an issue that has caused such pain. The legacy


inquest, and what the Lord Chief Justice had offered, was a solution,


a partial solution, to a political failure to deal with the past in a


comprehensive way. What they offered was a time bound cost its proposal


that would allow us to deal with this set of inquests. I think it is


madness that we do not continue to do that and get these cases dealt


with. There will be people, and we have got to be honest about this,


who will never know the truth about what happens to their loved ones,


who may never even be able to locate there remains, who may never know


why those things happened, but that is not a good reason to deny those


who could reach the truth the opportunity to get it. Just got a


question for Gavin, he did well earlier with the question for


Michael, but why is it continually stated that anybody murdered by the


British state is not innocent? Can you answer that? What is it you are


asking? We are going to move on. Let us move to our fifth question which


is from a student from Belfast. With the change in public opinion is time


that abortion reform is to Northern Ireland? This is based on the latest


opinion poll which shows 72% of people agreed that abortion should


be legal if it is the result of sexual crime, 67% thought it should


not be a crime, 73% of DUP supporters said it should be allowed


if it was a result of rape or incest, 69% of SDLP supporters said


it should be allowed if it was a result of rape or incest. As opinion


changing? Opinion is changing. Is it time for reform? It is past time for


reform and that is why proposals were bought Ford's to try and deal


with one aspect, around fatal foetal abnormality. Difficult decisions


have to be made by women regardless and they had to make them an short


time in order to be able to exercise any kind of control in those


difficult situations so the time for reform has come. Fatal foetal


abnormality, rape and incest are reasonable grounds to seek an


abortion but the law needs to catch up with the reality, women are


purchasing online drugs, putting their lives and health at risk, not


knowing what they are taking, not doing it with supervision, and


putting themselves at risk, and as a society we need to find a response


which is compassionate, to deal with the reality. We talk about there


being no abortion in Northern Ireland but that is. It is


underground orators exported. I want to deal with what these figures


indicate. Do you think that you are increasingly out of step with the


electorate? 69% of SDLP supporters support abortion efforts as rape or


incest. This is a sensitive and difficult issue. It is particularly


difficult for the families and the women who are going through it and


we should approach at understanding that. I come from a Catholic


background. I went to a catholic school. I am not surprised by these


figures. I believe that people from my community are discussing this and


talking about it and are challenged by it, especially by the hardest of


cases. Are you leading the way? What we are doing this we have supported


and push for a things to come into place because that is what doctors


asked us to do. Doctors asked for a change in the law and you blocked


it. We did not. Doctors asked us for a change and guidelines which made


it impossible for doctors to do the job. We also have supported the


working group which has now reported to the two ministers. We look


forward, we are committed to looking at the report and responding to stop


what is your own review? The SDLP is a pro-life party, we do not want to


see the 96 to seven act coming into Northern Ireland, I do not think


there is a popular support from that. If you change the law there


can be unintended consequences. Do you support a change in the law? Let


me finish. That is why we have to allow the working group to have that


report publisher on matters that could then. Our fear of the last


time was that a change in the law could be overreaching, it could have


led to the extension of the 1967 act. We need to satisfy ourselves


that would not. The party has come to this from my compassionate and


sensitive position and we will discuss this issue when it comes


around. We will not play politics with women or their families but who


will stand by the physician that the 9067 act should not come in.


Are you out of step with your own support? No, I do not feel that I


am. The figures that you are talking about, less than 1000 people. That


is a fairly standard pool. Less than 100 people who identified themselves


as supporters, there is no way of verifying that. It is important as


physical readers we truly engage in this issue and that we are


sensitive. Personally I am pro-life. In any circumstance? I have


supported exclusion zones outside clinics because I do not think it is


appropriate for people who are abused in those situations because


it is an incredibly difficult case. But it is right that the working


group, and was established not to avoid as has been suggested election


considerations, this is something that is sort important it should not


be put onto a Justice Bill, it requires proper consideration. We


have proper consideration now through the working group. It is


reported to the Health Minister and the justice minister. It will then


be brought to the executive. Whether it suggests that the should be


legislative change or it can be dealt with by guidelines, the first


guidelines were struck down. Comments were made. This is an issue


that has had a lack of clarity for a considerable number of years and I


hope we're now getting to a point where we can engage in what the


clarity could be going forward. This debate is not about the extension of


the night insisted seven act, that is a diversion. -- the 1967 act. I


am not aware... It is characterised as reducing abortion on demand. This


debate is about specific circumstances and distressed woman


were given promises before the police debate that they would


support... That is not true. It is on the record. It is not on the


record. It is not true. You can take that up with those who put it on the


record. Where given promises that they would deal with specific issues


around fatal foetal abnormality. There is also the issue of sex


crimes and abuse of women. That is the issue at hand and we do support


in those circumstances termination of pregnancy. It is not about the


needs of doctors or politicians. It is about the needs of the women


involved. Very quickly. I am not surprised by the results and I am


not sure it presents a big shift because when I took up a position in


favour of changing the law for fatal foetal abnormality and sex crimes it


seemed there was a groundswell. I am not going to look you in the eye and


say either you must abort or you must go full-term. But as a choice


that you had to make and that has to be an informed choice because you


are going to live with consequences of that decision. And if you do want


to go full-term we do not have hospice support. At the end of the


is to do with the women who are pregnant and I think that backstreet


abortions, that are still going to happen, do you not think a change in


the law will help us? Thank you. There is also a lack of


modernisation in Northern Ireland. We are so stuck in the past. Looking


at the politics of the past. We do not focus on modern issues including


abortion, mental health and gay marriage. At this only moved on and


started busting to what people are saying, listen to these surveys, and


realise that the majority of people want action taken. What is your


view? Make a brief comment. 833 women from Northern Ireland


travelled to England for an abortion. There we must leave it for


tonight. Thank you to our panel and our audience and to you at home for


watching. Good night.


A studio audience puts questions to a panel of politicians. With the DUP's Gavin Robinson, Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, Alliance's Naomi Long, the UUP's Mike Nesbitt and the SDLP's Colum Eastwood. Noel Thompson presents.

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