21/02/2017 Spotlight


21/02/2017

Hard-hitting investigations on the stories that matter in Northern Ireland. Jennifer O'Leary looks at the challenges over making power sharing work at Stormont.


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Transcript


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TICKING

1:44:231:44:25

The clock is ticking towards polling day.

1:44:311:44:34

I propose to set an election date of Thursday 2nd of March.

1:44:351:44:40

In the world of politics, it's game on.

1:44:421:44:46

INDISTINCT

1:44:461:44:47

You have to ask Enda about the battle bus.

1:44:521:44:55

Battle lines are being drawn after the collapse of Stormont...

1:44:581:45:01

..but will the new Assembly work any better than the old?

1:45:031:45:06

Tonight, in the second of two special programmes on power sharing,

1:45:081:45:13

we review what really may have caused the collapse

1:45:131:45:16

of the Executive last month.

1:45:161:45:18

Can power sharing work better?

1:45:181:45:21

Can it even be put back together after the election?

1:45:211:45:24

This partnership was the future once.

1:45:271:45:30

Last May, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness,

1:45:321:45:35

as First and Deputy First Ministers,

1:45:351:45:38

reaffirmed their commitment to power sharing.

1:45:381:45:41

But seven months later, the fresh start went up in smoke.

1:45:411:45:45

Sinn Fein pulled the plug on power sharing by not re-nominating

1:45:481:45:51

for the position of Deputy First Minister

1:45:511:45:54

following Martin McGuinness's shock resignation.

1:45:541:45:57

He listed the Renewable Heat Incentive - RHI - scandal,

1:45:581:46:02

among others, as the reason for his resignation.

1:46:021:46:05

I think anybody that knows the history of our relationship

1:46:071:46:11

with the DUP, particularly over the course of recent years

1:46:111:46:16

and the different issues that have really raised

1:46:161:46:20

all sorts of question marks about the DUP's behaviour.

1:46:201:46:24

Things like Red Sky, Frank Cushnahan and Nama,

1:46:241:46:29

the Liofa decision, a despicable decision, the RHI -

1:46:291:46:34

all of these things are hugely concerning

1:46:341:46:37

for us in Sinn Fein.

1:46:371:46:39

Arlene Foster immediately took to social media to respond.

1:46:391:46:42

At a time when we are dealing with Brexit,

1:46:451:46:48

needing to create more jobs and investing in our health

1:46:481:46:51

and education system, Northern Ireland needs stability,

1:46:511:46:55

but because of Sinn Fein's selfish actions, we now have instability.

1:46:551:46:59

Martin McGuinness, in leaving the Assembly chamber for the last time,

1:47:001:47:04

marked the end of a decade of power sharing

1:47:041:47:07

between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

1:47:071:47:09

But how did it come to this? What's really going on and

1:47:171:47:21

what other factors may have led to the fracturing of relationships

1:47:211:47:24

at the heart of the power-sharing executive?

1:47:241:47:28

For the DUP, it had all been going so well.

1:47:301:47:34

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party,

1:47:341:47:38

the First Lady of Northern Ireland,

1:47:381:47:41

the First Minister of Northern Ireland,

1:47:411:47:43

the Right Honourable Arlene Foster, MLA.

1:47:431:47:48

CHEERING

1:47:481:47:51

In her Party Conference speech last October,

1:47:511:47:54

Arlene Foster may have been prematurely triumphant.

1:47:541:47:58

Just 12 months ago,

1:47:581:48:00

Northern Ireland was a byword for political crisis and instability.

1:48:001:48:04

Devolution was in crisis. Stormont was teetering on the brink.

1:48:041:48:09

Our rivals were cocky about their election chances,

1:48:091:48:13

already measuring up their curtains for their new offices.

1:48:131:48:16

LAUGHTER

1:48:161:48:18

And the pundits were yet again predicting the demise of the DUP.

1:48:181:48:22

Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool

1:48:251:48:29

and co-author of a book on the DUP.

1:48:291:48:31

My thoughts at the DUP conference were Arlene Foster, First Minister

1:48:341:48:38

until 2021 and beyond, and full steam ahead for the DUP.

1:48:381:48:43

I thought the DUP would be governing Northern Ireland...

1:48:431:48:47

essentially in perpetuity,

1:48:471:48:49

albeit in partnership with Sinn Fein.

1:48:491:48:51

I think what the DUP forgot was that the whole of

1:48:511:48:56

the Good Friday Agreement is built upon a partnership.

1:48:561:48:58

It only takes one partner to walk away,

1:48:581:49:01

and the whole edifice collapses.

1:49:011:49:03

But the responsibilities we do have, in terms of education...

1:49:031:49:06

Daithi McKay resigned as a Sinn Fein MLA last year,

1:49:061:49:10

after the party suspended him over claims he'd coached a blogger

1:49:101:49:14

to give evidence to a Stormont inquiry.

1:49:141:49:17

He worked alongside Arlene Foster in the Assembly.

1:49:171:49:21

There was a hope, I think, that

1:49:211:49:24

she would be more modern,

1:49:241:49:26

that she was relatively younger

1:49:261:49:28

and that she would be business-like in how she dealt with things.

1:49:281:49:32

# Arlene is our leader

1:49:341:49:35

# We shall not be moved... #

1:49:351:49:37

Arlene Foster is no moderate. She is a tough, tough unionist.

1:49:371:49:42

She had led the party to a 38-seat win at the May elections last year,

1:49:421:49:46

a resounding victory for the new leader.

1:49:461:49:49

CHEERING

1:49:491:49:50

-Hip! Hip!

-CROWD:

-Hooray!

1:49:501:49:52

I think the DUP, to some extent,

1:49:541:49:56

in their celebrations of the May 2016 result, probably took

1:49:561:50:00

their eye off the ball somewhat and didn't see the danger signs.

1:50:001:50:03

I think the DUP miscalculated.

1:50:031:50:05

I don't think for one moment they really thought that Sinn Fein

1:50:051:50:08

would collapse the Executive.

1:50:081:50:11

Just ten weeks after a triumphant DUP Party Conference, Arlene Foster

1:50:121:50:17

found herself out of a job as First Minister.

1:50:171:50:20

Arlene Foster is damaged goods by virtue of the fact that she's

1:50:211:50:24

effectively been sacked by Martin McGuinness's resignation.

1:50:241:50:27

So that's simply a statement of fact - she is damaged.

1:50:271:50:30

The question for Arlene Foster is,

1:50:301:50:32

can she ever resume as First Minister?

1:50:321:50:35

The "cash for ash" controversy sparked discontent in

1:50:351:50:39

the relationship between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

1:50:391:50:42

But the decision by a DUP minister to withdraw,

1:50:441:50:47

just before Christmas,

1:50:471:50:49

£50,000 in funding for an Irish language scheme

1:50:491:50:53

was akin to pouring petrol on the fire.

1:50:531:50:55

In his two-page resignation letter,

1:50:571:50:59

Martin McGuinness listed a catalogue of his party's grievances.

1:50:591:51:04

But some believe Sinn Fein pulled the house down

1:51:041:51:07

to forward their own agenda.

1:51:071:51:09

Sinn Fein were losing votes.

1:51:101:51:12

That's why they decided that they wanted to re-engage

1:51:121:51:16

with their base in this way that they've done.

1:51:161:51:20

In the last election, they took a very significant drop,

1:51:201:51:24

and that's why Sinn Fein has done what it's done.

1:51:241:51:26

That's the real reason, underlying it.

1:51:261:51:29

The scandal over that heating scheme is the pretext,

1:51:291:51:34

but the real reason is their loss of support.

1:51:341:51:36

There is no political institution in the world

1:51:361:51:38

would have survived the alleged corruption

1:51:381:51:41

we have witnessed and been witness to

1:51:411:51:43

over these number of months.

1:51:431:51:45

It's not about an attempt to increase our mandate.

1:51:451:51:49

This is about defending the principles of

1:51:491:51:51

the Good Friday Agreement, defending the Good Friday Agreement

1:51:511:51:54

and defending the integrity of government.

1:51:541:51:57

Despite John O'Dowd's assertions,

1:51:571:51:59

some believe that the collapse of power sharing

1:51:591:52:02

really is all about Sinn Fein.

1:52:021:52:04

It was Sinn Fein that became

1:52:051:52:06

increasingly unhappy with the arrangement,

1:52:061:52:09

because the DUP, they felt that they were in the ascendency.

1:52:091:52:12

Sinn Fein felt that they were simply having to go with the DUP agenda.

1:52:121:52:17

As a former Sinn Fein insider,

1:52:171:52:19

Daithi McKay has an insight into the party's election strategy.

1:52:191:52:23

I do think that Sinn Fein now find themselves in a position

1:52:231:52:26

where they have a political opportunity,

1:52:261:52:29

and that they can help to mobilise

1:52:291:52:31

a dormant republican, nationalist vote,

1:52:311:52:34

that certainly exists out there.

1:52:341:52:36

In politics, there's always a game within a game.

1:52:361:52:39

What do you think your former party's strategy is?

1:52:391:52:42

Its strategy is to go back into the Executive with a stronger position.

1:52:431:52:48

So Sinn Fein shouldn't be rushing in

1:52:481:52:50

to restore the Executive and the Assembly again

1:52:501:52:53

until they make some significant gain.

1:52:531:52:57

Sinn Fein's election message has been consistent.

1:52:571:53:01

There will be no return to the status quo.

1:53:011:53:03

..back to the status quo...

1:53:031:53:04

There will be no return to the status quo.

1:53:041:53:05

-There will be no return...

-There will be no return to the status quo.

1:53:051:53:08

..to the status quo.

1:53:081:53:09

It means, for Sinn Fein, that they're not going to go back

1:53:111:53:14

into government as secondary to the DUP, in their view.

1:53:141:53:18

So it means change, probably on an Irish language act.

1:53:181:53:22

It means change on such things as a same-sex marriage,

1:53:221:53:26

and it means a greater equality, a co-badging, in many ways,

1:53:261:53:29

of First and Deputy First Minister.

1:53:291:53:32

If Sinn Fein don't get those, then, for Sinn Fein,

1:53:321:53:35

whilst they wouldn't welcome British direct rule,

1:53:351:53:37

for obvious reasons, they may feel they have less to lose than

1:53:371:53:40

the DUP, at least for a limited period of British direct rule.

1:53:401:53:45

That, of course, may seem very ironic

1:53:451:53:47

for an Irish republican party, but that's the current situation.

1:53:471:53:51

Are republicans restless for change?

1:53:511:53:54

On the last day of the Assembly,

1:53:541:53:55

People Before Profit's Eamonn McCann told us they are.

1:53:551:53:59

The structures up here in Stormont

1:54:011:54:03

were sold to rank and file republicans

1:54:031:54:06

as an alternative path to a united Ireland.

1:54:061:54:09

Abandon armed struggle, because we have discovered

1:54:091:54:12

a different project which will carry you forward.

1:54:121:54:14

That was accepted by the great bulk, sort of,

1:54:141:54:17

of members of Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA.

1:54:171:54:20

So the reason why Sinn Fein stayed for so long,

1:54:201:54:23

to the frustration of many in the rank and file,

1:54:231:54:25

to anger of the rank and file,

1:54:251:54:26

is that, having dropped the traditional republican idea

1:54:261:54:30

of armed struggle until there's a united Ireland,

1:54:301:54:34

their alternative having now collapsed,

1:54:341:54:37

what's their next trick?

1:54:371:54:38

What's Sinn Fein's next trick?

1:54:381:54:40

I think it would be foolish for republicans

1:54:401:54:43

to rush back into the Assembly, and the Executive.

1:54:431:54:47

I think that republicans continually need to review

1:54:471:54:52

whether their strategy is going to deliver on their ultimate objective,

1:54:521:54:56

which is a united Ireland.

1:54:561:54:58

The question now is has society moved on?

1:55:051:55:10

We're just going to jog down to the bottom of the field, right?

1:55:101:55:13

Then we're going to come up, right up to the top of the field.

1:55:131:55:16

In Keady, the Armagh junior camogie team

1:55:161:55:19

is training ahead of a busy competitive season.

1:55:191:55:22

We're trying to get up and down the field.

1:55:241:55:26

We're trying to get ourselves warmed up.

1:55:261:55:28

Many here travel to and from their jobs in Belfast

1:55:281:55:31

for their twice-weekly training sessions.

1:55:311:55:34

I think this generation of girls we see out here this evening

1:55:361:55:39

have been completely shielded from, you know,

1:55:391:55:42

maybe our generation when we were playing sport.

1:55:421:55:45

It's absolutely brilliant that they don't have, you know,

1:55:451:55:49

that additional worry or fear.

1:55:491:55:52

Absolutely, it's clearly onwards and upwards.

1:55:521:55:56

We'd like to think that we wouldn't go back to the dark days.

1:55:561:56:00

Grainne Kelly is the team's joint captain.

1:56:001:56:02

Do you have a personal view on the situation at Stormont

1:56:041:56:07

and on power sharing?

1:56:071:56:08

It's a bit rubbish.

1:56:081:56:10

The Good Friday Agreement was that long ago now

1:56:101:56:12

that things should really be running quite smoothly.

1:56:121:56:15

It's nice to think that we don't have to worry about,

1:56:151:56:17

you know, who follows what political party,

1:56:171:56:20

and it doesn't matter where you are from,

1:56:201:56:22

and it would be sad to think that we would go back to that.

1:56:221:56:26

Do you and your peers aspire to live in a united Ireland

1:56:261:56:30

or are you happy to live in a Northern Ireland at peace?

1:56:301:56:35

I would be happy to live in Northern Ireland at peace

1:56:351:56:38

as opposed to maybe live in a united Ireland

1:56:381:56:42

that's going to cause more uproar

1:56:421:56:43

and is going to cause more fighting and things to reoccur.

1:56:431:56:46

Whatever has happened to attitudes here

1:56:541:56:57

in the 19 years since the Good Friday Agreement,

1:56:571:57:00

the world has moved on.

1:57:001:57:02

In the last ten months alone,

1:57:021:57:04

there have been significant geopolitical shifts

1:57:041:57:07

on both sides of the Atlantic.

1:57:071:57:09

Congratulations, Mr President.

1:57:111:57:13

The British people have spoken, and the answer is we're out.

1:57:151:57:19

Britain is distracted by Brexit,

1:57:211:57:23

the Republic by its own political crisis,

1:57:231:57:26

and the US by its new President.

1:57:261:57:29

The latest Stormont crisis shows no sign of triggering

1:57:291:57:32

major diplomatic efforts to get power sharing back on track.

1:57:321:57:36

And some believe that Brexit has made

1:57:391:57:41

a very significant contribution to the fracturing of power sharing.

1:57:411:57:45

Brexit has been a really, really big fault line

1:57:471:57:52

in this whole recent scene.

1:57:521:57:54

For nationalists and republicans,

1:57:541:57:57

the possible resurrection of the border is getting in the way

1:57:571:58:01

of why they signed up to the Good Friday Agreement,

1:58:011:58:04

which is they could retain their legitimate...

1:58:041:58:07

They may disagree or agree, but it's a legitimate political objective,

1:58:071:58:11

provided it's by the vote and not by the bomb

1:58:111:58:14

to achieve a united Ireland.

1:58:141:58:17

Unionists will fight it all the way,

1:58:171:58:20

that's a legitimate political objective for them.

1:58:201:58:22

I think that's destabilised the situation,

1:58:221:58:25

and in turn made unionists dig in.

1:58:251:58:28

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 56%.

1:58:291:58:35

Sinn Fein immediately demanded a border poll...

1:58:351:58:39

We're calling for a border poll, of course,

1:58:391:58:41

because we're united Irelanders.

1:58:411:58:43

..but was quickly dismissed by Arlene Foster.

1:58:431:58:46

The Secretary of State has already indicated

1:58:461:58:48

that the test has not been met to call a border poll.

1:58:481:58:52

I suppose the call for the border poll

1:58:521:58:55

was as predictable as the flowers in May.

1:58:551:58:58

We knew it would come, but the test has not been met.

1:58:581:59:02

The Sinn Fein president has said

1:59:021:59:04

taking Northern Ireland out of the EU

1:59:041:59:07

will destroy the Good Friday Agreement,

1:59:071:59:09

claiming it would be a "hostile action".

1:59:091:59:11

Brexit poses unprecedented political, economic

1:59:131:59:17

and diplomatic challenges to peace and prosperity on this island.

1:59:171:59:21

But in an interview to an online news channel,

1:59:211:59:24

Gerry Adams also said that Brexit may offer the chance

1:59:241:59:28

to win further political concessions.

1:59:281:59:31

In a way, then, Brexit is a gift for you, right?

1:59:311:59:35

You campaigned against it,

1:59:351:59:36

but now that it's happening,

1:59:361:59:38

you're using it to make the case for a united Ireland.

1:59:381:59:41

Yeah, well you always have to...

1:59:411:59:43

never waste a crisis, never waste a difficulty.

1:59:431:59:47

We don't believe in a scorched earth policy

1:59:471:59:49

for creating a united Ireland. We want to build this place up,

1:59:491:59:52

we want to, of course, integrate across the island,

1:59:521:59:54

but we need to have Northern Ireland working as well,

1:59:541:59:57

and I just think it's a very dangerous kind of strategy

1:59:572:00:00

to say, "Let's have Brexit and that will somehow

2:00:002:00:02

"magically bring a united Ireland."

2:00:022:00:04

The DUP led the Leave campaign In Northern Ireland.

2:00:042:00:08

Some suggest that unionists who voted for Brexit

2:00:082:00:12

may unintentionally have advanced the prospect of a united Ireland.

2:00:122:00:16

People are now talking, to some extent seriously,

2:00:172:00:20

about a united Ireland again,

2:00:202:00:22

as a consequence of Brexit.

2:00:222:00:23

I think the DUP had not really thought through Brexit.

2:00:232:00:25

They hadn't really thought about the border.

2:00:252:00:27

Very few people had thought about the border.

2:00:272:00:29

UUP party leader Mike Nesbitt,

2:00:302:00:32

who campaigned to Remain,

2:00:322:00:34

warned that Brexit could lead to the break-up of the UK.

2:00:342:00:37

I'm not sure how deeply anybody thought

2:00:392:00:43

about the vote and, you know, I think what has been destabilising

2:00:432:00:46

is the lack of response

2:00:462:00:48

from the Northern Ireland Executive to Brexit.

2:00:482:00:50

The politics of identity, some suggest,

2:00:522:00:55

is at the core of much of the friction at Stormont.

2:00:552:00:59

The result is an increasingly polarised political discourse

2:00:592:01:02

because, according to some, the middle has been hollowed out.

2:01:022:01:06

This is the border between Arlene Foster

2:01:082:01:11

and Michelle O'Neill's constituencies -

2:01:112:01:13

the leaders of the two biggest parties in a power-sharing system

2:01:132:01:18

that seems to leave less and less room

2:01:182:01:21

for the middle ground of Northern Ireland politics.

2:01:212:01:24

There was clearly a view in governments in London and Dublin

2:01:272:01:30

that we needed to bring in the extremes into government

2:01:302:01:33

in order for it to work,

2:01:332:01:34

and that's an understandable strategy, but it hasn't worked.

2:01:342:01:38

We now don't have a government.

2:01:382:01:40

Even when we did have a government, they didn't deliver anything.

2:01:402:01:43

The middle ground wants to work together, the other's don't.

2:01:432:01:47

Mike Nesbitt's recent comments that he intends to give the SDLP

2:01:472:01:51

his second preference vote in the upcoming election

2:01:512:01:54

sparked controversy within his party,

2:01:542:01:57

but he's denied he made a mistake.

2:01:572:01:59

I think there's a middle step,

2:01:592:02:01

and it's the one I'm calling for in this election,

2:02:012:02:03

and that is a partnership of the willing.

2:02:032:02:05

It's still going to be compulsory, it's still mandatory,

2:02:052:02:08

but it's done between two parties

2:02:082:02:10

who are doing it for a bigger and better reason.

2:02:102:02:13

I think it is a very brave call of Mike Nesbitt

2:02:132:02:15

to call for cross-community transfers across the divide,

2:02:152:02:18

because it goes against all the statistical evidence

2:02:182:02:21

in respect of cross-community transfers that we have had to date,

2:02:212:02:24

so it would be a brave, bold new era for Northern Ireland if it happens.

2:02:242:02:30

If we are going to be 21st century leaders,

2:02:302:02:33

we need to be confident enough to say,

2:02:332:02:35

as a unionist - I am a proud unionist -

2:02:352:02:37

"The union is safe but it will be even safer

2:02:372:02:41

"if nationalists are comfortable within Northern Ireland."

2:02:412:02:45

For Alliance leader Naomi Long,

2:02:472:02:48

the common good should be the driving force

2:02:482:02:51

for a new power sharing Executive.

2:02:512:02:53

Power sharing, in its truest form,

2:02:532:02:55

where it's focused on the people we serve, and not self-service,

2:02:552:03:00

ought, actually, to be relatively simple.

2:03:002:03:02

There are of course philosophical divisions between parties,

2:03:022:03:06

people who have different perspectives on the economy,

2:03:062:03:08

people who have different perspectives

2:03:082:03:10

even on moral questions,

2:03:102:03:11

but we should be able to work through those together,

2:03:112:03:14

in terms of power sharing,

2:03:142:03:15

by being able to see the bigger picture,

2:03:152:03:17

and that is what is in the best interests

2:03:172:03:19

of the public that we're here to serve.

2:03:192:03:21

The Good Friday Agreement generation

2:03:242:03:26

has largely grown up under devolution.

2:03:262:03:28

Hiya. I'm Jennifer. Nice to meet you.

2:03:292:03:31

'I've come to meet a group of them - all politics students at Queen's.'

2:03:312:03:36

I think we should move to an adversarial system of government,

2:03:362:03:39

where we have an official government and an official opposition, and

2:03:392:03:42

they actually can take turns to be the government and the opposition.

2:03:422:03:47

Do you think that politics at Stormont

2:03:472:03:48

is a fair reflection of society?

2:03:482:03:51

I think parties here, they have their strongholds and they know that

2:03:512:03:57

they're safe in those strongholds, and they focus all of their efforts,

2:03:572:03:59

all of their political will, towards those strongholds.

2:03:592:04:02

They don't try to reach out. There's no need for them

2:04:022:04:04

to shake up their policies or to progress in any way.

2:04:042:04:07

Just to take a straw poll.

2:04:072:04:08

Who here thinks that power sharing is working?

2:04:082:04:11

'Just 4 out of 12.'

2:04:132:04:15

I think power sharing has been good. You know, we have

2:04:162:04:20

went through a lot of problems in this country, and it has helped us

2:04:202:04:24

to move forward as a society.

2:04:242:04:27

I think the kind of prevailing opinion, particularly amongst

2:04:272:04:30

our generation, is that power sharing was great in 1998, it

2:04:302:04:35

has brought peace, but we do need a change in the structures of

2:04:352:04:39

government, the structures of how our politics actually works

2:04:392:04:42

here. I think we have a serious problem with a lack of

2:04:422:04:46

accountability within our Assembly, within our government.

2:04:462:04:49

It seems likely fresh talks on the other side of the election

2:04:512:04:54

will consider potential structural changes at Stormont.

2:04:542:04:58

We'd actually like to see a review, reform and revitalisation

2:04:592:05:03

of the Good Friday Agreement

2:05:032:05:04

to bring our structures up to the modern day.

2:05:042:05:07

I think we'd have to look at, for example, voluntary coalition.

2:05:072:05:10

I think we do need to get rid of community designation

2:05:102:05:13

and stop dividing our society as nationalist and unionist -

2:05:132:05:16

it's about one Northern Ireland, not two divided communities.

2:05:162:05:20

So I think we should do that,

2:05:202:05:21

but I think we should do it in the context

2:05:212:05:23

of a constitutional convention,

2:05:232:05:24

where we bring in citizens to have their say.

2:05:242:05:27

It was the people's agreement,

2:05:272:05:28

we need to return it back to the people.

2:05:282:05:32

The centrepiece of the Belfast Agreement

2:05:322:05:33

was mandatory coalition, and it's lying in tatters.

2:05:332:05:36

I am not opposed to voluntary coalition.

2:05:362:05:38

That's the only way we are going to get

2:05:382:05:40

durable, respectable, workable devolution.

2:05:402:05:43

You have to work it on the basic democratic process

2:05:432:05:46

that the people are those who have the discretion

2:05:462:05:49

as to who is in government and who is out,

2:05:492:05:52

and recognising that, at its heart, voluntary not mandatory coalition

2:05:522:05:56

is the way to go. If that can't be done,

2:05:562:05:58

then this Stormont and these structures

2:05:582:06:01

are not worth keeping, because they are not delivering.

2:06:012:06:05

It isn't just those determined to scrap mandatory coalition

2:06:072:06:10

who recognise it can have serious drawbacks.

2:06:102:06:13

I do think there are dangers in the sort of forced coalition system

2:06:152:06:18

you have in power sharing,

2:06:182:06:20

because it leads to a sort of stasis in government -

2:06:202:06:22

no-one is in opposition,

2:06:222:06:23

everyone is in government and it leads to corruption,

2:06:232:06:25

it leads to the staleness of any ideas.

2:06:252:06:27

This systems privileges stability over almost everything else.

2:06:272:06:33

Competence in government, accountability,

2:06:332:06:36

all of those things come secondary.

2:06:362:06:38

All the parties there,

2:06:382:06:39

as long as they play the game of the tribal tribune -

2:06:392:06:44

the person who's coming to represent the Gael or the planter,

2:06:442:06:47

then you come home without necessarily delivering the goods,

2:06:472:06:51

and you can always blame the other side

2:06:512:06:52

for the fact that you didn't get the goods.

2:06:522:06:55

But is Northern Ireland ready to scrap mandatory coalition

2:06:552:07:00

in favour of majority rule?

2:07:002:07:02

If you can get beyond sectarian parties

2:07:022:07:04

then you could, of course, you could get have majoritarianism,

2:07:042:07:06

but we are not there yet.

2:07:062:07:07

We don't even seem to be even moving very fast in that direction.

2:07:072:07:10

I don't believe in changing

2:07:102:07:11

the mandatory coalition model that we have.

2:07:112:07:14

I think we need to protect minorities,

2:07:142:07:16

and that's the vehicle for doing it.

2:07:162:07:18

We need to change how we operate in the Assembly.

2:07:182:07:20

We need to get rid of half of the Spads that we have.

2:07:202:07:23

We need to curb their pay and curb their power.

2:07:232:07:26

I think those are the kinds of things

2:07:262:07:27

that could begin to open Stormont up.

2:07:272:07:29

If a power sharing Executive cannot be formed after the election,

2:07:292:07:33

a return to direct rule may supersede

2:07:332:07:36

efforts to restore devolution.

2:07:362:07:39

Sinn Fein might take a gamble

2:07:392:07:40

that direct rule will have a greener tinge to it,

2:07:402:07:43

because the British government needs the Irish government at the moment

2:07:432:07:46

on issues relating to Brexit,

2:07:462:07:48

and so direct rule might be not quite the same from Westminster

2:07:482:07:52

over the next couple of years as it would normally.

2:07:522:07:54

Direct rule is unpopular.

2:07:542:07:56

Most people do want a devolved government in Northern Ireland,

2:07:562:07:59

or you could have joint authority,

2:07:592:08:00

which would be a hard sell to unionists, to put it mildly.

2:08:002:08:03

Until we get to the point

2:08:032:08:04

where people stop trying each other's patience

2:08:042:08:06

and start to be a little more gracious,

2:08:062:08:09

and perhaps a little more generous

2:08:092:08:10

in how they operate these institutions,

2:08:102:08:12

we will continue to find ourselves back at this juncture.

2:08:122:08:16

It's Saturday morning,

2:08:162:08:17

and East Belfast Football Club is playing against 18th Newtownabbey

2:08:172:08:21

in the quarterfinal of the Templeton Cup.

2:08:212:08:24

I'm here to find out how the election pledges

2:08:272:08:30

and political party appeals

2:08:302:08:31

are playing with a younger generation in East Belfast.

2:08:312:08:34

I think Stormont is almost akin to the likes of a playground.

2:08:362:08:39

The DUP and Sinn Fein tap into the things

2:08:392:08:42

that are most dearest to us in the community -

2:08:422:08:44

they tap into our identity. They tap into...

2:08:442:08:46

Sinn Fein are looking at Irish language,

2:08:472:08:49

the DUP tap into our potential anxiety,

2:08:492:08:52

but our passion for the union.

2:08:522:08:53

But they use that, actually, to their own advantage -

2:08:532:08:55

whether it's to get votes, whether it's to get popularity, whether...

2:08:552:08:58

It's ultimately, in my opinion, to get power.

2:08:582:09:01

Would you trust a nationalist or a republican First Minister?

2:09:032:09:07

I can't seem to trust my own local, my own politicians,

2:09:072:09:10

so it's hard to take that I'll trust somebody

2:09:102:09:12

on the other side of the community.

2:09:122:09:14

It doesn't matter whether it's a Green First Minister

2:09:162:09:19

or another First Minister,

2:09:192:09:20

they both have to sort of come to terms

2:09:202:09:22

and make a decision between themselves.

2:09:222:09:24

One can't do one without the other.

2:09:242:09:26

Will you vote, and what would you like to see done with your vote?

2:09:262:09:30

I'm not too sure, personally, if I will vote.

2:09:302:09:32

It's obviously clear what's going on up there is a shambles.

2:09:322:09:36

Maybe it'd be better saying what I don't want to see done

2:09:362:09:38

with my vote. I don't want to see just a continued pattern of things

2:09:382:09:41

that have been happening for the last 20 years.

2:09:412:09:44

Our country was so desperate to put an end to the conflict we had

2:09:452:09:49

that we substituted a violent conflict for a political one,

2:09:492:09:53

and the latter is far better than the former,

2:09:532:09:55

but both of them seem equally ineffective.

2:09:552:09:58

Power sharing offers all the major parties

2:10:042:10:06

a seat at the Executive table,

2:10:062:10:09

but it can't force them to agree once they get there.

2:10:092:10:12

And of all the issues that continue to divide,

2:10:122:10:15

none is more poisonous than the past.

2:10:152:10:17

Last week, in her home village in County Tyrone,

2:10:192:10:22

Michelle O'Neill attended a commemoration

2:10:222:10:24

of four IRA men who were shot dead by the SAS 25 years ago.

2:10:242:10:29

These four young men that we remember tonight

2:10:292:10:31

weren't afraid of any challenge.

2:10:312:10:33

They faced it head on.

2:10:332:10:35

They did so out of a desire to build a new future.

2:10:352:10:38

In Belfast, in a BBC studio, Arlene Foster gave her reaction.

2:10:402:10:45

There can be no equivalence between terrorism

2:10:452:10:48

and those people who stood between those of us in society

2:10:482:10:52

who were living through it,

2:10:522:10:54

ie the security forces who were protecting people

2:10:542:10:58

and terrorists who were going out in the dark of night to murder people.

2:10:582:11:01

There are some who would say

2:11:012:11:02

we have no right to remember or honour them.

2:11:022:11:05

We have absolutely every right.

2:11:052:11:08

What do you make of her attendance at that event tonight?

2:11:082:11:11

I mean, it is what it is, and, eh...

2:11:112:11:14

I have to say no surprise given her antecedents,

2:11:142:11:18

so I'm not surprised.

2:11:182:11:20

The pain of victims' families is proving an insoluble problem.

2:11:222:11:27

You could never change what had happened for them,

2:11:282:11:31

but the one thing that they always used to say,

2:11:312:11:35

and I would say to them,

2:11:352:11:37

their sacrifices helped us to work for the future.

2:11:372:11:42

I never said that... When you take the number of people who died

2:11:442:11:49

and the number of the injured, it's just short of 40,000.

2:11:492:11:53

I never said you could deal with each of those individual cases.

2:11:532:11:57

And I don't really feel that if you keep trying to do that

2:11:572:12:01

or talking about trying to do that, it's a good idea.

2:12:012:12:04

It's not possible. It's just not possible.

2:12:042:12:07

From this hill in Dungannon you are supposed to get a clear view

2:12:122:12:16

of all of Northern Ireland and beyond,

2:12:162:12:19

but not on a misty day.

2:12:192:12:20

Some argue our view of the past is clouded

2:12:222:12:25

as much by what we forget as by what we remember.

2:12:252:12:29

There is a bit of a problem in that a generation has now grown up

2:12:302:12:34

that did not experience the Troubles and did not realise

2:12:342:12:38

the problems we were dealing with,

2:12:382:12:41

and did not realise how those problems were in fact resolved.

2:12:412:12:45

There are people, then, who are vulnerable

2:12:452:12:47

because they don't know,

2:12:472:12:49

and they may be fed an incorrect version of what happened.

2:12:492:12:54

We have got to have a degree of frankness

2:12:542:12:58

and an awareness of how we must ensure that it doesn't happen again.

2:12:582:13:03

The Good Friday Agreement,

2:13:042:13:06

a peace deal based on compromise,

2:13:062:13:08

was endorsed by a majority in Northern Ireland.

2:13:082:13:11

But in terms of understanding and trust between communities here,

2:13:122:13:16

it seems at times like all and nothing has changed.

2:13:162:13:19

I think a peace process is not a fairy story.

2:13:212:13:24

You don't get to live happily ever after

2:13:242:13:26

once you sign a peace agreement.

2:13:262:13:27

So, no, Northern Ireland is not suddenly a perfect

2:13:272:13:30

and wonderful society, but you no longer have the Troubles.

2:13:302:13:32

I don't believe that you are going to go back to the Troubles,

2:13:322:13:35

and that is a major gain.

2:13:352:13:36

After the election, all of the major parties

2:13:362:13:39

will have to decide what compromises they might be willing to make

2:13:392:13:44

to put power sharing back together.

2:13:442:13:46

If you don't get to a rapid agreement,

2:13:462:13:48

it could go on for a very long time

2:13:482:13:50

and both sides will then find it very difficult to compromise.

2:13:502:13:53

It will be up to voters across Northern Ireland

2:13:532:13:56

to decide who gets the opportunity to share power.

2:13:562:14:00

Those elected will have to decide

2:14:002:14:02

whether to sit at the table or sit it out.

2:14:022:14:06

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