01/05/2016 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


01/05/2016

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to the last Sunday Politics before polling day.

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It's the vital last push for the campaigns.

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And in the studio, as we enter the final days, we've brought

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together senior figures from the five main parties,

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making their pitch for your vote.

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Whatever the result here, the process of forming a government

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won't be as tortuous as it's been in Dublin -

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but there's now an unprecedented Fine Gael-Fianna Fail deal.

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And we'll be live there with the latest

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a little later in the programme.

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And with their thoughts ahead of a huge week

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in Northern Ireland politics, my guests of the day are

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Professors Deirdre Heenan and Rick Wilford.

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So let's get into the main discussion

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with my studio guests straight away.

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With me are the DUP's Nigel Dodds, Mairtin O Muilleoir from Sinn Fein,

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the SDLP's Claire Hanna, Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy

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and The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry.

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You're all very welcome to the programme.

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Thank you for making time to be with us.

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Nigel Dodds, manifesto commitments on the part of Sinn Fein

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and the DUP seem to suggest a bit of a sham fight as far as this

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notion of Arlene for First Minister is concerned,

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because on the one hand, you don't want Martin McGuinness

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to be First Minister, but on the other hand

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it looks like there's some kind of DUP-Sinn Fein

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grand plan for the next five years.

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Well, I think, as Arlene put it the other day, it's one thing

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trying to persuade undecided voters,

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but we're delighted when our politic opponents

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actually adopt some of our policies.

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Simon Hamilton, back at our party conference, first mentioned

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the issue of spending an extra £1 billion

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by the end of 2021 on health,

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so this was something that we have been talking about for some time.

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And an extra 50,000 new jobs and new social housing.

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And I think these...

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It starts to look like you've had a discussion in the corridor.

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What we're doing in this very, very comprehensive manifesto,

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and you have put out a number of issues,

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but what we're putting forward in this is a very comprehensive list

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of policies and objectives covering health, education, infrastructure,

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jobs and keeping household taxes down.

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But the only way people are going to get that plan implemented

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is to vote for DUP candidates,

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making sure that we have a large number of members

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of the Assembly, the majority on the Executive

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and that Arlene remains as First Minister.

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And they also know, the DUP voters also know, that the way

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those promises will be implemented is by voting for DUP candidates

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who will then be sitting at the head of the Executive,

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alongside Sinn Fein, implementing those agreed policies.

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That's the point.

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We are very committed to moving Northern Ireland forward.

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If we want a better future for Northern Ireland, it has to be

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under the strong leadership of Arlene Foster.

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We need to ensure that we have a plan going forward,

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and we have a five-point plan.

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But we want to see Northern Ireland stable and secure.

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Of course we want to work in partnership

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with all parties around this table.

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Some parties don't know whether they're coming or going or whether they're in or out.

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We're determined to move Northern Ireland forward and

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we'll work for the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.

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But to ensure that there's strong leadership and a better future,

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people have got to get out there and vote for Arlene for First Minister,

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they've got to ensure there is a good representation of DUP ministers

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to ensure our five-point plan is implemented.

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And that is absolutely vital.

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Let me ask you a question, Mairtin, if you don't mind.

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The question is simply this - that sounds very much to me

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like there is an agreed strategy for what happens on the 6th of May,

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and in fact Arlene Foster on The View on Thursday night

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more or less accused Sinn Fein of copying and pasting key elements

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of the DUP manifesto.

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What I wanted to say was this - when I'm at the doorsteps, people say,

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"We like to see the big parties more aligned in what they want to achieve

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"in health and education and driving the economy forward."

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So it's no coincidence that those key issues are the same

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-for both of your parties?

-If you'd let me finish,

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and what I say to them in return is,

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"We're actually going to have a different form of government now.

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"A fresh start will mean a fresh start, will mean a fresh urgency,

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"a coming together of the two large parties in government."

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Cos we want to be in government.

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That's one of the great, I suppose, differences between ourselves

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and the putative opposition parties.

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So the DUP manifesto was launched three weeks, maybe four weeks,

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ahead of the Sinn Fein manifesto.

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You saw the DUP commitment to £1 billion in extra spending

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spending for health, the creation of 50,000 new jobs,

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new social housing, 8,000 on the part of the DUP.

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You then stuck in your manifesto £1 billion of extra spending

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for health, 50,000 new jobs and 10,000 new social homes.

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No, Sinn Fein is making pledges based on what we have stood for

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throughout the last mandate, what we wish to see in the mandate

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ahead and that is sorting out the health service,

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providing the extra £1 billion needed. But also making sure...

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But is it a draft programme for government?

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The two manifestos, those key points of your two manifestos,

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is that a draft programme for government?

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It gives me hope when I look at what our priorities are,

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to create jobs for people, when I go into the Sandy Row Enterprise Hub,

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where they're trying to break generational unemployment,

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when I go into the market where they're trying for the first time

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in a generation to create work for our young people and opportunities,

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it gives me hope that our parties are aligned on some things.

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We want to create an extra £330 million for our universities

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as well, because we need to have the skills to attract new jobs.

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We need to bring the other parties in.

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There may be differences, but there are key similarities as well.

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Claire Hanna, let me ask you, as far as the SDLP is concerned,

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does it look to you as if the two key parties in the Executive

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up to now and very probably in future have got together

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and agreed key strategies for what happens next?

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Well, it does. There are a lot of similarities between those two documents.

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The DUP did release theirs about a month ago.

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Sinn Fein released a 2.5 page manifesto a week before the election

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that presumably was distilling some of the other ideas flying about.

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Both of them, I have to say, look like a lot of free beer tomorrow,

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because there are few specifics.

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And it also doesn't reflect what they've actually done for the last nine years.

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Listen, the SDLP were taken apart

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for not understanding the matters of its manifesto commitments.

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So you need to be very careful about going down that road.

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The SDLP commitments are very clear.

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Well, they weren't to Gerry Diver last week.

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Our manifesto is what a manifesto has always been.

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It's a statement of your policy and aims, and our five specific

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costed pledges were just that.

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They were new ideas for which we have identified new money.

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This business of saying, "We're going to put one billion into health,

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"and six million in this," but without explaining to people

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where it comes from, it's patronising. So I'm glad

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-if they've done...

-Can we come back on that? Cos we've explained

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exactly where the £1 billion for health is coming from.

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I'm glad if they've done a little bit of advance work,

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because that hasn't been what's happening.

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They have been bringing the Assembly up and down

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and people have been let down by that.

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I also must point out, hilariously,

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the comment there about people who don't want to be in government.

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Have you had a conversation with Mary Lou McDonald

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or any of your colleagues in Dublin recently,

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who ruled out going into government immediately?

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The SDLP has tried and slogged for the last 10 and 20 years to

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-try and make...

-Does the SDLP want to be in the next government or not?

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..to try and make government work,

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we didn't have to be dragged into power-sharing.

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So we're trying to make it work.

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If we think we can make government work and better hold failing parties

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to account, we'll do that.

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Just as a yes or no, is it clear as to whether or not the SDLP

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wants to be in government or opposition?

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Of course we want to be in government and we have set out

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specific areas that we will negotiate on.

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But if the programme for government...

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And it is a little bit worrying, I think it does take people

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for granted if the programme for government is sitting bound

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on Arlene Foster's desk already,

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because that bypasses the democratic process.

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All five parties are supposed to get in and negotiate that document.

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She says it's not, of course. She denies that absolutely.

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We need innovative, forward-thinking ideas. If we can get those into

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the programme for government, we'll be there, and if we can't, we won't.

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Danny Kennedy, as far as the Party is concerned,

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does this look to you like a sham fight, the whole idea of

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Arlene for First Minister, we mustn't have Martin McGuinness

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as First Minister under any circumstances?

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Is that a distraction in your eyes?

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I think it's increasingly clear that there is a precooked programme

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for government that has been

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agreed in part by Sinn Fein and the DUP.

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And I think that is seriously taking the electorate for granted,

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and I think that is a huge mistake, because everyone knows that

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in a mandatory coalition all of the parties will be part of

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the negotiation who are entitled to Executive seats.

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We don't know if the Ulster Unionist Party will be,

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because, of course, you walked out at the end of the last mandate.

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Is that a firm commitment on the part of the Ulster Unionists to be in government?

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The other factor that is really interesting to us is that

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the DUP's campaign has been centred around one person, their leader.

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And, in fact, it's gone to the extent that my wife received

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yesterday a letter in the post from Arlene to say

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that if she didn't vote for the DUP candidate in my area,

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bad things would happen.

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-And that we could go back...

-And is she going to take that advice?

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I think that's very unlikely.

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But the difficulty is, it's a campaign around one individual,

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and centred primarily for purely party political interests,

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not in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

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Maybe the DUP believes it has a leader worth trumpeting.

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-Exactly!

-Stormont needs to work for all of the people.

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Not a shared-out, but a shared responsibility.

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I'm going to come to Stephen in a second, but just answer my question.

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Are you absolutely clear that the Ulster Unionist Party

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will be in government if it has the political mandate to be in

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government after the next election, or are you still sitting on the fence?

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We're seeking a comprehensive mandate from the people

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in the first part, and then we will enter the all-party negotiations

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for the Executive places to be allocated.

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But you had a mandate the last time and you walked out

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over the issue of trusting Sinn Fein.

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And we will judge it on that basis. It couldn't be clearer.

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Couldn't be clearer? OK. Stephen, is it a sham fight?

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I think that answer is as clear as mud.

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First of all, we need to reflect on what all the parties

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have been doing over the past five years.

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Whenever we're seeing new commitments to fresh starts, etc,

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we have to judge that based upon

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the track records of the different parties.

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This week we launched Northern Ireland's other waiting list crisis

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where we identified at least ten major reforms

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where we've either missed opportunities and things have

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been delayed or indeed entirely left on the shelf.

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There are important reforms where we need to move forward faster

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in Northern Ireland. I'm very conscious that both David and I

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have delivered in our own departments. There has been

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delivery elsewhere in terms of the Executive, but going forward,

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I'm seeing a lot of populism, frankly,

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from some of my colleagues here at the table. For example,

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this £1 billion on health - the issue on health

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isn't just about money, it's actually about doing things

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differently and having a sustainable model.

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Is there not a lesson - with the greatest respect,

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is there not a lesson in this for the Alliance Party?

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Because you accuse these other parties of being populist -

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they get more votes than you from the electors at election time

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because they put forward policies that people want to vote for.

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You continue to sit at the same level that you've sat at

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for the last 20 or 30 years and tell people that they're

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going to have to pay more in various payments in the next mandate.

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I mean, maybe there is a lesson.

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With respect, the Alliance Party vote has grown

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election after election over the past ten years.

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-By a small amount, yes.

-Every election, we have grown.

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We've now had an MP, we've had two ministers at the Executive table,

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our two ministers, myself and David, we have delivered a clear programme

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despite some very adverse circumstances

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in terms of public finances.

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So we've proven what we can do whenever we're given the chance.

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And frankly we need more discussion of policy in terms of our elections

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rather than a beauty contest or issues over which party

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is going to be the top in terms of some symbolism.

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This is about electing the government of Northern Ireland,

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the people who will be deciding the issues for the next five years.

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Hang on, I want to ask Mairtin O Muilleoir a question

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about petition of concern.

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We've heard a lot about the arguments about

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who's going to be the biggest party.

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Surely what Sinn Fein wants above anything else is to move

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from 29 to 30 MLAs in the next mandate so you will be able to table

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a petition of concern yourself

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without having to get support from someone else?

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And if that happens, potentially we're going to have two blocks,

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Sinn Fein and the DUP, each able to petition a table of concern,

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so each able to cancel the other out on issues

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where you haven't made some sort of agreement.

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Please, God, we don't have more log-jam in the time ahead.

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But that's potentially going to be the case.

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This is our pledge, our pledge is the fresh start,

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our pledge is to put a greater premium on consensus than conflict.

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I'm asking about petition of concern.

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Yes, but if we do that, then we can't go down a road

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of trying to use a petition of concern willy-nilly.

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A petition of concern was introduced

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to protect minorities in extreme cases.

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Every party that uses the petition of concern

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says that its particular instance is an exception.

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And it isn't a willy-nilly use of the petition.

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Let me say two things. First, I would like to see

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petitions of concern used less often in the time ahead.

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And Sinn Fein would like to increase its mandate so that we can deliver

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more of our pledges in government.

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And I'm proud of what the Executive has achieved.

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I know some people come to the table

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and want to defend our ministers only in the Executive.

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Except for Mr Kennedy, who is in opposition now,

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everyone else has been in government.

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And I'm proud of what's been achieved, 40,000 jobs,

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the huge number of new schools built in my consituency alone,

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and encouraging other people...

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You're getting off the point here.

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Much more has to be done and part of that has to be to stop

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emphasising the divisions in Stormont,

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and part of that is the petitions of concern.

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They are necessary in some circumstances

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but I would like to see them used less often. So that's not why...

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Does it worry you that Sinn Fein could have enough seats

3:15:573:16:01

to trigger petitions of concern off its own bat in the new mandate?

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Is that a nightmare scenario for the DUP?

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The people will decide how many MLAs to return to Stormont.

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And that's a matter for the electorate on Thursday.

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Of course we want to see as many Democratic Unionist Party

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representatives, because then we will be the ones

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that will stand up and get away from some of the policies that

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Sinn Fein put forward in the last election,

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where they blocked welfare reform and we had to step in,

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provide leadership and make sure that was done from Westminster.

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There are big differences between us and Sinn Fein.

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There're differences between all of us.

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We're determined to bring people together.

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Arlene is going to provide strong leadership.

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Danny talks about Arlene being front and centre of our campaign.

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We're proud of Arlene's record since she became First Minister.

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There was a major splash

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in the Sunday Times Magazine today on Arlene.

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Why are even national figures focusing on Arlene?

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Because they see her as the key person

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to drive Northern Ireland forward.

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But in order to be First Minister, in order to have

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as many Executive ministers around the table to implement our plan,

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which is a very comprehensive plan...

3:17:023:17:04

Danny, you want to come in.

3:17:043:17:06

The point about it is, they need to ensure people go out and vote

3:17:063:17:10

-for the DUP candidates.

-I think you've made that point.

3:17:103:17:13

You've said that. Danny.

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This is a campaign based on fear and the DUP campaign is largely

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now reduced to sending people letters at the last minute to say,

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-"Please vote for us, otherwise bad things happen."

-Rubbish!

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That is not the basis for even a fresh start.

3:17:303:17:34

-But Danny can't even say...

-Let Danny speak. You've had a fair go.

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-Let's hear what Danny has to say.

-He's not even saying

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-he's going to be in government.

-Where is the basis for a fresh start

3:17:403:17:43

when people in North Belfast are being told

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you can't even vote for other pro-union parties,

3:17:453:17:48

you must vote for the Democratic Unionists?

3:17:483:17:50

-Claire, you wanted to come in.

-But you were happy, Danny, last year...

3:17:503:17:54

Hang on, Nigel. Claire, you wanted to come in.

3:17:543:17:56

..to take DUP support to stop a Sinn Fein person becoming an MP.

3:17:563:17:59

It's far more important in terms of First Minister...

3:17:593:18:01

-Do you mind? Claire.

-That is why you are MP for North Belfast.

3:18:013:18:04

This is distraction as well.

3:18:043:18:05

This squabbling is what is turning people off

3:18:053:18:08

and plunging our turnout. But it is a bit frustrating,

3:18:083:18:10

parties are acting like they just landed on planet Earth

3:18:103:18:13

and haven't been driving Stormont for the last ten years.

3:18:133:18:16

What people see as inertia and under-delivery,

3:18:163:18:18

and it is not just the petition of concern, and we put forward

3:18:183:18:22

quite comprehensive proposals to reform that mechanism,

3:18:223:18:25

it's the general log jam,

3:18:253:18:26

the fact powers kept being pulled into the centre in OFM-DFM,

3:18:263:18:29

strategies go in and nothing comes out at all.

3:18:293:18:32

I think of the ugly scaffolding, as people have called it,

3:18:323:18:35

around the petition of concern,

3:18:353:18:36

we tried to reform some of the things in the opposition bill,

3:18:363:18:39

and it's regrettable parties like Sinn Fein

3:18:393:18:41

didn't support any of that material.

3:18:413:18:42

But the petition of concern was envisaged to be

3:18:423:18:45

a human rights mechanism, and we think it should go back to that,

3:18:453:18:48

as in 1998, to protect minorities and not thwart them.

3:18:483:18:50

Stephen Farry, the Alliance Party, and you in particular,

3:18:503:18:53

found things you wanted to do blocked, effectively,

3:18:533:18:56

by others in the Executive.

3:18:563:18:58

Are you concerned about what Claire Hanna has referred to

3:18:583:19:00

as the ugly scaffolding in certain circumstances?

3:19:003:19:03

It's important we move beyond talking about process issues

3:19:033:19:06

and personalities, and talk about policy outcomes.

3:19:063:19:08

This is what the election is fundamentally about.

3:19:083:19:11

I got most of my agenda through, as a minister, as did David.

3:19:113:19:13

There were some examples where we found the situation frustrating.

3:19:133:19:16

For example, the crisis we had around the budgets

3:19:163:19:18

was a massive problem.

3:19:183:19:19

We could have done a lot more in terms of scaling up what we've done,

3:19:193:19:23

particularly around skills.

3:19:233:19:24

If we are to deliver 50,000 new jobs,

3:19:243:19:26

we have to invest a lot more in skills,

3:19:263:19:28

we estimate £85 million per year.

3:19:283:19:31

The one example where I was blocked was around teacher-training reform

3:19:313:19:35

where we are trying to save money to reinvest it in the skills we need,

3:19:353:19:38

For example, engineers, computer scientists.

3:19:383:19:41

We all know we're training too many teachers.

3:19:413:19:43

But my four party colleagues here decided they wanted

3:19:433:19:46

to protect the best interests of the current infrastructure.

3:19:463:19:49

The point is, the smaller parties have absolutely no capacity

3:19:493:19:53

to push through what they want to do

3:19:533:19:56

if Sinn Fein and the DUP want to block it.

3:19:563:19:58

-That won't change in the next mandate.

-On some issues, we've seen

3:19:583:20:02

Sinn Fein and the DUP blocking each other on a host of reforms.

3:20:023:20:04

But, if a minister focuses on a very clear agenda,

3:20:043:20:06

as David and I did in our departments,

3:20:063:20:08

we can achieve a huge amount.

3:20:083:20:10

David has reduced crime,

3:20:103:20:11

I've improved skill levels with more places in terms of apprenticeships.

3:20:113:20:14

Did anybody else do a good job at all?

3:20:143:20:16

-Did anyone else do a good job in the Executive?

-I am sure others did.

3:20:163:20:19

Mairtin, it is for you to defend your ministers.

3:20:193:20:21

But the potential game-changer, at our suggestion, is that,

3:20:213:20:25

after the election,

3:20:253:20:27

those parties entitled to Executive positions,

3:20:273:20:30

have a negotiation, and have an agreed programme for government.

3:20:303:20:34

-All five parties potentially?

-Whoever is eligible for that.

3:20:343:20:38

But the loudest voices at the table, Danny Kennedy,

3:20:383:20:40

-will be the DUP and Sinn Fein.

-Well. You don't know that.

3:20:403:20:44

It's extremely likely.

3:20:443:20:45

We have fought a very positive campaign.

3:20:453:20:48

And we are pleased with the response we are getting.

3:20:483:20:51

We will await the outcome. But I have to say,

3:20:513:20:53

I am increasingly worried that there is a precooked programme

3:20:533:20:56

for government that has been hatched up

3:20:563:20:58

-between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

-We've discussed that already.

3:20:583:21:01

-Claire?

-And that doesn't lead to collective responsibility.

3:21:013:21:05

Claire Hanna, I just want to ask you about turnout.

3:21:053:21:07

There is a tremendous concern in certain quarters

3:21:073:21:10

that public apathy is running at an all-time high,

3:21:103:21:13

the public not connecting with Stormont.

3:21:133:21:15

In the elections in 2003 and 2007, turnout was 63%.

3:21:153:21:19

In 2011, it was 54%.

3:21:193:21:22

There are some people saying it could dip below 50%.

3:21:223:21:24

We don't know, but it could dip below 50%.

3:21:243:21:26

If it does, how serious is that for democracy?

3:21:263:21:29

It's very serious and it's worrying and it's sad.

3:21:293:21:31

If you go further than 2003, close to 80% voted in the referendum.

3:21:313:21:35

So, if we do drop down to 50, that really is a stark fall.

3:21:353:21:39

A referendum's exceptional, though.

3:21:393:21:40

Clearly, people are switched off from Stormont.

3:21:403:21:43

I know, when you knock on doors,

3:21:433:21:44

people aren't switched off from politics.

3:21:443:21:46

They still do want to talk to you about issues around education,

3:21:463:21:50

they want to know why all these negotiations in Stormont House,

3:21:503:21:52

why don't they deal with things like the 11-plus

3:21:523:21:55

and not just mechanisms to elect First Ministers.

3:21:553:21:57

People are switching off from politics in a Stormont sense.

3:21:573:22:00

But they are interested in issues.

3:22:003:22:02

Unfortunately, it serves some of the parties a little bit better

3:22:023:22:05

if people switch off.

3:22:053:22:07

And I think the voting data since 1998 will show

3:22:073:22:11

that it's largely the centre ground switching off.

3:22:113:22:13

Very quickly, Mairtin and Nigel,

3:22:133:22:15

is there a direction of travel, as far as turnout is concerned?

3:22:153:22:18

And does it give you cause for concern?

3:22:183:22:19

Obviously, I want to see turnout get up as much as possible.

3:22:193:22:22

I am reminded in the last Scottish Parliament elections when it was 50%

3:22:223:22:25

and in Wales it was 41%.

3:22:253:22:26

So, we still do pretty well in Northern Ireland.

3:22:263:22:29

What I find out, when I go round the doors,

3:22:293:22:31

and we knock doors, and we talk to people.

3:22:313:22:33

Arlene has been on a listening tour, listening to people.

3:22:333:22:35

She's travelled some 15,000 miles, as far as Rathlin Island,

3:22:353:22:39

talking to people, because we want to ensure

3:22:393:22:44

that the policies we implement after the election

3:22:443:22:46

-are ones that resonate with people.

-I understand that.

3:22:463:22:49

I'm asking you specifically what the danger would be

3:22:493:22:52

-if turnout dips below 50%?

-Obviously, we want to ensure

3:22:523:22:54

it's as high as possible,

3:22:543:22:55

-but we have to work with the mandate given to us.

-Mairtin?

3:22:553:22:58

The reality is, Mark, when I go round the doors,

3:22:583:23:00

I think people are engaged. I think the media could do more.

3:23:003:23:03

We launched a health document, an education document,

3:23:033:23:05

agri-food documents, and there wasn't a single camera

3:23:053:23:07

that turned up to any of them.

3:23:073:23:09

So, I think the media have a role of ensuring...

3:23:093:23:11

We're having a discussion now. I'm sure lots are watching.

3:23:113:23:13

Let's not waste time talking about the media.

3:23:133:23:15

-You raised the issue.

-I didn't raise the issue of the media. Mairtin?

3:23:153:23:18

But that's a relevant issue.

3:23:183:23:20

In South Belfast, the Sinn Fein vote's gone up.

3:23:203:23:22

We're taking a larger percentage of those who turn up.

3:23:223:23:24

We want to engage more young people.

3:23:243:23:26

I do find young people engaged in issues of marriage equality,

3:23:263:23:28

the Irish Language Act, refugees, looking after our neighbours.

3:23:283:23:31

We need to take those issues of compassion, of social justice,

3:23:313:23:35

and bring them into the heart of government.

3:23:353:23:38

I'd like to see more people come out and vote.

3:23:383:23:40

But I also say to those I meet on the doorsteps,

3:23:403:23:43

if you don't cast your vote,

3:23:433:23:45

if you don't give us the power to deliver for you,

3:23:453:23:47

if you opt out of the system, then you can't criticise the government.

3:23:473:23:51

A couple of things I want to get in,

3:23:513:23:53

and we don't have a lot of time left, so, if you could be brief,

3:23:533:23:56

if that's at all possible,

3:23:563:23:58

that would be a big help to people watching at home.

3:23:583:24:01

Sinn Fein has said legislation, Nigel Dodds,

3:24:013:24:03

bringing forth marriage equality,

3:24:033:24:04

will be a priority in the next mandate.

3:24:043:24:07

Will the DUP lodge another petition of concern

3:24:073:24:09

to block that if it happens?

3:24:093:24:11

On the issue of lodging petitions of concern,

3:24:113:24:13

we will wait to see the circumstances

3:24:133:24:14

the issue has brought forward.

3:24:143:24:16

Arlene has made it clear she will make the decision then

3:24:163:24:19

along with the Assembly Members.

3:24:193:24:20

Are there any circumstances where the DUP would sit back

3:24:203:24:23

and allow marriage equality to proceed?

3:24:233:24:25

-I'm not going to speculate. No. Our position is very clear.

-Why not?

3:24:253:24:28

We've been consistent on this matter,

3:24:283:24:30

we believe we are not in the business of redefining marriage.

3:24:303:24:33

We want to see people treated properly and equally

3:24:333:24:36

and with respect. We have a position on that.

3:24:363:24:38

But, I have to say, on the doorsteps,

3:24:383:24:40

the issues coming through to me are education, health...

3:24:403:24:43

I'm asking about marriage equality.

3:24:433:24:44

-I've made that very clear.

-Just answer this question.

3:24:443:24:47

You said earlier on, interestingly, you're a democrat,

3:24:473:24:49

and the people will decide. If the people decide

3:24:493:24:51

that a majority of the 108 MLAs

3:24:513:24:53

would support a change as far as marriage is concerned,

3:24:533:24:56

would the DUP, as democrats, allow that to happen,

3:24:563:24:58

or would you use a mechanism, which some see as undemocratic,

3:24:583:25:02

-to block it?

-For the sake of repeating myself,

3:25:023:25:04

-because you obviously didn't hear the first question.

-I heard,

3:25:043:25:07

-you didn't answer.

-What I'm saying very clearly is

3:25:073:25:10

-we have a consistent position on this as a party.

-So, you'd block it?

3:25:103:25:13

Well, any technicality about process, about petitions of concern,

3:25:133:25:17

let us wait and see what the circumstances are.

3:25:173:25:20

Our position is very clear.

3:25:203:25:21

We are against the redefinition of marriage. But concentrating on...

3:25:213:25:24

-I think that's fairly clear.

-Yes, it is.

3:25:243:25:27

And we're going to concentrate on education, health and jobs.

3:25:273:25:30

Are you going to bring this back to the table,

3:25:303:25:33

or are you going to concentrate on those other issues?

3:25:333:25:35

It's a really interesting area,

3:25:353:25:37

I think the argument has been won out in the wider community.

3:25:373:25:39

-It hasn't been won in legislation.

-You're absolutely right.

3:25:393:25:42

But, in the wider community,

3:25:423:25:44

and I see it particularly during the Pride parade,

3:25:443:25:46

the huge turnout of young people who support that,

3:25:463:25:49

people accept that, live and let live, love thy neighbour,

3:25:493:25:51

having a fully-inclusive society, especially here,

3:25:513:25:54

is the best way forward. We've had enough discrimination and exclusion.

3:25:543:25:57

It's also the case, Mairtin, with respect, there are a lot of people

3:25:573:26:00

in Northern Ireland who are uncomfortable about any change.

3:26:003:26:03

Absolutely. But I think the majority are now accepting,

3:26:033:26:06

and I got an e-mail last night from a lady who said

3:26:063:26:09

her niece is transgender,

3:26:093:26:11

how much she appreciates the fact we are standing up for all our people.

3:26:113:26:14

We need to move forward, it would be great to move forward

3:26:143:26:17

by putting that emphasis on consensus.

3:26:173:26:20

We will do that, and Colum Eastwood and I brought the motion

3:26:203:26:23

that got a majority for equal marriage in the Assembly last year.

3:26:233:26:26

We will bring a bill that does tackle in turn

3:26:263:26:29

each of the issues, and does write in protections for churches,

3:26:293:26:32

which seems to be the concern for many people.

3:26:323:26:35

But, what the campaign last year down south

3:26:353:26:37

showed us is there isn't anything to fear.

3:26:373:26:39

The world hasn't stopped turning. It is about equality,

3:26:393:26:42

and recognising the lives and aspirations of everybody here.

3:26:423:26:46

I think that shows how, when you do engage, and when you, one-by-one,

3:26:463:26:50

address the concerns, in a balanced way,

3:26:503:26:52

-you don't shout people down, people will be reassured.

-Danny?

3:26:523:26:55

A lot of these issues will remain matters of conscience

3:26:553:26:58

for members of the Ulster Unionists Assembly party.

3:26:583:27:01

-Other issues like abortion as well?

-Yes.

3:27:013:27:03

And my personal view on abortion,

3:27:033:27:05

I am opposed to the extension of the 1967 to Northern Ireland.

3:27:053:27:10

And I also am opposed to same-sex relationships.

3:27:103:27:12

But you think there could be some change on the issue of abortion

3:27:123:27:16

in cases like fatal foetal abnormality?

3:27:163:27:18

Other colleagues take a different view.

3:27:183:27:22

-And we will look seriously at all of these issues.

-Stephen?

3:27:223:27:27

On equality, equality is not a zero-sum game.

3:27:273:27:30

So, if we extend civil marriage to same-sex couples,

3:27:303:27:32

we don't take away from anyone else's marriage.

3:27:323:27:34

That is entirely achievable.

3:27:343:27:36

If the Assembly doesn't act on this in the next five years,

3:27:363:27:39

I predict that the courts will intervene and ensure it does happen.

3:27:393:27:42

The courts are part of our democratic process.

3:27:423:27:44

Wouldn't it be great if we could sort it out, the Irish Language Act,

3:27:443:27:47

marriage equality? We, together, could do it

3:27:473:27:49

instead of having to wait for the courts?

3:27:493:27:51

That is a challenge for all the parties.

3:27:513:27:53

That will happen if the Assembly fails.

3:27:533:27:55

Maybe we've just lifted the curtain slightly

3:27:553:27:57

and given people a glimpse of the kind of issues that will come up

3:27:573:28:00

whenever people are returned after Thursday's election.

3:28:003:28:03

We have to leave it there. Thank you all for coming in to join us today.

3:28:033:28:06

We'll hear what Professors Deirdre Heenan and Rick Wilford

3:28:063:28:09

made of that very shortly,

3:28:093:28:10

but first, to Dublin and the historic deal

3:28:103:28:13

between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, which is set to see Enda Kenny,

3:28:133:28:16

described as a political corpse just a few weeks ago,

3:28:163:28:18

elected Taoiseach on Wednesday.

3:28:183:28:20

The formation of a working government

3:28:203:28:22

now seems to rest in the hands of the independent TDs.

3:28:223:28:25

What is now going to happen is intensive work will now

3:28:253:28:28

continue in relation to the text of the agreement between both parties.

3:28:283:28:34

That will then be shared with the Taoiseach

3:28:343:28:36

and with the leader of Deanna Fail

3:28:363:28:39

and then with our respective Parliamentary party meetings.

3:28:393:28:41

But we have concluded our work here.

3:28:413:28:44

It has been a tortuous and long and difficult at times process

3:28:443:28:50

but I think that the formation of a minority government and the document

3:28:503:28:56

that we can hopefully agree in the next two days can become a blueprint

3:28:563:29:02

for the formation of future minority governments in this jurisdiction.

3:29:023:29:06

We're determined to implement the policies

3:29:063:29:08

that we put forward in the Independent Alliance,

3:29:083:29:10

but we're going in there to fight on these issues.

3:29:103:29:12

Do you think you're going to be successful?

3:29:123:29:14

Do you think you will see yourselves in government?

3:29:143:29:16

Well, we're very optimistic,

3:29:163:29:17

but there are obviously a lot of things

3:29:173:29:20

which we need to go into the final document which are radical,

3:29:203:29:23

responsible, but which we've got to achieve. We've got to be able

3:29:233:29:27

to show that Irish politics has changed by this time next week.

3:29:273:29:31

So, let's go to our Dublin correspondent, Shane Harrison,

3:29:313:29:34

for the very latest.

3:29:343:29:35

Shane, hello to you. It's been 65 days since the election now.

3:29:353:29:40

Against the odds, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have done the deal.

3:29:403:29:43

But of course it's not the end of the matter.

3:29:433:29:45

What do you think happens next?

3:29:453:29:47

Well, both Parliamentary parties

3:29:473:29:49

have to endorse the deal, but that's a given.

3:29:493:29:52

Then it's up to Fine Gael to persuade enough independent TDs

3:29:523:29:55

to support the particular arrangement.

3:29:553:29:58

That means getting Enda Kenny's vote up from 52 to 58,

3:29:583:30:03

with Fianna Fail abstaining, on Wednesday or shortly thereafter.

3:30:033:30:07

Now, some of those independent TDs may be tempted

3:30:073:30:09

to try and drive a hard bargain, but the people

3:30:093:30:13

who want a general election least are the independents,

3:30:133:30:15

and Enda Kenny has a bit of a carrot,

3:30:153:30:17

he's got up to five jobs to offer the independents,

3:30:173:30:21

either in cabinet or at junior ministerial level, so I would say

3:30:213:30:24

on balance it's more likely that a government will be formed than not.

3:30:243:30:27

So, Shane, if there is a deal with the independents,

3:30:273:30:30

then it's to last three budgets,

3:30:303:30:33

this plan between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, what are the odds,

3:30:333:30:36

do you think, of that actually happening?

3:30:363:30:39

Cos three budgets, it's quite a long time potentially.

3:30:393:30:42

It is indeed. There's a lot of talk here about new politics,

3:30:423:30:46

Danish-style politics,

3:30:463:30:47

because the Danes are used to minority governments

3:30:473:30:51

and that means more consensus between the political parties,

3:30:513:30:54

TDs having more of an input into legislation

3:30:543:30:57

and holding the Executive or the Government more to account.

3:30:573:31:01

But it's not going to be the end of confrontational politics,

3:31:013:31:04

by any means, and as Harold Macmillan once said,

3:31:043:31:07

"Events, dear boy, events," can unhinge and damage

3:31:073:31:11

whatever arrangement may emerge.

3:31:113:31:13

And of course, while the country

3:31:133:31:15

may be administered, will it be governed?

3:31:153:31:17

Will this new arrangement be in a position to take tough decisions,

3:31:173:31:20

for example, if there's another economic crash?

3:31:203:31:22

That's a bridge which will have to be crossed,

3:31:223:31:24

and we don't yet know whether they will be able to do so.

3:31:243:31:27

And, Shane, just briefly and finally,

3:31:273:31:28

as I said there in the introduction,

3:31:283:31:30

Enda Kenny was described as a political corpse

3:31:303:31:32

just a few weeks ago, and we talked about that.

3:31:323:31:35

He could be re-elected as Taoiseach on Wednesday,

3:31:353:31:39

but how long do you think he will survive even within his own party?

3:31:393:31:43

Well, Enda Kenny has a chance to make history

3:31:433:31:45

and become the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be re-elected after

3:31:453:31:49

a general election, but I doubt very much if he'll be Taoiseach

3:31:493:31:52

this time next year,

3:31:523:31:53

and I'd be of the view that Francis Fitzgerald,

3:31:533:31:56

Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar would be the same mind.

3:31:563:31:59

OK, thanks, Shane, for that.

3:31:593:32:01

You're going to be busy this week in Dublin, no doubt.

3:32:013:32:04

Back to Belfast, though, and the elections to Stormont

3:32:043:32:06

with our professors, Rick Wilford and Deirdre Heenan.

3:32:063:32:09

Hello to you both.

3:32:093:32:10

You've been listening and watching with interest

3:32:103:32:12

to the political discussion that we've just had on the programme

3:32:123:32:15

with the five main parties.

3:32:153:32:17

Deirdre, what did you make of it,

3:32:173:32:19

the issue of the sham fight between the DUP and Sinn Fein

3:32:193:32:22

on the one hand, but this draft programme for government,

3:32:223:32:25

as some people see it on the other?

3:32:253:32:26

How does it stack up from where you're sitting?

3:32:263:32:29

Well, Danny Kennedy referred a number of times to something

3:32:293:32:32

that was pre-cooked, and there is a feeling of,

3:32:323:32:34

"Here's one I made earlier" when you look at the manifestos.

3:32:343:32:37

I think, though, that isn't the issue

3:32:373:32:39

and it isn't something we really should have our focus on.

3:32:393:32:42

If you're going to write a manifesto, in many cases,

3:32:423:32:44

they are motherhood and apple pie.

3:32:443:32:46

It's more money for health, it's more money for education,

3:32:463:32:48

it's more money in infrastructure, but it's very light on detail.

3:32:483:32:51

Where is the money going to come from?

3:32:513:32:53

How are we going to finance at the same time we're going to cut taxes?

3:32:533:32:56

It just doesn't stack up.

3:32:563:32:57

I think the biggest issue, though, in those manifestos is,

3:32:573:33:00

both main parties have hung their hats clearly on corporation tax

3:33:003:33:04

as a game changer, the reduced rate of corporation tax.

3:33:043:33:07

What they have not discussed at all, the elephant in the room is

3:33:073:33:10

how are they going to deal with the cuts to the block grant?

3:33:103:33:13

So we know for certainty there will be cuts to the block grant.

3:33:133:33:16

We know that the money will come from front-line services,

3:33:163:33:19

so there's a severe lack of long-term financial planning.

3:33:193:33:21

I mean, it is interesting, Rick,

3:33:213:33:23

some people have said during this campaign,

3:33:233:33:25

"What, in fact, is the point of a manifesto anyway?",

3:33:253:33:27

because people make all sorts of pledges and commitments

3:33:273:33:30

and they talk about all sorts of strategies but in fact,

3:33:303:33:32

none of this is going to come out in the wash until there has been

3:33:323:33:35

a detailed discussion for up to two weeks on a programme for government.

3:33:353:33:38

So does a manifesto pledge mean anything?

3:33:383:33:41

Well, it's a series of wish lists, in a way.

3:33:413:33:43

I certainly agree with Deirdre when she says these are largely uncosted.

3:33:433:33:47

And we saw with Gerard Diver's unfortunate, car accident interview.

3:33:473:33:51

-And he wasn't the only one.

-No, he wasn't. I think Conor Murphy

3:33:513:33:53

had an equally troublesome time on Friday in trying to explain

3:33:533:33:57

this particular point about if the block grant is reduced

3:33:573:34:00

to pay for corporation tax cuts,

3:34:003:34:02

where are the cuts in departmental spending going to fall?

3:34:023:34:07

Is it a sham fight?

3:34:073:34:08

No, I went through the five major parties' manifestos,

3:34:083:34:12

and there's an extraordinary degree of convergence

3:34:123:34:14

amongst and across all five, actually.

3:34:143:34:17

But there's particular convergence between Sinn Fein and the DUP,

3:34:173:34:21

so Danny Kennedy may be forgiven for thinking this is something

3:34:213:34:24

which is already, as it were,

3:34:243:34:25

Blue-Peter-style, been cooked up earlier.

3:34:253:34:28

But you're right, Mark, we're into a new phase now,

3:34:283:34:31

because post-election, we have up to two weeks of interparty negotiation

3:34:313:34:36

which will presumably be very leaky.

3:34:363:34:39

People will be appearing in front of cameras, and we'll find out

3:34:393:34:42

exactly what the temper of those talks are

3:34:423:34:45

and where the likely lines of agreement may fall.

3:34:453:34:47

Deirdre, on the other issues, moral and social issues,

3:34:473:34:50

we just touched on it towards the end of our discussion,

3:34:503:34:52

do you think there is a direction of travel?

3:34:523:34:54

Is that an issue, or are those issues which will find their way

3:34:543:34:57

back onto the order paper at Stormont,

3:34:573:34:59

or will the parties focus on the big issues like education

3:34:593:35:03

and corporation tax and the health service?

3:35:033:35:05

Well, I don't think we're going to find agreement on the moral issues

3:35:053:35:08

and they shouldn't be reduced to sound bites.

3:35:083:35:10

We need that informed discussion around abortion,

3:35:103:35:13

same-sex marriage, which is missing. We haven't had it.

3:35:133:35:15

All we hear are sound bites about compassion in some circumstances

3:35:153:35:19

and not other circumstances.

3:35:193:35:20

The actual underlying moral and ethical issues

3:35:203:35:23

have not been discussed.

3:35:233:35:24

I think, though, the majority of people at home

3:35:243:35:27

want health and education on the agenda.

3:35:273:35:29

Our education system is a mess.

3:35:293:35:31

40% of our young children are leaving

3:35:313:35:33

without GCSE English and maths, yet our politicians can stand up

3:35:333:35:38

and say we have a world-class education system.

3:35:383:35:40

I think most people find that offensive, and the nonchalance with

3:35:403:35:44

which our politicians seem to talk about our education system,

3:35:443:35:47

there is a real worry out there

3:35:473:35:48

that we are losing people, they are leaving because they don't

3:35:483:35:52

have prospects here, and that we don't have a skilled workforce.

3:35:523:35:55

And of course I am going to say there's a huge worry that we have

3:35:553:35:58

hung our hat, as I said, on corporation tax

3:35:583:35:59

while at the same time reducing skills

3:35:593:36:02

and reducing money to higher and further education.

3:36:023:36:04

Rick, that brings us on to the issue of voter apathy and turnout.

3:36:043:36:08

Again, does that matter? Some people are fairly relaxed about it

3:36:083:36:12

and say that it's up a bit, it's down a bit.

3:36:123:36:14

Nigel Dodds made the point that it's better here, much better here,

3:36:143:36:17

than in Scotland and Wales, but is that enough?

3:36:173:36:19

In 2011, there were five constituencies

3:36:193:36:22

where the turnout fell below 50%,

3:36:223:36:24

and they were largely in the east of Northern Ireland.

3:36:243:36:28

I think there could be more this time.

3:36:283:36:29

I think if the overall turnout falls below 50%,

3:36:293:36:32

then the legitimacy of the Assembly

3:36:323:36:34

and the Executive has to be put in question.

3:36:343:36:37

Now, you might say that's because most people perhaps are content

3:36:373:36:41

or at least complacent, or that they are utterly disaffected.

3:36:413:36:45

And I think where I maybe part company

3:36:453:36:48

a bit with Deirdre on the moral issues, I think that partly

3:36:483:36:51

because there are very strong single-issue campaigns

3:36:513:36:54

across Northern Ireland, particularly, I think,

3:36:543:36:57

on the abortion issue, over in the west

3:36:573:36:59

and certainly certain parts of Belfast,

3:36:593:37:02

there are huge leafleting campaigns on "no change to the law".

3:37:023:37:05

But I was a bit surprised Danny Kennedy actually said

3:37:053:37:07

he was opposed to same-sex relationships, full stop,

3:37:073:37:10

not even same-sex marriage.

3:37:103:37:12

But I think the important part

3:37:123:37:13

is I don't believe that it is voter apathy,

3:37:133:37:16

I think it's voter disengagement, voter anger.

3:37:163:37:18

And I think Claire Hanna was right

3:37:183:37:20

when she said that people are politically engaged,

3:37:203:37:22

they're just not engaged with Stormont because they see

3:37:223:37:24

that it hasn't delivered. We were told by Peter Robinson

3:37:243:37:27

that it would be all about delivery.

3:37:273:37:28

It simply has not delivered for people.

3:37:283:37:30

And as Stephen Farry said, the smaller parties,

3:37:303:37:33

even when they put forward good ideas,

3:37:333:37:34

can simply be vetoed, brushed aside.

3:37:343:37:36

-They can't get their ideas put forward.

-OK.

3:37:363:37:38

I agree with Deirdre too about disengagement

3:37:383:37:41

and one of the great white hopes of the election, I suppose,

3:37:413:37:44

is the Good Friday generation of first-time voters,

3:37:443:37:46

whether they'll turn out to vote and we know from polling evidence

3:37:463:37:50

that they are much more liberally minded

3:37:503:37:52

on the moral and ethical issues that we were discussing.

3:37:523:37:55

But getting them out of bed to the opinion polls

3:37:553:37:57

I think is going to be a big problem.

3:37:573:37:59

But they could have a decisive outcome if they were so motivated.

3:37:593:38:03

I think one of the more energetic episodes during the course

3:38:033:38:05

of the campaign was the Good Friday generation programme

3:38:053:38:08

that Tara Mills and Stephen Nolan did

3:38:083:38:10

and you saw a lot of very well-informed, engaged young people.

3:38:103:38:14

How representative they are, though, well, I just hope they are.

3:38:143:38:17

-Getting any of us out of bed might be the issue.

-Well, that's true.

3:38:173:38:20

That's what it makes it all so fascinating.

3:38:203:38:22

Thank you both very much indeed. That is it for today.

3:38:223:38:24

Don't forget the leaders' debate on Tuesday at 8pm on BBC One.

3:38:243:38:27

I'll be here with The View, as usual,

3:38:273:38:29

straight after the polls close on Thursday at 10.45.

3:38:293:38:33

And our Election 2016 results coverage

3:38:333:38:35

starts at 3pm on Friday afternoon on BBC One.

3:38:353:38:39

If politics is your thing,

3:38:393:38:40

you're in the right place for the next seven days. Bye-bye.

3:38:403:38:43

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