01/07/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


01/07/2012

Andrew Neil and Tara Mills with the latest political news and debate including the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, on plans to reform the second chamber.


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The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on the Queen, the

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discrimination tribunal and reconciliation. Join me in half-an-

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1683 seconds

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Welcome to the programme. Momentous, historic, unprecedented,

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however you look at it, this week saw yet another landmark moment. A

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once unthinkable gesture between a former IRA leader and the Commander

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in Chief of the British armed forces. We will hear from a man --

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the man at the centre of it all, Martin McGuinness. With this, Alex

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Kane and Eamonn McDermott. This week's handshake ended months

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of speculation and discussion as the Deputy First Minister met the

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Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. On Friday I interviewed Martin

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McGuinness and began by asking him if he had been nervous.

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No, not in the least. I obviously understood the historical

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significance of what was about to happen and what did happen. Not in

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the least nervous, because I had a very clear understanding that

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whenever the Palace decided that she would participate in this event

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under the auspices of co-operation Ireland and they -- and in the

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company of Peter Robinson and myself, I knew I was dealing with

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people who were anxious to ensure that this symbolic act would feed

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into the peace process in a very powerful way. Of course, the next

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phase of that process has to be a process of reconciliation. I hope

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the work that others within Sinn Fein and the Unionist community,

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and a Protestant churches who are at the exploratory stage of this

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process, can use what happened on Wednesday as a powerful indicator

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that Sinn Fein are not playing games with this issue. This is a

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very important issue and one to which we intend to contribute in a

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positive and meaningful way. There has been lots of meaningful

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coverage about your personal journey, with pictures going back

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to the early 1970s. Is there a particular moment in the last 40

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years when he went from sighing never, going from war to peace, was

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there were part -- a defining moment? The last 40 years has been

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an incredible journey. There's nothing romantic about it, nothing

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glorious about it at, and nothing glorious about war. I was always

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very conscious of that. We live in a time -- we lived in a time were

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better battles were taking place, where people were poorer opposites

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and when there was a dismal failure of politics and politicians,

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particularly on the British government's side. For me, it was

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about recognising that we were in the midst of a conflict, one that

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conceivably could have gone on for a very long time, even to this day.

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When it comes to meeting the Queen this week, could you have ever

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envisaged when you were in the earlier part of your journey by you

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would have met the Queen? honest answer is no. Likewise, in

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the early stages of this process, particularly in the aftermath of

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the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, when the Democratic

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Unionist Party said that Berra raison d'etre was to bring about

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the destruction of the agreement, I never imagined that a number of

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years later I would have walked into government alongside Ian

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Paisley, which was another historic moment in 2007. You soon learn,

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when you're in this process, that sometimes anything is possible.

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When it comes to the day of a handshake and the meeting, there

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has been speculation that the Duke of Edinburgh doctor out of the way.

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Is that how you interpreted it? at all. It is typical of the media,

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trying to speculate about what happened. What happens in

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circumstances like that is that Prince Philip knows whenever Queen

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Elizabeth moves at any event, he has to be close by her side. My

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sense of it was that is what happened. It was a very good

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natured meeting. It was very powerful. It was very nice and it

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was a coming together of people who obviously had different allegiances,

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but it was a very genuine act of peace and reconciliation. Prince

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Philip was as much of that -- a part of that as Queen Elizabeth,

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Peter Robinson, the President of Ireland, and myself. You said bet

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you wanted to shake hands of every Protestant and Unionist. How does

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the judgment from Conor Murphy's discrimination case tie into that?

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Is that not disappointing and embarrassing for Sinn Fein?

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been released. This is far from finished. People are seeking legal

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advice and I would not be at all surprised if this decision was to

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be appeased, possibly not just by Conor Murphy but the department and

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officials who are associated with the department. We will await the

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outcome. There is not a sectarian bone in Conor Murphy's body. Conor

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Murphy is part of our leadership. Naturally, it is disappointing that

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such a verdict was reached by the tribunal, but that will have to run

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its course and it will become something to discuss at some stage.

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Does this not call for his resignation? We have to be mature

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about this. What is called into question is whether a minister has

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a right to make a ministerial appointment, or are ministerial did

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-- appointment going to be dictated by a body which is not part of the

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government? It is suggested he changed the criteria. We will leave

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that to the appeals process. I will not get into analysing the decision

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or the response, except to say but I would have no active part in

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being involved in an administration that is prepared to discriminate

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against anybody. As Irish republicans, who have been long

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discriminated against ourselves, the last thing we want to do is

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impose any form of discrimination or inequality on any body from the

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Protestant community. You have talked about lots of Never Say

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Never moments and the art of the impossible. Can you imagine a time

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that Sinn Fein would take seas at Westminster? No, and I made a

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speech in the House of Commons at - - last night that I will be shortly

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resigning my seat because Sinn Fein has decided that double-jobbing

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will end. We will be engaging with political parties at Westminster

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and on the international stage. I said last night that people need to

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respect our position in this. This is a very principled republican

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position of long-standing. When we stand in elections we seek support

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from the electorate on the basis of our abstentionist policy and in

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five very powerful constituencies in the north, we have received the

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support of the people. Is that an admission by do still have some way

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to go in terms of convincing Unionists of the ideal of a united

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Ireland? The honest answer is yes. Unionist allegiance is to what they

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call the United Kingdom, and our allegiance is to the island of

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Ireland and the people of Ireland. But should not prevent us from

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continuing to be involved in joint processes, which make people's

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lives better. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I hope to

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see through our speaker at the Assembly, and the Speaker of the

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Irish parliament, making no public announcement that there will be a

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meeting of an Inter Parliamentary Association made up of equal

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numbers from Dublin and the Northern Ireland Assembly. All of

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that is an example of how we can move forward to ensure that

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politicians on the island of Ireland are involved in very

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serious discussions and deliberations about how we can, for

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example, work together economic lead to make life better for the

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people we represent. It has been said this week they you do not gain

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anything from being involved over the last 40 years. What motivates

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you? I am an Irish republican. I want to bring about a free and

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independent Ireland but I want to do that by purely peaceful and

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democratic means. I say that as someone who was involved in the

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conflict and has not been afraid to say that I was involved in the

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conflict. Does that help motivate you, the regret about the people

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died? It motivated me. We address this earlier, I said that I came to

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be conclusion that there was a monetary stalemate. If there is a

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stalemate, if that monetary struggle continues, people are

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going to lose their lives. If people like Gerry Adams and myself

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had not been involved in trying to get a ceasefire in 194 -- 1994, I

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have no doubt that the IRA would still been fighting the British

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Army to this very day. The roads would still have been covered by a

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British army checkpoint. Things have changed because we made it

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changed. Alex Kane, a robust defence of

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Conor Murphy. Does that surprise you? Not at all. When you hear a

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Sinn Fein minister said that there is not a sectarian bone in his

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colleague's body, you almost expect it to be followed by a statement

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that some of his friends are in the Orange Order. I suspect that Conor

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Murphy did make a huge mistake. It may not have been made as a

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sectarian mistake, but there was a decision that someone should not

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have been in a position because of his political background. How has

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the handshake gone down in Derry? It sounds as if there are two

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different sides. Some people think there is disquiet, something it was

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a damp squib? -- some think it was. It is politics of the jester. I did

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a piece for the newspaper during the week and one man said to me, it

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will make no difference. There is disquiet. The Queen is not held in

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great esteem in nationalist circles. It is not looked upon as anything

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major in the sense that she is some figure of importance. There is

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disquiet in that Martin McGuinness says he is still a Republican.

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People are saying, how can a Republican shake hands with the

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head of British state? People are also saying that it is a step

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forward, it had to come at some stage. There are mixed feelings.

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How do you think it has gone in the Unionist community? There is a

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Jekyll and Hyde man of the station. On Wednesday, you had the bonhomie,

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by handshakes, the smiles. 24 hours later, Martin McGuinness was in

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London, blaming the British for everything. He is justifying the 40

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years of his own involvement in it the terrorist struggle and talking

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about reconciliation which only requires that section of Unionism

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to take them over. On one hand he says he is doing it to help but on

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the other hand he is been terribly insulting and terror be petty. --

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terribly Petit. Did he have to play a bike that? You have to remember

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that Sinn Fein are playing an All Ireland ticket. Shaking hands with

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the British Queen is popular in the south, and they will gain a lot of

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credos in the south. It is not so popular in the south. They are

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taking a risk in a strategy, saying they can't pick up support in the

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south and hoping they do not lose it in the north. It is a balancing

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act and I think time will tell whether it has paid off. The Inter

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Parliamentary formant -- forum will meet at Stormont, how do you think

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it will go down? I think it is part of the optics. Both sides will take

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what they want but no decisions will be made.

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Thousands braved the wane and stood for ours included -- juice two cat

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Je Adams of the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee trap. -- thousands

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braved the rain and stayed for hours to capture a glimpse of the

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Queen. For anyone who has lost family who

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were volunteers, to them it will be a very sad day it because he will

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I am still a Republican. How does it feel to meet the Queen? Very

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It is different days and shows how There was more than one political

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story this week. It was not all fun A very long week for customers of

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the Ulster Bank. The problems are not over yet. The issue is complex

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and challenging but we are making progress. It will be next week.

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schools can bank on a brighter future after a large amount of

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money, 173 million, was made available for new buildings. For it

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every school that announced today, as many need investment. There were

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calls for investment in the water and sewerage system after heavy

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rain brought some of the worst flooding seen in Northern Ireland

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in years. The fire service, no response. Northern Ireland Water,

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no response. It is despicable in this day and age. And of course,

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there was a HANDSHAKE -- and of course, there was THAT handshake.

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It is a further to a bid that has been cast to decide. It shows that

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we are becoming a normal society. There is a story today about the

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parlous the estate of an IRA apology. Martin McGuinness said it

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was nonsense last night. It says they are going to decide that the

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armed struggle was legitimate, yet apologised to security forces

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victims. You cannot apologise if you do not think it is wrong.

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Republicans have apologised to what they class as the innocent victims

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of their campaign. He wrote down that road would be a step too far

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from or even the most hardened Republican. There is a demand from

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Unionists. Gregory Campbell said it was time for republicans to say

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that their campaign was wrong. That is a total disavowal of everything

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you believe in. I cannot see be grass roots supporting that.

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would it make a difference to Unionists? I do not think it would

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make a difference. I do not see how they could do that after what

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Martin McGuinness said on Thursday. I do not think Unionists are

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looking for that sort of gesture. If they are looking for anything it

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is a government working in Northern Ireland for Northern Ireland.

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had a good example of that this week, it was Stormont's chance to

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shine. They failed miserably in their reaction to the floods.

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live in East Belfast and at one stage I thought I would need a boat.

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I could not get any services for six hours. If they cannot deal with

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something that basic, and they knew it was going to happen, they have

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had experience of this in the past five years and every single

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occasion they have got it completely wrong. Handing out just

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�1,000 is ridiculous. That will not play well with victims? I think

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