03/02/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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

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$:/STARTFEED. And on Sunday politics in Northern Ireland, the


planning Minister defends his controversial Sprucefield ruling


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2425 seconds


against the DUP's Simon Hamilton. Good morning. Welcome it to Sunday


Politics in Northern Ireland. Hundreds of jobs gone as Alex


Attwood insists there will be no John Lewis store at Sprucefield.


Will the matter be taken out of his hands? Also as MLAs try to clamp


down on the abuse on social networks sites, will they find the


internet uncontrollable. With me to talk about that is Joanne Stuart


and the Belfast Telegraph's Liam Clarke. As the economic decline


continues, Northern Ireland has waved goodbye to 150 new jobs and a


�150 million investment. John Lewis has withdrawn spans to build a


store in sprays they have after the Environment Minister insisted it


was Belfast or nowhere for the scheme. This has angered his


colleagues, how has the news gone down with the citizens of Lisburn?


Are they relieved or cheated? a disgrace. I think in the economic


climate, especially in the building industry, and it needed a boost.


is because of Belfast do not want us to have it. I think it would be


terrible if they go to Dublin and do not stay at here. I think John


Lewis has shown remarkable endurance and patience about this.


It has been nine years. To come to Lisburn? If they are thinking about


taking the trade out of the city centre, they should have stayed


anyway. In it is out of my price range, but I have a neighbour who


would go to hell and back for John Lewis. The occurrence state of the


economy, is it worth while are putting up a new store? Will they


get much business? There are probably shops that are struggling


as it is. Does Lisburn need an expensive store? They have been


talking about it for ages, it is like asking a girl out, if she does


not make her mind up. Alex Attwood joins me and the D B MLA Simon


Hamilton. How is red-carding a development on this scale good news


for Northern Ireland PLC? Basque people in Lisburn, Newtownards,


Craigavon, were it something of this character were to happen at


Sprucefield, 20 stores, twice the size of Forest side, the evidence


is overwhelmingly that it would have serious detrimental impact,


measured up to 30% on all the town centres and city centres of Greater


Belfast and beyond. That means consequences in terms of thousands


of job losses potentially and business closures. That is why,


when we have a Belfast first policy, but we have built up and the City,


invested in Titanic, there may even be a City University coming, why


would we turn on our head the established proper policy for


retail development? In this case, John Lewis has made it clear it


wants to come up to Lisburn or Dublin. The Belfast first policy is


a red herring. You have turned this into Belfast only! You are thumbing


your nose at this Investment! policy I am adopting is the a


policy adopted by the Executive. It says that in order to drive the


economy of Northern Ireland, you need to have a vibrant and bright


Belfast. That is why all that investment across Heritage, tourism,


Bart's, the Titanic has come here. A vital and vibrant Belfast as part


of a strong town and city centre retail policy, in the greater


Belfast area and beyond, that is the best model. The notion of that


he's send the message from Peter Robinson by the proposal going


ahead, that these towns and cities have to sink and swim on their own,


it is not credible. This is an Executive policy, we might not like


it, we have to stick to it and get on with it! Sprucefield was


designated within the regional development strategy as the only


regional out of town shopping centre Humbert in Northern Ireland


and Alex Attwood talked about a recession, we cannot afford to lose


this investment at any time. These are not just any jobs, these are


some of the best jobs in retail in Britain. John Lewis employees rank


the company as one of the best he in the UK. Employees become


shareholders in the company. What if it means displacement of jobs


and other town and city centres are losing out? This will lead to


disinvestment. This is not a case of Lisburn losing out and Belfast


benefiting. This is a case of the - - Northern Ireland losing out. John


Lewis will re-examine and move forward on plans to go to Dublin


and that is not good for Northern Ireland. It is taking much needed


investment away from Northern Ireland and taking it to Dublin.


That is not good for Belfast, Lisburn are anywhere in Northern


Ireland. That is not the evidence. The evidence that I gave to the


planning inquiry is that the impact upon it Belfast would be 15%, the


impact upon a Lisburn would be 25% of retail, in Craigavon a 35% and


so on for Newtownards, Newry and other parts of the North. This will


have an impact. The issue is not John Lewis, it is a scale of


development at Sprucefield of the 20 shops twice the size of Forest


side. That would have a big impact. If John Lewis it go to Dublin.


might go there as well. It might be Dublin and somewhere in the north.


If they go to Dublin first, they will establish the distribution


centre there and that will take a huge percentage of jobs there that


we cannot get back. If it goes to Dublin, then four the period of


time it that it is there, which is not likely to happen now, they have


said they are not going to Belfast. If people take the John Lewis trade


to Dublin, them way the -- when they are there, they will purchase


other goods and services. That is why we will lose out. This is a


Belfast decision taken by a Belfast Minister in the interests of your


home city. Would you and you be different if you had MLAs in Lagan


Valley? My responsibility... Your party is pretty it's the --


interested in another development. The DUP has questions to answer.


They have been on the back foot about their political contact --


conduct and they want to turn the story around. My job is not to make


plans based upon the next month to the next year. My job is to give


advice and the advice has to be what is in the national interest.


Let us hear what the DUP plans to do about this. The First Minister


has made it clear he is not happy. He says it is bad news for Northern


Ireland. He says ministers should encourage investment. He is not


holding back on what he says. What does he do? He goes back to the


Executive and tries to call in at the decision, over remit? This has


been taken out of his hands. He he is the Minister! Changes to the


Northern Ireland Act have been amended to allow for the First


Minister and the Deputy First Minister to act jointly to bring


controversial decisions into the Executive. We are going to have all


sorts of issues brought back that have been made by your ministers as


well. That is the point of having shared government. We cannot have


one Minister moving ahead on one decision. This is an issue of such


significance to the economy, it is not just about the investment and


jobs, it is about the impression it gives potential investors, if you


want to come here and make that investment, you are told by


government Minister that you are not welcome. Members of the


Executive may gang up on you! deal with this impression that I


said this to developers? I know that the system that I inherited


from the DUP and I know the character of it today were we are


turning around all the significant applications, were we had in six


months alone 250 renewable applications sent out. The


character of planning today compared to 18 months ago has sent


out a strong message to investors that we will get the decisions made.


The Michelle O'Neill made a decision and I backed her up at the


Executive and in writing around the proposed move to Ballykelly. It was


taken because of ministerial authority. The win he turned down


an investment and all those jobs, that sends a message to investors


and it is not a good message. not a pro economy message. Let us


get a business response. Let us bring in it Joe and Stuart and Liam


Clarke from the Belfast Telegraph. What is your position on this. Do


you come down on one side as to whether or not at the development


should or should not happen? shows the difficulties we have with


the planning system. The fact it has taken and nine E years and we


have had a different interpretation of planning policy. The economic


investment is really important to Northern Ireland. We have had a


difficult few months were we have been getting the wrong message


going out across the world and we want to get these high-quality


businesses coming into Northern Ireland. You also have people who


say we need to deal with the issue of out of town shopping centres.


They say it will have a detrimental effect on other places. If you look


at this decision, 30 years down the line, it is the right decision, but


in the next six months, it looks like the wrong decision. We need to


look at how we maximise the investment. Sprucefield is existing


there. We will not have another harbour creating further problems.


We will look at how we invigorate the city centres. People are


looking for different things. We cannot remove the people's choice.


We have to give them different reasons to go into the city centre.


This is about looking at how we look at culture and how that can


help to reinvigorate. I have worked with theatre companies about how


would you reinvigorate empty retail units. That is on one scale, it is


not on the scale of 1,500 jobs and millions of pounds worth of


investment. We have to look at it creatively about how we are


reinvigorating its city centres. Stopping one development will not


be to do this. It seems to send a bad image for Northern Ireland if


we lose it John Lewis. The danger for Alex Attwood, who has speeded


up planning procedures, he has a danger of going it down in history


as a man who lost this very significant landmark Investment. It


will open up interesting issues in the Executive. The DUP seem to have


done their homework. Or ruling and Minister, that impinges on a system


which is dear to Sinn Fein. They may have the right to call it in,


but there is a question if the Sinn Fein would support it. It could


open up a can of worms? Be it opens up a precedent. If Sinn Fein agreed


to it and it seems to me that the Executive can take the decision and


the question will be what lino will see Sinn Fein it take. It is quite


a political decision. It has quite a way to run. Let me ask you, if


this decision is called in and comes back to the Executive and if


the First Minister and Deputy First Minister say they are not happy,


would you feel the need to resign? I find buys up under pressure all


the time, it will not turn me away from what it Joanna the just said.


Whether it is the towns of Greater Belfast or beyond or Belfast city


centre, we have to protect in in- town retail. The consequences of


the closure of further businesses, in a situation where in Belfast we


have 25% of vacancies on Ready, the consequences in my view, there is


an argument, it is difficult, this is the time and place where we say


that we stand by our policy, stand by our retailers and we want to


bring other people, but there are times when a line has to be drawn.


How would the DUP feel if you get your way and it does not happen in


Belfast and it goes ahead as breeze filled but then it town centres and


city centres like Lisburn actually suffer and you lose a jobs?


threat to town and city centres is not coming from John Lewis, it is


coming from online retail. That is threatening our city and town


centres. The point about reinvigorating the centres is not


helped by turning away potential investors, it is about sprucing


them up and doing other things that attract people in, not just retail.


We need to leave it there. In a moment, the challenge of policing


social networking websites. First a look back at the political week


with Gareth Gordon. The murder of a Garda officer prompted Gerry Adams


to issue an apology to victims of the IRA in the Republic. By want to


apologise to the family and to the other families of other members of


the state forces. Loyalist like protesters said they would change


tactics, they will hold white line of pickets and target council


meetings. The National crime agency will not operate here following


objections from Sinn Fein and the SDLP and the Justice Minister says


it is a mistake. It is a get out of jail card for the Crumlin Road


courthouse by St MLAs. As Ballymena honours Liam Neeson, a Holywood


star revealed the secret of his success. I have got a work ethic


that I have got from Ballymena. Gareth Gordon reporting. Is the


internet the crucible of the freedom of expression or a haven


for sex offenders, he to groups and social misfits? This week there


will be two motions calling for increased control about what goes


on on the internet especially social media websites. The issue of


the flag protests has brought the issue to the fore. Your party is


proposing a one of the motions, the other is a cross-party motion. What


is the issue? What are your concerns? What of the major issues


is that sectarianism has grown new legs through social media.


Certainly anyone who uses Facebook or Twitter will see some extreme


examples of sectarianism and a lot of it seems to go ahead without any


punishment or been taken aside. It is hard to police. That is the


fundamental point. It is impossible. In his difficult. In terms of local


agencies, they do not know how to do with it. A lot of the complaints


are dealt with under the Communications Act, but what is of


interest is that in England, Keir Starmer her and the CPS have issued


guidance and I think we need, not the same guidelines, but guidelines


that would be sufficient in dealing with the problems that we have,


particularly with regard to sectarianism. Does the legislation


not already exist? It is about the effective use of it. That is the


distinction between the legislation and guidance. I think that the


Public Prosecutions Service needed to set an example and set out clear


points that police and others should abide by. I think that this


it needs to be done urgently but we also need to guard against the


situation where police will be bald did down by a lot of work with


regards to the internet. We need to distinguish between the more


serious and the less serious issues. So on people believe that the lot


macro has been heavy-handed already. We need to distinguish between what


is most serious and what is not. In terms of sectarianism, a lot of


this behaviour on the internet... Can you not just block or on follow


these people? If you took everything seriously, you would not


get out of bed in the morning. that is the case, the same should


apply to town centres are places of work, but we cannot allow this


precedent to be set on the internet. It is a public place. The this is a


global issue. This is a problem for politicians. Our MLAs will not sort


this out, this is a huge global issue. We needed to ensure the


legislation and guidance and regulations are in place to ensure


that there are examples -- examples set. Not only in terms of


sectarianism, there have been examples work young people have


taken their own lives as a result of cyber bullying. That is a good


reason why we should be doing some urgent work on this. Thank you. Let


us here are your thoughts. Do you think we needed to step up and try


to police the internet? Does it need to be more heavy hand at?


There has to be more prosecutions, more visibility of people being


taken it to account about this. What about more education? Media


literacy is a big thing. People know how to use the technology, but


do not understand the consequences. You need to know how to behave


online. There is a fundamental free speech issue at the heart of this


as well. Yes. It is being policed to affair extent. Two loyalist


sides were taken down recently. That is continuing. I remember


there was a man who was barred from social media for harassing people


who had put websites up in tribute to dead children and he got a


custodial sentence. There is legislation there. There is


something in the education thing and perhaps there should be


warnings on Facebook that you are subject to the law of defamation.


That would make people fully aware that this is not something you can


do, like talking to your friends in that their car but. In it is about


educating friends. It is internet safety day on Tuesday. He does


about the education of parents. There is a positive side. If you


live in Japan, where social media was used and helped in that


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