09/03/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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are the business consultant and commentator Joanne Stuart and the


Belfast Telegraph's political editor, Liam Clarke.


The controversy surrounding the On the Run letters has dominated


politics here for the last two weeks. The Secretary of State may


have announced the scheme is over, but the fallout out from the


"comfort letters" is set to rumble on for months.


So can the First and Deputy First Ministers set aside their


differences this week as they head to America to meet investors and


politicians? We'll hear from Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey in just a moment.


But first, when our political correspondent Martina Purdy spoke to


Peter Robinson on Friday, she asked him how significant the announcement


from the Secretary of State is. The one that is still left to be


dealt with is whether there are ongoing investigations into the


cases were letters have been issued and that is a vital area because


without those ongoing investigations into those cases then largely the


cases are closed. We want that clarification from the PSNI.


The scheme was set to be ended in 2012, what is new about what has


been said. Since 2012 they taken further applications but there


be an important factor. Do you believe what you have been told us


last week you said you were deceived by the government? I happy that we


have inquiry is coming out of our eyes and


have inquiry is coming out of our the outstanding cases, six cases


now. I do satisfy these are off of the table? I do not have to guess at


this any longer that is what we have an inquiry for. It is not just those


six cases because I still have to be satisfied that there are no other


cases and the system. Do not forget, there have been many different


entries into the system. The Irish government put forward under the


terms of the administrative scheme that came through Sinn Fein and the


also came through the prison service and I am still at odds to imagine


how the prison service could have been action in ten cases and what


relevance it would have to the prison service or indeed as I


understand that solicitors have been putting in cases as well. You cannot


be sure that those five or six cases of OTRs are the table? The Secretary


of State has spoken about that but I do not have any knowledge and I


cannot answer that question. The Secretary of State has made comments


that there will be a full inquiry and the Westminster led inquiry and


the Justice Committee inquiry and the Policing Board inquiry and at


the end of that we will know the truth. What about the fact that you


ask for the letters to be descended, they have not been


rescinded? You have decided that? What does rescinding mine? I thought


it meant making it null and void. If you no longer have those letters and


being able to stop anyone from being arrested, from being questioned,


from being prosecuted, they are null and void. I only need one other


Catholic and I asked for it earlier in this interview and that is to


ensure that those letters are not a mechanism to stop further


investigation of the cases, the files must be open and continually


reviewed and updated to see if new evidence can be brought about. Your


meeting Bill Clinton ever this week. How did that meeting go? We had a


very good meeting with President Clinton. He is well known to us and


we have met him many times. He understands the difficulties of the


process and we talked about the difficulties and how we may move


forward to deal with these issues. I made it clear in the Assembly before


that Bill Clinton met us and these were issues that could not be


dodged. They have to be dealt with and whether we deal with them now or


in six months' time, it is still a vital issue that must be resolved.


Everyone was aware that the leaders' talks were carrying forward


the agenda and in my view we have made considerable progress and I


indicated that two Martin McGuinness and David Ford in a meeting that the


three of us attended. We were making good progress and then this came out


and it has derailed the process, especially for the Ulster unionist


Party. In terms of the past, it has stayed the process until we know the


outcome of the judge-led inquiry. Is that why there has been no meetings


with party leaders this week? We were sitting down and trying to deal


with issues relating to the past. One of those key elements was what


form of justice could we get for those who still have not had justice


for the loss of loved ones and that the same time we were uncertain as


to what the outcome of this process would be so that is a factor. It


does not stop us from continuing to talk to those other two areas in


relation to parades or flags and I believe that the work that should


continue. What about speculation that President Obama may be said


that he does not want to meet you and Martin McGuinness in Washington


this week? We have met the president at least half a dozen times and he


is always glad to talk to us and we are all was glad to talk to him and


to indicate the progress we are making and the difficulties we are


facing. We are always making and the difficulties we are


relation to our economy. Meetings are always set up as they have been


in the past. I recognise the president will be very busy with


events in the Ukraine but no one can take anyone and anything for granted


but they are glad to have this meeting. But you are only meeting


Vice-President Joe Biden? We will be meeting him as well, yes.


Peter Robinson speaking to Martina Purdy.


Sinn Fein claims the move to stop the OTR scheme is "another


ill-informed, ill-timed intervention by Theresa Villiers in relation to


the peace process". The party's South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey is


with me now. What does the Secretary of State's


statement on Friday change? Thank you for joining us. Essentially


nothing because this scheme was agreed between the British


Government and the Irish Government as far back as 2001. The process has


been underway throughout all those years and we have heard of this and


last week all of the wide range of examples that this process was under


way and someone may argue they were not aware of any letter but they


were aware of the process being underweight. It has been announced.


We know that all of the parties were aware of this process so why did


they not bother to find out whether there was a letter or a phone call


or how was this information to be translated to the people who had


sought clarification? It does not change anything.


So the Secretary of State is correct when she said these letters will not


amount to any amnesty or get you out of jail? That is correct? No one


ever claimed anything different. Only politicians who try to make


more out of it than what it was. That is the irony of all of this.


They are worth a lot on two bases. The letter is clear in number of


individuals who wants to come home and


individuals who wants to come home clear them on the fact that there


was nothing against them. The word cleared could be misinterpreted. It


cleared the status. Anyone could go forward today, it is the legal


entitlements, to go forward today and asked for clarification and say


that this particular scheme, anyone has the right to look at it. It is


important for two reasons, on the good faith, all of the recipients of


the letters are able to rebuild their lives. The second, an


arrangement was reached by both arguments as far back as 2001 and


any resistance to that would be poor.


So, was Ian Paisley right when he said on Thursday night that what


OTRs now have in their pockets are a "beaten docket"? He's right when he


says those individuals know "we're coming after them" as he put it? Ian


Paisley has said a lot over the years. His comments are totally


irrelevant to me. So you had a deal and the British


Government has now broken that deal? He was happy that the British Prime


Minister is looking at this inquiry. But Peter Robinson seems to be happy


one day and not the next. What does he really want? Peter Robinson and


others have created a storm and they do not know where it will end up and


they may end up regretting creating this storm, they have created a


crisis. Let us be clear, a crisis was created that did not need to be


met. It would have been better to be is this other one. They say that


this was a side deal that they knew nothing about and would never have


been agreed to. Rosett -- misrepresent the truth.


They have welcomed the fact that there are four inquiries. We have


had a number of announcements. Is Sinn Fein prepared to co-operate


with the multiplicity of inquiries which are happening - Westminster,


Stormont, the Policing Board and David Cameron's judge-led inquiry?


Will the party give evidence? Will you encourage republicans to


give evidence? We will have to look at that. People will make their own


judgements. We will be party to that. We will see how these


processes unfold but the reality is there is an outstanding issue of a


number of OTRs which was an agreement between two governments


which is why we have said that Peter Robinson's announcement does not


amount to a lot. What is very clear is that both governments made this


announcement, a joint announcement so they came to the agreement. It


was not Sinn Fein who conjured up the process. The process was reached


between the British Government and the Irish Government and that is


where we are. Would you envisage members of the


Sinn Fein party attending the Select Committee? We will have to see how


it goes. We have addressed some of those divisions in the past. Our MPs


attend Westminster on a regular basis and we have spoken to a select


group before. I would not rule it out. But people need to wait and see


where we want to go with it. Alex Maskey, thank you.


Much to discuss with our guests of the day, Liam Clarke and Joanne


Stuart. What did you make with the comments from Theresa Villiers and


the comments by Peter Robinson, we are on this? Theresa Villiers set


out the position of the government formally but it does not change


much. My understanding is that charge at the moment, that is what


the letters are saying. They will now be checked to ensure that there


is no mistakes that of John Downey where there was evidence and there


will be a search for new evidence and if that is brought in then


people can be questioned, charged and the old evidence used against


them. Not coming from this from a political viewpoint but a wider


civic society viewpoint, argue heartened that we now have four


investigations looking at this, does that help us understand what


happened and where the confusion came about, what precisely the


position is on OTR or are in danger of simply making it even more


impossible to work out what happened the more we examine and re-examine


the facts? I think there is a bit of both the, Mark. No one is under any


illusion as to the difficulties that are going to come up as we move


through the peace process. And it is basically how we deal with them.


Having these inquiries enables people independently to look into


what happened and what the situation as an provide that clarity is very


important, but from a civic society and business perspective, it is the


length of time that these inquiries can take and also it is making sure


that it does not derail any of the progress that we're making, June,


particularly on the likes of the Haass talks. The Deputy First


Minister and First Minister go to LA tomorrow to meet the Vice President


of America. How do they achieve anything and fly the flag for


Northern Ireland, forgive me, when they have these difficult domestic


issues? It is about mood music going to America. Peter Robinson talked in


terms of the Cold War with Sinn Fein. Diane Dodds would be the sole


candidate? That is correct because there is a Cold War on but it is


hard to talk in those terms and still have a productive relationship


with government. I do not see the government breaking down but we are


getting into the position where other, it is not healthy.


An attempt to tighten Northern Ireland's human trafficking laws


shouldn't be controversial. But a move to tie it to a ban on paying


for sex at the same time is proving to be just that. Opponents say such


a move would be counterproductive and not enforceable. And then


there's the position of the PSNI which has moved from not supporting


the proposal to not opposing it. So what's going on? Here's our


political crrespondent, Gareth Gordon.


This dementia in and exploitation Bill is making its way through the


Assembly. It is not being an easy journey. -- Human Trafficking Bill.


Most of the controversy has been quite by Clause six which makes it


illegal to pay for sex. At one point even the police thought this was a


bad idea until a senior officer appeared before the Stormont


committee which is going through the Bill line by line. We're not opposed


to cause sex and we have qualified support because of the consequences


that may flow and we have talked about this at some length will stop


we have looked at the vulnerability of the prostitutes. The supporters


of the bill said this about turn by the police was a vital breakthrough


but the opponents claim nothing has changed. When the PSNI comes out and


says emphatically that this is not a good piece of legislation, they then


get worried as to whether it was the place to actually get involved so


all the police are doing as saying, listen, you make the laws and we


will implement them, but in terms of are happy and do they think it will


be effective? All of the discussions I have had suggested it is


counter-productive and ultimately it is not necessary or doing a good


service to the people be trying to help. They say they do not object to


the inclusion of Kos sex but that does not represent an endorsement.


They also talked about the relationship that sex workers would


have with the PSNI. -- Clause six. relationship that sex workers would


The sponsor of this bill says they require nothing of the kind. Most of


my opponents and those opposed to this bill have kept pointing to the


fact that the police are not supporting us. From last week that


particular argument has been destroyed. It is support for Clause


six. We can play about with semantics and say it is this, that


and the other, at the end of the day they are supporting this clause and


why should women be used as a commodity? In this enlightened age


have we not moved far beyond that? Have you brought pressure on the


police? How could we do that? The police have changed their mind. That


is up to them. But absolutely, I welcome what they say, very much so,


and it was unfortunate that some of the stuff that was coming out from


the police before that was not good. I regret that but I accept that that


was where they were on the issue and I am delighted they have changed


their position. The Justice Minister opposes this new clause and regrets


the way that prostitution has come to dominate the debate over the


humans in Bell. By focusing so much on prostitution and we are taking


away from some of the other issues of human traffic and, the forced


labour and issues of domestic servitude and even organ harvesting,


all those issues that are ignored because they focus on prostitution.


Prostitution is not entirely dependent on human trafficking and


it is not solely about prostitution. Lord Morrow says the bill is


gathering support today by the but what will Sinn Fein do. Sinn Fein


already backed a campaign that calls for an end to sex trafficking and


prostitution and the South, so does that not inevitably mean the party


will back a similar change and the North? It is one thing to endorse a


campaign that has brought this courses, one which is paying for


sexual actions. This does not take account of the impact this will have


on people working in the sex trade and we think this will impact people


who will then receive bad consequences. We do not know the


scent of prostitution, we have not heard from those who are it will


impact. The decision that Sinn Fein beaches will have a huge bearing as


to whether this controversial Human Trafficking Bill will ever become


legally binding. Gareth Gordon reporting.


Now for a look back at the political week in 60 Seconds, and the


Secretary of State was at the centre of not just the On the Runs


controversy. Here's Mark Devenport. The Secretary of State said a mental


health charity would not be compensated for money spent on its


Hillsborough cottage shop. They always knew the terms that they were


allowed to go with. OTR has remained on the agenda at


the DUP took comfort from a speech by Italy's abilities. They have a


beating docket in their pocket and that changes the game considerably.


Those On the Runs tonight have squeaky bottoms because they know


they cannot count on those letters any more, we are coming after you.


President Clinton returns and asked us to get the job done. You have


inspired the world and you must finish this.


Scowling over a scarf at City Hall. Is it appropriate for a member to be


waning a football scarf? I ordered you to remain seated. You are


choosing to defy the ruling of the chair!


Mark Devenport reporting. Let's have a few final thoughts from Joanne


Stuart and Liam Clarke. It was International Women's Day


yesterday and it remains a challenge to get women engaged in politics and


taking up their seats in the boardroom. Are things improving?


They are getting better but they have not gone far enough. We still


have issues and the private sector and the public sector and nearly 50%


of women are


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