Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers are joined by Tim Farron, Iain Duncan Smith and Ukip's Bill Etheridge to discuss the latest political news, including the shadow cabinet reshuffle.
Browse content similar to 09/10/2016. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
SUNDAY POLITICS NIC C054J/02 BRD000000
Hello, and welcome to Sunday Politics.
After years of delay, all £80 million
of the fund set up to help improve deprived communities
has been allocated.
But questions are now being asked about why almost £2 million
of the Social Investment Fund is being managed by a group
with links to the UDA.
We'll hear from one of the chief architects of the fund,
the DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly, and one of its chief critics,
the Alliance Party's Chris Lyttle.
Also today, the Executive has a new approach
to how its Programme for Government will operate,
but will it make any difference?
We'll speak to one US politician who believes it will
and we'll also hear her thoughts on the battle for the White House.
And with their thoughts on all of that and more,
my guests of the day are Felicity Huston and Brian Feeney.
It was set up with the purpose of transforming working-class
communities, but since its creation the Social Investment Fund
has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, there were complaints the money wasn't getting
to communities quickly enough.
Now, the pot of £80 million has all been allocated,
but some MLAs are concerned about almost £2 million
of the funding going to a group with links to the UDA.
Emma Little-Pengelly, you were involved in this project
for quite some time, is it right to be giving
£1.7 million in Government funding to an organisation
some of whose key personnel have links
to a proscribed Loyalist organisation?
I think first of all it's worth looking at the scheme
of the Social Investment Fund.
It was an attempt to do things differently.
It was a bottom-up project.
It was very much about the community identifying problems
and identifying solutions.
In terms of the organisation you mentioned,
it's not just the Social Investment Fund that funds Charter NI.
Charter NI is funded by up to 15 different organisations,
including the Housing Executive,
Belfast City Council, North Down Council.
So there's a range of funders there. All funders,
like in the Executive Office and with the Social Investment Fund
have to assure themselves that this is a legitimate organisation,
there are legitimate governance arrangements in place
and that is what has been done in this case.
I don't think anybody's questioning that.
But what people are asking questions about is this employability scheme
which is directly funded by the Social Investment Fund,
to the tune of £1.7 million when key personnel in that organisation
have direct links to the UDA.
Are you comfortable about that?
Well, I think, first of all, and my party leader's made this very clear,
we will not be leaving the Loyalist community behind.
We want to work with the Loyalist community but what we are also
very clear about is that those people within the community
that are still involved in things like criminality and drugs
have no place in the new Northern Ireland. They've no place
in delivering these schemes.
Now, when we look at, when our Government looks at an organisation
in terms of funding, we do listen to the police,
we take a look at the governance and we have to satisfy ourselves,
absolutely have to satisfy ourselves...
Are you satisfied, then,
that Charter NI passes that governability test?
Because the chief executive of the organisation spent five years
in prison for armed robbery and possession of a firearm.
There's a senior figure in the UDA in East Belfast who
sits on Charter NI's board of directors
and his wife is a senior employee of the organisation.
And there are many community organisations
where people sit on the boards or perhaps are employed by them...
This one receiving £1.7 million of public money.
There are many others, like the West Belfast Festival, the Ashton Centre.
Yes, but we're talking about this one
and nearly £2 million of public money.
I'm asking you, are you satisfied that in this case this organisation
passes the governability test that you've just mentioned?
Absolutely, and if it didn't then Belfast City Council,
North Down Council, the Executive Office, couldn't fund it.
There is a system of checks and balances.
We've heard, and you've outlined already, there were concerns
about how quickly this scheme delivered.
One of the reasons it wasn't quick
was the number of checks and balances included
in terms of getting this money out.
They've gone through full business case, the economists,
the governance, have been scrutinised.
If we weren't satisfied by that,
then this money would not be going to that organisation.
Chris Lyttle, are you satisfied?
Well, there are some good people in good organisations that have tried
to make the most of the Social Investment Fund,
but it has been beset by a lack of openness and delay from its outset.
We had a select group of organisations invited
for the launch of the event.
The steering groups took a year to be appointed.
When they were appointed, they were given meagrely three months
to work with consultants to invite applications and to work
those up to an adequate standard, which is why it has taken around
four years for OFMDFM officials to get those programmes up to standard.
Furthermore, the steering groups were advised in
relation to the appointment of lead partner organisations
that those lead partner organisations
could only be appointed from the membership of the steering groups
that were appointed by OFMDFM, DUP
and Sinn Fein, and questions were raised as to why that wasn't
a more open application process for access to these monies.
Furthermore, there were executive programmes ongoing,
in the Employment and Learning Department for example,
that had £9 million funds
that managed to create access to education and employment
for around 5,000 young people.
That experienced cuts whilst this £80 million fund
was held in abeyance, so there have been difficulties from day one
in relation to the programme and it might be interesting to ask
if it's so effective, if OFMDFM are going to do this programme again.
Well, we'll come on to that in a second or two,
but just to stay on this point for a moment more,
are you saying that you believe there are other groups in
the communities at grassroots level
who would have been equally capable of delivering all of these projects,
which simply didn't get an opportunity to apply to run them?
Well, they certainly didn't get an opportunity
to apply to be the managing organisations.
It was from the membership
of the steering groups, is my understanding.
If that's the case, that's not acceptable, is it?
What happened to openness and transparency in government?
This was a very different way of doing a project, and it's very much
-within the context of...
-But it was a flawed way. That's the charge.
But if you look at the new Programme for Government, it's very much
about doing things differently. Now, we could have given the money
to existing schemes and existing organisations but we would've
got the same results that we were getting
and we needed something to change.
5,000 people into employment.
Hang on, this fund goes way back
beyond the new Programme for Government.
I mean, it's been five, nearly six years in the making.
But this set the seeds of looking at outcomes-based,
a different way of doing things,
trying to mix things up, and very much it was -
and Chris sat on the steering group, so Chris is aware -
that there was a very wide consultation process,
getting ideas from the maximum number of people.
This wasn't a closed scheme,
this was an idea of people putting in their ideas.
He's mentioned in terms of the managing organisations for this,
and Chris was part of those discussions.
There was a wide discussion about what way this would work.
We either went out to public procurement, we tendered for that,
which is a very lengthy process and you end up getting
the same types of organisations coming through,
which didn't produce the results before.
So this was very much about working with the community...
So it's a gamble? You accept it's a gamble?
No, it is based on a lot of thinking out there.
It's based on a lot of research.
You're going to hear about Mark Freeman
and turning the curve, and outcomes-based.
This was very much what this was based on.
It was based on doing things differently
to try to get a better result.
Some people might call it a gamble
but I would say it's worth taking that risk
to get a better outcome and better results.
Yeah, but you're assuming that is the case,
you're assuming it will work out that way, but you can't be sure.
You've said that the process of openness and
transparency in appointing the groups you set to one side
so that you wouldn't get the same groups coming forward again,
but you're taking a gamble on the groups that might come through
and you opened yourself up to the criticism
-about Charter NI for a start.
-People will always get criticised
once they try to do things differently.
-But this is public money.
-I think the issue here is,
what's the alternative? We keep doing what we've always done.
We keep putting this money in the same way,
through the same organisations, doing the same things.
If we do that, we're never going to change anything.
So, in this case, you end up with an organisation where key personnel
have a link to a Loyalist terrorist group.
And that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
This is an organisation that includes people with a past,
as do many, many community organisations.
This was about inclusion.
This was about saying to communities and community organisations,
"If you want to transform, if you want to get involved
"in proper delivering of services to the community,
"then there are a set of criteria there."
We have to look at governance and, in terms of Charter NI,
there's a board there, there's strong governance.
That is checked by every single funding organisation.
It's a good organisation delivering services.
So, belt and braces,
safety net still in place, says Emma Little-Pengelly
I think I've outlined how that's not the case.
I would say that Charter NI is involved in positive work.
Bonfire management schemes, mural replacements, childcare schemes.
So what's the problem?
Well, I've outlined the total lack
of openness and transparency in the process.
And Emma Little-Pengelly has explained why,
in these specific circumstances, another route had to be taken.
She paints a picture that existing programmes weren't working,
and that existing organisations weren't working.
The youth employment strategy that had 5,000 young people
into education and employment was working with further education
colleges, it was working with the community and voluntary sector,
who experienced significant cuts during this time when this lack of open
and transparent process was taking years to be completed.
Are you concerned, in east Belfast, that individuals who may
have been victims of the UDA would be put off applying for support
under this particular scheme?
Is there any evidence that that is the case,
because if there was evidence, you would surely know about it?
Well, it's absolutely essential that anyone involved in community work
is able to invite involvement from across the entire community,
and certainly cannot be involved
in any way in an active paramilitary organisation.
There have been serious allegations made, by BBC Spotlight,
and I think we need to hear much more from OFMDFM and from the police
as to what they're doing to respond to those allegations.
Is the scheme going to keep going? Will there be more money?
My understanding is that we're now on the delivery phase
for the entire 80 million.
That will probably take a number of years, in terms of the roll-out.
Many of these schemes are multi-year schemes.
The employment scheme, for example, will run, I think, over three years.
So I suspect that what will happen is that we will assess and evaluate
has it been effective, what's been effective, what hasn't worked
so well, what has worked well and that will all then be taken
as learning into a next phase or a new scheme or a new approach.
In a sentence, if you would,
what are your reflections on chairing the Finance Committee
on Wednesday, where the Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir
appeared before you and you had a testy conversation
-over quite some time?
-Well, the committee
wanted to give the opportunity
to the Finance Minister to make it clear that he had nothing to hide.
It was certainly a more stormy meeting than I was anticipating,
because I felt that he would take the opportunity
to be clear he had nothing to hide.
I think many people walked away from that meeting
thinking perhaps he does.
Is that what you believe?
Well, we tried to get the bottom of a range of issues.
He was very clear about a high level he had nothing to do with particular
exchanges, but he wouldn't be
and he didn't want to be questioned about any of the detail around that.
He has admitted that he had a number of pre-meetings and conversations
in relation to Jamie Bryson. I think that was probably
the most interesting aspect of it.
I think we probably do need to tease that out a bit.
And of course he made it abundantly clear at that meeting,
as you know very well, that he had no connection whatsoever
with any of the conversations that might have taken place beforehand.
Thanks, both, very much indeed.
Let's just hear the thoughts of my guests of the day,
Felicity Huston and Brian Feeney.
Felicity, what do you make of...?
Let's talk about the £1.7 million that's going from the
Social Investment Fund to this particular organisation, Charter NI.
Acceptable or not acceptable, in your view?
I think, Northern Ireland, if we eliminated anyone with a dodgy past,
people who have served time and so on, there would be a lot of spaces
up at Stormont.
That is what we have actually embraced with the Good Friday Agreement.
Yes, but those people, the argument runs, have been elected and they have been open
-about their past.
This is a different circumstance...
-..where there wasn't the normal process of procurement.
That's another matter.
Northern Ireland suffers terribly from that.
This conflict of interest thing, it's fine, you sit on a board, and you allocate money to
an organisation involved in it. That's nothing to do with
-Charter NI or anything else and who their membership is...
-You're not bothered them?
You're happy with this £1.7 million going to this organisation?
No. I think it is very wrong that somebody sits on a board and agrees
to give money to an organisation they have an involvement with.
But that happens throughout public life in Northern Ireland.
That's not special to this particular fund.
I don't know an awful lot about these guys but
it is a fact of life in Northern Ireland that we have paramilitaries,
and people with paramilitary connections throughout our structures,
and we have chosen to accept it, turn a blind eye, or work with it.
-It's not right, but that's how we live.
Just to be clear, the £1.7 million will be used by Charter NI for
That's what it's meant to deliver on the ground.
Brian Feeney, what are your thoughts about this particular case,
before we talk about the wider issues?
No public money should be given to any organisation which has
people from the UDA or any other proscribed terrorist organisation
sitting on it.
So you think that Charter NI should be ruled out of this process?
Because if you have people - and the Spotlight programme was clear about it -
if you have people with known connections to the UDA, which is an illegal organisation
which is active, it's only two months since they last killed someone.
They murdered a man in north Belfast.
There is nightly trouble in Carrickfergus. It is the UDA.
They expelled a dozen people from Tiger Bay in the last 12 months.
The gang leader who was involved in that is now on the run.
I mean, this is an organisation which is active, illegal, has never
decommissioned its weapons, and should not have anyone near public money.
But there are lots of very good people with very impressive
-track records who are involved as well...
..in Charter NI and they seriously outnumber those small number
-..who have connections, direct or indirect, to the UDA.
It doesn't matter what the small number is. The people with the small number of
connections should be thrown off.
It's as simple as that. But we have this absurd... And it's not the only organisation.
We have this absurd position where you have the Fresh Start Agreement
where people are talking about establishing
an organisation to get rid of paramilitaries, and instead of
that they're bribing paramilitaries to be good boys and it is not working.
This has been going on for years. They give money to the UVF, they give money to the UDA,
"Please don't wreck the place. We'll make you community leaders. We'll make you community workers."
-It doesn't work.
-All right. OK. That's your view.
Clearly, obviously, and you would accept, others people won't necessarily agree with it.
-It's a very interesting...
-Yeah, but they'd be wrong.
OK, in your view, of course. It's an interesting conversation piece.
Thank you very much.
Let's take a look back at the political week in 60 Seconds,
with Gareth Gordon.
Was the Finance Minister in on Daithi McKay's coaching of
Jamie Bryson? How many ways can you say no?
I have no involvement whatsoever with this particular affair. None, zilch, nada, nothing.
Danny Kennedy backed calls for the Orange Order to lift the ban
on members like him attending Catholic services.
The Orange institution will take its time and arrive at what I hope will be a sensible decision.
At the Conservative Conference the Secretary of State
tried to calm fears a hard border is looking more likely.
No-one wants to see a return to the borders of the past.
But Martin McGuinness has made his mind up.
What the Tories are doing is all about themselves.
They don't give tuppence for the island of Ireland, north or south.
The real controversy of the Conference involved a tizz over fizz and trouble over bubbles.
Somehow it got lost in translation and it became a champagne reception,
but you know, you couldn't pay for the amount of attention we have had a relation to that matter.
Arlene Foster, unrepentant about that controversial drinks do in Birmingham.
Now, the Executive has adopted a new way to manage the targets it
has set out in its draft Programme for Government.
We mentioned it a few moments ago. So will the new outcome-based approach work?
And what are the pitfalls ministers, and their senior civil servants,
need to be aware of?
The US politician Diana Urban has pioneered the system in Connecticut.
She's here to take part in a conference this week,
and she's with me now.
You're very welcome to Sunday Politics. Very nice to have you on the programme.
Tell me why are you such an advocate of the outcome-based approach?
Well, Mark, first of all I'm delighted to be here and to have
Celine from the National Children's Board get a hold of
me to talk about outcomes-based accountability.
I was eager to come over because of the success we have had
To put this in terms so that your viewers can understand,
Connecticut has a yearly budget of about 20 billion.
Of that 20 billion, 5.6 billion is spent on children and families.
I'm an economist in my other life, so when I came into the legislature,
I was like, "So what are we getting for that 5.6 billion?
"Can you tell me whether children have less asthma?
"Can you tell me whether children are reading better?
"Can you tell me whether children teen pregnancies are down?
"Can you tell me whether restraint and seclusion in our schools is a problem?
"Can you tell me whether children are graduating, whether they're attending school?"
The answer, pretty much, is, "Um... We don't really have data on that.
"So, Representative, we can tell you that if you give us more money,
"we are sure we'll be able to achieve these things."
So that's where I was introduced to outcomes-based accountability,
in the States we call it results-based accountability,
and put together a team to say, "How do we know what we are getting for our tax dollars?"
I suppose one of the criticisms is though that it is only a useful
mechanism when you look back at what the outcome or the result has been.
We have focused very much up to now on setting
a target and trying to achieve that, and that seems to be one of the key
differences, and one of the reasons that people in this part of the
world are uncomfortable, nervous about the change.
Well, I'm going to argue that point with you immediately.
If you look, we have an online report card, CT Kids Report Card.org,
and you can see we go back and look at what has happened in the past
and then we do a graph that projects into the future.
Were we not to do anything, what would happen with asthma?
What would happen with children's reading?
What if we simply allowed the curve that had been established to continue?
And I can tell you that children wouldn't be reading, there would be more
asthma, there would be more teen pregnancies, that the programmes that we had in place,
a good deal of them were not getting us where we wanted to go.
OK, but critics of the approach say it is flawed, and it's flawed for the following reason.
It's vague, it's nebulous, it's impossible to evaluate.
How do you respond to that criticism?
It's almost difficult for me to respond to that because I have
been in the middle of this for ten years.
I understand that people have difficulty with data,
but this is based on data, it's data-informed decision-making model.
So how can I tell you it's getting better?
Because I know that we are getting less children with asthma,
I know that children are now attending school when they weren't before.
I can also tell you that restraint and seclusion...
I'm not sure if that's a problem here in Ireland, but we have children with
mental health issues that are being restrained and secluded in school.
How can they learn?
I know now that we are tackling that problem
so I can tell you from data that we are getting better.
Children are better off, families are better off.
One of the goals here I suppose,
one of the outcome-based goals, is to have more people in employment.
Everybody wants more people in employment but simply saying,
"That is our goal, better jobs and more of them", doesn't necessarily mean you
-are going to deliver it in policy terms.
-You are spot on.
That is what a lot of programmes will tell you.
You'll say, "So your programme on the apprenticeship, how is it doing?"
"Oh, well, Representative, we had 600 people."
And then that's the end. I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no.
"You had 600 people. How many of them got jobs?
"And how many got jobs that lasted more than six months?
"And how many of them got jobs that allowed them to support their families?"
-I'm really doing this.
-OK. You're obviously passionate about it
and it's going to be very interesting for people here to learn from your experience.
It works, you say, in Connecticut
We'll see if it works in Northern Ireland.
I would add this also. We looked for a model that people could understand.
Like, your average person in the street could say, "Now I can
"look at this and I know what is going on,
"with children and families in the state of Connecticut."
If said to you, "Here is performance-based budgeting,"
you'd be like, "Um... Um..."
I taught performance-based budgeting. It's a hard thing to understand. This isn't.
I'll tell you what's a hard thing to understand,
and that's the US Presidential race which is under way at the moment.
-You were a Republican for four terms, you are now a Democrat.
12 very senior Republicans have come out now and withdrawn their support for
Donald Trump in the wake of this latest scandal.
What is happening?
You know, Mark, I have to preface this by saying clearly Mr Trump has
touched a nerve in the public in the United States, and it is something
we need to pay attention to, that people feel they are disenfranchised.
That being said, the man is unfit to be President.
He has given permission to men to diss women,
and that, in my estimation, is incredibly unacceptable.
I am a female legislator in case you haven't noticed. I'm a girl.
And I have experienced sexual harassment,
in my 15 years in the Connecticut Legislature, and I have lots of
friends that have experienced it, and by Mr Trump saying this...
-OK. He doesn't help.
-He doesn't help.
OK. We need to leave it there. Thank you very much indeed for coming in to join us.
Quick final word from Felicity and Brian,
and it needs to be quick. Is he dead in the water, Felicity?
I think that people won't really be surprised.
I had the peculiar experience of being a girl in an all-boys sixth form.
I know how boys and men talk.
That's how a lot of men get on. I think a lot of men will think that.
The point is, should we be surprised?
I think we should be disappointed but probably not surprised,
particularly given his career path. That's the sort of world he seems to have functioned in.
-You're not surprised, Brian?
-Not in the least and no-one should be.
He's infamous for this sort of behaviour.
But he can't win. There aren't enough angry white men left to vote for him.
The demographics are against him.
Yes. But it's going to be a very interesting...
It's going to be fascinating, well, the debate tonight particularly.
Particularly. And no doubt we'll all be sitting up late into the night. Thank you both very much.
We need to leave it there.
That is it from Sunday Politics for this week.
Join me for Stormont Today, that's on BBC Two at 11.20 on Monday night,
but for now, from everyone in the team, thanks for watching. Bye-bye.
Andrew Neil and Mark are joined by leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, Conservative Iain Duncan Smith and Ukip's Bill Etheridge to discuss the latest political news, including Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet reshuffle. Panellists include Helen Lewis of the New Statesman, Isabel Oakeshott of the Daily Mail and Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times.