09/12/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


09/12/2012

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news and debate. With shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, Conservative Matthew Hancock and Nadine Dorries.


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Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. A row

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over flags wreaks havoc on the streets in weeks scarred by

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demonstrations and death threats. The Alliance parties in the eye of

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the storm but there are also divisions within the Ulster

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Unionists. I'll be asking the party leaders if they can deal with the

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fall-out from flags. As Hilary drops in to beat a fund farewell to

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all friends. It is always a pleasure to be with

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Peter and Martin and applaud their leadership which has been

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extraordinary and essential. . It has been a weekend dominated

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by tensions over flying the flag at city Hall. Writers took to the

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streets over Belfast on Friday night. On Saturday thousands

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gathered for a peaceful protest although trouble flared elsewhere

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afterwards. It is set to dominate the agenda at Stormont tomorrow so

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is there a possibility of achieving a compromise to satisfy all sides?

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I am joined by the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party and the

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Alliance Party. A very difficult week for you and

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fellow members of the Alliance Party. Looking back on it, you have

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no regrets about how you handle the situation Ormond tonight at city

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Hall? It has also been a difficult week

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for people who run businesses decide our offices, for innocent

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children caught up in it, police officers and their families. Let us

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not forget the others as well. We have had this policy for 10 years.

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We stuck to it. It is a policy supported by other councils. It is

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a fair proportion that way to recognise the development of

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Northern Ireland in wider society. The reason the Alliance Party finds

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itself in the eye of the storm is because people disagree with this.

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That is why I think the Unionists who distributed defamatory leaflets

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and encourage people onto the streets, need to think about the

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problems they have caused in that towns across Belfast -- across

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Northern Ireland. Why is it such an issue as far as

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Belfast city Hall is concerned, when designated days are the case

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at parliament buildings and other councils, such as Armagh and

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Lisburn? It is part of a process. The people

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who took to the streets thing they are losers. I did not think it was

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helpful to described the decision on Monday night as a clear victory

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for the Alliance Party. That is not the language of a shared future.

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For a shared future the victory must be for everybody. If there is

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a victory people have lost. The people who came out on the streets

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think they have been lost. People were promised a peace dividend and

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a economic future and instead they got a double dip recession. They

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were promised that their Britishness would be ring fastest

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but they find it being chipped away at time and time again.

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With respect, you tell burnt that their Britishness is being chipped

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away at. How is your Britishness being chipped away at?

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Because the flag is being taken down. Because parks are being

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renamed. A bus full of workmen., Catholics were told to go home and

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Protestants were butchered. There is a memorial to them which has

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been desecrated with the words IRA on top.

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As a lot of people from the nationalist community had

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criticised that but there is nothing unique about that or

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nothing new about that. It has been an issue for many years.

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That is why there is political failure. As of tomorrow we must be

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honest with ourselves and the electorate and say that there is a

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lot we have not delivered on. Dealing with the past is a key

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issue. It could be the Achilles heel of the peace process. We have

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to be honest and say we will not deliver it next week, next month or

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during the mandate of this Assembly. We need to look at the long-term

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objectives, such as a single education system. It is not a

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threat to the Catholic sector. What do you say to them what the

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leaders of the loyalist community saved when they believe their

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Britishness has been diminished by what happened on Monday night?

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I think we need to get away from discussing how many days a flag

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flies on Belfast city Hall. If there was an issue we are a victory

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for the Alliance Party on Monday night it was because we put forward

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a compromise and an alternative to the nationalists recommendation of

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no flight whatsoever. I believe by giving that compromise it gave the

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opportunity for people to accept it, just as Unionists have accepted it

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in other counties. We need to stop feeding the notion that taking the

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flak damage chipping away it British identity. We have an

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agreement since 1998 which were supported by the overwhelming

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majority of people. It has brought in the majority people who

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disagreed with it. We recognise this is a divided society. There

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are significant differences between our communities and we need to do a

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lot more about building a shared future. When I see the antics of

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some of his councillors, I'm not sure they believe in a shared

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future. Where are we on the broader shared

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future issue? We are supposed to be receiving a document soon from the

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First Minister and Deputy firm Minister soon. According to Naomi

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long, the events of the last week have and it does back several years.

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We all look forward to the publisher of the intentions -- the

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publication of the document of intentions. It will take a long

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time. The toxic legacy of the Troubles, the sectarianism of, is

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not getting any better. We need to be honest and say we have a long

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way to go. Hillary Clinton is here this week and we have been

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emphasising how far we have come since she came here with Bill

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Clinton. That is true but we have gone nowhere in tackling things

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like child poverty, multiple deprivation and child -- and

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sectarianism. To me not have to take a point here and give a lead

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as a democratically-elected politicians and say to people who

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are protesting, this was a democratic vote.

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The councillors were elected to take this decision and that is how

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they voted. We must respect that decision.

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This is a time for strategy not knee-jerk reaction. What we have

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seen on the streets was a prawn and not brains.

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If this is such a huge issue, why is it that during the public

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consultation there were took public meetings, on Thursday 13th

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September, or one in the afternoon and evening. Three people turned up.

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Two in the afternoon and one in the evening. Have come only three

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people turned up to talk about this important issue and suddenly we see

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thousands on the street? Do you know how many people turn up

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for public consultations on cohesion at? Less than one per cent

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of the population. A lot more than three.

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How do you deal with the disparity between the number of people

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turning up to a public consultation and the number at appearing on the

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streets to demonstrate? I have already referred to the

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inflammatory leaflets which have led to a death threat. That is in

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reality of the campaign. If we are going to talk about cohesion,

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sharing and integration, there were 180 detailed considered responses

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from organisations across the Community, virtually all of which

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pans the draft which came in and called for a different strategy.

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The public is engaged. I feel the need to ask about that

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leaflet. Was it a mistake for the Ulster Unionist Party to support

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the publication of 40,000 leaflets? We urged people to demonstrate in a

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respectful manner. Which clearly has not happened.

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The last line of the leaflet suggests you know what the reaction

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is going to be. If you have to print please be respectful, you

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know what the outcome might be. I do not micro manage. We have 98

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councillors. I do not micro manager them. We reaffirmed our support for

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the council group in Belfast city Council in opposing the change to

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flying the flag every day. Do not mess with people's identity. When

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Republicans did not like the way their identity was abuse, thousands

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of people died. Here is messing with people's

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identity? People have a right to their identity. The city Council

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took a democratic, lawful, compromise decision.

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People see it in a continuous process.

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That is because you inflamed that due.

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I do not believe I am inflaming anything. You have to reflect way

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you are and the views of people whether they are right or

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perceptions. You must acknowledge them.

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You can give leadership and Countdown concerns.

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I edged people not take to the streets yesterday.

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But you have also acknowledge that you feel their Britishness is being

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chipped away. They want someone to reflect that

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perception. People feel disenfranchised and are looking for

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leadership. Let me ask you about that Executive

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before we bring in our commentators. As we understand it, three Ulster

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Unionist Belfast city councillors said that if Basil McCrae, who

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spoke publicly in support of the flak, -- in support of removing the

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flak, wanted him removed. We have a process in play.

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Which means of? We have a process in play. These

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issues are internal. If Basil says he supports the position of the

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Alliance Party. That is he was speaking. I speak as part of the

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Ulster Unionist Party. And you do not have a broad church

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within the party? He cannot express his you if it does not agree with

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the view of the leadership? I have to react to what the three

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Belfast councillors have asked me. He you could say no.

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Would it suit you very well if Basil was to lock sticks and leave

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the party? Basil is a very talented politician.

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But he does not often agree with what you say which does not help

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you? I do not think that is entirely

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true. Let us bring in our commentators.

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They have worked in the field of community relations for many years.

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Where are we at the moment in terms of community relations?

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I think it is pretty horrific. It is 15 years since the agreement in

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which I understood week signed up to multiple identities under

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British sovereignty at the moment. It seems it is OK to threaten and

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bomb people, or still people think it is OK to threaten and on people,

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in a context of voting for arrangements instalment. That is a

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low level to be at 15 years after agreement. I do not know if people

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are saying they did not know this, why people 15 years after the

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agreement they do not know what they signed up to, there needs to

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be a clear understanding. This is a United Kingdom and a shared society

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and the task at hand here is to actually built that shared society

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in a way that is respect for of everybody. That is the peace

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process. The fact we are still discussing this strikes me as

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bizarre and horrifying. There are people whose lives are at risk

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behind this now. You have taken an academic interest

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in this, what is your assessment of this predicament?

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It has been a difficult week but no one said it would be easy. It is at

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moments like this that you look for leadership. You do see those sparks

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of leadership, for instance when Martin McGuinness and Peter

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Robinson are in Washington, we hear speeches I would like to hear back

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here, where they seek -- a say things about supporting each other

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over these difficulties. To hear that it sounds great but it has to

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be put into action. I do think when I hear things like beer and failure

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and friction, it can set us backwards and you do not react to

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it when you are in a position of political leadership. Leadership

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means going ahead each time and taking a risk each time to bring

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your people to way you want them to be. This past week has been

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disappointing from that point of view. The agreements did I say it

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recognise our Britishness and Darryl Irishness. You could be both

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or neither or either. When we sat down to discuss the flags issue in

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that first Assembly, there were all kinds of decisions about the number

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of flights. I do think at that time the decision was that this was at

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the accommodation. Nobody actually seem to understand the decision. It

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was accepted that compromise is sometimes a strength, not a

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weakness. A final comment from the two

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politicians who have joined us this morning. What do you think can be

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done tomorrow at Stormont to try to fix this?

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Hillary Clinton said it on Friday and Monica has said it today.

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Compromise is a strength not a weakness. The motion we tabled was

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attempting to put something we could all unite around in support

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of democratic politics and those who had suffered. We were committed

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to moving forward to debt -- together.

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We do you agree with that? I came into politics to talk about

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education, health and housing. Identity is an important issue and

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we need to say something you will put everyone at ease. Everybody

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needs to be content in their own skin and with everybody else been

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content in their own skin. We will see what happens tomorrow

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at Stormont. Find you for joining us this morning.

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She was welcomes back with open arms and there is no surprise in

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that. Hillary Clinton stopped by on Friday. She has been a frequent

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visitor since she first came here in the 1990s with her husband, Bill.

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:54:44.:55:08.

The President has just stepped onto Working with the women of Northern

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Ireland has been one of the greatest privileges of my lifetime.

:55:13.:55:23.
:55:23.:55:46.

I will always be there as a friend Just a reminder of some of her

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visits to Northern Ireland in the past. You brushed past me at one

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point on Friday just as Hillary Clinton was arriving. You met her

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privately. What did she say about the Northern Ireland she has come

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to know and love and which is not out of the woods yet?

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She was very upbeat. She is used to travelling in conflicted societies

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around the world. She was focusing on the bigger picture and the way

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forward. It was lovely to hear her stake that she was going to stay

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with us in this project. -- to hear her say. She was wonderfully

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sympathetic to the people she met. She met the family of the

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disappeared. She knew there were well and personally. That is the

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kind of woman she is and it is incredible in a country of one. 7

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million people that this is her 7th visit.

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A lot of people would agree with that. We may need help navigating

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the stormy waters we have been discussing.

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The difficulty is that all the progress has been made in context

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of support from outside. Hillary Clinton has been one of our

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big supporters. One and the sad truth is that every time we are

:57:07.:57:10.

left in a room by ourselves we do not make the progress we do with

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the support of the outside world. If we need that it is good to have

:57:16.:57:19.

people who know the situation like Hillary Clinton. I do not know if

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we can rely on that but it is a massive support.

:57:26.:57:29.

When there is no external presence it does seem that the go back into

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our bonkers. We seem to prefer to concede to

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eight international coalition, or rather than it to face each other.

:57:39.:57:43.

We have not got the politics which gives us that yet.

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Do you think she will will run for the White House in 2016?

:57:48.:57:53.

She did not give anyone an answer to that. Can you imagine how tired

:57:53.:57:58.

she was be at the moment? She wants to take time out and reflect. Who

:57:58.:58:02.

would have thought she would have run for the Senate after being

:58:02.:58:07.

First Lady? She did and one and came back. She made a great speech

:58:07.:58:14.

in Denver in defeat. It is a real sign of leadership. The Women Of

:58:14.:58:16.

Northern Ireland said to her yesterday that they would be out

:58:16.:58:20.

with her if she did decide to run because they do hold her in such

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high esteem. Thank you very much indeed. Let us

:58:25.:58:35.
:58:35.:58:38.

pause for a moment and reflect on M L Hayes who missed question-time

:58:38.:58:45.

but a telling off but the Speaker was not prepared to listen.

:58:45.:58:50.

We sometimes have confession time and I do allow that for some

:58:50.:58:55.

reasons. People can conquer forward and confess their sins.

:58:55.:59:02.

Councillors in Belfast voted to stop flying the Union flag all year

:59:02.:59:05.

round. Divisive, destructive and

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disrespectful. An Alliance Party office was

:59:07.:59:13.

attacked, so too were the homes of two councillors and a death threat

:59:13.:59:19.

for a leading representative. Plans to build a cross border bridge were

:59:19.:59:24.

questioned by some Unionists but campaigners told them to back off.

:59:24.:59:28.

There is scaremongering within the T U P about this project and the

:59:28.:59:34.

need to stop scaremongering. And motorists got a boost as the

:59:34.:59:39.

Chancellor scrapped a 3p a fuel duty increase.

:59:39.:59:45.

Stephen Walker with the week in 60 seconds. A final thought from

:59:45.:59:50.

Duncan. Can we change the mood tomorrow?

:59:50.:59:56.

Politicians instalment must set the agenda tomorrow. -- politicians

:59:56.:00:00.

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