09/12/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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


over flags wreaks havoc on the streets in weeks scarred by


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


the storm but there are also divisions within the Ulster


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


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


all friends. It is always a pleasure to be with


Peter and Martin and applaud their leadership which has been


extraordinary and essential. . It has been a weekend dominated


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


streets over Belfast on Friday night. On Saturday thousands


gathered for a peaceful protest although trouble flared elsewhere


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


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


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


Alliance Party. A very difficult week for you and


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


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


Hall? It has also been a difficult week


for people who run businesses decide our offices, for innocent


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


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


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


a fair proportion that way to recognise the development of


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


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


That is why I think the Unionists who distributed defamatory leaflets


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


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


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


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


at parliament buildings and other councils, such as Armagh and


Lisburn? It is part of a process. The people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


were promised that their Britishness would be ring fastest


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


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


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


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


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


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


been desecrated with the words IRA on top.


As a lot of people from the nationalist community had


criticised that but there is nothing unique about that or


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


leaders of the loyalist community saved when they believe their


Britishness has been diminished by what happened on Monday night?


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


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


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


a compromise and an alternative to the nationalists recommendation of


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


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


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


flak damage chipping away it British identity. We have an


agreement since 1998 which were supported by the overwhelming


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


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


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


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


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


future. Where are we on the broader shared


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


First Minister and Deputy firm Minister soon. According to Naomi


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


like child poverty, multiple deprivation and child -- and


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


as a democratically-elected politicians and say to people who


are protesting, this was a democratic vote.


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


they voted. We must respect that decision.


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


seen on the streets was a prawn and not brains.


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


consultation there were took public meetings, on Thursday 13th


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


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


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


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


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


of the population. A lot more than three.


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


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


streets to demonstrate? I have already referred to the


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


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


sharing and integration, there were 180 detailed considered responses


from organisations across the Community, virtually all of which


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


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


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


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


respectful manner. Which clearly has not happened.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of people died. Here is messing with people's


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


took a democratic, lawful, compromise decision.


People see it in a continuous process.


That is because you inflamed that due.


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


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


perceptions. You must acknowledge them.


You can give leadership and Countdown concerns.


I edged people not take to the streets yesterday.


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


chipped away. They want someone to reflect that


perception. People feel disenfranchised and are looking for


leadership. Let me ask you about that Executive


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


Unionist Belfast city councillors said that if Basil McCrae, who


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the party? Basil is a very talented politician.


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


you? I do not think that is entirely


true. Let us bring in our commentators.


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


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


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


which I understood week signed up to multiple identities under


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


behind this now. You have taken an academic interest


in this, what is your assessment of this predicament?


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


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


of leadership, for instance when Martin McGuinness and Peter


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


recognise our Britishness and Darryl Irishness. You could be both


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


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


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


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


was accepted that compromise is sometimes a strength, not a


weakness. A final comment from the two


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


done tomorrow at Stormont to try to fix this?


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


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


attempting to put something we could all unite around in support


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


to moving forward to debt -- together.


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


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


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


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


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


at Stormont. Find you for joining us this morning.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


million people that this is her 7th visit.


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


the stormy waters we have been discussing.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


our bonkers. We seem to prefer to concede to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Northern Ireland said to her yesterday that they would be out


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


high esteem. Thank you very much indeed. Let us


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


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


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


reasons. People can conquer forward and confess their sins.


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


round. Divisive, destructive and


disrespectful. An Alliance Party office was


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


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


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


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


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


Chancellor scrapped a 3p a fuel duty increase.


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


Duncan. Can we change the mood tomorrow?


Politicians instalment must set the agenda tomorrow. -- politicians


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