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