11/03/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Tara Mills looks at the political developments of the week and questions policy makers on the key issues.

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Three weeks to find a new leader. The race is on for someone to take


the Ulster Unionist Party forward. Is that even possible? We will ask


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1803 seconds


Hello and welcome it to Sunday politics. 18 months ago he was


hailed as the leader that we change the fortunes of the Ulster


Unionists. On Thursday night he walked away from the job leaving


the party in turmoil. My openness and integrity is what has made me


resign as the leader of the Ulster Unionists. What does the future


hold? Can the decline be altered to? Also on the programme. A year


on since the general election in the Republic, a Sinn Fein winning


the battle of the opposition parties. And fancy dress, feathers


and football, it is all in the political week in 60 seconds.


With me for the next 20 minutes, Professor Rick Wilford from Queen's


University and our political correspondent Martina Purdy. The


sound a bit like a broken record asking what is next for the Ulster


Unionists? Absolutely. Martina was just saying that 18 months is


giving up the job just after one year and a half is a sign of just


how in disarray the party is. Three weeks to get this resolved and get


a new leader, this is a big ask. There four contenders. I suspect


that the front runner is Danny Kennedy and I suspect he will win


if he puts his hat in the rain. He needs to address the decline. This


is a party coming from way behind the others. It is probably the most


difficult job in politics? Yes. It is like... Tom Elliot give the


reason for leaving is that he felt he did not have support. 2012 has


been unkind, they have lost a leader and lost one MLA in terms of


David McNarry. He put himself out of the job but because there was no


real sense he could have continued. Just 10 days ago it looked as if


Tom Elliott would remain as leader unopposed. Thanks to his


resignation, potential candidates have a very short time to declare


their hand and campaign to become the new leader. So who are the


possible runners? Danny Kennedy, an Orangeman and in favour of closer


links with the DUP. This is the Liberal John McCallister. He is in


the camp that wants to see the party moved into an opposition role


at Stormont. Then there is Basil McCrea. Will he be prepared to


enter the contest again? Or Mike Nesbitt. It is not clear which can


he falls into, but does he have the union has pedigree to take the top


spot in the very traditional party? The real question is if any of --


any of them can bring back happier times? Basil McCrea is out of the


country, but none of the other candidates wanted to come on the


country. I am joined by MEP Jim Nicholson and party treasurer Mark


Cosgrove. When did you find out Tom Elliott was resigning? I found out


when my son called me to ask if I knew the news. My other son


actually heard it before I heard it. Are you out of the look in your own


party? And no I do not think so. Tom made this decision himself, it


was a personal decision. I can understand why he felt he did not


have the support and that it was time for him to move on. I think it


was an honourable decision. I have the highest regard and respect for


him and will continue to have that and look forward to working with


him in years to come. Were you aware of the lies that were been


told to? He made his position very clear and he has given the reason


why he moved on and clearly, there must have been a problem with the


Assembly grip in the party. I was at the Assembly meeting on Monday


morning and I this in Stormont until lunchtime, where I had other


meetings with colleagues. I did not see him bad-tempered at all. I was


not there for all that, because I had to go to another committee


meeting of which Tom was the chairman. I spoke to him two or


three times and he never said anything. He clearly made his mind


up later in the week. He did not mention it to me. If you are going


to do these things, if you make it known, people will try to persuade


you against it. He had probably made his own personal mind up and


decided to do it in the way which she did, and I respect that.


are supposed to organise people and keep them disciplined. It would


appear there are some people have in your party who are be on


discipline? I do not accept the analysis of the political


commentators that we are coming from a long way behind. The Ulster


Unionist Party as recently as May achieved over 100,000 votes and we


have 116 elected representatives. If there are problems with one or


two of them, so be it. But they have got rid of your leader after


18 months. Tom has made it clear that they were not the only reasons.


He made his decision on the basis of other factors as well as


internal factors. I do not think the narrative that the party is in


great turmoil has stacked up on the ground. We are represented on 26


councils, we have a good geographical spread of Assembly


members and there are representatives out there doing a


good job. When did you find out Tom Elliott was going? About one power


before the press release went out. What do you know about the lies


that he is talking about? That is what he is alleging. I am not aware


of any of that at. The is he wrong? Was a I am not saying he is wrong.


I am here to say that because one or two people have a difficulty, I


do not accept that analysis. 116 elected representatives do not fall


or rise on the back of a few individuals who may be


undisciplined. This is a broad party with a broad range of support


in the community. That has not been represented properly in the media


reports at to today and including today. We have heard about two


different camps, one in favour of been in opposition and the other in


favour of union his genius -- unity. What can to fall into? I do not


fall into any of them. The system in Stormont at the minute does not


allow for opposition. I believe that would be good for Northern


Ireland to have proper opposition, because I see it in Belgium for


example, where the took almost two years to get a government. The vote


and that the same parties back into power again. Opposition would be


good, but the system is not therefore it and until the system


is in place I do not think we can. We have to play our full role and


do what I do in Europe, act responsibly and work in the


interests of everyone in Northern Ireland. There is a lot of


discussion about the European elections coming up in 2014. We


used stand again? That is a very direct question. I am mayor over 20


years as a MEP and I can claim to do my job extremely well and I am


enjoying it even more now than I did 20 years ago. If that answers


your question, as long as I am enjoying the job hunt and maybe


other events may change my mind. I am in good health and I am enjoying


the job so I am up for it again. terms of this leadership race,


three weeks to go, one week to will the nomination papers going, were


any of the candidates keen to see it delayed? Non art but in


particular. There was a feeling it should be delayed, but the rules of


the party are clear. Every year, the leader has to stand for re-


election and normally that is unopposed. The motions for such a


contest were in place and there is no reason why the contest should


not take place on 31st March. are definitely going hates?


absolutely. Mark does not agree with the analysis that the party is


in turmoil. I respect the view, but if you go back a decade, their vote


has more than halved. They have no MPs. They are doing reasonably well


at local council level, but there are many former unionists in who


left the camp or sit on their fence. This is a party in Serial long-term


decline and to arrest that decline, they need someone who can bridge at


the very different factions that exist in the party which looks a


lot more difficult. It has been a factor lies party and it is divided


on the issue of whether they should be a formal opposition. There


cannot be a formal opposition unless the legislation is changed.


That requires the government in London to provide for that. We went


to the people in the Assembly election campaign with that in our


manifesto that we would try to achieve a formal opposition by the


time the next Assembly cut elections came around. People are


voting with their feet. Unionism and all of Northern Ireland are


seen declining votes and until we have a formal government in


opposition, it is difficult to persuade people that their vote


makes a difference. I do not think there are different camps, the


issue is that we need to persuade colleagues in other parties to the


fact that we need to have a better way of moving in the Province


forward. We need to move from peace process to delivery process. Only


then will we get the jobs and everything else that we need.


of the candidates, who would you put your money on? Based on


previous experience and looking and observing that the party, I think


it Danny Kennedy entered the race he would be the favourite. He is


from the Orange Order, he is rural, he is a minister, he has been


around a long time. He is everyone's friend. Whether he can


withstand the pressures and unite both sides, because as a minister


he is saying as being in the Executive and working with the DUP.


There is talk of John McCallister and I would not rule him out. He is


a farmer, liberal but seen as traditionalist. The party would


feel safe with him. Mike Nesbitt and Basil McCrea are the wild cards.


Would you run yourself to M? It is a great honour that people think


you should run for it, but I am the wrong vintage to be running for


leadership of the party. Who were due back? I will make my mind up in


the process of time. I would remind you that I have come through quite


a lot of contests for leadership and I remembered the time when


David Trimble became leader, he was not the favourite, and he won. I


think the races there and let us see how the candidates perform. Let


us see what their policies are. This is what I would want to see


and to see how they can put forward the proposal. There is no doubt. We


have got to end the internal... Some people individually thinking


they're bigger than the party. I have gone down this road a long


time. Martina knows she cannot call me for information, because she


will not get it. Thank you it has been one year since the Republic's


general election and Sinn Fein added 10 seats to the fore it


previously held. Over the last 12 months, the party


has come to be seen by many as the real opposition party in Leinster


House. We have this report from Dublin. One year in office and a


chance to outlined progress and promises made. To borrow a phrase,


a lot don and a lot more to do. Sitting across from the Government


is a party very much focused on its own performance. A recent poll


macro suggest that Sinn Fein is now the second most popular party in


the Republic and could an unexpected fractious debate leading


up to the fiscal treaty referendum push the party further into the


big-time? We said clearly that we wanted to represent an effective


way middle and low-income earners and we have come into the Dail and


that is what we are doing. The old guard have been supplanted by a new


TD's. They are much better than media and Dail performers. Gerry


Adams has more symbolic than actual value in the Dail, but there has


been a quantum leap for the party in terms of profile and ability.


you do not have to dole out the pain, surely it is a good time to


be in opposition? People in the opposition benches somehow have it


easy, but this is wrong. You are looking at a huge government


majority in the Dail. Political opinion polls are not have a good


indicator. What is fuelling the rise of Sinn Fein and what are the


weak points that is causing their showing in the polls to drop? Will


have the politics of austerity. Sinn Fein cannot capitalise on that,


they cannot capitalise on anything. They are a left-wing party, but


they still do not do well in Dublin. Their strength is that they have a


lot of energetic, young it TD's and activists who are focused in the


way that that Labour had never been focus. There has been a speed bump


of late and a chance for writers... Perhaps she could carry out an


inquiry into your own party. this issue cos any red faces in the


Sinn Fein party? It will not happen again. Other parties to have been


up to their neck in scandals are making a song and dance about this


has raised a question in the public mind. What about the candidacy of


Martin McGuinness in the presidential election? Has it


lanced the boil of the party's links to its past? There was a


ceiling on Sinn Fein support of about 10%. That ceiling appears to


be broken and I think partly that has got to do with the conversation


that the party engaged in about its past during the presidential


election. It is also because the old political metaphor it is like a


shirt with the stain on it, you keep watching it and eventually it


will fade. For a lot of people, the memory of the conflict that the IRA


and Sinn Fein were involved in is like a stain on a shirt, but as


time goes on, that stain will fade. Time for our 62nd review and a


Stephen Walker reports, the Ulster Unionist Party was not the only


show in town this week. The week he. With Rory McIlroy becoming world No.


1, but some felt he needed more help. What an ambassador. He did it


with the support of his father, his mother, his girlfriend was there,


but we were not. From one game to another, Martin McGuinness went to


Windsor Park and got a royal welcome from the the Blues. We


learnt more about Willie McRae's chatted. I remember a fancy dress


competition and I remember I was dressed as a little sailor. Others


put on a smile for the House of Commons. They are is an onus on us


to go about this place with the demeanour of Aer Lingus cabin crew,


smiling at everything we meet. A Owen Paterson ruffled a few


feathers. A I went to the dinner... Is secretary of state might need


some help with that Irish accent. St Patrick's Day is coming up, a


mass exodus from Stormont? politicians will be going to


Washington, led by the First and Deputy First ministers. They will


be a ceremony in the White House. It is not what it was. The


journalists are not going, because the story is not there. It is about


promoting trade, investment and you will see Peter Robinson and Martin


McGuinness may catch up with Basil McCrea who is trying to drum up


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