11/03/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


11/03/2012

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1803 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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University and our political correspondent Martina Purdy. The

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tom Elliott would remain as leader unopposed. Thanks to his

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resignation, potential candidates have a very short time to declare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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discipline? I do not accept the analysis of the political

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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councils, we have a good geographical spread of Assembly

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members and there are representatives out there doing a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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discussion about the European elections coming up in 2014. We

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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cannot be a formal opposition unless the legislation is changed.

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

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

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

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time the next Assembly cut elections came around. People are

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

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seen declining votes and until we have a formal government in

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opposition, it is difficult to persuade people that their vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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previously held. Over the last 12 months, the party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Republic and could an unexpected fractious debate leading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:47:55.:48:05.
:48:05.:48:08.

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

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

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

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

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

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Martin McGuinness in the presidential election? Has it

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

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

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

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that the party engaged in about its past during the presidential

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

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

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

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

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

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

:49:32.:49:42.
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show in town this week. The week he. With Rory McIlroy becoming world No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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mass exodus from Stormont? politicians will be going to

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

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

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

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

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

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