14/10/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


14/10/2012

Andrew Neil and Martina Purdy with the latest political news, including an interview with the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Schapps and a debate on the future of Scotland.


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In Northern Ireland, the Health Minister on regulation of the first

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2167 seconds

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abortion clinic and improving Hello and welcome to the Sunday

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Politics in Northern Ireland. The arguments for and against abortion

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have been well rehearsed this week after the charity Marie Stopes

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announced it was opening its first clinic here. Among the issues -

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what critics say is a grey area around the regulation of the clinic.

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We'll hear from the Health Minister on his plans to monitor its work

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and investment in jobs for graduate teachers to improve our children's

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reading, writing and maths skills. We will insure they can regulate

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over the course of the next few months. It is a great opportunity

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because you get to understand how you can improve them and get on in

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your career. Joining me to discuss all of this is solicitor Tony Cahir

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and journalist Suzanne Breen. The arrival of Northern Ireland's

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first abortion clinic has polarised opinion here. Marie Stopes Clinic

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will open in Belfast on Thursday. Aside from the moral issues,

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questions are being asked about the monitoring of this clinic by

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authorities. I spoke to the health minister in his Lisburn office. I

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began by asking him when he first heard about the clinic. I was

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notified some months ago that they had an interest in developing a

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clinic in Northern Ireland. What was your reaction? Well, in terms

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of abortion, it doesn't make a difference in that they will have

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to operate in the same rules as abortion is carried out by the NHS.

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And Northern Ireland has strict rules and guidelines than the rest

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of the UK and that applies to Marie Stopes. And yet despite having no

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that notice, you did not make sure there was regulation. We'll have it

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confirmed in the near future. If it isn't the case we can't regulate

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and the present regulations and guidance but is there, there will

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be amended quickly. Otherwise, the police can regulate under the

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criminal law and that will be subjected to prosecutions. You are

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prepared to regulate if necessary? It has to be regulated but it will

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be regulated one way or the other three police or ourselves, it will

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be regulated. The Department of Health would rather be the

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organisation that is doing the regulation and who will confirm

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soon whether that is going to be the case immediately or whether it

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would take a little longer time to put procedures in place. Are you

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taking legal advice on the regulation? Yes, and we want to

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make absolutely certain that the regulation would take place under

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the existing laws and if their needs to be an amendment to the

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regulations from the laws will and acted quickly. Are you saying they

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will regulate? If they can't regulate, we will ensure they will

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be in a position to regulate over the course of the next few months.

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And there are no issues around getting executive colleagues on

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board? I would bring it before the committee but whether you are for

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or against abortion and makes no difference. The clinics should be

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regulated. Dentists are regulated so well to have regulation for the

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extraction of a tooth but not for the extraction of a baby. What is

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regulation mean for Marie Stopes? Marie Stopes will have to keep

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adequate records of what they do and particularly if they have

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offered abortion services to people in Northern Ireland. Those will be

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clarified by police or the body and if they had stepped outside they

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would face criminal law proceedings. I would expect they will do exactly

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the same as anybody in health service would do, the only

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difference is the individual would pay for it but the health service

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will be free. Your party says they do not want a change in the current

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law, do you personally agree with the way the law stands? Well, I

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look at where we are in Northern Ireland and recognise people have

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had abortions and I have not heard of women are losing their life as a

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consequence of the law in Northern Ireland. I am not aware the mental

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health of the woman has been detrimentally impact. Where is the

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driver for change? You say in Northern Ireland is a shining

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beacon and example but other people say it is hypocrisy because women

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are travelling to England to a double string abortion figures.

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would hope the discussions taking place both in England, Wales and

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Scotland are about reducing the availability of abortion and

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clearly they recognise they went too far. Jeremy Hunt has recognised

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that, the Prime Minister says the timescale is wrong. So, right

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across the UK other people are recognising the 1967 abortion Act

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has failed, it has fared miserably and we are quite right to resist

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this in Northern Ireland. Are you in favour personally of abortion?

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support abortion where the mother's life is at risk. And if there are

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mental health issues and some on his Pemberley harmed as a

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consequence of it. What about foetal abnormalities? Having had a

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brother who has learning difficulties, I appreciate and love

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people who have disabilities. Learning disabilities or physical

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disabilities. I was brought up in a home where you got a special amount

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of love from someone who had a learning disability and I detest

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the facts but because someone has Down's syndrome or some abnormality

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detected in the womb that the valuable life is of no value. It is

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wholly wrong and that sort of selection of mankind and human

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beings is something that we would what -- would do well to avoid.

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say it doesn't happen in Northern Ireland but are you sure of your

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facts? What? For example, when a foetal abnormalities? There may be

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circumstances where a child cannot live outside of the womb. We have

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to leave those things to clinicians who are well placed to act within

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legislation. Isn't it time that women have the right to choose in

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Northern Ireland? Choice is absolutely important. I indicated

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many thousands are alive as a result of the abortion Act not

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being around. I expect half those are women and those women have an

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entitlement to live and that is the best position we could have.

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Tony Cahir and Susannah Breen a with me. You heard what the

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minister had to say. Would you think, with the regulator? It is

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likely. They are fairly adamant they are not going to regulate,

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they released a statement. They say they were not be regulating in

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there prison situation but the Department of Health has obligation

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to ensure but this medical treatment, the after-care, is

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properly regulated so in addition to that the guidance that's

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available to medical practitioners and health professionals and the

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current regime are available to those who practise in the Marie

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Stopes organisation. Can a stoppage using the law? I have heard people

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threatening to take judicial reviews, I do not think there's any

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apparent breach. A lot of work has gone into preparing the ground for

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the Marie Stopes organisation. I do not think there's anything unlawful

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about the current intentions. impact will it have in Belfast?

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think the clinic is of symbolic impact because abortion it does

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happen, Northern Ireland women have abortions and the trouble to

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England to access the pills by Marie Stopes under certain criteria.

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When are axing tablets on the internet so it is of symbolic

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performance there will be a clinic in Belfast city centre but is

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offering abortion services to women. The law is disgracefully ambiguous.

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A do not think disgrace is the 1967 abortion Act, the disgrace is the

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failure of our politicians here too probably address this issue.

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politician's afraid of the issue? think they are under leads to all

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sorts of problems, for example, the case were 14-year-old girl was

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pregnant, in a children's home, she said she would commit suicide if

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she was forced have a baby and she was beating her stomach in an

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attempt to abort the baby. The case would court and the judge said she

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could have abortion yet no medical practitioner was found in Northern

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Ireland to actually give her an abortion and 14 you will travel to

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Britain. These cases do happen but we don't hear about them.

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important is it for politicians to ensure the law is clarified?

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law is clear, what's essential is the guidance is made available to

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all of those in the field, the decision as to whether a woman's

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health will be adversely affected in a serious and long-term weight

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is a subjective decision on the part of the commission. They need

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guidance. Perhaps that has not been clear in the past. There is work to

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be done. The Department promises guidance will be published, it is

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an issue. But what is the widest possible interpretation of the law?

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Well, the law is clear at the moment. You can only have an

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abortion if the woman's life is in danger or she will suffer permanent

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and serious ill-health. Some commentators say the law makes its

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beleaguered to procure a miscarriage and there was being

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prosecuted. No one has been prosecuted in Northern Ireland but

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the law has changed considerably over the years since 1861, the 1945

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statute allowing for abortion in limited circumstances and is being

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interpreted in various cases including once Suzanne talked about.

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The law is Clare but the interpretation and guidance and

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guidelines are still in a state of flux. Cezanne, is the first

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abortion clinic on the island of Ireland, we see people crossing the

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border? Some will choose to travel north rather than having to book

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flights and go to Britain. However, it's not as simple as it looks. In

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Britain, women are able to have consultation in a day and tablets

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in the same day. In Northern Ireland they will have to stay

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overnight, they will have a consultation and they were not be

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given tablets until the next day. The law as it stands is more

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liberal in Britain when for example they do not have to have

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psychiatric to stick before having an abortion. Women here will and we

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are talking about only nine weeks, the first nine weeks of pregnancy,

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that's all that is offered to women seeking termination but in Britain

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the law is up to 24 weeks. The situation is substantially more

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liberal in Britain. Women with a foetal abnormality, that a

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potentially would not be diagnosed until 20 weeks so the clinical be

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of no use to them. Do you want a change in the law? I would like to

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see the 1967 abortion Act applied Funding has been given by Stormont

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for newly qualified teachers to give tuition to children who are

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experiencing problems with reading and math skills. It's one of a

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number of projects just announced by the First and Deputy First

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Minister. Here's what they had to say about the scheme.

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It is precisely because we recognise the potential but with

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indicated we are talking about a recently qualified teachers, people

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looking for a career, it will be up to the part of education to bring

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forward the mechanism but the schemes will have to be approved by

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cars so it is an issue we have identified as being required for

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Stowe while we are talking about the jobs it creates, let's be clear

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about was the key issue. What we are attempting to do is get behind

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and give people a start in life. Let's be clear this is about 230

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effectively new jobs and it's about bringing newly graduated teachers

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to work stream. I think it will be hugely welcome by the unions, the

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schools he will benefit, the People's and the families and

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business community who recognise this is a fairly innovative

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approach, an approach we need to continue to explore. We've spoken

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with student teachers at St Mary's college in Belfast. We study

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regularly and learning ideas. It's a great opportunity to practise.

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It's a great opportunity. You get to understand how you can improve

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and you can take it on in your career. St Mary's students are well

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equipped to teach numeracy and maths. It has set us up for the

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task. We are delighted and think we can raise the bar. How badly is the

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investment needed? The Investment is to be welcomed but it's a drop

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in the ocean given the problems in numeracy and literacy in Northern

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Ireland is experiencing. In terms of creating jobs, we have to

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remember there are 4,000 young teachers here who can't find work.

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It is to be welcomed but it's a drop in the ocean and I can't see

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it making a substantial difference. If we're talking about improving

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people's job opportunities after the leave school, we have to

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remember there are people unemployed who have degrees and

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masters so improved literacy and numeracy is not automatically go to

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mean a job. People with well qualifications are not go to work.

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Do you come across problems in your everyday work? I am afraid I do.

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Bad grammar is reflected in a lack of literacy skills all the time in

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that Larne. Really, the application of law is to make sure people can

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persuade and dreadful grammar and an inability to express themselves

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and inability to put forward an argument then that means that

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person is not particularly persuasive. It is important that

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people can show competence in all areas of life. Competence in

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numeracy and literacy is extremely important and this has to be

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welcomed across-the-board, not just from the point of view of providing

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jobs but to ensure standards are improved in Northern Ireland.

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hard to believe someone can go through years of education as they

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struggle with basic reading and writing. Yes, it is a damning

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indictment of the education system but we have to look at cultural

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attitudes in some areas. I think that unfortunately some children

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are brought up in homes were parents regard good parenting as

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may be being on spending thousands for First Communion and Christmas

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and birthday as opposed to focusing on their children's education.

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What's important is the environment that child returns to when they

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come home. A lot of work has to be done in terms of improving that and

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improving our cultural attitudes. It is also a role for parents.

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Perhaps more important parents and take that. Many years it, though

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books lying around everywhere and parents ensured there were books

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for children. It is dying out and it's to be regretted. Our teachers

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spending too much time on transfer and not on the basics? On the

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transfer test? No, I am in favour of the 11 plus, I do nothing that's

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the case. They are -- they Rushall falls in the system that have not

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been addressed. Parents and families really need to look at

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what the child is doing, they need to liaise with the school and what

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happens at home is important. Children have to be encouraged to

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read and be pushed by their parents and to be motivated as opposed to

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parents putting money for birthdays and First communions, tens of

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thousands of pounds spent on children rather than simple things

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like sitting down at teaching a child and reading with your child

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and educating a child a home. What happens after 3pm in the home is as

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important if not more so as what happens in school. Some people

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might see it as a contribution and they are closing libraries. --

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contradictions. It is regrettable libraries are closing, it seems to

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me the services have been improved, is disgraceful libraries are being

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closed and I would hope this is a first step on the part of the

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executive to realise we must ensure that those skills are improved and

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opening libraries is one feature. Welfare reform, banking

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compensation and loose marbles. Just some of the goings on in our

:57:07.:57:17.
:57:17.:57:21.

look at the week's politics in The Chief Constable hit back over

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an Audit Office report. The report doesn't use the word damning or

:57:25.:57:30.

failure. The executive announced new jobs the teachers. Derry City

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Council was asked if it can get a culture train back on track.

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have talent, resources and expertise. More importantly we have

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a city that can deliver. Ulster chiefs faced MLAs. The incident was

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a disaster. Alex fought for women's rights during the debate. Some of

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my best friends are men but some are men are not good with money in

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a pocket. The Bill passed its second stage. But all I've got to

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say. And as part of World Mental Health Day, the MLAs fought to hold

:58:14.:58:24.
:58:24.:58:31.

There were 10 hours' debate on the world far -- Welfare Reform Bill.

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am not sure anybody would have wanted to spend more than half an

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hour watching what went on in the chamber. The majority of people did

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not do that but it's a welcome change they are discussing a

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meaningful matters and that rather than taking up endless hours about

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flags and such like which do not benefit the population here. It is

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a welcome change. This is a controversial bill, it is tricky

:58:57.:58:59.

for politicians because they haven't got a lot of room for

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manoeuvre. They haven't. In some ways it is a talking shop in terms

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of the debate. A lot of ordinary people will feel the politicians

:59:09.:59:12.

are out of touch with ordinary people's lives and what people

:59:12.:59:18.

would like to see, for example the money paid to advisers is

:59:18.:59:22.

scandalous. People are struggling on minimum wage and less. They

:59:22.:59:25.

would like to see that tackled ahead of the politicians

:59:25.:59:30.

pontificating on welfare reform when they are living lives but is

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beyond ordinary people's dreams. Peter Robinson gave a speech

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talking about streamlining Stormont and reducing the number of MLAs.

:59:39.:59:44.

And moving towards a political coalition. The voluntary coalition

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I am not sure is very likely in the short term. A number of politicians

:59:48.:59:53.

have spoken out against that. In terms of reducing the bureaucracy

:59:53.:59:58.

and numbers of people involved in the executive, that would be

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welcome across the board and that part of the speech was welcomed.

:00:02.:00:06.

you see any gradual changes at Stormont in terms of a voluntary

:00:06.:00:11.

coalition, Peter Robinson indicated changes in funding in opposition.

:00:11.:00:15.

don't but it would be welcome. His hugely undemocratic there is no

:00:15.:00:20.

opposition at Stormont. I would be in favour of a voluntary coalition,

:00:20.:00:24.

a mandatory coalition goes against every principle of transparency and

:00:24.:00:28.

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