15/01/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


15/01/2012

Andrew Neil and Tara Mills with the latest political news and debate including a live interview with Education Secretary, Michael Gove MP.


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And in Northern Ireland an executive reshuffle could see

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alliance lose a ministry. Is red tape adding to the troubles of the

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1689 seconds

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Welcome to Northern Ireland. It has been long talked about, cutting

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back Stormont departments, but the executive caught everyone by

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surprise with the proposal to scrap employment and learning and resolve

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the problem of what happens to justice. For one party it will not

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be as sweet as the existing proposition. But we believe it is

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our best attempt at trying to get the highest level of consensus.

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shake-up or a carve up? We will here from the alliance and Sinn

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Fein. Also: We have it on authority that few contractors are getting it

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over the line. It is frustrating. Does red tape have a strangle hold

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on the construction industry? New year and a new look for us. Each

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week I'm joined by two guests. Today I'm joined by Dawn Purvis and

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Tom Kelly. It has been the big story of the week, Dawn, somebody

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said the Assembly is full of negotiators rather than legislators,

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is this not example? Yes nexts have continued, but that is the nature

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of democratic politics. It is about reaching consensus and moving on.

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So yes, negotiations is part of democratic politics. But a good

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idea, it seem we can't do anything. We always push things to the brink.

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That is the nature. But it is the nature of politics. We don't start

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the work six months in advance. We leave it to the last minute. But

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the discussion about the number of departments and the

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responsibilities the departments is long overdue. Tom Kelly, what do

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you think, malicious, a carve up, or just a sign that it wasn't fair

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the thing the way it was working? There are three things. One way it

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is squaring off the fact that alliance had an extra ministry,

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which seemed to annoy some people. Or it is about slim down government

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or that it doesn't make sense as a stand alone department. I don't

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think it does make sense as a stand alone department and needs to be

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aligned to the needs of industry and part of it should go to

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enterprise, trade and employment to be more competitive. That is the

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important thing. I wouldn't get too hung up about alliance losing the

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ministry. But it is progress. But it is not slimmed down government

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if you just move everyone over. Stay with us, plenty more to talk

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about. So the parties have until tomorrow to deliver their verdicts

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on the proposal to scrap employment and learning and allowing David

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Ford to remain as justice minister. The first and deputy First

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Ministers said their plan is the right one. I'm joined by two guests.

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Nay owe Mee Long it is just fairness? The reality is there an

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anomaly. There are three separate issues and they are being brought

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together in a way that does not deal with any of them. First it is

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about how we appoint a justice minister and how the community can

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have confidence in him. And then what happens if that goes outside

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the mechanism and we make sure there is fairness within the other

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ministries that. Needs to be assessed. And then there is the

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separate issue of how we slim down government. The proposal doesn't do

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that. It fixs the particular problem of alliance having two

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ministries. But if at some point the SDLP was to nominate the

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justice minister, it wouldn't stop them having a disproportionate

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number of seats. It does Nantes deal with the fact that there is a

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lodge jibg to this. But there never been an argument it should go to

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Department of Education. That is because there is a kafb up between

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the dup -- carve up between the DUP and Sinn Fein. None of what we

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discussed will be about the Alliance Party nominating for

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justice. That is a decision we will take when the changes are made. It

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is an irrelevance about the structures. And that is we're

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focused on. Not who holds the ministries or this they will hold

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them in a short period, but what works for long-term. Was it a

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political carve up? What was the motive? What we have achieved is

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stability. The introduction of policing and justice, there was

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concerns about how that would be delivered. Sinn Fein continued to

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arguing it should be a local ministry and it has worked well.

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The sky did not fall in, despite the prodictions of some. Justice

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has worked. We have a formula to ensloo ur that there will continue

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to be a Justice Ministry on a cross community vote to give it

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confidence of the community. We also have avoided the last minute

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crisis talks. This should not come as a surprise. Everyone knew there

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was a sun set clause when the ministry was formed. If parties

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hadn't been discussing this, they should have been. Sinn Fein and the

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DUP have brought this to a head and said we believe it is the best way

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forward. It is logical that certain sections would go to trade and

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enterprise and universities and higher education go to education.

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Why would we not have a seamless education system, from pre-school

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through primary school, postprimary school and on to higher level.

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Education is about creating the workforce of the future. The skills

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agenda is not as seemless as you make it out. The CBI said their

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pre-Wednesday rens would be fr a department of economy. --

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preference. And would streamline that into looking at how we make

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those sections of education deliver for business. That is important,

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what we are are arguing about is how those functions will work and

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the argument that was brought after a review was that Del should

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transfer entirely. Sinn Fein will have an issue with that, because

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that is a DUP ministry. But it does not, you're not making a

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counterargument as to why you would put it anyone else. They are

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telling me our education system to meet our tris and we propose

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from the earlys days of a child in school, they will go through all

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elements of training, including training and skills and further and

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higher education. We now have that system in place and that can only

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be good for education and for our economy. Why not do the whole

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reconstruction of the departments at once? Why have justice as your

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priority, that is what it seems, we wanted to sort out justice at the

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expense of education? We have sorted out justice. We have sorted

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out the issue where people had concern about the representation of

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the Alliance Party and the issue oorned the department of

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departments. There is a review that was built into the agreement about

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the number and scale O'departments and the number of Assembly members.

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All those matter will be resolved. But this was a time to deal with

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the three issues. We do have limited amount of time, is David

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Ford's threat to resign not over the top? But whatever structures

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put in place will depend on whether the alliance chooses to nominate.

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That is a separate issue we will have to discuss. Other parties may

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decide to nominate and they be -- may p elected. We got it because no

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one else had cross community support. What the proposal does not

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do is address the situation where another party does command cross

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community support. The anomaly would pass on to another party. Our

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proposals remove that anomaly and give whoever is the minister for

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justice the same security as any other minister and put forward

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propose ands that will allows to maximise the benefit to the public.

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We want efficient and effective Government where money is spent on

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public services. I want to ask you about the money. A lot of people in

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the teaching profession, parents, pupil, does the �120 that was

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announced mean that everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Those

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redundancies that people were talk about, will they now not happen?

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The � 1250 -- �120 is a sigh of relief. But we have not eradicated

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the problem. We have eased the pressures and saves hundreds of

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jobs and secured the future education of our young people. But

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I will continue to work with the executive in a bid to gain further

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investment in education. But the recent announcement is welcome. It

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has saved swrobs and secured our education system. Thank you. --

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jobs. I want to catch up some of the points about education. Dawn

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Purvis you took a great interest in this area, do cow think this money

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will be -- do you think this money will be good news for schools and

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they will withdraw back from the redundancies. You can take some

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comfort from the money, but the minister has said there is still

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pressures and they won't be a -- achieve lated by -- alleviated by

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the money. We should be concerned at the carve up and what thought

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has gone into where the responsibilities of Del lie. We

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talk about the functions of Del going to trade and investment. We

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should look in the opposite direction and we should look at the

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kpt of -- department of education - - Department of Education having

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responsibility for education from childhood through young people and

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adult education. I am concerned about young people not in

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employment, education or training, where the responsibilities for

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those lie. It should be within the Department of Education and adult

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education should remain. Because it is skills that drive the economy

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and not the other way. There is an issue about the economy and it is

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spread over many departments. any way to run a government, this

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confusing message in the run up to Christmas, it is a prophet and

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doofl a then Santa Claus appears. It is not a good way to run

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government. But the practicalities means that is the way we run it. If

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the minister finds money from other areas and they prioritise the money

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that is spare, then they are doing a good thing. It would be worse if

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they were handing it back to the Treasury. Plenty more to talk about.

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Well the construction industry's going through tough times and there

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is no sign of an upturn. So what can Stormont do? At least half of

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the Executive will meet represent e represent yifrs of building

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industry to discuss the problems. - - representatives. The ministers

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will be asked to cut bureaucracy and speed up public works. Sean

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MacMahon has been in the industry for 30 year, but his experience

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counts for little in winning public sector contracts. The procurement

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process is a red tape nightmare for small firms. It is because of this

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document, the pre-qualification questionnare. It is costly to

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produce not only on our resource but to achieve qualification on

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tender lists we have employed consultants to help us gain

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selection for the lists. We have it on good authority that few

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contractors are successful in getting over the line. It is

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frustrating, very annoying and very demoralising. The framework is set

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down by European directive A report prepared for the European

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Commission found the UK had the slowest and most costly procurement

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procedures in the EU. The Royal Society of Ulster Architects says

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its member are falling foul of the bureaucracy. Its following the lead

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of Scotland by lobbying politicians for a review of the process. It is

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regarded as a risk business. The civil servants want to Maike I is

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dotted and T is crossed. But it comes at a cost. I think we would

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like to look at a good review of procurement. I think it would be

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worthwhile. The problems with procurement couldn't come at a

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worse time for the industry. Companies are being hit hard and

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some can't take the pressure. Thrf there were 53 insolvencies in the

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year to 2010. Many trades men also went bankrupt. The Department of

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Enterprise says almost 33,000 people were working in the

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construction sector in September. That is down 8.5% on the previous

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year. According to the employers federation, at least 30,000 jobs

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have been lost in the industry in four years. On Tuesday, the all

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party working group on construction will meet at least six executive

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ministers here at Stormont. The ministers will be asked to speed up

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their spending plans. It could be looked at that the Executive is

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trying to hold back pa some of the infrastructure projects until

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before an election. So that it is seen to be spending money. From an

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industry point of view, there is no t much point in doing that if a

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whole pile of businesses go out of business. We have to look at the

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programme of government, see how it is spending money, the types of

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project that it is spending money on. The representative of the

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industry due here for this meeting on Tuesday say they want more than

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tea and sympathy. What they want is to see real action, that will

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prevent further job losses and stop more firms from going into

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bankruptcy. Tom Kelly, its seems almost criminal this has been

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allowed to arise that some small companies, they are in some way

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being... Sacrificed if you like. Because of Government's policy.

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Government pro pr curement should be overhauled, because it is too

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complicated and the fact is that it is a lot about box ticking and

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little about deliver Iy. -- delivery. The fact they were going

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to meet six Ministers shows the complexity of doing business here,

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so many ministries have an impact on the construction industry, but

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not having joined up thinking in term of how they create jobs. That

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is a problem. This is about jobs and not business. It is about a

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jobs agenda and that is the people sitting at home who are unemployed.

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Dawn Purvis too many chiefs? Yes it is functions 06 a department are

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spread over many departments. The economy is spread over five

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departments and procurement is split over six departments. And the

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Assembly finance and personnel committee published a report into

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public procurement and much of the issues that were raised were

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highlighted in that report. Bureaucracy is massive and it does

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lock out businesss from Northern Ireland. And if the executive are

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serious about growing the economy they must address the issue. Now a

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round up of the political week in 60 seconds. New year new look at

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the Executive, but is Stephen Farry being sacrificed to keep David Ford

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at justice? We have a workable proposal. We look forward to take

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it through the Assembly and having the change in place before the date

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that is set. One job in the Executive causes a political row.

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But 350 are to go at the Ulster Bank. And invest NI hands back

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millions saying they can't get people to spend the money. And a

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kind gesture from the deputy First Minister at the summit. We have a

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cast until Belfast and I am sure we would be prepared to make it

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available for peace diskugszs between the British Government and

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-- discussions between the British Government and Scotland! Well Tom

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Kelly, how will nationalists view the debate for independence. Will

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they be optimistic I think the real issue is how unionists will regard

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Scotland opting out. They have looked at them as being political

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cousin and made much of the relationship with Scotland, where

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Scotland has by and large been looking at the republic and Iceland

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and saying we could do this on our own. So I think nationalists will

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look at it amusingly and Martin McGuinness is right and we have a

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castle here. What about unionists will there be any nerves about the

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possibility of Scottish independence? Yes Martin

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McGuinness's words are profeltic and we will look at - o' prophetic

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and we look at peace talks. We know sectarianism is an issue that exist

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as much in Scotland as it does within Northern Ireland. I think

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those who are unionists in Northern Ireland will be lobbying heavily

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for Scotland to remain part of union and you may see some of our

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high profile figures over there lobbying on behalf of those in

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swhrand who want to remain within the union. Like Peter Robinson?

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and Tom Elliott and many other unionists leaders. Certainly those

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