Tara Mills looks at the political developments of the week and questions policy makers on the key issues.
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In half an hour's time, the first of many centenaries as the Titanic
is remembered. Will it set the tone for the flurry of political
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1734 seconds
Welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. It has been a
week marked by an influx of visitors. Most of them are here for
the Titanic centenary. But a trade visit from one of China's most
senior politicians attracted almost as much media attention.
The red carpet was rolled out for Madame Liu Yandong in a bid to
boost trade links. But at what cost?
Today, a big commemorations. Lot of anniversary is still to come. Join
me here later at Titanic Belfast. End are their Second World War
secrets in -- and are there Second World War secrets in the Foyle?
In order for Northern Ireland to reach out what the rest of the
world, we have to reach out to one of the biggest economic powerhouses.
But does it come at a price, pockets before principles? In a
moment I will be put in that question to the East Belfast MP
Naomi long. But first I am joined by writer Martina Devlin and PR
consultant Nick Garbutt. What did you make of it is it? You have to
ask yourself, is money the only rationale? China is not a democracy.
There is not freedom of worship for freedom of protest. There is no
freedom to elect a government. Let us not forget the great fire Wall
of China concerning the internet. People do not know what is going on
in their own country. This is what we are dealing with. Politicians
have to ask themselves the question, do I put my can such wind's welfare
-- do I put my constituents welfare below that of economic profit?
is a matter for the Foreign Office and for David Cameron to be dealing
with rather than Peter Robinson. That part of government has not
been devolved. There are issues but just look at our economy. 70 %
dependent on the public sector. China is a communist country. It is
only 40 % dependent on its public sector. It shows how far we have to
go. I noticed that the local media were kept behind the ropes and the
Chinese media were left to wonder fray. We are not able to lecture on
issues like nepotism when it comes to China. Nevertheless I think
money cannot be the bottom line when it comes to dealing with
people. It is putting a gloss on it to say that perhaps some persuasion
can be brought upon China. I do not see them listening to this little
corner of the world. A new signature project concerning the
Titanic drew in one of China's most influential politicians. Our
correspondent joins me now. What did she make of the visit? Is it is
important from an economic perspective. I think it is about
getting the balance right. It is difficult to tell if we are doing
that. There has been a statement coming through from the ministers
as to whether or not issues were raised about ethics in China.
think the issues of human rights were raised. The are ways to do
that very gently. I have met with the -- there are ways to do that
very gently. You have to build a relationship before you can broach
these issues. As China becomes more and were facing, you have to use
opportunities to raise these issues with them. I do not think Northern
Ireland will be a turning point. We have to be realistic about what we
will be likely to achieve. I think some of the work has to be done
through the universities. There needs to be an exchange of students.
There is an opportunity there to open up a country that is otherwise
a very closed and we should take those opportunities seriously.
you think Helmand is the place to raise these issues? The foreign com
-- do you think Parliament is the place to raise these issues? I
personally believe that every opportunity you have you should
raise these issues. It has always been the case that international
policy has been debated at Westminster. But way back when we
were in our heyday we were not turning away slave labour -- we
were not turning away ships because we bought slave labour was wrong.
This is about finding the right balance. -- thought slave labour
was wrong. Do you think our politicians could have gone away
with lecturing China? Be it is never about lecturing people. -- it
is never about lecturing people. I do not think we should be lecturing
people. If you can have a delicate discussion you can raise the issue
and make people aware that even in Northern Ireland, a relatively
small part of the world, people are conscious of what is happening in
China and are interested about what is happening there. Making the
government beware of that is a useful thing to do. A relationship
has to be built, that is the way to change how China operates in a
global environment. We have the Confucius Institute and various
other strong links to China. What can China offer us? From an
educational background, at the opportunity for people to
experience another culture is hugely important as we try to
develop. We are looking at new technologies and so on and we need
the expertise. They have to learn from us as well. There are things
we have been seeing in Northern Ireland's that can be exported. The
cultural exchange is very important. I think it is an important part of
opening up China to the outside world and also open up people from
that country to see what it is like to live in some of the Western
democracies. I think a change in China will happen as a result of
that moment rather than people lecturing each other across a table.
This comes after elements of the University and higher learning will
be scrapped. I have not been party to any of the remote -- Burham Hill
about this. -- rumour mill about this. I would you that there has to
be some form of public consultation about the dissolution of certain
departments. I am not aware that these consultations have started. I
believe it would have to happen and there would have to be due process
around it. There would have to be a proper legislative process put in
place. By think they intend to do that -- but I think they intend to
do that. I think there is a much broader view about which
departments could be dissolved and perhaps the work in the assembly
into something more effective. That is not the process that has been
engaged on by the executive as it stands. In terms of Westminster,
there is this pressure. Where does it stems from? A thing it is an
issue in Northern Ireland that we do not have to -- across I think it
is an issue in Northern Ireland but we do not have to declare our party
donations. That is for security issues, that was the argument that
was made. We made an argument as a party that this year's financial
returns would be make -- made public. I think it is important
that people know who pay the politicians and he pays the party.
-- and who pays the parties. We need money to do our business but
it is important for people to see who does that. A lot of the
discussion we have had in Westminster has proven that some
people are uncertain about this. This weekend there has been a
series of events to mark the One hundred anniversary of the sinking
of the Titanic and the loss of more than 1,000 lives. -- one hundredth.
Our correspondent joins us from Titanic Belfast.
By the end of today, more than 50,000 people will have passed
through the doors of this new building here, Titanic Belfast. Two
of those are visiting us here. We have seen a lot of celebration.
There was a rock concert just outside Aunt Friday night. Today
there is a solemn commemoration. -- on Friday night. Should the
commemoration have come before the celebration? We have heard this
argument recently. It is actually absolutely packed here today. There
is a large part of this that is about remembering those people that
died. I have been here twice and I must say that I have been very
moved both times. The assembly here has ordered the people who died.
The centre is all about history but there are some and the national
community that feels that part of the history has been perhaps a
little airbrush, particularly around the treatment of Catholics
and the shipyard in those days. in the shipyard. If you look at
1912, at the end of July 1912, there was a public statement made
by a bishop that estimated that 3,000 Catholics had been put out in
the shipyards and other industrial sites in Belfast. That is part of
Titanic history. Do you think that is lost in the telling of the story
now? Palace and Labour men were also put out. -- Protestant labour
men were also put out. There were terrible conditions. I hope that
this year when we look at the totality of the story we have a
deeper understanding of the conditions of our city. We have
seen the First Minister and Deputy First Minister embracing this as a
shared space. Are we creating a template for some of the other
territories that are coming up? -- anniversaries that are coming up?
It is about celebrating and remembrance, these anniversaries. I
heard a lecture and a was well received. I think that can be
replicated for the next couple of years. -- and it was well received.
Some of these are politically divisive and controversial. Yes,
there can be a combustible dynamic. I think that really enhances our
sense of us. I think we have a much more layered and complex view of
ourselves. We are not a one- dimensional people. There are many
dimensions to our story. I think there's dimensions give us a sense
-- I think those dimensions give us a sense of ourselves. What is your
hope of the economic benefit of this centre washing over into your
constituency in East Belfast? Certainly we have seen thousands of
tourists coming here in the past few weeks. We want to ensure that
local people will advance themselves to a training and jobs
around here. I have seen a number of young people who were unemployed
working in here and that made me happy. Thank you for joining us
That is it from Titanic Belfast. Back to you in the studio.
Back to our studio guests on the issue of the Titanic. Nick, are we
striking the right balance between respect and remembrance for a week
crudely cashing in on an opportunity? I would have preferred
if they could have launched the building last year so that we could
actually be solemnly commemorating what was a devastatingly terrible
tragedy. Having said that, I think that everything that I have seen
and read has been dignified and has been appropriate and I think that
we are striking the right balance. I do not think there is any damage
or bad thing about Belfast becoming a great centre for four people
coming to learn about the Titanic and for the -- for many people to
come and learn about the Titanic. Do you think this is a new
opportunity for a new narrative? There was some resentment that --
there was some resentment by nationalists. If all the elements
are remembered and lessons are learned and that is a way to move
forward. There was sectarianism surrounding it. That is a reminder
to us never to have this sort of policies again, just as the Titanic
is a reminder not to send ships to say if they do not have enough
lifeboats. Better abroad ships to see if they do not have enough left
but -- to send ships to see if they do not have enough white boats. I
would like to see Belfast get its moment in the sun. Won, it is
amazing -- and Saif Al-Islam, it is amazing, the cachet that the
Titanic -- Nick, it is amazing, the cachet that the Titanic has across
It is amazing. I have been trying to work it out myself. I am
fascinated by the Titanic, but possibly because I am fascinated by
drowning. It is my biggest fear. think we could save you! It is an
appalling tragedy, isn't it? It is almost mythic in its circumstances.
Those people would have been filled with hope and excitement. It is
also great fodder for writers. did write a book about the Titanic.
I suppose I had a personal reason because my friend Terence eloped on
the Titanic. James Cameron still Arab family story, really. -- our
grandparents eloped on the Titanic. James Cameron stole our family
story, really. Here is hour look at Republicans marked Easter and said
that the IRA was not a business. There is no other IRA in Belfast or
anywhere else. And there is no arms struggle to be finished. 100 years
on, we mark the Titanic's final stop in Ireland. Flag flying caused
a storm on the hill. They knew this not going to get through. I do not
know if this is a gesture towards people in their own party that they
are fighting what, but it is certainly not going to happen.
Four-inch men got permission to watch on Stormont's grounds. --
orange men. We said hello to China's most
powerful woman. And the environment minister was to solve the mystery
The flags issue is like the poor, it is always with us. Can you see a
Irish Tricolour flying over Stormont any time soon? We were
listening to the segment before where they were talking about
anniversaries coming up and how we are going to deal with those. We
have got some difficult coming -- difficult ones coming. We have the
anniversary of the foundation of the UVF. There is the foundation of
the Irish citizens' army. How will we have a collective view of those
events if we get in a row about flags? Martina, do you think there
will be any change? I think we should do away with flags entirely.