15/04/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


15/04/2012

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

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is remembered. Will it set the tone for the flurry of political

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1734 seconds

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Welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. It has been a

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week marked by an influx of visitors. Most of them are here for

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the Titanic centenary. But a trade visit from one of China's most

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senior politicians attracted almost as much media attention.

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The red carpet was rolled out for Madame Liu Yandong in a bid to

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boost trade links. But at what cost?

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Today, a big commemorations. Lot of anniversary is still to come. Join

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me here later at Titanic Belfast. End are their Second World War

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secrets in -- and are there Second World War secrets in the Foyle?

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In order for Northern Ireland to reach out what the rest of the

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world, we have to reach out to one of the biggest economic powerhouses.

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But does it come at a price, pockets before principles? In a

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moment I will be put in that question to the East Belfast MP

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Naomi long. But first I am joined by writer Martina Devlin and PR

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consultant Nick Garbutt. What did you make of it is it? You have to

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ask yourself, is money the only rationale? China is not a democracy.

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There is not freedom of worship for freedom of protest. There is no

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freedom to elect a government. Let us not forget the great fire Wall

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of China concerning the internet. People do not know what is going on

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in their own country. This is what we are dealing with. Politicians

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have to ask themselves the question, do I put my can such wind's welfare

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-- do I put my constituents welfare below that of economic profit?

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is a matter for the Foreign Office and for David Cameron to be dealing

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with rather than Peter Robinson. That part of government has not

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been devolved. There are issues but just look at our economy. 70 %

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dependent on the public sector. China is a communist country. It is

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only 40 % dependent on its public sector. It shows how far we have to

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go. I noticed that the local media were kept behind the ropes and the

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Chinese media were left to wonder fray. We are not able to lecture on

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issues like nepotism when it comes to China. Nevertheless I think

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money cannot be the bottom line when it comes to dealing with

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people. It is putting a gloss on it to say that perhaps some persuasion

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can be brought upon China. I do not see them listening to this little

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corner of the world. A new signature project concerning the

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Titanic drew in one of China's most influential politicians. Our

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correspondent joins me now. What did she make of the visit? Is it is

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important from an economic perspective. I think it is about

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getting the balance right. It is difficult to tell if we are doing

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that. There has been a statement coming through from the ministers

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as to whether or not issues were raised about ethics in China.

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think the issues of human rights were raised. The are ways to do

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that very gently. I have met with the -- there are ways to do that

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very gently. You have to build a relationship before you can broach

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these issues. As China becomes more and were facing, you have to use

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opportunities to raise these issues with them. I do not think Northern

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Ireland will be a turning point. We have to be realistic about what we

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will be likely to achieve. I think some of the work has to be done

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through the universities. There needs to be an exchange of students.

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There is an opportunity there to open up a country that is otherwise

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a very closed and we should take those opportunities seriously.

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you think Helmand is the place to raise these issues? The foreign com

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-- do you think Parliament is the place to raise these issues? I

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personally believe that every opportunity you have you should

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raise these issues. It has always been the case that international

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policy has been debated at Westminster. But way back when we

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were in our heyday we were not turning away slave labour -- we

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were not turning away ships because we bought slave labour was wrong.

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This is about finding the right balance. -- thought slave labour

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was wrong. Do you think our politicians could have gone away

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with lecturing China? Be it is never about lecturing people. -- it

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is never about lecturing people. I do not think we should be lecturing

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people. If you can have a delicate discussion you can raise the issue

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and make people aware that even in Northern Ireland, a relatively

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small part of the world, people are conscious of what is happening in

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China and are interested about what is happening there. Making the

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government beware of that is a useful thing to do. A relationship

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has to be built, that is the way to change how China operates in a

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global environment. We have the Confucius Institute and various

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other strong links to China. What can China offer us? From an

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educational background, at the opportunity for people to

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experience another culture is hugely important as we try to

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develop. We are looking at new technologies and so on and we need

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the expertise. They have to learn from us as well. There are things

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we have been seeing in Northern Ireland's that can be exported. The

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cultural exchange is very important. I think it is an important part of

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opening up China to the outside world and also open up people from

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that country to see what it is like to live in some of the Western

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democracies. I think a change in China will happen as a result of

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that moment rather than people lecturing each other across a table.

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This comes after elements of the University and higher learning will

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be scrapped. I have not been party to any of the remote -- Burham Hill

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about this. -- rumour mill about this. I would you that there has to

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be some form of public consultation about the dissolution of certain

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departments. I am not aware that these consultations have started. I

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believe it would have to happen and there would have to be due process

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around it. There would have to be a proper legislative process put in

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place. By think they intend to do that -- but I think they intend to

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do that. I think there is a much broader view about which

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departments could be dissolved and perhaps the work in the assembly

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into something more effective. That is not the process that has been

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engaged on by the executive as it stands. In terms of Westminster,

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there is this pressure. Where does it stems from? A thing it is an

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issue in Northern Ireland that we do not have to -- across I think it

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is an issue in Northern Ireland but we do not have to declare our party

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donations. That is for security issues, that was the argument that

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was made. We made an argument as a party that this year's financial

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returns would be make -- made public. I think it is important

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that people know who pay the politicians and he pays the party.

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-- and who pays the parties. We need money to do our business but

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it is important for people to see who does that. A lot of the

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discussion we have had in Westminster has proven that some

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people are uncertain about this. This weekend there has been a

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series of events to mark the One hundred anniversary of the sinking

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of the Titanic and the loss of more than 1,000 lives. -- one hundredth.

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Our correspondent joins us from Titanic Belfast.

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By the end of today, more than 50,000 people will have passed

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through the doors of this new building here, Titanic Belfast. Two

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of those are visiting us here. We have seen a lot of celebration.

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There was a rock concert just outside Aunt Friday night. Today

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there is a solemn commemoration. -- on Friday night. Should the

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commemoration have come before the celebration? We have heard this

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argument recently. It is actually absolutely packed here today. There

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is a large part of this that is about remembering those people that

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died. I have been here twice and I must say that I have been very

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moved both times. The assembly here has ordered the people who died.

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The centre is all about history but there are some and the national

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community that feels that part of the history has been perhaps a

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little airbrush, particularly around the treatment of Catholics

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and the shipyard in those days. in the shipyard. If you look at

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1912, at the end of July 1912, there was a public statement made

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by a bishop that estimated that 3,000 Catholics had been put out in

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the shipyards and other industrial sites in Belfast. That is part of

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Titanic history. Do you think that is lost in the telling of the story

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now? Palace and Labour men were also put out. -- Protestant labour

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men were also put out. There were terrible conditions. I hope that

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this year when we look at the totality of the story we have a

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deeper understanding of the conditions of our city. We have

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seen the First Minister and Deputy First Minister embracing this as a

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shared space. Are we creating a template for some of the other

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territories that are coming up? -- anniversaries that are coming up?

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It is about celebrating and remembrance, these anniversaries. I

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heard a lecture and a was well received. I think that can be

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replicated for the next couple of years. -- and it was well received.

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Some of these are politically divisive and controversial. Yes,

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there can be a combustible dynamic. I think that really enhances our

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sense of us. I think we have a much more layered and complex view of

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ourselves. We are not a one- dimensional people. There are many

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dimensions to our story. I think there's dimensions give us a sense

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-- I think those dimensions give us a sense of ourselves. What is your

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hope of the economic benefit of this centre washing over into your

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constituency in East Belfast? Certainly we have seen thousands of

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tourists coming here in the past few weeks. We want to ensure that

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local people will advance themselves to a training and jobs

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around here. I have seen a number of young people who were unemployed

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working in here and that made me happy. Thank you for joining us

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That is it from Titanic Belfast. Back to you in the studio.

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Back to our studio guests on the issue of the Titanic. Nick, are we

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striking the right balance between respect and remembrance for a week

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crudely cashing in on an opportunity? I would have preferred

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if they could have launched the building last year so that we could

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actually be solemnly commemorating what was a devastatingly terrible

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tragedy. Having said that, I think that everything that I have seen

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and read has been dignified and has been appropriate and I think that

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we are striking the right balance. I do not think there is any damage

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or bad thing about Belfast becoming a great centre for four people

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coming to learn about the Titanic and for the -- for many people to

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come and learn about the Titanic. Do you think this is a new

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opportunity for a new narrative? There was some resentment that --

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there was some resentment by nationalists. If all the elements

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are remembered and lessons are learned and that is a way to move

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forward. There was sectarianism surrounding it. That is a reminder

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to us never to have this sort of policies again, just as the Titanic

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is a reminder not to send ships to say if they do not have enough

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lifeboats. Better abroad ships to see if they do not have enough left

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but -- to send ships to see if they do not have enough white boats. I

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would like to see Belfast get its moment in the sun. Won, it is

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amazing -- and Saif Al-Islam, it is amazing, the cachet that the

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Titanic -- Nick, it is amazing, the cachet that the Titanic has across

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It is amazing. I have been trying to work it out myself. I am

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fascinated by the Titanic, but possibly because I am fascinated by

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drowning. It is my biggest fear. think we could save you! It is an

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appalling tragedy, isn't it? It is almost mythic in its circumstances.

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Those people would have been filled with hope and excitement. It is

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also great fodder for writers. did write a book about the Titanic.

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I suppose I had a personal reason because my friend Terence eloped on

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the Titanic. James Cameron still Arab family story, really. -- our

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grandparents eloped on the Titanic. James Cameron stole our family

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story, really. Here is hour look at Republicans marked Easter and said

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that the IRA was not a business. There is no other IRA in Belfast or

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anywhere else. And there is no arms struggle to be finished. 100 years

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on, we mark the Titanic's final stop in Ireland. Flag flying caused

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a storm on the hill. They knew this not going to get through. I do not

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know if this is a gesture towards people in their own party that they

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are fighting what, but it is certainly not going to happen.

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Four-inch men got permission to watch on Stormont's grounds. --

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orange men. We said hello to China's most

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powerful woman. And the environment minister was to solve the mystery

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The flags issue is like the poor, it is always with us. Can you see a

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Irish Tricolour flying over Stormont any time soon? We were

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listening to the segment before where they were talking about

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anniversaries coming up and how we are going to deal with those. We

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have got some difficult coming -- difficult ones coming. We have the

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anniversary of the foundation of the UVF. There is the foundation of

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the Irish citizens' army. How will we have a collective view of those

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events if we get in a row about flags? Martina, do you think there

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will be any change? I think we should do away with flags entirely.

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