16/06/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


16/06/2013

The latest political news, interviews and debate in Northern Ireland.


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specially extended programme, we assess the impact of the G8 summit

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with live interviews from Fermanagh - including the Secretary of State,

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2320 seconds

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Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland.

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Big events here are a bit like buses - you wait around for ages and then

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two come along at once. It's the eve of the G8 summit, of course, and the

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focus is on County Fermanagh, where world leaders arrive tomorrow. And

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in the midst of all the fuss, the First and Deputy First Ministers

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have signed off on an economic package with the Prime Minister. But

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what is it worth and is it enough to make a difference? I'll be talking

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live to the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, who's in

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Enniskillen. And not everyone is rolling out the

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red carpet for the G8 leaders. Protesters in Belfast signalled

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their opposition to capitalism in one protest, while the focus was on

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world hunger in a separate demonstration in Botanic Gardens.

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I'll be talking to one of the headline acts, the singer Baaba

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Maal. With me throughout the programme

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with a view on everything G8 and more, my guests are Deirdre Heenan

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and Rick Wilford. And we start with the G8 summit,

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where some of the most powerful world leaders will start gathering

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tomorrow. Prime ministers, presidents and at least one

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chancellor will meet in the Lough Erne Resort for a two-day summit.

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Leaders from Germany, Canada, Italy, the UK, USA, Japan, Russia and

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France will discuss a range of issues and our political editor,

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Mark Devenport, is there. What is the mood like this morning? Fairly

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relaxed as far as I can tell. There is an obvious and substantial

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security presence. I came here late last night before midnight and was

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stopped by a security checkpoint on the road coming in from Belfast. We

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are being passed on a regular basis by integrative or police patrol

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boats and if I turn around in every direction I look I can see police

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land Rovers police officers. So it is substantial but relaxed. We are

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expecting large congregations of people today, not all to do with the

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G8. There is a service going on at the Cathedral which is related to

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the G8 but will be attended by a mob of clergymen including the

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Archbishop of York and various local dignitaries. Have you managed to

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talk to local people? Are they fairly relaxed or some of them

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:42:43.:42:46.

frustrated at the locked and you have described? -- the lock down?

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Well, local business people are making the most of it. One of them

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is selling a series of ice creams modelled on the world leaders. Local

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takeaway is doing quite good business. And one man involved in

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haulage and shipping would like an event like this every week because

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he is taking good business this week in terms of moving in some of the

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gear that is being used for the summit. Politically, what can this

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summit achieve? Well, they have outlined this agenda in terms of

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tax, greater transparency of tax in relation to earnings and the

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extraction of minerals in developing countries, improved trade deals. But

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what is also looming over all of this of course is the issue of

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Syria, and there is this meeting of David Cameron and Ballard make Putin

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today. -- and Putin today. For Northern Ireland, they will be

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wanting to advertise the economic opportunities here and to ensure

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that particularly the US and indeed other countries remain committed to

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the peace process as it moves forward. Thank you. Hopefully we

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will hear from him a bit later in the programme.

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We'll hear from the Secretary of State, who's in Enniskillen, very

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soon, but first, one issue that is certain to be on the summit agenda

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is tax avoidance. It has dominated the news in recent weeks and has

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attracted attention on both sides of the Atlantic. There's also been much

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focus on Dublin after it was revealed that large, multi-national

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companies are using Irish operations to save billions in taxes. Our

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political reporter, Stephen Walker, administration here in Dublin, used

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tax rates and incentives to attract foreign investment. The generations,

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they were the rules of the economic game. But in recent months, stories

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about tax avoidance have changed the atmosphere, and now tax reform is on

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the international agenda. Last month's US Senate hearing put Dublin

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on the world map for the wrong reasons. Ireland was labelled a tax

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haven after representatives of Apple admitted they had negotiated a deal

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in the 1980s to set up an Irish operation. Recent figures are

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revealing. Apple operations international made a profit of 30

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billion over three years but paid no income taxes over that time. Another

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Apple sales international made 74 billion in profit but paid only a

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tiny fraction of that in tax. Apple insist they have done nothing wrong.

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We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar. Ireland's local

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bridge and tax of 12.5% has been an incentive for foreign investors, and

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it is clear other European countries have looked at Dublin would envy. So

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that annoys other countries because maybe we attract their factories,

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businesses, banks. On top of that, there is the worry about what is

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called transfer pricing, that big multinational companies can in a

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sense that the prices for the things they buy and sell in such a place as

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to put their profits into particular locations. Moving profits to take

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advantage of lower tax rates concerns some at Stormont who feel

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the Republic's game if the UK's loss. My view is the British

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government does have some leveraged on the Irish government back,

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because they have made a 7.5 billion loan, and that is a lot of

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leveraged. They should be saying to the government, you cannot stage tax

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revenue from us in this way. -- cannot steal. In Dublin, they say

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the loan was not related to changing tax rates. But are they exploiting

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the rules? What of the allegation of Ireland becoming a tax haven?

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it is wrong, and it is put out there by countries who I suspect are

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looking at the success this country is making. It is not Irish tax law

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that is at stake here, it is other jurisdictions with their tax law.

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But there are those who insist that island now has a reputation as a tax

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haven. This week, Richard Boyd Barrett will be in Fermanagh

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protesting. I think it is outrageous. Our economy is

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outrageous. Now we discover that the Irish government policy is to

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further encourage and expand this sector at the same time that

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ordinary workers and citizens are being actually Chris vied with cuts,

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austerity and employment, while these vulture companies are making

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fortunes. -- are being crucified. Finding answers will be difficult,

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but it is clear there is a mood for greater tax transparency. People

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listening to this will think, goodness me, the taxman pursues me

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sometimes for a few hundred pounds. I think we need to address this.

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This week, money will take centre stage. When it comes to tax, G8

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leaders know they have a worldwide problem to address. Finding some

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harmony is the key. Stephen Walker reporting. While the

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spotlight will be on County Fermanagh for the next few days, on

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Friday all eyes were on Downing Street as details of that long

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awaited economic package were unveiled. David Cameron described

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the agreement as a symbol of our ambitious vision for Northern

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Ireland: a genuinely shared society fulfilling its economic potential.

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So, can the momentum of G8, combined with the economic pact, deliver

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lasting benefits? The Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, joins me

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from Enniskillen. Thank you for joining us. Can I pick -- pick up on

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this comment. The Republic of Ireland government has been stealing

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the UK tax revenues. Do you agree? think what the current controversy

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around Irish tax rules illustrates is that David Cameron was right to

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put on the agenda for the G8 how we ensure, together, as an

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international community, that big business pays its fair share of tax.

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It is not necessarily the tax system in Ireland that is a problem, it is

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the way big business is manipulating the international rules on tax to

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avoid paying any tax at all. We can only resolve that if we have

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international action, and that is why it is so important that David

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Cameron has championed this issue and why he was right to put it on

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the agenda this week. Sammy Wilson once the UK government to raise this

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issue with the Republic of Ireland administration sooner rather than

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later. Will you do that? Will David Cameron do that? Well, the UK

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government has wanted to engage with a whole range of international

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partners as to how we find a solution. We firmly believe that in

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local corporation tax rates and we'd stood up for the Republic of

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Ireland's right to have those tax rate in face -- in the face of

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Europe's wish to abolish those. In reality, it is the system which

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enables big business across the world to aggressively avoid paying

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tax which is the problem here. We really think big business needs to

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pay its fair share of tax alongside all of those who go out to work hard

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for a living and cannot afford a aggressive avoidance schemes to

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reduce their bills. Let's talk about Friday's economic package. You said

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it would help to build lasting peace and prosperity. How, precisely, will

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it do that? We believe that the economic package agreed on Friday

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will help as we balance the Northern Ireland economy. It will see the

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executive and the government working more closely together than ever

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before on a whole range of issues which will help bring jobs and

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prosperity to Northern Ireland. That is a crucial way to underpin

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political stability in Northern Ireland, and the package also seeks

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to support the announcements already been eight -- already made in recent

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weeks about a shared society in driving forward with a

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reconciliation. People are wondering if there is anything particularly

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new. There has been a lot of talk about special area status, but the

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statement says we can retain 100% of what we already have, so that is

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effectively no change. That is a very significant decision and it was

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actually very hard to persuade my Whitehall hot -- colleagues that

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that would be possible. Significant changes in the EU rules on these

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matters means it will be difficult to retain hundred percent coverage

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for Northern Ireland. This package is recognition that special

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circumstances justify that special treatment, and it is only through

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hard work that we've been able to persuade my Whitehall colleagues

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that Northern Ireland should retain that status. The First Minister said

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that for him the game changer remains the dev elution of

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corporation tax. That is not in this package. What the package does

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contain is a further indication of the way forward. We have clearly

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said that although the decision in principle will wait until the Autumn

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statement in 2014, we're going to continue with technical work to

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prepare for a possible depletion of corporation tax, and the baggage

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confirms that if the PM's decision is yes in principle, we will proceed

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with a stand-alone bill to legislate in this Parliament on corporation

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tax. You are joining us from what looks like a very beautiful

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Fermanagh. The world leaders arrive tomorrow and there is a lot of

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:53:58.:54:03.

anticipation. What do you think -- to develop how far Northern

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Ireland has come. It demonstrates that Northern Ireland is a great

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place to do business and come on holiday. We can make sure the rest

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of the world knows how far we have moved since the peace agreement and

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the political settlement. Thank you very much indeed for joining us will

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stop Theresa Villiers there, live from Enniskillen. With me now,

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Deirdre Heenan and Rick Wilford. What do you think G8 could mean for

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Northern Ireland? In the short term, it is going to mean that local

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businesses down and Fermanagh are going to do very well. Some already

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are. The G8's platform is the globe, so in that respect, it is not going

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to be anything other than short-term gains from hosting -- hosting the

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conference. It is ironic that the venue for the conference is a hotel

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which does not chime with the austere times we are confronting. I

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don't think the G8 conference in itself is going to have any lasting

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effect. Deirdre, some businesses are going to do well out of it, but

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others are suffering, and complaining about suffering quite

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badly, certainly in the short term. How do you see at? It's going to be

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a balance, when you host something on this scale. That goes with the

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territory. What is different about Enniskillen and Northern Ireland

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being chosen is the perception of Northern Ireland. 20 years ago, this

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could not have happened. This is an opportunity to think about us in a

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different way. When it was at Gleneagles, the location didn't

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really feature. In Northern Ireland, it is all about location. We need to

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put our best foot forward and embrace that. What about the view

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that Northern Ireland is stealing tax revenue from the rest of the UK?

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What do you make of that? It is very emotive language, and it does

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nothing to help. To accuse the Labour government of stealing money

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from the UK Treasury... That is an helpful, to say the least. The

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response that Theresa Villiers made referred more generally to the UK

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public's dysfunctional tax regime and the structure of the global

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economic system. It is dysfunctional, and the issue

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highlights the disparities between different tax regimes, and the kind

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of drive to try and secure some kind of harmonisation of tax systems and

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more transparency. The tree, the tax package announced on Friday - is

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that helpful? We are almost seeing a repackaging of existing things. We

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have to welcomed it. It will make us a more attractive place for trade

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and investment. I would like more detail on the infrastructure of

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Northern Ireland, and how we are going to address the key issues of

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infrastructure. Thank you very much. Not everyone is happy to welcome the

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world's most powerful leaders. Unionists and campaign groups led a

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march in Belfast city centre yesterday, challenging the agenda of

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the G8 leaders. The Fairer World Campaign wants... Thousands gathered

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for the Big IF Belfast concert. One of the performance at the events was

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the Senegalese musician and Oxfam Ambassador Baaba Maal. Thank you

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very much for joining us. Did yesterday's concert achieve what you

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hoped it would? I think so. We played music, and showed people what

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we think is a link for what we are standing up for. Especially, there

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was lots of young people. They are the future. We started this campaign

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since January. We see it growing up little by little. I think it is

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really important to talk about these issues. We must cut the hunger.

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made a visit to West Africa recently, to your home country of

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Senegal and other countries. How much difference have you seen on the

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ground, and what do G8 leaders need to take on board? Coming from

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there, I was not aware on how people are suffering. Senegal, Mauritania,

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Burkina Faso, it is all similar in those country. People are not ready

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to face that. I visited families where, for example, the woman was

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the centre of raising the children. I asked them about education and

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other issues, and they said they were not interested in that. They

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were more interested in how to feed their children and take care of

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themselves. That is something that is happening. World leaders need to

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be aware of that. They have to fix that. I'm sure they can fix it.

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global ambassador for Oxfam, you have made many public announcements.

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You feel there is no excuse for hunger anywhere in the world in the

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20th century. Of course. There is enough food in the world to feed

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everyone everywhere. Especially when you travel in countries in West

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Africa, you see big rivers, like the Senegalese River. You see good

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agricultural land. But we don't have any support. People are ready to

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work on agriculture. If you ask what our leaders are doing - I hope, with

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the G8, people will be convinced to take action. What would you like to

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see this G8 summit in Fermanagh achieved? I would like people to

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think about all the issues that matter in the regions of the world

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like Africa. By taking care about that, people can bring back some

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profit to invest in developing countries. There is no way we can

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make the balance come. We talk about peace every time, but there is a

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proverb of Bob Marley who says, a hungry man is an angry man. We need

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to feed people. Baaba Maal, thank you very much for coming in. Let's

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hear more from Deirdre and Rick. What do you make of the

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aspirations, the demands, of all of the campaigners who have been

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agitating -- agitating ahead of the G8 summit? Do you think this will

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have an effect inside the conference centre? I think they have to try.

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With the protests, we had a lot of talk of huge protests that didn't

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materialise. You have to ask, was that because people don't care about

:01:26.:01:29.

issues like hunger and economic development, or are there too many

:01:29.:01:33.

issues for them to separate out? They may want to be involved in

:01:33.:01:38.

that, but they may not want to be involved in anti-capitalist march

:01:38.:01:44.

is. Or do people think protests are pointless? In Northern Ireland, we

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see the usual suspects protesting. And that turns people off. They say,

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I do not want to be involved or aligned with those people, so I will

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get my message through in other ways, such as attending a

:01:57.:02:05.

conference. Yesterday's concert was anything but a damp squib, because

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about 10,000 people came to the Botanic Gardens. The message was

:02:09.:02:14.

pretty loud and clear. Explicit, in terms of tackling hunger across the

:02:14.:02:19.

world. It is a chronic problem. It is difficult to explain. 50 years

:02:19.:02:25.

ago, John Kennedy said, we have the capacity and the means to cure the

:02:25.:02:31.

world of global hunger. What we need is the will. 50 years, we are still

:02:31.:02:36.

waiting for that will to be realised. On the protest front,

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every G8 summit is attended by protests and demonstrations, some

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incredibly violent, such as in Seattle. Others are more passive or

:02:48.:02:53.

Pacific, as they were yesterday. It always brings together a range of

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organisations, each with a different focus. It is an umbrella movement.

:02:59.:03:06.

Some are anti-state or anti-system. Others are pro-food. It captures a

:03:06.:03:11.

wide range of interests. More from you later. Despite reassuring words

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from our political leaders, not everyone is convinced the G8 summit

:03:16.:03:19.

can deliver long-term economic benefits. There's been criticism of

:03:19.:03:24.

the disruption it has been causing in Fermanagh itself. The Sinn Fein

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MLA, Phil Flanagan, says any economic boost is likely to be short

:03:30.:03:34.

lived. Are you warming at all to the notion of the G8 summit as it gets

:03:34.:03:44.

closer? The G8 summit is upon us now. It is the big topic of

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conversation here, over this last week or so. The attitude of most

:03:49.:03:54.

people in Fermanagh that I have spoken to is one of concern at the

:03:54.:03:58.

disproportionate response from the police and the security services to

:03:58.:04:04.

the G8 taking place. Every single road, every layby, has a police car

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with heavy machine guns. A road between Fermanagh and Enniskillen is

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closed for a month. When you say disproportionate... Whether you like

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it or not, these are eight of the most powerful people on this planet

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and they have to be properly protected. All it takes is one

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individual to set the cat amongst the pigeons. Why don't you accept

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that? I accept that, but this is the middle of June, and the road is

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already closed. The road has been closed for a fortnight. It is

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completely over the top. I have children in school in Enniskillen

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before eight o'clock -- you have to be in any skill and before eight

:04:51.:04:57.

o'clock. There is no place for that on a Monday or Tuesday morning.

:04:57.:05:02.

say a lot of people in Fermanagh are not happy. What about the world's

:05:02.:05:06.

attention being focused on the beautiful Fermanagh? You are keen to

:05:06.:05:12.

tell us about that, and the fact it is showing Northern Ireland to be a

:05:12.:05:18.

normal society on a global stage. Shouldn't we celebrate that? That is

:05:18.:05:22.

something worth celebrating, and it could not happen 20 years ago. That

:05:22.:05:27.

is a positive step forward for us. Lots of jobs have been created in

:05:27.:05:33.

the short term. That is very positive, and to be welcomed. The

:05:33.:05:39.

figures thrown out by the British and Commonwealth office, about the

:05:39.:05:44.

long-term benefits for Fermanagh being between �500 million and �700

:05:44.:05:50.

million. That is ridiculous. The benefits to the Scottish economy of

:05:50.:05:59.

Blair need was �74 million. The cost of hosting it was �94 million. There

:05:59.:06:07.

is very little actual benefit to this. If we consider that Fermanagh

:06:07.:06:11.

will be showcased around the world, I hope it will be done in positive

:06:11.:06:15.

terms. What will actually be reported around the world is what

:06:15.:06:19.

discussions these people have, and what decisions they take. That is

:06:19.:06:23.

the most important part of this summit, and they have to take

:06:23.:06:26.

decisions that will benefit those in greatest need around the world.

:06:26.:06:35.

Thank you for joining us. The Sinn Fein MLA, Phil Flanagan, joining us

:06:35.:06:39.

from Fermanagh. David Cameron has spoken of the three big Ts that are

:06:39.:06:49.
:06:49.:06:49.

at the heart of the G8, Oddbins. But with the situation in Syria,

:06:49.:06:54.

agreement could be hard to find. -- at the heart of the G8, Tax,

:06:54.:06:59.

Transparency and Trade. Do you think the focus will be Tax, Transparency

:06:59.:07:06.

and Trade? I think the leaders of the biggest countries in the world,

:07:06.:07:10.

open democracies... Every day, they are used to dealing with the

:07:10.:07:14.

toughest issues across a broad range of things at home. When they come

:07:14.:07:19.

together, they have a common bond. A strong focus will be on the three

:07:19.:07:28.

tiers that David Cameron started out with. After Marley, terrorism has

:07:28.:07:36.

risen to the top. And with Syria now. Making sure we win the economic

:07:36.:07:40.

peace in North Africa and the middle east, having won the war in Libya.

:07:40.:07:47.

lot of people are confused about the fact that the biggest democracy in

:07:47.:07:55.

the world, India, is not represented in the G8. China is not there. There

:07:55.:07:58.

is no representative from South America. Is the G8 what it used to

:07:58.:08:08.
:08:08.:08:12.

be? The G8 was created to promote individuality, liberty and social

:08:12.:08:19.

advance. So in the case of India, there is a case for joining. China

:08:19.:08:25.

is not there, nor is Saudi Arabia. Well, some people wonder about

:08:25.:08:30.

Russia, of course. Well, it is a work in progress but we are vastly

:08:30.:08:36.

better off with Russia than in 1997 before they joined as a full member

:08:36.:08:43.

at the summit in Birmingham hosted. Should Italy still be there? It is

:08:43.:08:52.

bankrupt. Yes, Italy is perhaps a different style of democracy. But

:08:52.:08:55.

even the mother of all Parliaments has a coalition government as well

:08:55.:08:59.

so they are becoming a bit Italian. They face the same problems, they

:08:59.:09:05.

are with us as a member of NATO. They were a critical ally if you use

:09:05.:09:13.

ago in stopping slaughter in Libya. -- a few years ago. I think if we

:09:13.:09:16.

need to take hard decisions on Syria, they will be with those as

:09:16.:09:25.

well. There is a huge focus that this event is taking place here. But

:09:25.:09:31.

be honest, do people notice where the summit takes place? Absolutely.

:09:31.:09:35.

For a start, it brings in the most prestigious journalists from the

:09:35.:09:41.

most powerful countries in the world and the vast entourage from other

:09:41.:09:49.

countries as well. Almost all of them will not have heard of the rich

:09:49.:09:53.

array of assets here. They will see it first hand and have a chance to

:09:53.:09:58.

make their own judgements. The message they will go home with is

:09:58.:10:04.

not just the small one, that it is good for business or tourism, it is

:10:04.:10:09.

a powerful inspiration for the central issue of this summit. What

:10:09.:10:14.

we're seeing in Syria, massive sectarian violence, what we saw on

:10:14.:10:19.

the streets of Boston in the bombing and London is that as well. Northern

:10:19.:10:23.

Ireland proves we can win that fight. Very interesting to hear your

:10:23.:10:30.

thoughts, thank you for joining us. Now, let's get a look at the

:10:30.:10:40.
:10:40.:10:44.

summit will put Northern Ireland in the shop window. A lot of people

:10:45.:10:48.

look at these things in pounds and pence. I don't. For Northern

:10:48.:10:53.

Ireland, a lot of this is about reputation. An economic pact with

:10:53.:10:59.

London promises to help as break barriers to peace and prosperity.

:10:59.:11:02.

The social development Minister revealed the Housing executive

:11:02.:11:09.

overpaid housing contractors by �18 million. The scale of what has been

:11:09.:11:19.
:11:19.:11:22.

uncovered is a scandal. Let's not forget this is taxpayers money. At

:11:22.:11:30.

Stormont, some politicians were living dangerously. And inside the

:11:30.:11:33.

assembly, the newest political party was in for a bit of teasing.

:11:33.:11:41.

thought it was NI 21 last Thursday, P 45 on Monday. Let's take a quick

:11:41.:11:45.

final thought on Mark Devenport our political editor in Ennis killing. A

:11:45.:11:55.
:11:55.:12:01.

quick reflection? -- in Fermanagh. Well, we've heard bad that this

:12:01.:12:07.

summit puts Northern Ireland in a shop window. No doubt there will be

:12:07.:12:12.

a report on whether this was in fact a benefit. I think ministers at the

:12:12.:12:16.

moment are saying they are taking this opportunity and that they

:12:16.:12:20.

managed to negotiate a situation in which they pay a smaller proportion

:12:20.:12:24.

of the build and maybe was the case in Gleneagles in 2005. We will have

:12:24.:12:28.

to see which of the camps, the sceptics or the optimists, are

:12:28.:12:35.

proved right. And a final brought from guests. Deirdre, how do we

:12:35.:12:40.

judge the success of what happens over the next 48 hours? I think it's

:12:40.:12:45.

a case of watch this space. We don't quite know yet. But I agree that

:12:45.:12:48.

this is a unique marketing opportunity that we simply could not

:12:48.:12:52.

pay for. It is a chance to change perceptions about Northern Ireland

:12:52.:13:00.

and put it on a global stage. feeling outclassed here. How do we

:13:00.:13:07.

think -- how do you think we judge the success? I think we have to

:13:07.:13:12.

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