17/02/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Mark Carruthers looks at the political developments of the week and questions policy makers on the key issues.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 17/02/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Coming up: A defining week for the Ulster unionist as they back a


unity candidate but lose two senior MLAs. We will hear from the party


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2126 seconds


Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. To


lose one MLA may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose two within


two days looks like carelessness. What does the future hold for the


Ulster Unionists? I will be talking to Mike Nesbitt about the week that


shook his party. Westminster agrees to keep political donations a


secret here but have MPs missed a chance for more open politics? And


with their thoughts on all those issues and more, I am joined by


Sheila Davidson and Steven McCaffery.


If we have to shrink to grow we will, the words of the Ulster


Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, back in December. And at the end of this


week his party lost two senior members, its former deputy leader,


John McCallister, and the Basil McCrea. Both cited the unveiling of


a united unionist candidate in Mid- Ulster as the tipping point. So


where does that double departure leave the party now? Mike Nesbitt


is with me. Your critics might say the first part of that strategy of


shrinking to grow is going very well. It does look like that,


doesn't it? And it was an inevitability. It was inevitable


that these two gentlemen would leave. It was a pity it was not on


the top of the news agenda. The seniors make a very good decision


in terms of the violation. When there is a political election, what


do I want? I want an all-star Unionist to win the seat. -- All


Star Yunus wrist. I would prefer some sort of Unionist to win. It


would maximise those chances. You have to put up a single candidate.


The decision was made by the Association. They unanimously


backed Nigel. That was a political decision. You have said that the


chance of winning the seat is pretty slim. But there is a


possibility. I resent people saying that this is a sectarian headcount,


as if a Catholic wouldn't possibly vote for Nigel. A of idea what they


get has to be an emotional debate and I am not sure it will be. I


would say to Nigel that he does not have the right to stand or mention


the fact that his father were murdered. There were many Catholics


and Protestants who would not mind someone speaking up for them.


Elliott, your predecessor as leader, said on Friday, a lot of what Basil


said I can agree with. It is clearly not about policy. John,


after the leadership election, was offered the opportunity to bring


foreheads a think tank. He was talking about bringing in people


from different parties and I was concerned with all of this. --


content with all of this. They did not meet once and the last 11


months. Bylaw has said that you did not communicate with him. -- Basil.


One of the first things I did after I was elected was spent 90p ornate


door jamb. My door is always open. -- ornate door jamb. The last and


we did it, 14 or 15 turned up. Who did not? Basil. In his no-holds


barred letter of resignation on Thursday, John McCallister claimed


you have abandoned pluralist and progressive pro-Union politics for


a backward-looking, insular politics. He says you're determined


to act in concert with the DUP and you've opted to become Peter


Robinson's junior partner. How do you respond to that critique?


is his opinion and he is wrong. doesn't think he is wrong. The fact


that he has left the party is probably good news. So you welcome


the fact that he has gone? People are saying that I am embattled and


I am liberated today. A It Was the Week That shook the Ulster Unionist


Party. You lost five leading figures in the party. At we will be


stronger. -- and we will be stronger. We have a man shot. For -


- we have a man trough. Country's first and politics second. We need


to present a united front to the electorate and that was never going


to happen. Goodbye and good riddance as far as you are


concerned? Just goodbye. At one point, David my Mario said that


there were five MLAs he were going to jump ship. He said that five and


always were going to jump ship and nobody jumped ship. Nobody has come


to me to say that they are unhappy. We had the young Unionist


conference recently. We had a business breakfast. I do not think


we got the responses that we wanted. Why it does that tell you? We are


experiencing with different things. It is not a big deal. We are is the


evidence of your progress of policies on flags and berates and


things that separate the Ulster Unionist Party from the DUP.


way to do it and bring it forward is things like MLA away-days. The


last time the executive Matt, John and basil turned up, and they did


not support the position of the councillors unanimously, and then


they came up with a policy from the teen years ago and said it was


policy. Once the executive may that scission on 8th December 1920 top,


that was policy. There is a difference between cooperation with


the DUP and becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary. The elections will be


the test. Stephen, you have followed this very closely and have


written about it on a website. What do you make of the significance of


what happens within the Ulster Unionist Party in the last week?


think Mike has hit on the key point at the moment, saying that he pills


liberated. This is just the beginning of a major problem. They


have lost to a high-profile representatives. They could not


really afford to do that. These guys are now going to be competing


for votes, and they're going to hammer home a series of messages.


What is the difference between the DUP and the DUP? Adding everyone


has noticed that that is a question -- I think of UN has it that is a


question that Basil has been asking. I think what journalists are


hearing and I think... When that question is asked, there is not a


response. It sounds a little tremor, and it feeds into the hands of


anxieties you have spoken about which feeds speculation that there


are people in the party who are not happy and are concerned about where


this will lead. You deal in the world of crisis management. Any


advice for Mike? I do not think so. He is well experienced. You deal


with things that happen in political parties in the same way


you might do with business. One of the things that is very difficult


is the Unionism itself. I think there is not a cigarette paper


between the two parties and that is the big issue that there is. There


is an element here where we need to get honest about where Jeanine


isn't itself... Quite -- where Unionism itself... Were all of the


people who want to consider themselves Yunus... And I do not


think that they are articulating the breadth that there could be out


there. Peter Robinson made it very clear when he was talking on Friday


that he had this is not a one-off. There are we going to see more


candidates in places like East Belfast and South Belfast? I would


be foolish to answer that question. Let's see how the next three weeks


ago. Will we play nice? Will it work for the benefit of Unionism?


It is definitely not being ruled out? Be would be foolish to rule


anything out. -- it would be foolish to rule anything out.


Sheila makes a good point about their not being a cigarette paper


between us. If the DUP proves us to be right, that is something to


celebrate. But there are big differences. We disagree over the


way that's lots of things are being handled. A win every Unionist sit


down -- when ever Unionists said I will have half a pint of what


you're having! Were newness decide if they are going to vote, it is


bigger issues about the union that determines it. An absolutely


critical when people think about who they are going to support his,


by the United, are they a strong and united team? And we have not


been for a long time. We will leave it there. Pinkie very much indeed.


-- thank you very much. Pollet is - a grubby politicians arrives at a


funeral and Londonderry. informed party leader, I informs


them that I would resign. horsemeat controversy continues.


The employment minister announced plans for or education. And


attention at Stormont as a former fire chiefs faced a grilling over


financial irregularities. You said the report was wrong? The gas.


yes. We would like to wish you a It had the potential to change the


shape and size of the Assembly and put in place the framework for a


formal Opposition. But in the end, after public consultation, the


Draft Northern Ireland Bill includes no plans for a major


shake-up of Assembly structures. A ban on double-jobbing is in the


draft law published by the Secretary of State, Theresa


Villiers. It also extends anonymity to those donating to political


parties until at least September 2014. With me to discuss this, Sinn


Fein's West Belfast MP, Paul Maskey, and Nigel Dodds, the DUP for North


Belfast. Is it a damp squib? There is not much in it. We would have


preferred more legislation which could have reduced the number of


government departments. That is something we have been advocating


for 10 years or more. We realise that the Government are saying that


they need a consensus but it is not there. We will continue to advocate


smaller and more efficient government because we think that is


what people want. We hope we will get parties in that position in the


future. This issue will be dealt with for two days at the end of


February, so there could be changes. Certainly, the government in


Westminster does not want to take the lead on some of these issues.


They are saying that it is up to the assembly parties to agree. I am


not against that principle. We will work at this and the remaining time


before the legislation gets into the House of Commons in order to


try and advance that. The numbers will not be reduced automatically


and I think there is an opportunity for us to work together and try to


bring it into the bill. We are very much for that. I think Sinn Fein


are the only party to do so. We have an action on 7th March. The


rest of our four MPs will have seats on the assembly. I hope that


our party set up to the mark because I do not think it is a good


enough to have two different clubs of legislation. At least there is a


move in the direction you want to see. We are have been arguing for


years. We have been saying it is far too high. It needs to be


reduced, certainly down to 100. A needs to be at least under �100,000.


It needs to be less than �7,000. We have argued that for her and number


of years now. All of the parties a to be ensuring that there is


accountability and Trust garden with and the citizens. Why are you


supposed to that level of transparency? The SDLP and Sinn


Fein have come on board after we started the process. .. Ing is


about doing your job. -- double jobbing. They take all of the money


but they do not take the seat. Speaking of donations, it is 7,500


in terms of donations to the party and �15,000 if you are damaging to


members. Those are the figures. We are in favour of moving to as much


transparency as we can as quickly as possible. The SDLP and the


Electoral Commission have a political axe to grind. They have


said that it was still dangerous, and we have seen that highlighted


in recent times, with threats and attacks against elected


representatives. We are seeing the difficulties that remain in and out


of context and until that situation becomes clearer, it remains a


danger to donors potentially. The other point about the UK donation,


Northern Ireland has an exceptional position, where people who are not


citizens or residents of the United Kingdom can donate to parties and


that is a loophole that needs to be closed. Other parties are agreed


with the DUP on this issue. Also, there is a threat, a discernible


threat from dissident republicans to people who might represent


certain political parties in Northern Ireland at the moment.


have heard that argument over the last couple of years and I think it


is absurd and estate full. -- I think political parties have to


be able to raise finances to find their campaigns, but I also believe


quite strongly that there needs to be accountability, because you need


to build the confidence up with the boaters and the electorate. --


rotors. Home you are leaving yourself open two more questions. I


do not think there is a threat there. Every party should put up


the people who donate. And why not say to the donors that their names


will be published so you decide whether or not you support the


political party? The electoral commission looked into this. They


are not political party orientated in any way or shape. In the current


context, they decided it was right to try to move towards


liberalisation and moved towards transparency. The conditions were


not quite right yet for a full openness and transparency. We have


seen the evidence of threats against political parties in recent


months. That's could go on indefinitely. We could say that we


are hoping to make progress on that, but we have seen that there are


people who are determined to try to threaten politicians and the


political process. We have said very clearly that as well as


dealing with transparent the, you have got to deal with the loophole


that allows people who are not even residents of the United Kingdom to


influence party politics and donate to political parties. That is a lot


at the United Kingdom and every other democracy. Sinn Fein and


other parties can benefit from that. Why should that be the case? When a


mega, of Friends of Sinn Fein will raise -- in America, friends of


Sinn Fein will raise the money for the party. We put on our website


north and south of the border. Other parties do not do that. We


are raising money and all of our accounts are put on the hour -- and


all of Our accounts are put out in the open. How do you view the


situation? The message that is being sent out is a pretty negative


one. I am deeply upset that that football match did not go ahead and


buy what to pay credit to Crusaders and Cliftonville as well as


everyone who worked hard to get an agreement. They had reached an


agreement but unfortunately the events do not go ahead and do think


it is a sad day for North Belfast and a sad day for football. We will


be thinking -- working to move things forward. There are reports


of heavy handed policing. One of our councillors was hurt and a


Download Subtitles