17/02/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


17/02/2013

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


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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2126 seconds

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Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. To

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

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

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

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shook his party. Westminster agrees to keep political donations a

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

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

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Sheila Davidson and Steven McCaffery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The decision was made by the Association. They unanimously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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after the leadership election, was offered the opportunity to bring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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barred letter of resignation on Thursday, John McCallister claimed

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you have abandoned pluralist and progressive pro-Union politics for

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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evidence of your progress of policies on flags and berates and

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things that separate the Ulster Unionist Party from the DUP.

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

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

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not support the position of the councillors unanimously, and then

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

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

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that was policy. There is a difference between cooperation with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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anxieties you have spoken about which feeds speculation that there

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

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

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

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with things that happen in political parties in the same way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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bigger issues about the union that determines it. An absolutely

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

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

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

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

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funeral and Londonderry. informed party leader, I informs

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them that I would resign. horsemeat controversy continues.

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The employment minister announced plans for or education. And

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

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

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

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

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

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Draft Northern Ireland Bill includes no plans for a major

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

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draft law published by the Secretary of State, Theresa

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Villiers. It also extends anonymity to those donating to political

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

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

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

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preferred more legislation which could have reduced the number of

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government departments. That is something we have been advocating

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

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

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smaller and more efficient government because we think that is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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supposed to that level of transparency? The SDLP and Sinn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Electoral Commission have a political axe to grind. They have

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

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in recent times, with threats and attacks against elected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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threat from dissident republicans to people who might represent

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certain political parties in Northern Ireland at the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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political party? The electoral commission looked into this. They

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

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

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liberalisation and moved towards transparency. The conditions were

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

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seen the evidence of threats against political parties in recent

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

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

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people who are determined to try to threaten politicians and the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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