19/05/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


19/05/2013

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers are joined by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and discuss Conservative UKIP electoral pacts with Conservative MPs.


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looking across the Irish Sea to Cardiff after a weekend of talks on

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parading and policing leads to an agreement supporting the PSNI. Join

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2155 seconds

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Northern Ireland. The sun finally came out as the Balmoral show made

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its debut at the Long Kesh site where big plans were made for one of

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our most successful industries. We talk to the Agriculture Minister

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Michelle O'Neill. Also a weekend of talks on policing

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many of our farmers are truly weatherbeaten. The executive handed

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out around five billion pounds in hardship funding to those of farmers

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who lost livestock in the snow falls in March. Last week a further

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million pounds was made available to help farmers cope with animal food

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shortages. Despite this doom and gloom, the agri- food sector has

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been outperforming other parts of the economy. A new growth strategy

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is to capitalise on that and create a further 15,000 jobs over the next

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seven years. The Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill is with me

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now. Why do you think our agri- food sector is performing so well?

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think that it has been a particularly difficult year over the

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last 18 months for the farming community, but despite all of that,

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despite the climate, agriculture continued to grow. There is a

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growing demand for food, so there is a massive potential market there for

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us to exploit. This week we have launched the agri- food strategy.

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That is been devised by industry and we look forward to be able to

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implement a lot of the recommendations. There are a lot of

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big asks in it, it is there a challenging. It is a very big ask.

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Is it realistic? Absolutely. We are talking about 15,000 new jobs being

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created, 75% growth in the export market. We are targeting the export

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market. We want to get into the emerging markets of China, Russia,

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the USA... There is so much potential for us. We need to exploit

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that to its full potential. sector is worth �5 billion at the

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moment. The plan is to push that to 7 billion by 2020. That is 40%

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growth in the seven years. Those figures are not to be sniffed at.

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Absolutely not, but this report has come from the industry. A lot of

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hard work has been put in and I commend the board for the work they

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have put in. There are often whenever you talk about the food

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supply chain, the farmers are the poor relation. In this case the

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unions have been very much involved in the conversation so now there is

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recognition that there is only one supply chain and we have to invest

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in it if it is to be successful in the future. Certainly for me, one of

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the challenging aspects to it is it is calling for 400 million from the

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executive. That will leave 1.3 billion in investment for the

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industry and that is a big win and will help us drive forward the

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agenda. There are things to change in processing, but it is about

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skills development, research and development. Do you know where this

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investment is going to come from? Can you pinpoint specific sectors,

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factories and organisations that can deliver these figures or are we

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still at the early stages of it being a fanciful wish list? A lot of

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this has looked in the beef sector, dairy sector, and everything from

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food processing... Even if you take it from the farming end of things

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right through to people who produce the packaging and labels, scientists

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and all those things, there is such a range of jobs across the sector.

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The other thing is it is not specific to one area, it is right

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across the North. I can say it is growth right across the North, not

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just targeted in one area. It is an area that is susceptible to the

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vagaries of international markets, employment situations and food

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safety, which is a critical issue. There is an off a lot that could

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potentially go wrong. It would be great if these figures are

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delivered, but it is a risky strategy, isn't it? If you even take

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horse meat and the scandal surrounding that and the impact that

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it had on the local industry, if there is anything positive to come

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out of that it is that people are starting to recognise the importance

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of supply chains. Tesco have said they will source 100% of their beef

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products locally, to me that is a major win. We must be mindful of the

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fact that over the last 18 months it has been very challenging economic

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times. But the industry has continued to grow. A positive

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announcement in terms of the agri- food sector, but the other

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announcement of �1 billion put in a fund to help farmers deal with a

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crisis in terms of fodder supply. A lot of people who aren't involved

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don't understand that conflict. said at the start, we are coming out

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of a period of extreme weather between the rain and the snow. There

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have been particular challenges because of this. These are

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short-term measures, in terms of getting some fodder out to them, is

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something we need to sustain them into the future. If we don't have

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the farmers now, they won't be able to produce the food in the future.

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We will hear from the commentators in just a second. Your reflections,

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if you would, after the first Balmoral show at the site of the

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former Maze, Long Kesh site? absolutely commend the vision for

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moving to that site. The potential there is amazing. The show was very

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successful, over 80,000 people visited it and everyone in the

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grounds was very positive about what they saw and everything that was on

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for families to come along too. no butts? No buts, it was a

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fantastic show. Mike Smyth, wearing your economists

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hat, what you feel about this notion that the agri- food sector can be

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grown to that level in such a short period of time? There are two

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observations. Certainly the targets are very ambitious. However, the

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analysis of the demand increase we have already seen would indicate

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that if it is out there then we could certainly get a fair share of

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it. The real problem I have is that we are a very fragmented industry

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here. The strategy is aimed at trying to simplify it. Abolish a lot

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of institutions that make for a lot of noise, and it is about money and

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the way we deal with things here. The road to the target is littered

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with strategies like this, so it is very challenging. You wouldn't

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disagree with that, the? -- Liam? It should be judged at the next

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election if it is made. There will be a reward if it comes off. As the

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Minister said, sustainability is becoming an important thing. Since

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the horse meat scandal, that has suddenly given us a niche market

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higher up the cost chain. We can charge more for our products, and I

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know a minister is going to Brazil to meet a major employer. We are now

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their European headquarters. You can see that these foundations are being

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built on. Let's talk about the political dimension to this other

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story, which is bound up in the Maze development. We know it is

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controversial, but we have seen something happened there which has

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brought people together from all kinds of communities. The minister

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says it was a great success from her point of view, does that help with

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the other aspects of the development of that site? I think it does. My

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personal view is it would have been foolish developing the Maze without

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developing the other buildings. It will be a draw for buildings

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depending on how we develop them. Presumably you have to tell the

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story in a balanced way. If you wanted to be a tourist draw then

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there are other things, like the chance of a stadium. We will hear

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more from you later in the programme.

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Intensive talks between police, politicians and committee leaders

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came to an end with a vow of support for the PSNI. The focus was on

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reducing tensions between police, Loyalist and republican communities.

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We made our expectations clear that we wanted to do what we could to

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ease tension and build relationships with communities. We have been

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through a particularly difficult few months and we want to do what we can

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to get relationships re-established. We want to maintain

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clean occasion throughout the summer, and this shows that a series

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of principles have been agreed that shows that has actually happened.

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have seen how quickly things can spiral out of control, and what I

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was impressed with was the sense of collective purpose and integrity

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that people in that room had, their will to make it work. Vincent, I

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suppose we shouldn't be too surprised that they had all agreed

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they should support the rule of law, first of all. You expect

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politicians and community representatives to support the

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police and the rule of law, and the police are agreed to stress that

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this statement comes after some strong criticism of the PSNI. For

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example, during the protests earlier this year Republicans accused the

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police of being too soft. On the other hand, no-one has accused the

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police being too heavy-handed and brutal in their response. The police

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say they were caught in the middle, being criticised and attacked while

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both sides. Even that backdrop, the police say they are pleased at the

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statement which supports them and acceptance for their responsibility

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of maintaining the rule of law. They have also agreed to give more

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advance notice about how they will police public events. They say they

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will provide an explanation as to what they will do and why in the

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hope of reducing tensions. police are clearly happy with the

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outcomes of the talks. What about the delegates? They aren't all

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singing of the same hymn sheet. After the police started talking to

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us, we had an orderly queue willing to give us their views. They are

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keen to stress to things, Mark. That smack two things. It is about trying

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to reduce tensions in areas where there has been criticism of the

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police. They stress that this has been a successful initiative. There

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were some candid and frank discussions and it wasn't always

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pleasant, but the view was it was successful. It was summed up by Sinn

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Fein 's. It is a positive move forward. This is about the

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relationship between the police and the community and in that

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parameter, the weekend has been successful. You are suggesting that

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the delegates are happy with the outcome. Will it have any practical

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impact in the future? That is the weight issue. -- big issue. It has

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cost millions of pounds for the policing of protest since December,

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�23 million. They hope that this will reduce tensions on the street.

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The big issue is, will it have any impact on the street? I asked

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whether these talks have reduced the potential for violence this summer?

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There are always people who will not listen to anyone who are intent on

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listen to anyone who are intent on listen to anyone who are intent on

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disruption with no positive disruption with no positive

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disruption with no positive contribution to make to society.

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contribution to make to society. contribution to make to society.

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That is the case around the world. What is next for the protests?

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about trying to do something more strategic, meeting with community

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representatives after there has been trouble. They want to keep the

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communication going. We have been told there will be talks closer to

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home in the weeks ahead and this will be put to the test, because all

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those who have signed up to this agreement support the police. I

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asked a number of delegates if they will continue to support the police

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if they do something they don't like. They said they are entitled to

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criticise the police if everything goes wrong, but they say they will

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support the police throughout this summer. That will be put to the test

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in the weeks ahead. Let's hear the thoughts of Mike's

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Mike. When you hear -- Mike Smyth. When you hear about what they have

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been discussing, it seems like potentially a significant

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development, doesn't it? It is a positive thing. It is important to

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get it in perspective. This is a kind of tactical thing. How do we

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deal with trouble when it comes up, how do we deal with new parades? I

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think it is useful to do that. One of the best agreements was the

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police saying they will brief people on their tactics before the events

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take place. At the beginning of the flag protest there were some

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complaints, and the police didn't really explain what they were going

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to do and it might have ended a bit sooner if they did. Good comedic

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Asian is always a good thing. Good communication is always a good

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thing. They said that they want to avoid the violence of earlier, which

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cost �23 million. I have to say that I travel across Europe and the flag

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protest, people didn't understand them. All they could see was the

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trouble and the violence. They were shaking their heads saying, we

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thought you had sorted all this out? It was headlines in continental

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Europe for quite some time, doing a lot of damage, not just in terms of

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the cost of dealing with it, but the effect on our image. There is a

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premium here, a dialogue, trying to improve lines of communication.

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is interesting way in which that dialogue might take place, Liam.

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They spoke about the number of resolutions that the delegates

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agreed to, but one of them is, we recognise the importance of words

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and use of respectful language in the coming months. I know that isn't

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a binding agreement, but they presumably will have to weigh very

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carefully what they say in future. It is good you have this range of

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people agreeing about inflammatory language. The ombudsman is involved

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as well, they will act as an umpire to some extent. It was a little

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disappointing, perhaps, that it will be added into later discussions. At

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the end of the marching season we had a letter signed by the Royal

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Orders that was a prelude to further disturbances. There was no parades

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commission, no. The chairman of the parades commission said he was happy

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not to be there because it wasn't about parading, but it would have

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been interesting to see if representatives from the Orange

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Commission and other orders could have attended. Ewe-mac I think it

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may have been -- I think it may have been one of the reasons why it

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didn't happen. The message it sent out, the optics, are good. There is

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some kind of planning and a process going on. There will be some

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difficult months coming up, and I think it is best to prepare as best

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we can. We will hear a quick final thoughts from you both before we

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finish, but for now thank you very With marching once again making the

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headlines, the parades commission chairman dispels rumours that

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tensions exist with the police. police do a terrific job given the

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issues and complexities and challenges that they have faced over

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the couple of months prior. First Minister had a biblical

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putdown for assembled critics. Listening to the tribe of

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Jeremiahs... There does seem to be a general malaise around the police.

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Some don't think it is worth their while to come into the chamber.

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Allstate announces hundreds of jobs. The first Balmoral Show at the

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guests, Liam Clarke and Mike Smyth. The TV has a bill on special

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advisers, which comes up tomorrow. That should be interesting, and we

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have some amendments as well. TUV bill has been successful even if

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it doesn't pass because Sinn Fein have already enlisted advisers for

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answering questions for Sammy Wilson. There is only one Sinn Fein

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adviser who will be affected, Paul Kavanagh, who is the only one

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working in that capacity. The STL P are trying to amend it so that he

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wouldn't be affected. -- STL P. talked to the Minister about agra

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food, we talked about jobs and investment, word is that fit in the

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broader economic picture? It is all about this issue of how do we reach

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our potential. The potential exists in the agri- food strategy, but we

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really have to up our game. On the wider economy, one thing that has

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been bothering me is that the fiscal relationship with London is now a

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constraint on the future development of Northern Ireland. The Scots

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Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers are joined by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and discuss Conservative UKIP electoral pacts with Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Jackie Doyle-Price. As well as all of the weekend's other political news, and debate with the weekly panel of journalists.


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