11/05/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 11/05/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics, where we're talking


about the Europe-wide contest that really matters.


about the Europe-wide contest that The European elections. There are


local elections across England too on May 22nd. The party leaders are


campaigning ahead of polling day. The results could be a pointer to


the Big One, May 2015. We'll be speaking to the man in charge of


Labour's election battle plan. Has the opposition really got its sights


set on all-out victory in 2015? Or will it just be content with


squeaking home? And you can't mention elections these days without


talking about the impact of this man, Nigel Farage. I'll be asking


Coming up in Northern Ireland: him if UKIP really


Coming up in Northern Ireland: Another row between the first and


deputy first ministers in of Giro fever.


And election fever. We hear from the smaller parties hoping to make it


big. smaller parties hoping to make it


difference to the way you vote? And I'm joined by three journalists


guaranteed to bring a touch of Eurovision glamour to your Sunday


morning. With views more controversial than a bearded


Austrian drag act and twice the dress sense, it's Nick Watt, Helen


Lewis and Janan Ganesh. So you might have thought you've already heard


David Cameron promise an in-out referendum on EU membership in 2017


if he's still Prime Minister. Many times. Many, many times. Well he


obviously doesn't think you've been listening, because he's been saying


it again today. Here he is speaking to the BBC earlier. We will hold a


referendum by the end of 2017. It will be a referendum on an in-out


basis. Do we stay in a reformed European Union or do we leave? And


I've said very clearly that whatever the outcome of the next election,


and of course I want an overall majority and I'm hoping and


believing I can win an overall majority, that people should be in


no doubt I will not become Prime Minister unless I can guarantee that


we will hold a referendum. Here's saying there that an overall


majority there will definitely be a referendum. If these are the


minority position, he won't form a new coalition unless they agree to a


referendum, too. The Lib Dems a pulmonary agree to that. They


probably will because the Prime ministers have a strong argument


which is I gave you a referendum back in 2010 so the least I need is


theirs and the Lib Dems are the only party who have stood in recent


elections on a clear mandate to hold a referendum, so it is difficult for


them to say no, there was interesting the interview he did


earlier today. He named everything was going to ask for. The most


controversial with him, as he said in his speech last year, he wants to


take Britain out of the commitment to make the European Union and ever


closer union. That is a very big ask, but the point is, he may well


get it because the choice for the European Union now, France and


Germany, is a clear wonderful do Britain in or out? Previously, it


was can you put up with a British prime ministers being annoying? I


think you'll find the answer is they are willing to pay a price but not


any price to keep Britain in. In this scenario, Labour would have


lost the election again because we are talking the slowly happen if Mr


Cameron is the largest party or has an overall majority. Could you then


see Labour deciding we had better go along with a referendum, too? I


think that's unlikely because as I think that's unlikely because


there's a huge upside for that for I think what's interesting is the idea


he would for minority government. Would you get confidence and look at


other options that might well happen with the way the arithmetic is going


or is he going to hold out and say the only way I will be Prime


Minister is in a majority Conservative government? No, the


implication of his remarks was I wouldn't form a coalition government


unless my coalition partners would also agree to vote for a referendum.


He's basically talking about is negotiating strategy in those


coalition talks. It's a red line and a huge opportunity for the Lib Dems,


because they know David Cameron absolutely has to do, for accidental


reasons, as a person who survives as Tory leader, to ask for that


referendum, so they can ask anything they want in return and if I was


Nick Clegg, I would work out in the next year one absolute colossal


negotiating demand for those coalition talks. For a party around


10% in the polls, they will do have the Prime Minister over a barrel on


this one, assuming that coalition talks goes well. They could make


Michael Gove Tbyte meeting. OK, we need to move on. So, the politicians


are out and about on what used to be called the stump ahead of local and


European elections in less than two weeks' time. But, without wanting to


depress you on a damp Sunday morning, the party strategists are


already hard at work on their campaign plans for the General


Election next May. Yes, it's less than a year to go. They may have


taken their time, but Labour's battleplan for 2015 is starting to


take shape. As well as take promising to freeze your energy


bills, and reintroduce the 50p rate of tax, Ed Miliband now says he


wants to intervene in the housing market to keep rents down. There's


even talk that the party leadership wants to bring more railway lines


into public ownership. And Labour is gambling that its big push on the


cost of living will see it through to the general election despite


evidence that growth is firmly back. Labour's campaign chief Douglas


Alexander hopes it all adds up to victory next May. But so far, the


evidence is hitting home very thin. One survey today shows that 56% of


people don't think Mr Miliband is up to the job of Prime Minister. As we


head towards one of the least predictable general elections in 70


years, has Labour got a message to win seats up and down the country?


And Labour's election co-ordinator and Shadow Foreign Secretary,


Douglas Alexander, joins me now. Welcome to Sunday Politics. A lot of


these policies announced polar pretty well. By popular with the


country. When you add them together, it's a move to the left and what


would be wrong with that? I think is your packet suggests, the contours


in the coming campaign are becoming clear. Our judgement is the defining


issue of the year in British politics will be the widening gap


between the wealth of the country and the finances of ordinary


families. We believe it will be a cost of living election and we have


been setting out our thinking in relation to energy prices and rent,


but you will hear more from Labour Party in the coming months because


we're now less than one year away from a decisive moment. If the


leftish think tank suggested any of his policies in that Tony Blair


years, you would have opposed them. Let's be clear, when not going for


an interest but seeking to secure a majority for the only way to do that


is not simply to appeal to your base, but to the centre ground. I


believe we got genuine opportunities in the next year. You have the


Conservatives in a struggle with UKIP on the right of politics. The


Lib Dems 9% of trying to find their base, and there's a genuine


opportunity in the next year for Labour to dominate the centre ground


of politics and secure the majority Labour government we are planning


for in the coming year. I notice you didn't deny you wouldn't have


opposed. You say you have got an message for aspirational voters in


the South. This is what John Denham said. He thinks you're talking too


much to your core vote. He is right to recognise we took a


terrible beating in 2010. 29%. If you look at what we've done in the


last week, for example, the signature policy on rent Ed Miliband


announced to launch the campaign, there's now more than 9 million


people in the country in the private rented sector, more than 1 million


families. Many of them are in the south-east. They are seeing


circumstances where, suddenly, landlord will increase the rent and


they put the pressure involved in schooling, health care facing the


families, so it is important both in terms of policy and in terms of


politics that we speak to the whole country, not simply to one part of


it falls up what is the average rise in event last year? I don't know.


Can you tell me? 1%. 1% not in real terms. I'm not sure what the problem


is. It will happen to wages in last year, we are facing circumstances


where people will be worse off, up to ?1600 off worse and frankly, if


our opponents want to argue that the economy has healed and they deserve


a victory lap, good luck to them because actually, what we are


hearing from the Buddhist public, not just in the north and south, is


not the cost living crisis is continuing and it affects families.


There was nothing aspirational about your party election broadcast for


the European elections. It looked like crude class war to money


people. That's a bit of it. Bedroom tax. Isn't it going to look bad that


two thirds of those affected are disabled? Who cares? They can't


fight back. Shall be lay-offs and NHS nurses? The National Health


Service? Oh yes. Mr Cameron? Who said that? Me. My gosh. The man has


shrunk. He's actually shrunk. What shall we do with him? Can we hunt


him? Nothing about Europe, Labour policy.


him? Nothing about Europe, Labour result in negative campaigning and


smear. You didn't tell you would be result in negative campaigning and


to have most people reaching for the remote control these days are the


words, there now follows a party but the broadcast. I make


words, there now follows a party but the factory to be innovative in how


we presented. It's factual. It the factory to be innovative in how


policy -based critic of this government. And the Lib Dems role


within it. So you're claiming it's factual to betray the camera and


cabinet is not even knowing factual to betray the camera and


NHS is, -- the Cameron Cabinet. They attack the disabled because they


can't fight back. The Pinellas Tanner severely Prime Minister Sun


and he was treated during a short life by the NHS. It's a fact many


disabled people across the country including in my constituency have


been directly affected by the bedroom tax. And ultimately, this


Conservative led government, including the Lib Dems, will be held


accountable by the politicians. You say that, the Prime Minister, who


had a severely disabled son of. I you not ashamed about? I shadowed


Iain Duncan Smith of five months also they don't have the excuses of


seeing that saying nobody told them the consequences of the bedroom tax.


They went into this with their eyes open. They knew about the hardship


and difficulty. If they were one-bedroom properties available


across the country for people to move into, their argument would be


OK but they knew they were dealing with the most vulnerable people. Did


you sign off that part of the broadcast? Of course I stand by the


fact of it. I wish David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith would apologise to


the disabled people of the country and the poorest people for the


effects of the bedroom tax. I hope we get that apology between now and


election. As someone who thinks integrity is important in politics,


not ashamed of this kind of thing? It's important we scrutinise the


policies of this government as well as adding a positive agenda for


change. You want that you won't promise this is the last time we'll


see such a negative press campaign? I don't think it is negative or


personal to scrutinise the government. So we'll get more of


this? I'm less interested in the background of the cabinet than their


views. You call the upper-class twits. It's for the British public


to make a judgement in terms of the British... That's how you depicted


them. We are held in accountable for the bedroom tax, the NHS, taxation,


and our record they have to defend. One reason are so fearful in this


election is actually because they know they have a poor record. Let's


look at other part of the election campaign. This poster. Particularly


digitally doing the rounds. On that shopping basket, can you tell us


which items take the full 20% VAT? It's representative of household


shopping, which includes items like cleaning products, and we know that


food is not that trouble. People don't go to the supermarket and say


this is -- vatable. So you are denying that ?450 extra is being


paid? Yes, where'd you get that figure? For an average family to pay


?450 a year extra VAT, they would have to spend ?21,600 a year on


vatable products at 20%. The average take-home pay is only 21,009. They


have got to spend on all sorts of things which are zero VAT. So in


addition to the items, has a range of products people face in terms of


VAT. How could an average family of ?21,000 a year spent 21,006 and the


pound a year on 20% vatable items? It's not an annual figure, is it? So


what is it then? If it's an annual, what is it? The increased VAT in


this parliament is calculated over the course of a Parliament. For the


whole of the Parliament? And you're illustrated this with a shopping


basket which almost has no VAT on it at all? People will be buying a


weekly shop in the course of this Parliament every week. Did you sign


off on this as well? Of course. It didn't dawn on you you're putting


things on it which have no VAT? If you want to argue some people go to


the shops and say these are vatable or not, I disagree. Even your rent


cap announcement went wrong. You're working on the rent rises and it


turns out it wasn't. It was a post your policy. It is the exception


rather than the rule to have the position we have at the moment. In


Northern Ireland we have seen the continued rise in terms of the


rented sector but there is a widespread recognition that for


those people in the rented sector, change is necessary. Are you


coordinating this campaign? It seems accident prone. This is a party that


has set the agenda more effectively than a Conservative party that said


when David Cameron was elected he wasn't going to bang on about


Europe. The day after the election we expect the Conservative party to


be engulfed in crisis. I'm proud of what we talk about and I think there


is a clear contrast about a party talking about issues people care


about, and a Conservative party talking about exclusively a


referendum. Are you in charge of the campaign? I am coordinating the


campaign is, yes. The expensive election guru you have hired, has he


been involved in any of this? We have started our discussions with


him. You are going to have to brief him about British politics because


he doesn't know anything about it. I make no apology for hiring him. He


has a lot of experience in winning tight elections and that is what we


are expecting. If you are expecting us to say, they have passed and we


have to hold them accountable, then I am sorry but we have a campaign


that holds the Government and the Conservatives to account for what I


think is a very hopeless record in government. Thank you.


He leads a party with zero MPs but his media presence is huge. He's had


an expenses scandal, but the public didn't seem to mind. He's got a


privileged background but he's seen as an anti-establishment champion.


Nothing seems to stick to him, not even eggs. I speak


Nothing seems to stick to him, not Nigel Farage. We'll talk to him in a


moment, but first Giles has been Nigel Farage. We'll talk to him in a


on the campaign trail ahead of elections that could make or break


the UKIP leader. Nigel Farage likes a stage, and at


this stage of the Euro and local election campaign he is, like his


party, in buoyant mood. They feel they are on the verge of what they


see as causing an earthquake in British politics. Today Nigel is


filling thousands seat venues and bigger. Not that there's much sign


of that at this press launch. But it's a threat with serious money


behind it, that they believe the media and the political elite just


haven't realised yet, much less learned how to counter it. Not that


it's all been plain sailing. Offensive comments from some


candidates has not only seen UKIP labelled as racist, but necessitated


a rally by the party to visibly and verbally challenge that. The


offensive idiotic statements made by this handful of people have been


lifted up and presented to the great British public as if they represent


the view of this party, which they do not. They never have and they


never will. APPLAUSE I don't care what you call us, but


from this moment on, please do not call must trust a racist party. We


are not a racist party. The need to say that is not just


about the European and local elections even at that campaign


launch it's clear UKIP's leader has set his sights firmly on the


ultimate prize. I come from the south of England and I would not


want south of England and I would not


heading to the north, north Norfolk or whatever it will be. I


heading to the north, north Norfolk my mind up and stand in the


heading to the north, north Norfolk election for somewhere in Kent, East


Sussex, Hampshire, somewhere in my home patch. Back at UKIP HQ they are


still drilling down how the last fortnight of campaigning should go.


They aren't taking any chances, and one imagines having offices above


those of Max Clifford is a reminder how fragile built reputations can be


of the bubble bursting. They want their reputation to be built on


votes and they know anything but significant success on May 22nd and


some seats in Westminster in 2015 isn't going to be good enough. And


after that, having sold yourselves as the honest outsiders, that stance


is harder to maintain once your people are on the inside. And subtle


changes from the past are already noticeable. The ordinary man of the


people stance is still working. Characteristically outside a pub,


Nigel Farage is glad handed by a customer. Two weeks to go, let's


cause an upset. Wouldn't that be great? The only sign that such an


interaction is different now is the ever presence of bodyguards who


shadow his every move. Over lunch ahead of Question Time, a radio


appearance, and then off to Scotland, I ask him if some of those


minded to vote UKIP who see him as a man they'd be comfortable having a


drink with are the sort of people he'd be entirely comfortable sitting


down with. Every political party attracts support from across the


spectrum and there will be some magnificent people who vote for us


and some ne'er-do-wells. The one common thing about UKIP voters is


that they are often not very political. And it's that people's


army that if UKIP can get to a polling booth might just create that


earthquake they want. Nigel Farage joins me now. When you


decided not to stand at the new work by election coming said if you lost


it that the bubble would have burst. What did you mean by that? I


was asked at seven 20p -- at 7:21pm if I would stand, I have decided by


the next morning that I would not. I didn't know he was going to resign.


You claim only a handful of UKIP candidates have ever said things


that are either stupid or offensive, I'm right on that, yes? 0.1%, I'd


rather it was non-. But why have you chosen a candidate to fight this


by-election that has said many things most people would regard as


stupid or offensive? Roger is fighting this for us, someone of 70


years of age who grew up with a strong Christian Bible background,


in an age when homosexuality was imprisonable. He had a certain set


of views which he maintained for many years which he now says he


accepts the world has moved on and he is relaxed about it. The comments


about homosexuality are not from the dark ages, they are from two or


three years ago. From when he was a Conservative, yes, so will you be


asking David Cameron that question? I have never seen a single comment


from Roger that would be deemed to be offensive. Do you regard his


comments on homosexuality as offensive? When he grew up,


homosexuality was illegal in this country. But this was in 2012 but he


said that. Most people have his age still feel uncomfortable about it --


of his age. In 2012 he said, if two men can be married, why not three,


why not a commune. Many people in this country are disconcerted by the


change in the meaning of marriage and in a tolerant society we


understand that some people have different views. But he has changed


his views now in only two years? He says he is more relaxed about it.


Was he your candidate? He is a first-class campaigner who has had


30 years in industry, he served in the European Parliament, he is a


good candidate. This morning's papers suggest you are about to


select Victoria Ayling for Grimsby, but she is on camera saying that, of


immigrants, I just want to send a lot back. This is all very


interesting, and we can talk about it, all we could talk about the fact


that in 12 days we have a European election and every voter across the


UK can vote on it and it is really interesting. Are you happy to pick a


candidate that says of immigrants, I just want to send a lot back? I have


seen the tape, it is a complete misquote and she says it in the


context of illegal immigrants. I have seen the full quote and in the


context it is not about illegal immigrants. Let's come onto the


European campaign, you have used a company that employs Eastern


European is to deliver leaflets in London and the Home Counties. Have


we? I'm told that in Croydon one branch might have done that. Have


you found some indigenous Brits to deliver leaflets in Europe? We have


thousands joining the party every month and they are not all


indigenous because what is interesting is that in today's


opinion polls, UKIP is above the Lib Dems and the Conservatives amongst


the indigenous voting. We have not agreed a manifesto for


the general election, we will do over the course of the summer. This


is in your local election. We are having local elections in some part


of the country but we are fighting a European election. It is impossible


with the British media to have an intelligent debate on the European


question. But as I say, we are also fighting the local elections too.


You have promised these tax cuts, how much will they cost? I have met


-- read the local election manifesto and it doesn't make those promises.


We do talk about local services, we do talk about the need to keep


council tax down but we don't talk about income tax. Absolutely not. In


local election campaigning you say you would restore cuts to policing,


double prison places, restore cuts to front line NHS, spend more on


roads, how much would that cost? You are obviously reading different


documents to me. We are voting for local councillors in district


councils who have got little local budgets. Every party in a manifesto


puts his aspirations in it. Have you read it? Of course I have, cover to


cover, which is why I'm saying you are misquoting it. By the way, on


the bubble bursting, you told that to Norman Smith of the BBC. 75% of


British laws are now made in the European Union. Now AstraZeneca is


potentially going to be taken over by Pfizer. The BBC is refusing to


show the public that that decision cannot be taken here but by an


elected European commissioner, and we sit and argue about what is in or


not in the local election manifesto. It is my job, but let me come on to


AstraZeneca. Is it your view that a British government should stop the


takeover of AstraZeneca? It cannot. Can we please get this clear. I sat


next to Chuka Umunna the other day at question time and he said what


could and couldn't be done. He said I am being studiously neutral, and


the reason is we don't have this power. That is what the European


elections is about. Should France have the takeover of the food


company Danan? We seem to do things to the Nth degree and nobody else


does, perhaps because we have this culture and we obey it. In your


view, you don't think Pfizer should be able to take over AstraZeneca?


There is some good science within AstraZeneca which is in danger of


being asset stripped and lost. Because it is run by a Swede and a


Frenchman and most of its employees are overseas. I understand that but


there are still some good science being produced here. What did you


think of the Prime Minister saying he would not form a government after


the election unless he was able to have a referendum in 2017? I sat


here talking to you and you said to me that David Cameron had given a


cast-iron guarantee that if David Cameron becomes Prime Minister he


will have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, but he didn't deliver on


that. He knows that people struggle to believe the renegotiation is


worth a row of beans. He is saying he will not form a government unless


he can go forward with the referendum. I know he is desperately


trying to pretend to be Eurosceptic whilst at the same time saying he


will campaign for Britain to remain in. In a sense, that is what this


election is about. We have three traditional parties, all of whom


passionately believe in the continued membership of the European


Union and we have UKIP saying we want trade and cooperation but there


is a bigger and better world out there. You are now travelling with I


think four bodyguards, has this affected you and your family life? I


can't stand it. I've always wondered about the place and on my own thing.


Sadly we have a couple of organisations out there headed up by


senior Labour Party figures who purport to be against fascism and


extremism, who received funding from the Department of communities, from


the trade unions, who have acted in a violent wait more than once. You


are saying the Labour Party is behind the threats? No, I said a


taxpayer funded, trade union funded and headed by senior Labour Party


figures, and I'm happy for them to come to my meetings and have an


itinerant with me, but it's not so much fun when there are banging you


over the head. I is still keen to be an MP? Yes, what UKIP will then do


is target before the general election next year for the one life


be easier if you just went to the Lords? That's the last thing I want


to do. There's an awful lot to do. Most of all, I will not rest until


we are free from political union and government from Brussels. Nigel


Farage, thank you for being with us. It's just gone 11.30am. You're


watching the Sunday Politics. We say Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics


in Northern Ireland. Stormont may have turned pink for


the Giro, but should we have red faces as another row erupts between


the First and Deputy First Ministers when our Italian guests are in town?


So is it electioneering, or just another example of how difficult


their working relationship has, in fact, become? It's a matter of


recognising that we do face serious challenges. I don't think dragging


those controversial issues to enabling like this is the right


thing to do. And as we countdown to Election Day,


we hear the pitch from four of the smaller parties aiming big on May


22nd. And joining me this week to discuss


all of the above in this slightly longer programme are the former


Victims' Commissioner, Patricia McBride, and News Letter's political


correspondent, Sam McBride. They're usually on their best


behaviour when Northern Ireland finds itself hosting a major event,


but with the eyes of the world on us for the opening of the Giro


d'Italia, a new row has erupted between the first and deputy first


ministers. Martin McGuinness accused Peter Robinson of cowardice and of


showing no leadership in east Belfast. The DUP has described the


comments as outrageous. So is it just electioneering, or are the two


men really struggling to hold their working relationship together? Some


are asking how much longer they can continue to grin and bear it. Here's


how they handled a joint interview just hours after Martin McGuinness


hit out at his partner in government. A lot of things have


been said over the course of the last ten days. Tonight, this is


about the Giro. They're been plenty of opportunities for people to say


what they want, in terms of their view. And that has been the same


opportunity for me. I'm not going to dwell on that tonight, we've had our


say. It is a matter of recognising we face serious challenges. I think


everybody recognises what tonight is about. It's a showcase event for the


Giro. I don't think dragging those controversial issues to an evening


like this is the right thing to do. We are agreed on many things. Of


course there are many things we disagree on, but we agree on having


major events, we agree on having investment and we will continue to


push those issues. Let's see what my guests of the day


make of that. Joining me are Patricia McBride and Sam McBride. No


relation! Sam McBride - Mike Nesbitt says it's


an example of dysfunctionality and mixed messages at the heart of


government. Is he right? Certainly a large element of faster burst,


because it's becoming so common to lurch from Peter Robinson and Martin


McGuinness to laughing together and joking together to having these


extraordinary outburst against each other. There is always an element of


tension in any coalition government, particularly here, where


the two leaders are so radically different in their outlook, but it


does seem that in the past year things have really gotten a lot


worse and the issue of welfare reform has recently reignited this.


I don't think it is just about Alex nearing. -- electioneering. I think


there is that element of discomfort in the relationship, one that did


not exist previously. There is certainly a fear within the DUP of


having to cosy relationship. That is something they were criticised in


the past and they will be wary of that, especially coming up to an


election. The difficulties for the Coalition Government here are that


they must work together. It is mandatory. So they are going to


they must work together. It is to get over it and find ways of


being civil to each other to effect positive change.


In the midst of this row about lack positive change.


of leadership, it's emerged that the DUP was being entertained to drinks


with the PM at Number Ten. DUP was being entertained to drinks


Guardian ran the story and here's the paper's political editor, Nick


Watt, with his thoughts on what's going on... The point about this


meeting, this reception, was that the DUP felt it was quite lavish, he


was wooing them, the Prime Minister was having an eye to what you might


need in a year's time. He might need their help if there is another hung


parliament. Sinn Fein were complaining at the time that they've


not had this sort of treatment. Sinn Fein would not want to have drinks


in the Downing Street garden, but Martin McGuinness has said he would


like the Prime Minister to meet Sinn Fein as a party because they have


their concerns they would like to raise. Obviously, Sinn Fein may have


five MPs but they don't take their seats at Westminster said they


wouldn't be much use in a hung Parliament. The DUP may not be


looking for political concessions. I think they will be looking for


cash, funding for pet projects and obviously under the new dispensation


in Northern Ireland the office of First Minister and Deputy First


Minister are joint, everything has to go together. So if the DUP is


able to wrangle extra cash out of London for Northern Ireland, we


probably find it would have to be distributed reasonably fairly. Sam,


do you think there is something significant going on? The DUP were


fierce opponents and critics of the joint conservative oldster project a


few years ago. That has completely gone away really now and we've seen


very small incremental steps. There was an interesting piece online, on


a grassroots conservative website where one backbencher was making an


argument for the sort of arrangement a few weeks ago. Patricia,


politicians do deals, they have private drinks. Is Sinn Fein right


to feel marginalised's well, the Unionist party are going to feel


that they are cosying up. I think it's highly inappropriate that such


a sensitive issue as victims was on at -- the agenda at a garden party.


Certainly what Nick was saying, it will be interesting to see what pet


projects the DUP is looking for funding for if they are going to


support a Conservative government in the next election. Interesting to


your thoughts. We will speak to you both more later.


It's taken Stormont years to agree on how many there will be, months to


debate what powers they will or won't have, and on May 22nd you'll


get the chance to decide who your representatives will be on one of


eleven new super councils. The re-organisation of local government


from 26 to 11 councils means Stormont is giving away some of its


powers to the new local authorities. From next April they'll have


responsibility for urban regeneration, economic development


and - most significantly - planning. Chris Page reports.


Spring is here, so it's time for pruning, cutting back councils, that


is. There are currently 26 local authorities, but they are being


trained to 11. But every gardener knows that pruning can stimulate


growth, and the seeds have been sown for a new season in local


government. Councils already have responsibility for all sorts of


things. For example, in this garden, council staff lovingly tend


to the plants and flowers every day. But the new local authorities will


take on a whole range of new powers. The new responsibilities include on


street parking, local economic development and tourism. Tied up


with all that, there is another very important change. By far the most


powerful is a range of planning powers, things the environment


Department has been doing. Things like making new plans for the local


areas, deciding most planning applications, apart from the most


serious, and things like planning enforcement as well. So when people


don't follow the rules of planning, the councils are going to step in.


This planning consultant thinks the transfer of powers to local governor


is a good move. It's a great thing. The 40 odd years we've had a


centralised planning body taking decisions on local planning issues


and local people have had an input, but not as much as there is likely


to be with the council is taking the decisions. Local representatives


reflecting properly what local people want for their area. The


changes may have big implications for entrepreneurs, but the


organisation which represents independent retailers says people


need to recognise the significance of what is happening. It is crucial


the private sector in gauges and build relationships -- in gauges and


builds relationships with these councils. I think it is a good


thing. They are setting an ambitious timetable and we need to ensure that


they hit the ground running and start delivering. And businesses may


regard as -- development in urban areas as one sign. The rise in


online shopping and the recession has hit the high street hard. The


generating town centres will be a major challenge for the new


councils. Here, several million pounds are being spent on


improvement works. Local entrepreneurs say the new councils'


extra powers should make a positive difference. I think the fact that


they are responsible for new generation in general means we can


actively work towards bringing more living into the city centre, more


office accommodation to increase the footfall in the city centre. So


there is a general package there that the council will be more in


control of. Outside towns and cities, planning is no less of an


issue. Farmers say they want councils to make consistent


decisions. I think what we want to see is that these larger super


councils do still have a local knowledge of what is required in


local areas. Certainly, still trying to retain that local aspect to


planning is going to be vitally important. I think the one thing


that stands out all the time is consistency in their decisions.


There will be challenges and choices ahead for councillors. The new local


authorities will take root after the elections. Planning can


authorities will take root after the issue, and whether the councils


blossom may depend on how well they handle it.


blossom may depend on how well they With me now to discuss their vision


for the new local political landscape are David McNarry from


UKIP, Professor John Barry from the Green Party, Richard Cairns from the


TUV and Basil McCrea from NI21. Where's the evidence that the new


councils will have Where's the evidence that the new


deal with controversial planning issues? Let me say first of all we


are talking about local government, and thank goodness. It is a big


thing and I wish all the candidates luck. It is a big thing for them to


but their names forward. We are talking about super-sized councils.


This is something new. They are going to be an amalgamation of


previous old councils. I welcome it could take up to ten years for these


councils to start delivering. In terms of planning issues, these are


massive issues being handed to them. One instance would be, quite


existing 26 councils and asked them existing 26 councils and asked them


turbines. None of them existing 26 councils and asked them


policy. So now we're handing this over to super councils, hopefully


they will develop policies. So we're going to have ten years of bad


policy-making's -- policy-making? Well, we have a different


identities. We want to introduce local referendums because we want


the people to actually have a voice in the local councils, particularly


viz super councils, where the amalgamations are going to be so


stretched you will be inviting people from one local area to


another local area. If David is right, that could be a disaster for


the Green Party. Could he be right? The reality is, this shift is really


about the founding of local government. In terms of planning, we


want community planning, we want people to have a say in the services


and facilities they want. And also transparency in politics. Argue is


we need a lot more transparently, including budgeting. We want to


involve more citizens in how we spend the money councils have. That


is an idea from Newcastle and Durham. It is sustainable


development. Had we encouraged local town centre regeneration and not


unsustainable out-of-town shopping centres... Which town centre? If the


council wants to put money into Bangor, people need to say that is


not fair. That is where I'm saying this transition is going to take


quite a while. Town development, you know, we need to have the villages


developed, let alone the towns! Foreign investment is not the right


way and out-of-town shopping centres... The rates are going to go


up and the people are really going to be in a dilemma. Do you think


these new councils will have the capacity to deal with this new


responsibility? It is very important for each and every of us. It is


indeed and I hope the new councils will have the capacity and we will


work together to represent our local communities. One thing I would like


to say about standing for council from a new party is I am Catholic, I


am black, I come from so many different parts of Northern Ireland


that I think one thing that the councils need to come up with is


what NI21 is about, and that is a united identity. Once we have that,


something we can all identify with, we can work together. That is the


big political picture, but what about the detail on the ground? Do


you have the experience and knowledge to deal with things like


planning legislation, economic generation, tourism? That is


actually what people want to hear when they are deciding who to vote


for. Yes, I do think we have the knowledge. These are the issues that


are key to people, but every party, the new powers are going to be new


to everybody. So, yes, we are new, but it is a new thing for everybody,


so it is probably the best time for NI21 to be coming into council. Does


it make sense for these new super councils to be given added planning


responsibilities? I think we will only know that in time. Have you got


reservations it might not be a good idea? As has already been mentioned,


there is a link between big developments and big parties.


Transparency issues, accountability, all that needs to be


done in detail when it comes to the councils. They need a level of


expertise. Have you got it? In terms of planning applications, I do a lot


about myself so I know beings and outs. But there is more to learn, I


think everybody as to say that. In terms of planning itself, there


needs to be a joined up approach from council to Council, a


consistent policy. And it needs to tie in with economic development.


We've talked about town regeneration, yes, there is a big


threat from out-of-town shopping. How do you combat that? There are


many derelict town centres. Putting up artwork in empty shops looks nice


but it is not fighting the problem. People need to be incentivised to go


into local areas. The opportunity with this reform is innovation at a


local level. What about having a municipal bond to raise funds in


terms of innovative projects? Do you think there is a possibility that


the new councils, when they get up and running and have to deal with


big issues like planning, tourism and economic development, that they


could be bedevilled by some of the day drudgery of politics in Northern


Ireland? Like, for example, flags? That is why I wanted to start the


idea of local referendums. Why not have a local referendum to decide


whether the council will or will not fly a flag. I think all politics are


local and that gets over a lot of hoops. It will be difficult enough


to get people to vote on May the 22nd, never mind another poll! Well,


going into Belfast council, they blighted the whole flag issue. What


is NI21 going to do when the flag issue comes up in Belfast city? I


don't want to talk about that specifically. Looking at the bigger


picture, what is NI21 as a party going to do about the flag issue


across the 11 new super councils? We would recommend flying flags on


designated days, we would recommend handing the flags debate away from


local councils and taking it back to an outside body. That's not local


democracy. You should have confidence in people to decide...


You just talked about a referendum. The big party political grab on a


lot of these issues as to be taken away from them. I'm talking about


local democracy, I'm saying, here is the controversial issue. There are


more important issues than flags, to be fair, but here's one issue. Let


the people in our locality decide. Why should it be that we want to fly


the flag in this area, but because of the decision made somewhere we


can't? What do you think the solution is? There was a prime


opportunity to deal with it when the government bill was going through


passage in the assembly. Parties had a prime opportunity to try to deal


with that before going through. At the minute, this is being passed to


each council to deal with. There could have been a wide-ranging


approach. I would say our policy is very simple. It is Belfast has


special status as the capital city of Northern Ireland and we believe


the flag should fly three and the 65 days a year in that City Hall.


Outside a Belfast, we believe in a policy called designated days plus.


If you could have one part of the council previously not wanting to


did fly the flag and the other part wanting to fly the flag, the two are


not wanting to meet. There are obviously a lot of emotions. If you


have a designated days policy across Northern Ireland, each council can


vote to increase it above that. They cannot have less than the designated


days. We think it is a very fair proposition. John, what is your


position? The Green Party's view is designated days, but it is also


about how do we combat our own generation of parties? With 11


councils there will be even more con -- confrontation. There will be more


minorities within bigger councils. But this is democratic politics,


this is a rough-and-tumble point of view. Democracy is not about always


agreeing, it is about respect the league disagreeing. So how can we


deal with these contentious issues in a way that is democratic? I


said, packed City Hall with those who want to support your particular


policy. And we shouldn't forget those are all big issues which may


colour people's votes. Let's pause now and reflect on the political


week gone past in 60 seconds. The victims commissioner proposes a


pension for those injured during the troubles. The First Minister said it


was not as simple as that. I will not be putting my hand to any


proposal that is going to reward those engaged in terrorism. A former


victims advocates that there can be no more delays. They need to


implement those proposals, no matter how difficult their riot -- how


difficult they are. More racist attacks on Polish homes. Peter


Robinson is accused of cowardice. This man has shown no leadership was


so all in east Belfast. In the Republic, the Justice Minister


finally resigns after a report criticising his department.


And a new phase who paid tribute to a precedent. And pretty in pink,


Northern Ireland goes our gap for the Giro. -- goes gaga.


Martina Purdy reporting. Let's hear again finally from Patricia McBride


and Sam McBride. Let's talk about the victims issue. You will obscene


the proposals. A pension for people badly injured has been suggested,


but Peter Robinson said he will have nothing to do with it if it benefits


people who are part of the problem. I think Peter Robinson needs to be


very careful about who use going to say shouldn't receive a pension. How


is he going to bet these people? Are ex-security people going to be put


through a vetting process to make sure they did not act


inappropriately during the conflict? The issue about how we deal with the


past is about getting the British and Irish governments involved


again. Do you think Richard is going to be brought back with some kind of


further attempt to solve the problem? When he last spoke, he did


not give any impression he was itching to get back here. On the


issue of victims and the pensions, it would be insane if someone who


planted a bomb was to be given a pension from taxpayers.


That's it from Sunday Politics. Join me for Stormont Today on BBC Two


tomorrow night at 11.20pm. For now, though, bye-bye.


Download Subtitles