18/05/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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Good morning. Welcome to The Sunday Politics. Just four days to go until


election day, and be warned, coming to a street near you, a party leader


on a charm offensive. They all want your vote in the European elections


on Thursday, and in the local elections across England, too. Polls


are all over the place this morning. Your vote could make a


difference. This man is 11 points ahead in one poll, he has promised


an earthquake on Thursday, but what then? Our Adam has braved the


Coming up in an extended programme, campaign trail, he has been


Coming up in an extended programme, with just days to polling in the


local government election, the big with just days to polling in the


this week, a last look at local government election, the big


five parties local government election, the big


this week, a last look at the euro local government election, the big


five parties join this week, a last look at the euro


elections, this week, a last look at the euro


five parties join me this week, a last look at the euro


elections, and the 50th this week, a last look at the euro


five parties join me live this week, a last look at the euro


elections, and the 50th anniversary this week, a last look at the euro


five parties join me live to elections, and the 50th anniversary


of the first elections, and the 50th anniversary


five parties join me live to debate the challenges facing our news super


councils. the challenges facing our news super


of the first elections to London's 32 boroughs. I am in the studio,


with those who think they have got all the big answers. Nick Watt,


Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh. So, it is the European elections for


everybody on Thursday, local elections for England and a bit of


Northern Ireland as well. They are the last elections before the big


one, the 2015 general election. Some say that these European and local


elections will not be much of a pointer to how the big one goes. But


that will not stop political commentators and party gurus from


examining them closely. So, what is at stake? Thursday May the 22nd is


local elections and European Parliament elections.


These local results should be known by Friday. In the European


elections, all 751 members of the European Parliament will be elected


across Europe. 73 MEPs will be let it by people living in the UK. But


the results will not be announced until Sunday night, after voting has


closed throughout the 28 member states of the EU. Nick Watt, we are


in a position where the polls this morning cannot tell us what the


outcome is going to be on Thursday, and the general election is still


wide open - we really are in uncharted territory? Also it is


difficult to know where we are, because there is that ComRes poll


which shows an 11 point lead amongst those certain to vote for UKIP, and


another poll in the Sunday Times showing that it is a much more


slender lead for UKIP. But we know that will they win? We do not know,


but clearly they will unsettle the major parties. Fall or five months


ago, we assumed that the UKIP success would create panic in the


Conservative Party, but that has been factored into David Cameron's


share price. The Conservative Party is remarkably relaxed at the moment,


and I wonder whether this time next week, when we have the results,


whether the two political leaders who will be under pressure will be


Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg, because they could go down


from 12 MEPs to maybe just three or four. And Ed Miliband, because, one


year before a general election, he should be showing that he is a


significant, potent electoral force. So, they should all be


worried about UKIP, but whereas a couple of months ago, we would all


have said David Cameron was the one who should be worried, now, we are


saying it is Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg? And of the two, I think it is


Ed Miliband who should be worried. The Lib Dems are an incredibly


resilient party. He described his own party as cockroaches, and


incredible resilience! I think the Lib Dems are ready to take this one,


but I think Labour are really wobbly at the moment. What UKIP has done,


to England, it means that England has caught up with Scotland,


Northern Ireland and Wales, England now has a four party system, which


makes it all the more uncertain what the outcome will be? Yes, but


whether UKIP finish first or second, it will be the biggest insurgent


event since the European elections began in 1979. People talk about the


Greens in 1989, but I think they finished third. Were UKIP to win a


national election or even finish runner-up, it would be truly


historic. It is reflecting on something which is happening across


Europe, pianist in Italy, Holland, France and in this country. --


populist parties. And it makes first past the post look absolutely


ridiculous. You could be in a situation after the next general


election where Labour do not get the largest percentage of the vote but


they get the largest number of seats. First past the post works


fairly if there are only two parties, but when there are four...


We will talk more about that. Let's speak now to Suzanne Evans of UKIP.


She is at Westminster. Now, UKIP claims that there is going to be an


earthquake in British politics on Thursday. Suppose there is, what


does UKIP then need to do to become a more grown-up, proper party? I


think UKIP has very much become a grown-up, proper party. We have been


around for 20 years. What we are going to be doing after the European


elections, if we do cause this earthquake, and the polls are


looking like we are going to, is we will be firmly looking towards 2015,


getting our general election manifesto out, to keep those votes


on board from the euro elections and putting forward common-sense


policies which really will bring Britain back to the people. We want


to be able to hold the balance of power come the general election. If


we can do that then there will be a referendum. That will be our aim.


You say you are a more grown-up party, but when you look at the


stream of gaffes and controversies created by your candidates and


members, I will not go into them this morning, at the very least, I


would suggest you are needing a more robust system of selection? You


could say the same for the other three parties, who have been around


for a lot longer. They have got nothing like the embarrassments you


had. I am afraid they had. Just this week, since Monday, we have had 17


Liberal Democrat, labour or Conservative councillors either


arrested, charged or convicted on all manner of offences. In addition


we have had 13 who have been involved in some kind of racist,


sexist or homophobic incident. I am not saying I am proud of any of


that. The whole of politics probably needs to be cleaned up, but I


certainly do not think we are any worse than the other parties, who


have much greater resources than we do. Those other parties are even


putting people in power who they know have got criminal convictions


or who have previously belonged to far right, fascist parties like the


BNP. Can you continue to be a one-man band? The only time any


other UKIP petition makes the headlines is when they say something


loony or objectionable? We have a huge amount of talent in this party.


We have fantastic spokespeople across the patch, the huge amount of


expertise in the party. Inevitably the media focuses on Nigel Farage,


who is a fantastic, charismatic leader. But believe me, there is a


huge amount of talent. When we get our MEPs into power after the


European elections, we will see many more of them I think on television


and radio and in the newspapers. We are not a one-man band. Who runs


your party? The party is run by Nigel Farage, our leader. But he


spends all his time running between television studios and in and out of


the pub! You would be amazed how much he does, and of course we have


a National Executive Committee, like the other parties. So who runs it?


The National Executive Committee, in conjunction with Nigel Farage, the


MEPs, the spokespeople, it is a joint effort. Your Local Government


Minister Stosur is, if you vote UKIP, you go on to pledge that your


councillors will not toe the party line, how does that work? -- your


local government manifesto says... On the main policies, they will toe


the party line, because that is obviously what people will be voting


for. It is no good putting forward a manifesto like the Lib Dems did on


2010 and going back on it. We have put forward a lot of positive -- a


lot of policies at local government level, and those we will stick to.


But when it comes to individual, local issues, say, a particular


development or the closure of a school, whatever, UKIP then will


vote what they think is in the best interests of the people in the


borough, and not according to any party whip system. This plays out


really well on the doorstep, I find. People do not want their politicians


to be in the pockets of their party, putting party first, ahead of


the people. You want people to vote to leave the European Union in a


referendum - have you published a road map as to what would then


happen? Yes, there will be a road map. The Lisbon Treaty for the first


time gave us that exit opportunity. Have you published a road map? I am


not the legal expert on this but there are ways in which you can come


out of Europe fairly quickly. There is a longer you all as well. But


have you published any of that detail? Not that I have read. But


certainly there are ways to do it. We are the sixth strongest world


economy, I think we are in a strong position having left the EU to be


able to negotiate a very good trade deal with the European Union. It is


what people voted for in 1975. What would be our exact status? It would


be I think what people voted for back in 1975. An independent,


sovereign country in a trade agreement, a very positive and


valuable trade agreement with the European Union. I voted in that


referendum, I remember it well, 1975 involved the free movement of people


's... That is something which I do not think UKIP or the country wants.


70% of people now are deeply concerned about immigration. So it


would not be 1975, then? Andrew, it sounds like you are complaining that


we might have something which is better than 1975. I am just trying


to find out what it is! That sounds like positive to me. We will


negotiate a trade deal and all manner of issues, whatever is best


for the British people. We want our sovereignty back, we want our


country back. Would you be upset if a bunch of Rumanian men moved in


next door to you? Where I live, I am surrounded by one and two-bedroom


flats. If ten Rumanian men moved in next door to me, I would want to ask


questions. That is very different from say a Robinho family moving in


next door. I would think, are they being ripped off, are they up to no


good or are they perhaps being trafficked by a gang master? So I


think it would be of concern, and I do not think there is anything wrong


with that, it is a humanitarian approach. That would be different


from a family moving in who were learning to speak English, who


wanted to contribute to the British economy. Maybe if your boss is


watching, he will now have found out how to answer that question.


Now, what is more glamorous, 24 hours in the life of a


counter-terrorism agent, or 12 hours in the life of Adam Fleming, on the


campaign trail? I will let you make up your own mind. So, it is eight


o'clock in the morning here in Westminster. Today's challenge is,


how much campaigning for the local and European elections can we fit


into 12 hours? See you back here at eight o'clock tonight. Wish me


luck. With my cameraman and producer, we went to Thurrock in


Essex first. I got a very, very warm welcome from Abe buoyant UKIP. They


have never had this much attention. One candidate's misdemeanour ends up


on the front page. But you have got Lib Dem candidates being convicted


of racially aggravated assault, and that was not on the front pages of


the newspapers. Houdini is fine but it must be applied evenly. Have you


had to sack Thurrock UKIP members for dodgy tweets or anything? Oh,


God, no. Next we head to meet a top Tory in a different area. We are


heading to Eastbourne. But stuck in traffic. We are going to miss


William Hague. We got there, just in time, to ask the really big


questions. David Cameron went to Nando De Colo last week, where are


you going to go for lunch? I do not even get time for lunch. I think


something in the back of the car. We will go down the street and see what


people have got to say. Even the Foreign Secretary has depressed the


flesh at election time? Even the Foreign Secretary meets real people.


The message William Hague impresses upon everyone he meets is that the


Tories are the only party offering a referendum on our membership of the


EU. He's off for lunch in the limo. I've got five minutes by the beach.


This is the best thing about elections, lunch. Do you want one?


And chips are weirdly relevant at our next stop - the Green Party


battle bus which is parked in Ashford in Kent. What is special


about this vehicle? It runs from chip fat oil so it is more friendly


to the environment. But boss was boiling. The next stop is Gillingham


to see Labour. Labour have just hired Barack Obama's election guru


David Axelrod to help them craft their message. What does David


Axelrod know about the people who live on the street? I know the local


details but you handle those. Ed Miliband and his party have had to


handle a few dodgy opinion polls lately, prompting some leadership


speculation from one activist. Who is your favourite Labour politician?


Ed Balls. Back in the car and we're flagging. Final stop, Southwark in


south London. We are in the right place, this is Simon Hughes' Lib Dem


taxi. The Lib Dems are campaigning as the party of in. But are they in


trouble? Your party president said the party would be wiped out and


lose its MEPs. Is that helpful? If he did say that, then no, that's not


terribly helpful. And let's not forget, every London council is


having elections too. I have 40 minutes to get back to the office in


Westminster, which calls for something drastic, like this. After


212 miles, but will be make it home for eight? We have made it, aided,


12 hours of pure politics. Happy elections, everyone.


Adam Fleming impersonating Jack Bauer! Natalie Bennett is in our


studio, welcome back. The Greens used to be the upcoming party in


Britain, now it is UKIP. What went wrong? We are in a very good place,


looking towards travelling our MEPs and we could be the fourth largest


group in Parliament after these elections. More and more people are


recognising we are the only party calling for real change, the only


party saying we have two stop making poor, disadvantaged young people


over the mistakes bankers. You have made a strong pro-environment stands


synonymous with the politics of the left, why have you done that? Why


should an equal minded Conservative vote for you? I think one of the


reasons why many Conservatives, I met them in Chester where they are


stopping coalbed methane exploration, lots of Conservatives


are looking to vote for us beyond issues like fracking and the Green


belt, and many of them are concerned about the fact we haven't reformed


the banks. This morning we had the Bank of England chief coming out and


saying we have a huge house price bubble and people recognise that


many of the parties offering the same are not working. And yet the


polls show that the hardline greenery is not winning. We are


looking to travel our number of MEPs and we have people recognising that


we have to change the way our economic 's, politics and society


works so that everyone has sufficient resources within the


limits of the one planet because one planet is all we have got. You want


all electricity to be generated by renewables, is that right? So where


would the electricity come from on days when the wind is not blowing?


Most of the electricity is there. It is mature. We need to be hooked into


a European wide grid, we need a smart grid that will allow for


demand to be adjusted according to supply. So we would take French


nuclear power, would we? We need to work with a partnership across


Europe. We are being left behind and we are losing opportunities. 50% of


German renewable electricity is owned by communities and it stays


within communities, rather than the big six energy companies. So you


have still got to take the French nuclear power. What we need to


do... Nuclear is a dead technology, going down in the developed world.


At the moment the Government proposes the most expensive proposal


for Britain and yet the last two plans took 17 years to bring online,


way too slow for what we need now. We know what the Green council would


be like if you were to win more seats on Thursday because you run


Brighton. Your own Green MP joined strikers against the council, the


local Greens are at each other's throats, a council ridden with


factionalism, attempts to raise council tax to 5%, attempted coups


against the local Green leader by other Greens and you have had to


bring in mediators. If you look at the life of people in Brighton and


Hove, it has seen its visitor numbers go up by 50,000, it has


become the top seaside resort in Britain, we have seen GCSE results


going up significantly. These are the things affecting people's lives


in Brighton and Hove. 60% of Brighton and Hove people think life


is better and the Greens. We have a debate to be had from next year's


election and perhaps we can have that debate next year. But you hold


up Brighton as the way the city should be run? We have made huge


progress, we have found money to be brought into the city to improve


Green spaces. I was on the big ride in London yesterday, and we need to


change our roads so they worked the people as well as cars. Which side


of the picket line were you on in Brighton? With Caroline Lucas? I was


in London, travelling around as I do most days. From Penzance to


Newcastle and many areas in between. Probably a good move. Thank you. I'm


joined now by the Conservative MP, the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes and


Sajid Javid. We want to see a European Union resolutely focused on


the single market, free trade, and only we can bring about that change.


Labour and Lib Dems are happy with the status quo, in fact they would


like more integration, and a UKIP party can not deliver the change.


Hilary Benn, at this stage positions usually romp home in European


elections and no party has gone on to form a government without winning


the European elections first. Now it suggests you could become second,


you haven't handled UKIP very well either. There is a lot of alienation


from politics around, globalisation has left some behind and people are


concerned about that but UKIP will not provide the answer. Nigel Farage


only talks about Europe. We are to hear it would not be in the


interests of British people to come out of Europe. We do want a season


change in Europe, for example we want longer periods when new member


states come in. We don't think child tax credits should be paid to


children not living in the UK, but Nigel Farage is also proposing to


charge us when we see the GP, to halve maternity pay, and he wants a


flat tax. UKIP is not the answer to the problems we face and we will


continue to campaign as we have done to show that we are putting forward


policies on energy prices, and in the end that is what people will


look for. Simon Hughes, you will be lucky to come forth. The voters


decide these things. Really? I never knew that. My response to the UKIP


question is that they get support because they have never been in


power, they are never likely. A bit like the way you used to never get


into power. I accept that, but now we are in government. The reality is


that laws made in Brussels, we make together by agreement, and it is the


case from the Commons figures that only seven out of 100 laws are made


in Brussels. Actually they have been shown not to be the only ones. 14


out of 100. If we were to come out of Europe, we would seriously


disadvantage our economics and the jobs... 3 million jobs depend on the


European Union. If the Conservatives comes third or even a poor second,


it will show that people don't really trust your promise about


European referendum. They have been there before, they don't trust you.


What we have already shown, despite being in coalition with Liberal


Democrats, we have shown progress on Europe, we have vetoed a European


treaty when people said we wouldn't, we have cut the European


budget which is something Liberal Democrats and Labour MEPs voted


against, we cut it by ?8 billion. But overall we are still paying


more. We have still cut it. We have taken Britain out of the bailout


fund that Labour signed us up to. We are now going to take that same


energy to Europe and renegotiate our relationship and let the British


people decide in a referendum. Why has Ed Miliband become such a


liability for your party? Even your own MPs are speaking out against


him. If you look at the polls, we have been in the lead almost


consistently. The voters will decide. Ed Miliband is a decent man,


but what really marks him out is that he is thinking about the


problems the country faces. Simon and Sajid both support the bedroom


tax, we will scrap it. Ed Miliband said the energy market doesn't work


for consumers, we will freeze energy prices while we change the system.


So why are his ratings even lower than Nick Clegg's? They will be


voted for next year in the general election, and if I were David


Cameron I would ask myself this question - the economy is


recovering, why is it that David Cameron and the Conservatives have


been behind in the polls? Because in the end the big choice in British


politics is between the two parties that say, if we sought the deficit


everything is fine, and Labour who say that there are things about this


country, the insecurity that has given rise for support for UKIP, and


we are the ones talking about doing something about zero hours


contracts. The more your leader bangs on about Europe, the worse


your poll ratings get. He is out of the kilter with British people. It


may not be a majority of people who think that we ought to stay in the


European Union, but when you speak to people about it, people


understand that we are better in them out. In the elections on


Thursday, that is not about who runs Britain, that is for next year. In


terms of the local councils, we have battles on the ground, like in my


community, where we are trying to take it back from the Labour Party.


Affordable housing has just not been delivered. We have delivered that in


office and we had admitted to that. -- we are committed to that. Labour


have actually demolished homes. So, people want more affordable homes.


One issue which is behind people's antipathy towards immigrants is that


they cannot get the affordable housing they need. We as a


government have delivered more affordable housing in this


Parliament -170,000 new properties earning and more, over the next


three years. That does not work out that very many per year. Overall


housing is a lot less than it was in 2006. Let me tell you, under the


Labour government, we lost nearly half a million affordable homes.


Fewer built than under Mrs Thatcher or under the coalition. What is your


last ditch message to the millions of Tory voters thinking of voting


UKIP on Thursday? First, what I would say is, Ed Miliband also said


that we should not tackle the deficit, it was not a priority. As a


result of our resolute focus, we now have the fastest growing economy in


the developed world, and more people employed than ever before. I am sure


you will have more chance to say that at the general election, what


is the answer to my question? We need a Europe which is focused on


free trade and the single market. Labour and Lib Dems are happy with


the status quo, we are not. We are the only party which can bring about


change, UKIP cannot bring about any change. Hilary Benn, why not have a


referendum on Europe? If you think like Nigel Farage that you should


get out of Europe, I do not agree with him, because Britain's future


lies in Europe. My message simply would be, vote for a party which


wants to tackle insecurity in the workplace, to give more security to


the 9 million people who are now privately renting, build more homes.


What Simon has just said about the coalition's housing record, it has


been appalling, the lowest level since Stanley Baldwin was Prime


Minister. With Labour, you have got a party which will freeze energy


prices, more childcare, policies which directly address the problems


which people face. I think the public will realise that. UKIP


offers absolutely nothing at all for the future of the country. You used


to be in favour of a referendum? We are in favour, we voted for one, we


have legislated for one. The next time there is a change between


Britain and Europe, in the relationship, there will be a


referendum. We have supported that. We voted for it. You would obviously


want to vote yes in any referendum. We would. But if you had one now, it


would be for coming out or staying in, and you are going to wait until


there is another step son shall transfer of powers to Brussels, and


then say to people, either vote for this substantial transfer or vote to


leave! Of course they will vote to leave! Yes, we are not natural


partners with the Conservatives, but we do not want to be distracted at


the moment by a referendum in the future in relation to Europe.


Because what we have done is built our own economy back. That has been


the priority. We do not want artificial priorities. The Tories


want an artificial date plucked out of the air for their own advantage.


We say, let's get on with being positive about being in Europe, and


many people on the doorstep absolutely understand that.


Yesterday, the Energy Minister said that he thought the party would be


willing to campaign for a British withdrawal from the EU if there was


not a successful negotiation, a successful repatriation, do you


agree with that? First of all, I am very optimistic... I got that I am


going into these negotiations with confidence but Michael Fallon is one


of your ministerial colleagues, he said that if we cannot get a deal on


substantial repatriation, then the party should be willing to campaign


for a British withdrawal - do you agree? My view is that I am


confident we will get a deal, and then we will put it to the British


people. But you will have to take a line. If you do not get substantial


repatriations, will you side with Michael Fallon all with the Prime


Minister, who seems to want to stay in regardless? I may only have been


in politics for four years, but I am not going to ask that kind of


hypothetical question. Every question I ask is hypothetical, that


is the fascination of the programme! I go into these negotiations with


complete confidence. If you look at our track record, it suggests we


will be successful. Hilary Benn, what is the difference between your


attitude and that of the Lib Dems towards a referendum? We have been


very clear that if it is proposed at sometime in the future, further


powers would be transferred, then, we would put that to the British


people in a referendum. That is the Lib Dem position. This is our


position, which I am planing to you. It would be an in-out referendum. We


would only agree to a transfer of powers if we thought that it was in


the interest of Britain. But we believe that Britain's place remains


and should remain in Europe, for economic reasons. But we also want


to see some changes in our relationship with Europe, and


electing Labour MEPs on Thursday will be a way of boosting that


argument. In what way is everything you have just said not entirely sell


my must with the Lib Dem position? I am not worried about that. --


entirely synonymous. It is the dividing line between us and UKIP,


because they somehow believe that Britain leaving the European Union


would be good for our economy. Truth is, it would be really bad, because


so many jobs depend on being part of a large market in an increasingly


globalised world. I have got one more question for you on the locals.


We seem to have lost our connection with Leeds. What is the single most


important reason that people should vote for you in the local election?


Because taxpayers' money is just that, it does not belong to the


politicians, and we can do a lot more and get more for less with


taxpayers money. If you look at Conservative councils up and down


the country, most of them have not been raising council tax, they have


been getting more for less, and that is what people deserve. We will


produce the maximum amount possible of affordable housing to meet the


housing needs of Britain, instead of the richest minority having flats


and houses that nobody can afford. We seem to have lost Hilary Benn. I


can answer for him. I will do it - he would certainly say, vote Labour.


You are watching The Sunday Politics.


Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. You know it's


election time when the studio gets a make over! The local government


elections are just four days away, so how are those we send to our new


super councils going to deal with contentious flags and emblems in


their brave new world? It does not matter what you do in terms of new


institutions, at the heart of everything there is still a


dichotomy between Sinn Fein and the DUP, between republicanism and


unionism. In this special extended programme we'll hear from


representatives of the five main parties ahead of Thursday's poll.


And with social media playing a more important role than ever in the


council and European elections, we ask how our politicians are facing


up to the online challenges and opportunities. That is the first


place that a lot of people will go when they want to get information on


what is happening with the parties, individual candidates, policies and


the general campaigns. And to discuss all of that and more, I'm


joined by the academic Orna Young and the journalist and commentator


Paul McFadden. Thursday's elections will decide who represents us in


Europe and in the eleven new super-councils. But as ever it's at


Stormont where the major political game is played out, and it looks as


if the next head to head battle will be centred on getting a budget


through. The Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, told me on The View last


week that a deal has to be done next month or else every department in


the Executive will face serious cuts come August. But Sinn Fein says the


DUP needs to join it in telling Westminster to back away from its


decision to start penalising Stormont for not implementing


welfare reform. Let's hear the thoughts of today's commentators,


Orna Young and Paul McFadden. You're both welcome. Nice to see you. Do


you think, Paul, voters getting ready for the polling station will


see this as part of election rhetoric or is it sinking in that


there is a real problem that needs to be sorted? I assume that Simon


Hamilton when he says what he does is getting reliable information from


his counterpart in the Treasury. I accept it when he says that we are


only going to get so much money here, but I also say, when you


consider that the DUP say that they managed to wangle certain


concessions out of Westminster, for example on issues like bedroom tax,


that says to me that had people gone with a solid case, they might have


managed to secure more out of Westminster and the Treasury and I


think if you imagine if our politicians had gone together, there


would have been an opportunity to do something significant. That is


difficult to achieve. There is an all followed of the text that they


did not seem to agree on. Behind-the-scenes we hear that there


is a paper which all sides had agreed on. Looking at it from one


perspective, it shows mistrust between the parties generally, in


terms of working together. I think we need to look at it in terms of


more productive workings from the Assembly more generally, in terms of


singing of the same hymn sheet, but also working work productively on


the ground, putting measures in place, these cuts are coming, it


will happen. It is about preparing people for these changes. It is a


double whammy, we have more austerity cuts coming, that is in


the public realm. We have these other potential cut according to


Simon Hamilton as well. We are looking at DETI which is responsible


for supporting the City Of Culture in Londonderry. The figures are


quite frightening. If you speak to people at a community level, they


are suggesting that the cuts could be even more severe. The impact will


be felt in places like Londonderry, the impact of these cuts could be


catastrophic. We will hear more from you later. Very soon the existing 26


councils will begin to more of in to just 11. They will get extra powers


to deal with planning and tourism, but the new generation of


councillors will face challenges. Symbols, flags, emblems, councils


already have to deal with some of the most divisive issues in Northern


Ireland and sometimes the impact of those decisions affect the wider


political climate. In 2012, one decision had an impact well beyond


its locality. Belfast City Council's vote to fly the union flag


on designated days, sparked weeks of protest, and number of which turned


violent. The talks chaired by Richard Haass aim to find a


solution, but there was no agreement. The legislation on local


government reform does not mention flags so the issue may feature in


the new meetings of the councils. Those will be hugely difficult. It


is like everything, no matter how much you agree on planning or the


environment, the big issues will be the flags and parades. I would like


to think that these councils will look at it at a local level and


think what is the best thing for the towns and villages, what is the best


way to make this place more attractive and ease tensions. I fear


that they will take their steer from the headquarters and if they say it


is the flag 360 by days or nothing, they will go for that. The danger of


that is that this will cause divisions. Among the other decisions


is whether to carry over freedoms of the borough, Unionist councils have


given these two military regiments. There are questions about what other


symbols will feature outside council buildings. This will depend on the


political make-up of the councils. We can tell from previous election


results that of the 11 councils there will be split, six will be


Unionist dominated, four will dominated by Sinn Fein and Belfast


will remain split with Alliance are holding the rounds of power. Some


places may see more profound changes than others. The biggest council in


terms of landmass will stretch all the way from the north-west to the


eastern coast. Two Unionist controlled councils will merge with


two councils with nationalist majorities. The newly formed


Causeway Council will take on some of our most famous tourism aspects


and it will be very politically diverse. This is Dungiven at the


western end of the new district. The street names and street art


indicated the political allegiances. Dungiven is currently


in a council area which has an nationalist majority. When the new


local authority takes over, but is unlikely to be the case. It is


thought that the new super council will have a small Unionist


majority. The editor of the local newspaper says it will be a


different experience for nationalist councillors. It will be an


unsettling time for their -- for them to adjust. Equally, for


Unionist members, I know the way that the super councils were chosen,


Unionist members were more pleased with it than the nationalist


members. In contrast to Limavady, cold rain council is predominantly


Unionist and it is one of several local authorities which fly the


union flag every day -- Coleraine. It flies there all year and that is


the way it has always been. Sinn Fein are on record as saying that


they will have an issue with that. They will have an issue with all the


trappings of unionism which they say are present in the council chamber


in Coleraine. That is the obvious one which will kick things off


macro. I do think it is important to remember that councils need to deal


with bins and leisure centres and on these issues, councillors tend to


get on very well. That is generally true of most local authorities, so


will the new councils be characterised by divisions or


agreements? This is how we have to form relationships. It is about


working together, thinking together, representing January.


These are important issues. Even in Belfast, things have improved,


councillors work in a more unified way. Years ago, when it was easy to


do so, they did not do it and councils can be a beacon for some


sort of normality. It does not matter what you do in terms of new


institutions, at the heart of everything, there is still at I got


it between Sinn Fein and the DUP, between unionism and nationalism. --


dichotomy. There are few places where symbolism is as politically


important as their -- as it is in Northern Ireland. Our consular steel


with this, will help determine if the new councillors will become


symbols of political progress -- councillors. Chris Page highlighting


some of the challenges ahead for local government - and joining me


now are representatives of the five biggest parties contesting the


elections to the new councils on Thursday. With me around the table


are Mark Cosgrove from the Ulster Unionist Party, Gavin Robinson from


the DUP, Sinn Fein's Deirdre Hargey, Duncan Morrow from the Alliance


Party and Clare Hanna from the SDLP. You're all very welcome. Deirdre


Hargey. Your party raised the flags issue in Belfast and that led to 18


months of disagreement and debate across Northern Ireland. We don't


want to go back over the specifics of the Belfast issue, but does Sinn


Fein intend to make this an issue in the new councils? Sinn Fein have


been very clear and consistent and our message in dealing with this


emanates from the Good Friday Agreement where it clearly stated


that people have a right to be British, Irish, both or none. We


respect those rights, but there is a job of work for unionists to show


how are Schmidt is reflected. The issue of the flags at City Hall was


one of equality. This has to be reflected in equal manner. That is


our position. The agenda by Sinn Fein is anything but. We would


respect the right to be British, unionists have to show other people


is how they reflect the right to be Irish. I am an Irish citizen, so how


will unionists reach out to me and my community in reflecting this?


Could the flags issue bedevil the new council? Of course. The Alliance


has been consistent, and we have been consistent with the agreement


as well. The sensitivity principle is there, the principle that we


should fly flags with sensitivity and that this should be consistent


across the whole of Northern Ireland. It should also be


consistent with the equality condition, and it has been suggested


that designated days are the best option. We have been entirely


consistent and we believe it should fly across the whole of Northern


Ireland and there should be no threat about violence, because the


agreement put behind it is surely peaceful and democratic. Gavin


Robinson, your party wants to fly the union flag every day of the year


from public buildings, but that will not be acceptable to many new


councils who will not be controlled by Unionists. I think it is


important that, when they considered this discussion, not only is there


an issue about consent, and people have accepted the sovereignty of


Northern Ireland that we remain part of the United Kingdom, and we need


to reflect that in our councils. We have pledged to support and defend


symbols of the union. But we are also looking towards building


consensus. The three parties to my left ignored consensus politics.


They did not seek to reach an agreement was it to foster good


relations. What they saw to do was, when they reached a majority, they


put on the jackboot, and Sinn Fein, when it is well fast or


elsewhere... Lets not get involved in the politics of Belfast


specifically, but what other parties have said in the past is that there


was a democratic vote and that is how it went. How do you address


Deirdre Hargey's Irishness across the new 11 councils in Northern


Ireland? New Year people talk of a shared future. It has been very


clear whether it has been Belfast, or elsewhere. You do not have Sinn


Fein interested in a shared future. They only offer a shared future if


you share their view. How do you address her Irish identity? It is


important that, given the consent principle, and we are part of the


UK, that we reflect that appropriately and in a civic manner.


Can that circle be squared? Mark Cosgrove, can you express your


party's unionism and also Deirdre Hargey's and Claire Hanna's


Irishness? Of course. The sovereign flag of the UK is freely expressed


through the Belfast agreement, the union flag. The union flag should be


above any form of sectarianism. It is an inclusive symbol. There are


other public -- politicians who do not agree. I have no problems with


anybody's Irishness or anything else. The United Kingdom has large


ethnic minorities from every part of the world and I have no problem with


people wanting to express their Irishness through any means they see


fit, but the Unionist flag has to be above petty sectarian squabbles. It


is the flag of the country. If you're going to have any principle


behind not flying the symbol of the United Kingdom, don't take the ?10


billion that comes with! How do you respond to that? This doesn't


exercise the population as much as it does politicians. Flags on street


furniture are a great concern to most people. It will be a tremendous


waste if we go into the new councils with a sectarian Ding Dong in each


setting the tone. There may be people sitting at home thinking, why


are we discussing flags when we could be discussing the issues? The


point is, this is going to be 80 issue for the new councils, and


there will be opposing views. Absolutely, and we missed a trick by


not addressing it. In the second half of last year, people hoped that


some issues like flags and emblems and marching and parades and other


contentious things would be addressed, but we missed a penalty


kick and we have now kicked the can down the road into another set of


discussions. We are Democrats and we will respond to any motion that is


per towards us in the council, but it is about balance. Our approach is


about levelling up, not taking away aspects of other people's cultures.


We want to reflect the diversity of the city. There will be other people


who say to you, your party supported the naming of a play part in Newry


after an IRA man. If the new council decides to do that and continue


naming the playpark, will your party support that? I don't think it will.


So that was a mistake in the past? I think it was a mistake and there


were efforts to try to redress the situation. In the wider agenda, it


is about taking a sensitive approach. The flag issue was not


thrown into a council meeting. There was about 18 months of negotiation


in an attempt to soften the blow. It was not the flag coming down. It was


inflammatory leaflets being delivered across Belfast that


probably caused the violence that we saw, as much as a democratic


decision made by Democrats. So without the leaflets nobody would


have minded? Don't talk nonsense! The flag issue illustrates why the


good relations question is so central. This will polarise our


councils if we do not watch out. We have to be careful that we look for


a solution that will work for everyone. The storming solution is a


solution that everyone has bought into. It has the only possibility of


working in a place like Belfast. We did not jump on a nonconsensual


decision. There was a position where people had to choose between one


view, which is put the flag up every day, or take it down altogether. We


proposed an amendment which was to find consistency on the Stormont


deal which reflects the agreement. I still say that, unless we are


prepared to sit down and work this one through as parties, a trick was


missed and we were told that we would not discuss the flag issue


further and it was kicked into touch. It was a mistake and we will


regret it. Do you think, briefly, the will will be there for parties


to step out of that publicly stated positions and try to make some kind


of compromise work across the new 11 councils so that they get off to a


fair start? If that doesn't happen, we could be embroiled in discussions


like this interminable. It is an important issue, and from the nature


of this discussion you can see that it could vex councils, but it


needn't rest with councils. It is a bigger issue than Fx local


government. There is further discussion to be had. Sinn Fein and


the Alliance Party may try to bring forward a motion in local areas and


I would be prepared to welcome that progress. On other issues, planning


is a big problem for new councils. There are extended powers being


given to the new super councils. Trust is a big issue for the public,


especially around planning. Parties do not have to publish the names of


those who make financial contributions to party coffee is,


but there are those who argue determinedly that developers should


not have undue influence in new councils. Where do you stand on this


issue? With the new powers, we have always wanted names to be published


whenever we have a normal security situation, but we cannot sit here in


a nice studio in Belfast and pretend that we live in that normal society


that we are all trying very positively to build. There are still


people who have the threat of their life for their political views, and


I would love to see the time... They do not think the situation has


changed from a security point of user that it would now be reasonable


for names to be published? There would be people who would not


support funding political parties if their names were published. The


trust issue is very important. How do you square that circle? That is


the difficulty, because at the end of the day you are asking people for


money and political parties need money from people to exist. People


won't give it if they feel as though their name being published and being


put into the public domain could lead to a dissident terrorist threat


on them or on their business. But I think that is not the name -- main


issue on planning. The main issue is the opportunities that it affords


the new council. This could be a game changer, because it is not just


the devolution of those powers. It is the fact that each council is


going to have to draw up its own area plan. All the 21 current policy


planning statements, which makes it so difficult to attract inward


investment into Northern Ireland, that is going to go. We're going to


come up with one single area plan which could really transform


Northern Ireland from an investment perspective and getting quick


funding decisions. How do you persuade people that these


challenges are challenges that the new councillors will be able to rise


to? And how do you persuade them that we will not slip into the worst


aspects of parish pump? We would publish any donations that come in,


and we think any political process should be as transparent as


possible. We see this as an excellent opportunity to devolve


power to as close to the grass-roots constituents and bases as we can.


What about the security issue? We are 16 years into the Good Friday


Agreement and in a peace process that has been sustained, although


recent events in the last couple of years have shown that we cannot take


that process for granted. But we are committed to building the piece, and


that is something that we are doing. We want to devolve powers to local


councils are so they are closer to the man and woman on the street.


There will be a code of conduct within planning powers. We have the


new concept of community planning, which will change the lives of


people on the ground and how services will be delivered to them


and making sure that people have the same standards of service right


across the board. I don't think anyone would argue with that. There


also also few challenges, though. Yes, and one of the challenges will


be the level of maturity required. Planning has seen smaller parties


try to build up residential local fears, when planning policy will


frustrate the development -- never frustrate the development they are


seeking to bring forward. Parties will not be able to do that if --


any more and people will have to be more honest about the planning


applications and legislation that is there currently. That is good, open


and important for local government, but local government getting


planning powers is a wonderful opportunity. The idea that you


represent a local area, in connection with that local area, you


have a passion for the local area... It could lead to concerns on


the part of the public that private conversations ensure that certain


projects are favoured over others. Do you share Mark Cosgrove's


concerns, or should developers that support parties be in the public


domain? That is where openness and transparency are so important. Peter


Robinson said last week he has no difficulty with the Westminster


threshold of ?7,000 for revealing names. But the other party's


accounts around this table, we don't get donations of that nature. Our


party is supported by grass-roots members, individuals with small


contributions, so the notion that people are giving large sums, large


donations to parties to get their way to curry favour simply isn't


true. Transparency is important to dispel that myth. We have history


year. We have history of all sorts of money going in different


directions, but this is a great opportunity to bring regeneration,


community development and planning into a single space so we get


coherence. It will depend on the maturity of politicians. It depends


on transparency, and we are in favour of the publication of all of


that information. Before Terry had -- we fought very hard to get that


into the bill. We also believe that the issue of good relations is


important. What we get in town and city needs to be access the ball


for, available to the whole community, which is about


forward-looking planning. The most vibrant and dynamic shared spaces in


towns and cities are quite often High Streets and town centres. I


think we need to prioritise that. The strategic planning statement


brings together a lot of contradictory statements. Anyone who


has had to make a case for or against a planning application will


have found it very tickled to marry up the different priorities. I think


there is much more of a role for local people. In my experience,


people are sensible about planning. They understand the balance between


economic regeneration and their own needs, and I think that councillors


have to trust people to reflect that. We have to build capacity in


consultation with planning professionals to make the best


decisions. It is not just about developers in town centres, it can


also be about councillors in the countryside who live next door to


someone who wants to build a single dwelling in the countryside. What is


your position on that? That can be a different kind of Russia, but it can


be difficult for councillors in those circumstances -- a different


kind of pressure. The opinion of politicians is so low that people


think politicians will always make the grubby list decision possible,


and they do not think that is true. We're not doing away with


professional planners. People have spent years training up in the skill


of town planning, and I think this will allow that to come out.


Planners will not be boxed off into making minor individual decisions in


consultation with political representatives. They will be able


to take a wider look at a village or neighbourhood. I hope we do get into


the situation where an individual would wave through planning policy.


We have to make the whole process as open as possible so that people do


not have the possession -- perception that things like that are


happening. Local councils can begin to look at planning strategies which


will allow for the coordination of services. Gavin Robinson. Your


manifesto claims you are the party of low rates, but of the four


councils with the lowest rates you have majorities on just TWO of them,


so you can't say you are offering something others aren't... It is a


political principle. No matter whether we are in control, or we


have a strong voice, we continually pushed the message that money spent


through councils is public money, it belongs to the people and unless


they have confidence that the money is being used appropriately, we


should not ask for more. When Belfast was controlled by other


parties, there was a 10% rise and the last two years, the rate has


been frozen and councils were we have an influence, rates have been


frozen in, regional government, because that makes up the other half


of the rate bill. We have frozen the rate since 2007 in real terms and


when you look across the UK, our bills are half that of Wales. It is


about 55% less than England and a third less than Scotland. We are


making sure that money is being used appropriately. You talk about


supporting tourism, how would you pay for these projects if you're


wanting to keep rates low? The new powers that we will be getting, from


planning and community powers, it will be about sustainable


development and also within villages across the North. We want to work


with the business community and protect the most vulnerable in terms


of making the changes that need to be made. We have a good opportunity


with tourism and that is why we want to invest in our arts sector and


create a positive buzz about our town centres. We need to leave it


there. We have given people food for thought in terms of this. Thank you


for joining us. Thank you. Now, with a look back at the political week in


sixty seconds, here's Gareth Gordon... No progress on welfare


reform, the Finance Minister says he will slash department budgets by


more than 1%. That is a lot of money. That's a lot of services


which will go down, a lot of suffering. Disagreements over social


housing in north Belfast. If the facts do not fit the theory, change


the facts, Alberta and stirring, that is what gerrymandering looks


like. The former leader of the PU P, Hugh Smith has died. Large crowds


flood to the second Balmoral show to be held at the maze. At the North


West 200, and ministers swapped his suit for leathers. He gives me the


thrill of motorbike racing. Naughty MLAs said sorry for missing their


slots at Question Time. He went along to the Speaker 's office and


apologise. I apologise to the House. I want to apologise to the


House. Gareth Gordon reporting. When Barack Obama was re-elected as US


President in 2012, many commentators said his hugely effective social


media campaign gave him the edge over his republican rival. And as


the European and council elections approach, there's no doubt that


local politicians are putting more effort than ever into their presence


online. But just how effectively are they using Facebook and Twitter to


communicate with the electorate? That's what we asked people


attending a recent 'tweet up' in Belfast... Social media is hugely


important and in particular, in the run-up to elections, because the


political parties are launching campaigns, there is a huge amount


more information and news coming with regards to the elections and I


think that is the first place that quite a lot of people will go when


they want to get information on what is happening with the parties,


individual candidates, policies and the general campaigns. The political


parties and candidates are taking to social media and it is a huge change


from the last elections. If you really want to engage with people


and particularly young people, social media is the quickest and


fastest way to do so. We feel closer to our politicians because of it. It


could be another way to push out the PR messages they want to hear that


they want us to hear. Our politicians have not got to grips


with it entirely, they do not see it as a conversation, which they need


to. Once they start using it better and we all start using it and


working out how the conversations work, it will have a bigger impact.


Let us hear from our guests. Some politicians have connected with this


and others still do not appear on Twitter. It is very imbalanced. The


key thing is considering it is social media and what we are seeing


a lot of the time is where politicians are engaging, they are


doing it on party political broadcast level, rather than making


themselves available to their electorate. Is there a danger that


it is a small community preaching to itself? For the vast majority of


people in Northern Ireland, is it irrelevant? I think it depends on


how you use it. There are examples. Some can use it very well. Look at


the Mayor of London who uses it effectively. -- Mayor of London


Belfast. -- some people use it badly. I think looking at it, some


people have not considered it as a social mechanism. It is important to


get a version of yourself across and to communicate ideas, recruit people


into politics they may not have considered before. Do you think


people will turn out to vote on Thursday? I would not be surprised.


I think it will be over 50%. Thank you. I will bring you all the


results from the election as the begin to emerge on Friday. Join me


for Stormont Today. Thank you for joining us.


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