23/09/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


23/09/2012

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, debate and interviews, including chief secretary Danny Alexander and communities secretary Eric Pickles.


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And the new leader of the Ulster Unionists wants it to be a party

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for everyone. I will be asking him if it is enough to reverse his

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1995 seconds

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party's fortunes. Joined me in Hello and welcome to Sunday

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Politics in Northern Ireland. The Ulster Unionist Party gathered

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at Titanic Belfast for its annual conference this weekend. But

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despite a series of election failures in recent years, there was

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no talk of sinking ships. All eyes were on the helm and Mike Nesbitt's

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plans to turn the fortunes of the party around. He made me realise

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what a great future we had and that we have made a great decision.

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fresh from his conference performance, I'll be joined by Mike

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Nesbitt. Also on the programme, nationalists

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have no confidence in the Social Development Minister. Will a debate

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in the Assembly achieve anything? Here to discuss that, the deputy

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leader of the SDLP, Dolores Kelly, and the News Letter'spolitical

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correspondent, Sam McBride. Ending sectarianism, pledges on the

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economy, reducing the number of government departments and

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educational reform - just some of the themes Mike Nesbitt focussed on

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in his 45-minute speech to the party faithful yesterday. We'll

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talk to Mr Nesbitt in just a moment, but first, Chris Page reports on

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the mood of those who turned up to hear from their new leader.

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The choice of venue might have provoked an armada of maritime

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analogies but the Ulster Unionist Party hope holding the conference

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in Belfast's new iconic building would put them forward as a party

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looking forward with big ideas. As everybody said hello on the ground

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floor in the splendour of the banqueting suite, Mike Nesbitt was

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preparing for his crucial first conference speech as leader. A long

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shadow has been cast over the party as he spent his first six months

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restructuring and undisciplined. Now he's limbering up to talk

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action and policies. And he was being talked up by his colleagues.

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I think it's been very good so far and we will see a very good

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reaction to the leader's speech today, and it will move things on

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for our party's fortunes. We are anticipating some planned for the

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way forward and I am sure it will be exciting. So, would you live up

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to expectations? It was not just his own party members he was trying

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to connect with. Everyone who lives here, and I mean everyone, I am

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appealing to Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, everybody. Chinese,

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Indian, Eastern European. This appeal is to everybody. Not all of

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those groups were represented in the hall. This time, at least.

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Several hundred were listening to some familiar faces from the

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party's cast were absent. But he did look at how the issues from

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Northern Ireland's past were being looked at. And he was critical.

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say, no to painting if them as villains. That is a red line for us.

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I say the Ulster Unionist Party has no problems saying thank you to the

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RUC and to the UDR. Looking further back, he said his vision was the

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same as that of the first leader. That was Sir Edward Carson. A

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government for all. He has just made the most important speech of

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his political career. Do they now believe today marks a turning-point

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of a party and that this is a man who can generate electoral success?

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I think it was exhilarating! I really enjoyed that. I thought it

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was very good. Great hope for the future. He made me realise what a

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great future we have and that we have made the right decision.

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really pleased because I came away and thought, at last! It has been a

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tough century so far for the party that has run Northern Ireland for

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more than 50 years. Mike Nesbitt's task is Titanic and he hopes this

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party conference will be remembered as the one where the tide turned.

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Mike Nesbitt is with me now. The party faithful clearly enjoyed the

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speech but was it really for them or was it for people outside the

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party watching on TV? Well, it was for a bit of both, Mark. The key

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target audience has to be the some 200,000 people who would largely be

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pro-Union and who used to vote but are no longer voting. They have to

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have something and someone to align themselves to, so it was a direct

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appeal to that block of current no- voters. You want it to be a party

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for all - Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, people of all faith

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and none. Chinese, Indian, Eastern European. That's a big challenge!

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With respect, most of those groups were not represented in the Titanic

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sweep yesterday. Absolutely and that is a huge challenge. We do

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have members but by no means enough, and that is the challenge. A nobody

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is arguing the Ulster Unionist Party is a big beast of politics!

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That is the challenge, to get ourselves back up. Up in the

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process. There was a tweet yesterday saying, ask Mike if he

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thinks the Union Jack flag to his left to is alienating some of

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voters? We don't have to get into some kind of bland and come out in

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some kind of a more fierce human form of a major! I'm talking about

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mutual human respect. It may be one thing to say what is wrong with

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respecting the Union Flag, but if you want those people to join and

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vote for your party, they might be uncomfortable with the Union Flag

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and feel they could be Unionists but they don't need that other

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Association and it is a step too far. Is that not something you need

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to look at? We don't believe that because the United Kingdom has the

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Union Flag as it's black, and the same way the Republic of Ireland

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has its flag. But you could find another way of doing it so you

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don't defend the people who don't like the Union Flag and what it

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represents, and perhaps using some other representation that brings

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other people in. -- so you don't offenders the people. I don't see

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it like this. Why is it an issue? The issues to me are about the

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economy, health, education. And that is what we were doing

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yesterday when we published our five policy papers for discussion.

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I know you naturally have an interest in my speech but we have

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five key speeches from spokespeople yesterday. $WHITE You say social

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deprivation is a key policy area. "We'd agree an absolute income

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level that we don't want a family falling below. We would add two

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specific deprivation measures and attack that sector. It's not the

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whole answer, it does not help everyone, but it tackles those most

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in need. What will that cost? Who'll pay for it? What does it

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mean in reality? The reports coming back have no targets in them and

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there is a whole range of targets you could set in terms of tackling

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child poverty. You can have their relative income or absolute income,

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so we are saying, let's figure wrapped an absolute income level

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below which we do not want things to drop. -- figure out. In terms of

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hot meals, clothing, meals with meat involved, let's Dick two of

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those so we have an absolute, nailed on black-and-white target. -

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- let's pick two of those. We haven't costed it because we are

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not in government in that department. What we are saying is,

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wouldn't it be great if the Executive agreed something that is

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black and white so you know whether you have achieved something you set

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out to achieve or not. But we haven't costed it. The but you have

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a clear policy that you can table to the Executive and say, these are

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the figures. What I am saying is, there are five papers for policy

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discussion. We are not at the end of the road yet. An interesting

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point that you are not in government yourself. Is it not time

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you sate yourself at the Executive table and showed people what you

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are capable of, and demonstrated another side of your leadership?

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Firstly, I have said as a matter of principle I think it would be good

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for the Ulster Unionist leader to be poignant at the next election.

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And that would be me. We do not know how long the mandate will be.

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It was supposed to end in 2015 but now which will go to 2016. But I

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won some certainty on that. Because I might think twice and have more

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time. So I can't tell you until somebody tells me how long the

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mandate will be. And I don't think it is right to extend the mandate

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until the electorate has had its say. And you want to cut after the

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next election the number of departments to eight but not using

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civil servants. Our I never said wait. I say, get on with it! That

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is an internal working and you don't need a mandate to we just a

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putt government departments. We have a mandate for all the devolved

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issues. -- we don't need a mandate to readjust government departments.

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But the Cabinet is, don't panic, civil servants, you are not going

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to lose your jobs. -- the caviar at. What we're talking about his

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efficiency. What we did in 1988 was created government that was

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inclusive but not necessarily efficient. The next stage is

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inclusive and efficient. The big theme of the speech was lost

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opportunities. Why would you want to put thousands of people on the

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dole and give them a life of lost opportunities because you want to

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cut things. Which departments would you want to cut? We have been in

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discussion with all the party leaders and you have to negotiate

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this through. But the ones we would be looking at would be decamped,

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but the big single thing to do to kick-start the economy is to have a

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single department for the economy and it would include some of the

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functions of Del. All of that is for negotiation with the other

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party leaders. What about the Mid Ulster by-election? In the autumn?

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Would you stand aside to let it unified candidate run? It is

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speculation at the moment. The by- election has not been moved. It

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could be moved very soon. I will give you a guarantee - the people,

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the Ulster Unionist people of Mid- Ulster, will have the opportunity

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to vote for somebody with Ulster Unionist values in that by-election.

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Why it happens? Yes. And finally, you set out your stall in

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opposition but is that what you were saying to people - vote for me

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next time around and put me into opposition? And no. I want to get

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to a normalised society and for that, we need for an efficient

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opposition to stand. A coalition, cross-community government. Which

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you would be leader of? Well, no... May be look at the next time and we

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will be closer to defending everything. Thank you very much

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indeed. Do stay with us for a little while longer. Let's move on.

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The SDLP and Sinn Fein claim the Social Development Minister, Nelson

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McCausland, has broken the Ministerial Code by failing to

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condemn loyalist bands who breached Parades' Commission rulings in

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North Belfast last month. The party has tabled a motion of no

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confidence in Mr McCausland which will be debated in the Chamber

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tomorrow. The SDLP's deputy leader, Dolores Kelly, and the News

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Letter's political correspondent, Sam McBride, are with me.

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Dolores, why are you bringing this? Explain your thinking. Well, I

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think many people across the North were dismayed at the behaviour of

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Nelson McCausland over recent weeks and people want to see high

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standards in public office. And surely as a government minister, he

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must be held to account for his failure to condemn the behaviour of

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the young Conway band and his duty within the pledge of office to

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promote community relations. I don't think his behaviour and

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admissions have done anything to improve community relations. Peter

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Robinson says Mr McCausland has no case to answer? It's a delicate

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situation. Why up the ante in the week of the Covenant Parade? Don't

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accept that. Our party believes the issue is much wider than that. We

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are dealing with community divisions in the North and we are

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seeing a failure of leadership by the DUP in particular. We are

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dealing with sectarianism. I don't think anywhere else a Western

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democracy would a government minister be able to behave like

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Nelson McCausland. He says he has been crystal clear on the matter

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and he doesn't support the breaking of the law. He is fully in support

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of the rule of law. It need cross- community support so it won't

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happen. You don't have that. think it is putting down standards

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in public office. And then we have to hold ministers to account. Let's

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wait and see. Our party is meeting tomorrow with the Alliance Party.

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Let's wait and see what happens. it possible you might support this?

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Sinn Fein is going to support the SDLP. With have broad concerns

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about the actions of many government ministers. We have

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concerns and we put in an urgent question... This motion of no

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confidence? We think a debate being run is timely within the bubble of

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Stormont but we are coming up to more support in decades for

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unionism. And we don't want anything that is going to upset

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people on the ground because there is tension out there. I will meet

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with Alastair McGonnell tomorrow morning. Is there air any support -

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- possibility you will support the motion? -- is there any possibility

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you will support the motion? I were to talk to him tomorrow. I think,

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where do you draw the line? Who has to condemn what a what sort of

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standard is he setting? It is vague and it will be interesting to see

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how it is set out in the debate tomorrow. But it is unusual to have

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the discussion about somebody not condemning something when he says

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he did. And on the wider issue of the bigger political picture, what

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are you hearing about how difficult the motion will be tomorrow and the

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debate around it and how hard it will make things for the parade?

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This one flashpoint area around St Patrick's Church, there have been

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attempts to broker things and perhaps there will be some more

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action this week. But it is not something that is not going to do

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anything to defuse that. Nelson McCausland is a representative and

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is central to some of the discussions. It will not make the

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loyalist side any more likely to back down in any of the demands.

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Dolores Kelly, are you concerned you will give a platform tomorrow

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for some heated exchanges, when what people really require is the

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opposite and you need people to be making conciliatory comments? And

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forcing a debate like this will not do that? I agree that timing is

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unfortunate because Nelson McCausland's behaviour has been

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pretty poor by anyone's standards. But we are working hard on the

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ground towards compromise. And we want to support a motion to engage

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in direct dialogue with residents. For and you. -- thank you to you

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all. Dolores and Sam, stay with me. We'll hear more from you both in a

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moment. Let's take a look now at the political week in 60 seconds,

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with our political correspondent, Martina Purdy.

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The Speaker's patience snapped. He vowed to name and shame those who

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didn't turn up to ask questions. Dolores Kelly, she is not in her

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place. And launching his road safety campaign, the minister was

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in no mood for any nonsense either. The air are no excuses for bad

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driving. It's so what is the excuse for probing into the conduct of

:54:08.:54:13.

Peter and Iris Robinson taking more than two years? -- so what is the

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excuse? This was not down after Stormont forced owners to sell up

:54:19.:54:24.

for redevelopment but the debts are still standing. Bets for MLAs.

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Don't assume your party is behind you. Trevor, you will never walk

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alone while Mike Nesbitt is around! Now has try!

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-- nice try. Dolores Kelly, you were named and

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shamed by the Speaker on Monday and we just saw it there. For not being

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there to deal with your question that had been asked to their

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minister. What happened? I was at a meeting on the third floor of

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Stormont and I looked at the time and I had five minutes, so I

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thought, I will go down. I made a run for the stairs and ended up

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being two minutes late. Unfortunately, the question before

:55:17.:55:23.

Andy had two supplementary is where there are normally three. -- only

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had. Will you embarrassed? To do apologise? Eyes certainly did. I

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never did it before and I will certainly not do it again.

:55:37.:55:41.

McBride, you were at the Ulster Unionist conference party yesterday.

:55:41.:55:46.

What did you make of the way Mike Nesbitt handled his speech as

:55:46.:55:51.

leader? It was very polished and you would expect that from here.

:55:51.:55:55.

Reading an autocue, the inarticulate, being good with words

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and able to sell things. -- been articulate. That is his background.

:56:04.:56:08.

A lot of content and policies and he had been criticised for not

:56:08.:56:13.

having policies. A lot to other issues were touched upon but was

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there enough of the detail and costings people want to see? Is it

:56:19.:56:24.

was 45 minutes and I think if he had gone into any more detail

:56:24.:56:29.

people would have been nodding off! But he has made a start and, quite

:56:29.:56:33.

significantly, the DUP have released a statement attacking him.

:56:33.:56:37.

He will be pleased with that because for a while, the DUP had

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not even been responding to some of what he said. Peter Robinson, in

:56:43.:56:52.

the meantime, pates Civic dinner. - - at a civic dinner. If everything

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was settled back in 1998, why do so many people refuse to use the term

:56:59.:57:05.

"Northern Ireland"? For some, it is interchangeable but a good

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agreement could settle who chose to regard the North as part of Ireland

:57:12.:57:18.

and could work towards reunification legitimately. But

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there it is a separate issue. is about the names we use and the

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words we use. You are a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Do

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you say Northern Ireland? Summed times. Sometimes it is the North. -

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- sometimes. I think many people who aspire to the reunification...

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The common and celebrates a rebellion by loyalists Against the

:57:48.:57:54.

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