24/06/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Tara Mills looks at the political developments of the week and questions policy makers on the key issues.

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In a Northern Ireland, the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams will be


in the studio to discuss the implications for Republicans. Join


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Hello and welcome to the Sunday Politics.


It is just over a year since the Queen made her historic visit to


the Republic of Ireland. At that time it was a step too far for the


Deputy First Minister to meet her. Since then, and with the


announcement of a visit here to mark the Diamond Jubilee, it is the


question that would not go away. Would Martin McGuinness meet the


Queen? Finally we have an answer, yes. From this is the right thing


to do at the right time and for the right reasons.


So what does that decision mean for Sinn Fein as a republican party? We


will be putting that question to the party's president.


Also on the programme, it is 30 years since homosexuality was


decriminalised. Are politicians doing enough to tackle


discrimination? Here to discuss all of this DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson


and commentator Brian Feeney. It is not that long ago that it


would have been unthinkable for a member of Sinn Fein to meet the


Queen. This week though history will be made. Our political


correspondent looks back and traces Martin McGuinness's journey from


IRA leader to peacemaker. A sign of the Times in 1977. The


Queen marked 25 years from the throne and the IRA marked another


year in it last war. The face of that campaign was Martin McGuinness


who joined as a teenager. Can you say whether the bombing as a likely


to stop in the near future? Well, I will always take it under


consideration. Later he went on the run and was imprisoned for IRA


membership. He has since claimed that he left the organisation in


1974 but made no secret of his support for the IRA and opposition


to the union. The Queen's Silver Jubilee visit brought a 21 gun


salute to Belfast, but it was a tale of two tribes. The sound from


nationalists was one of protests. Security was tight in the face of


the Queen's visit. Tensions deepened when a republican teenager


was shot dead by the army on the eve of the visit. These scenes


accompanied the visit. For the have watched events with deep concern


and sadness. -- we have watched events. No one could remain unmoved


by the violence and the grief that follows. The Queen spoke of


reconciliation, but two years later the monarch was personally touched


when her cousin was murdered by the IRA. His campaign, Martin


McGuinness continued to front. the end of the day it will be the


cutting edge of the IRA that will bring freedom. Sinn Fein was


changing but the message of violence was not. Our position is


clear that it will never change. The war against the British must


continue until freedom is achieved. But a new decade brought a new


message, peace and a ceasefire. Martin McGuinness became the chief


-- became very a vault higher up and the IRA. Let's not give them


what they want. Power-sharing brought Sinn Fein to Stormont, but


the party stayed away when the Queen visited to mark the Golden


Jubilee. Martin McGuinness stayed home last year where they are then


joined the First Minister in greeting the Queen. But month later,


during an Irish presidential election, the attitude had shifted.


The day in which a Queen of England comes to meet with Martin


McGuinness as president of Ireland would be a huge occasion. That was


not to be. Instead, the Queen will creep Martin McGuinness soon as


they bitty first minister. -- will Just watching those pictures, how


significant is this meeting? It is very significant in that the


journey that we are on. Republicans, I think, are, on the one hand,


divided into two constituencies. There are those who are tragically


against us and those who are for us. There are those who suffered under


British state guidance and they are hoping that it works out well. Why


are we doing this and why are we doing it at this time? We think


that as we continue on the path as we would see it towards a united


Ireland, we know that cannot happen unless the Unionists are part of


aid. We have to give space out of respect for our neighbours who have


a loyalty to the Queen of England that we do not have. There is a


very significant step that might bring us into a new platform and


into other phases which can be built upon. It is a big ask for


republicans and a big ask for the Queen as well. I think everyone


involved... The Queen will be there and Martin will be there and Peter


Robinson will be there. Many people have suffered including the Queen


herself. Her family have been bereaved as a cause of the conflict.


-- as a result of the conflict. There are others here who will not


engage in talks and will stand back from the peace process. They do


need the cover of the Irish President -- did you need the cover


of the Irish President to sell it to your constituency? We have an


ongoing process Of Equality building. Martin McGuinness will


meet the Queen of England as an equal. The hosts will be an All


Ireland a charitable organisation. This all makes it easier to


represent where we have gone and where we have come to as an island


-- tu as an island... Thankfully we are out of all of that. He said on


Friday it was not a unanimous decision but it was a clear


majority for those who did not degree -- agreed. What happens with


them? Are they accepting it, or is there a chance that you will


increase the ranks of the dissidents? We did 40 meetings


across the island on Thursday evening and we brought together


1,500 republicans. We got as many people as we could together to


discuss these matters. We have been engaging on a one-to-one basis with


people. We have spoken to families of the dead. The victims' groups


have suffered under British state guidance. We want to have a healthy


climate of dissent. I did a number of the meetings in my constituency


and I talked to people in West Belfast yesterday. One of the


things I've found quite marked is that the argument has been put


trenchantly by those who are for and against us and at the end


people stood behind and they were very quarter will and our party and


our constituency may disagree on some situations but they are united


on the fundamentals that most of us want the most change. We have been


talking for a long time to Unionists and issuing policy


statements, trying to reach out and verbally. This goes beyond the


rhetoric. Those who think we are not serious about the ability of


someone to be British and come from the island of Ireland and Unionists


will see in this gesture that we are moving significantly beyond


rhetoric. But there is more to reconciliation that Sinn Fein's


Martin McGuinness meeting the Queen. Of course. We are engaged in those


ongoing initiatives. Some of it is going on at the grass roots level.


If you are are on the dole, if you are in poverty and cannot get


access to education, if you do not have a proper quality of life, than


equality is just an abstract ideal. -- than many quality is just an


We are so divided. We are living apart and working apart and we are


too small for that. What does Conor Murphy's role have to do with this?


What message does he sent to Unionists? He has absolutely


rejected this. Protocols were followed and decisions are made.


One can question anything that one wants to question. Accepting


everything is fallible. That is the fallacy of a lot of what has


happened on this island. But look, the issues of uniting and agreeing


to disagree and defending the accommodation between loyalists and


Unionists, that will be a continuing challenging exercise.


What this engagement next week will do is show what is possible. I


would like to think that when it is over people, those of us who want


positivity in our future and harmony and a better Ireland,


because we deserve a better society, will see this as a good thing.


you reluctant to have a photograph released of Martin McGuinness


having a handshake with the Queen? We understand there will not be a


picture released. I would not suggest that there has been any


notification from Buckingham Palace but there is certainly no objection


from Sinn Fein. We are doing this as pout republicans. We are


confident and modern in our vision. We think it is the right thing to


do. The handshake or whatever greetings are involved between the


principles, of course we have no objection to that. Jefferey, how do


you view this? Well, it is something that we have waited a


long time to see. I think that we recognise that Her Majesty the


Queen is coming to Northern Ireland as part of her Diamond Jubilee


celebrations and a lot of people are looking forward to her visit.


As part of that, the Deputy First Minister, he is a minister in the


Northern Ireland executive, will be meeting Her Majesty. That is a good


thing and perhaps long overdue. you recognise that this is a


nucleus and the peace process? would not put it that way but it is


part of moving Northern Ireland forward. This visit is very


important to the Unionist community, but even beyond that, there are


many people who I think will welcome the visit of the Queen who


are not Unionist. I think it is important that Her Majesty feels


welcome in Northern Ireland and it is important that people recognise


her position as the head of state. Therefore I think this is progress.


Of course it is difficult for Her Majesty. She lost a member of her


family, a very close member of her family, during the Troubles. There


will be many people, victims of IRA terrorism who will find the


encounter a difficult. But the peace process is about tackling the


difficult issues, making the difficult decisions. Her Majesty


support the peace process and she is making a very valuable


contribution to helping Northern Ireland with a foreword to a place


where we can move - never live together on a basis of mutual


respect and Anders -- where we can live together on a basis of mutual


respect and understanding. I am sure that there is an appreciation


that there are difficulties and that has required a lot of


organisation and planning behind the scenes to produce the


circumstances. I think it has been very cleverly done, where the


meeting is going to take place. Mr Adams says that the fact that the


meeting is under the auspices of an All Ireland Organisation, Unionists


must know from the planning that has gone into it that this is a big


We heard about the reconciliation talks. Our reconciliation moves


coming from one side, or de Unionists need to do more? I think


Unionists have to do a lot of work, actually. There has been a lot of


work by Republicans. This brings it to another phase. This would be


complete the circle. The relationship between the parties


have developed enormously. This was something that was required. In


many ways it was inevitable after the Queen had gone to Dublin.


Republicans could not take the risk last year or until they had seen


what the Queen did. The fact the Queen paid her respects to the war


dead from the war of independence, tried to master a couple of words


in Irish, all of that was very important. It was impossible not to


reciprocate the gestures the Queen had done. They did the clear, the


Queen does not do these things are wrong initiative. -- letter of us.


The Queen will meet anybody the British Government tells her to


meet. She is a symbol for the British Government. There is a lot


of political and diplomatic work that goes into this. The Queen does


what she has told. Did the Queen pave the way for this? At the time


I did recognise and acknowledge the significance of her words, her


laying of the wreath at the Garden of Remembrance, what she said,


particularly about all of the victims. I think Brian makes an


important point. This would not have happened without the British


Government. You asked how significant this is beyond a symbol.


That depends on how we build on it. And I mean all of us. What can


Unionists do? There should be no excuse for people not talking now.


We are going into the month of July. There should be no issue around


Irish language of rights when you have the English Mark being


prepared to use a few words. -- English mark. There is an example


being set by the four principles. Peter Robinson, Martin McGuinness,


the Queen of England and the president of Ireland. Why would


have thought not get together and try to resolve our problems? Why


can we not imagine a different type of Ireland? The Irish striker is


orange. It is one of our national colours. -- Irish tricolour.


Harmony between the green and the orange. Letter us try to develop a


cordial Union. Even this discussion would not have happened 10 years


ago. Here is Jeffrey, a former member of the UDR, a man who served


in military service. All of us have come a very long distance. Keep


moving forward. Fundamentally your views are still not the same?


but we can accommodate. We can work out. The big bit of the Good Friday


agreement is that the Government of Ireland Act has gone. There is a


clear acknowledgement that we need the Union of Catholics, Protestants


and dissenters. That is a big challenge for Republicans. I think


it is a big challenge for Unionists. Even if you're against a United


Ireland, and I do not suggest Unionists are changing their tune,


but what they have changed their view on is that with a land mass


this size, co-operation across the island to the mutual benefit of the


people is the right thing to do. What we also need to do is to


translate the words into practical action. Gerry Cox about the Orange


tradition. Yet we still hear the refrain from Republicans, nor


Orange feet here. Surely we want to move to a situation where people do


not get upset because somebody else wants to exercise their tradition


and their culture? That is the shared future Peter Robinson has


been talking about. We need to move beyond the words and we need to


give that practical effect. We're no longer into no go areas and


peace walls. We want to move to a situation in Northern Ireland where


it is truly about respect and accommodating each other's culture


and tradition. That means the Orange tradition has to be


accommodated. As for a United Ireland, Unionists are very clearly


winning the argument. More people from a Catholic background


accepting and embracing the benefits of remaining within the


United Kingdom. It is a debate we are happy to engage in. But we are


very clear that more people in Northern Ireland are backing the


union. The Queen is the queen of the United Kingdom. I am not


English. She is the queen of the United Kingdom. Gerry Cox about


language. Proper use of the language is important. And


recognising the Queen is not just the Queen of England, she is the


queen of the United Kingdom. She is my queen. I respect that but she is


not my Queen and she is not Martin McGuinness's Queen. He is a proud


Republican. The reason why Martin is going to meet the Queen is out


of respect to you. You'll are a progressive. You talk about Orange


marchers. The Orangemen will still not be -- will still not talk to us.


If there are issues around contentious parades, we should talk


about it. That is a debate for another day. Thank you very much


indeed. It's 30 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in


Northern Ireland. But how far have we come in terms of our attitudes?


Ken Maginnis - now Lord Maginnis - recently caused a storm with his


views. And on this programme last week, the Health Minister Edwin


Poots stood by his controversial lifetime ban on gay men giving


blood. Yvette Shapiro asks if Northern Ireland's a cold house for


The next thing is some sort of beast reality. People who engage in


high-risk sexual behaviour should be excluded from giving blood.


actor is gay and HIV positive. He was bullied at school and had to


move house because of threats. He said recent pronouncements from


politicians are hurtful. It is difficult for me to get my head


around it. I come from a very loving family. I have had a great


support network of friends. I come from a Christian family. I was just


accepted with open arms. Then you have these politicians who are


ministers, men of God, that are not showing God's low of two fellow


people. They are just showing hate and judging them. It is 30 years


since, sexuality was decriminalised in Northern Ireland. Recent surveys


suggest a hardening of attitudes. In 2005, 14% up people said they


would be unhappy about a gay person living next door. That figure


doubled in the latest survey. Around one third of people would


mind a transgender person as a work colleague. 40% as a neighbour and


53% as an end of. Infrastructure needs to be amended to include


gender relations. It is a community relations issue and a good


relations this year. Work on a strategy on sexual orientation


began at Stormont six years ago. The Office of First Minister and


Deputy First Minister promise it will be published before the end of


the year. I have always felt Northern Ireland is more liberal


than its reputation. Certainly I and others who have come out as gay


have survived perfectly adequately. It was this man's case that led to


the legalisation of homosexuality here. He says gay people will wish


to donate blood, get married or adopt children will not find


support in Stormont. It will have to be endorsed by the Democratic


Unionist Party. It is all about mood music. The fact of the matter


is that strategy will come up against changes in the law that


will be needed. I suspect the court will end up being bigger friends


than Government. Representatives instalment are cautious by nature.


They tend not to lead but to follow. They take the temperature of what


is going on in their particular constituency. I do not think that


his leadership. I do hope that other politicians will actually


take the lead. They need to stand up and fight for us. The people


standing up and fighting are the people who are negative about it.


The people who think it is OK to be gay are not shouting about it.


Jeffrey Donaldson, it does seem in some circumstances that


sectarianism is the only crime in Northern Ireland. It is OK to be


homophobic? That is not the case at all. We have the strongest equality


legislation in the Union. Section 75. There is no one else in the EU


where you will find equality legislation as strong as we have.


We have also got the strongest anti-discrimination laws. This week


we find as Sinn Fein minister discriminating against prominent --


Protestants. There is a big issue that has to be tackled. It is


ending sectarianism. We are out of time. What's the connection between


Sammy Wilson's shed and missing budget papers - Stephen Walker has


the answers in this week's This week money mattered. The


finance minister was wanted for questioning and told to bring his


figures to the table. It would be better in terms of constructive


engagement if he would wind his neck in and offer a proper


explanation. They waited and waited. When Sammy Wilson finally appeared,


he seemed quite at home. I had been looking forward to this all week.


Former minister Conor Murphy found himself in hot water over an


appointment process. The Old Bailey bomber that prison for a hospital.


Survivors and victims formed a new group and vowed to work together.


There is far more that unites people than divides them. Who says


Gough and giants don't mix? Politicians played political


football. But they could not resist a blame game. Typical Unionists.


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