27/01/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


27/01/2013

Mark Carruthers looks at the political developments of the week and questions policy makers on the key issues.


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Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics. Tough times for Belfast

:39:37.:39:41.

traders, but can a cash injection kick start a comeback while flag

:39:41.:39:44.

protests continue? I'll be asking the city's Lord Mayor, Gavin

:39:44.:39:54.
:39:54.:39:56.

Robinson. Also on the programme: I could have made more money outside

:39:56.:40:02.

the EU. We are not big enough to stand on

:40:02.:40:05.

our own. Following David Cameron's pledge to hold a European

:40:05.:40:09.

referendum, we'll be asking if we're better off in or out of the

:40:09.:40:13.

EU? And with us to discuss all of that, newspaper editor Jim Flanagan

:40:13.:40:20.

It's been a difficult couple of months for Belfast. The ongoing

:40:20.:40:23.

flag protests have left some city centre traders, already struggling

:40:23.:40:28.

with the economic downturn, battling for survival. But could a

:40:28.:40:31.

�400,000 funding package announced by the city council turn things

:40:31.:40:36.

round? Or could the second phase of a new bus lane project in the city

:40:36.:40:39.

centre cause even more problems? I'm joined by the Lord Mayor, Gavin

:40:40.:40:45.

Robinson. Gavin Robinson, what can spending �400,000 of ratepayers'

:40:45.:40:51.

money hope to achieve in the short- term?

:40:51.:40:57.

I think it is a hugely positive initiative. Two weeks ago, I said

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it was an opportunity not only to show how responsive they council is

:41:03.:41:08.

but how relevant it is to make sure our city truly works. It will not

:41:08.:41:14.

solve all the problems, but the idea of incentive rising people and

:41:14.:41:17.

animating the City it is so important for traders that have

:41:17.:41:22.

faced difficulties. We have to spend ratepayers money on something

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we should not really be on the tab in the first place, do you accept

:41:26.:41:32.

that? They will always be issues that arise and that you cannot plan

:41:32.:41:38.

for and it was the same in tune with the floods. When the situation

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has risen -- has arisen, is it important not to stand back but

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that we show our responsiveness and do our best to insure City traders

:41:49.:41:54.

and the hotelier's and bars and restaurants, ensure they are filled

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and providing for the economic survival of the city. How well the

:41:57.:42:02.

money be spent? In one respect it is a lot of money and in another

:42:02.:42:10.

respect it is quite a small amount. It is not about handouts, it is

:42:10.:42:15.

about adding to the �600,000 earmarked from the Northern Ireland

:42:15.:42:20.

Executive and adding to bargains and incentives provided by the

:42:20.:42:24.

businesses of Belfast and it supports an advertising campaign,

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you have seen the advertising campaign and physical advertising

:42:30.:42:34.

industry, it is about and there might -- animating areas with

:42:34.:42:38.

events that will encourage people back into the city. For the

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majority of City traders, there is a toxic perception but the reality,

:42:47.:42:52.

it is not there. We have seen at scores of people coming backing and

:42:52.:42:56.

acknowledging the city centre is a safe place to be. The elephant in

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the room is the fact that the protests are continuing. They need

:43:00.:43:03.

to stop and that is the only way this issue will be resolved once

:43:03.:43:07.

and for all and people will know they are safe to come back into the

:43:07.:43:13.

city. The truth is that we can run the City alongside the protests. If

:43:13.:43:17.

you ask whether right think they are good for the city, I don't.

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There is a whole range of areas where people can positively channel

:43:22.:43:25.

their frustrations in other ways and a one to encourage them to do

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them. There was violence again on Friday night. Petrol bombs were

:43:32.:43:38.

thrown at the police in north Belfast. No, outside of the Belfast

:43:38.:43:44.

council area. But that is not to excuse it. There is a toxic

:43:44.:43:48.

perception that people have that the city centre is not safe and it

:43:48.:43:55.

is not accurate. And it is not good for city centre trade. That is why

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we are incentive rising people and backing the city centre and I hope

:43:58.:44:06.

others will also. What about the issue of the bus lane and cycle

:44:06.:44:11.

lane project phase two? We know there were major problems when the

:44:11.:44:16.

first phase happen some months ago. Are you concerned that could simply

:44:16.:44:21.

poor get more difficulties on to the city in the next few weeks?

:44:21.:44:25.

was in September or October when we felt there were issues of

:44:25.:44:29.

communication and people did not know what was happening. We felt

:44:29.:44:33.

those responsible had not communicated their message and

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engaged with people. I had to bring people together before Christmas to

:44:39.:44:45.

make sure that Belfast on the move went forward significantly. I

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offered the same service for the Minister for roads and we have

:44:49.:44:54.

engaged with him thought fully and he has engaged also. The importance

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is there is a practical benefit for the city centre. If people want to

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come into the city centre for trade or hospitality or to enjoy

:45:03.:45:07.

themselves, it is important they can do themselves in a fast and

:45:07.:45:14.

efficient way. The idea that Belfast on the move isn't happening

:45:14.:45:21.

is not right. We need to know -- we need to let people know where

:45:21.:45:25.

things are taking place, but a good story for the City is how they will

:45:25.:45:30.

be an increase in ft fall and travel within the city. Stay with

:45:30.:45:37.

us because I want to put some of those points to our guests. Does

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let me ask you first for your thoughts about the continuing

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protests and the efforts on the part of the council and other

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government bodies to deal with it. I used drug with the Lord Mayor's

:45:48.:45:52.

you that we can run the break -- the city in tandem with the

:45:52.:45:57.

protests, do you accept that? Something like that is happening.

:45:57.:46:07.
:46:07.:46:09.

The protests are at allocated times. So long as the police play their

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part and keep everything well clear at other times, but I think

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people... Cynically, as this might sound, people are beginning to

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factor this in. The money is small and it is good PR and marketing. I

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am conscious of other people, not just other people who go out for a

:46:30.:46:35.

meal or a bottle of wine but people organising charity functions at the

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City Hall. Before Christmas, I was invited to take part in a diabetes

:46:40.:46:45.

event at the City Hall which was cancelled because of the protests.

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People who are fit and of a certain generation know their way around an

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how to cope, it is whether more vulnerable people are avoiding the

:46:54.:46:59.

time because of this. Gin, you have worked in Ben fast and there the

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City but you are now based in Ballymena. I wonder what your

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perspective and that of your readers is likely to be because

:47:06.:47:12.

most of the protests have been located in Belfast. I was in

:47:12.:47:16.

Belfast myself on Friday night and there was not inconvenienced in the

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slightest. I went to school in south Belfast so I criss-crossed

:47:22.:47:27.

Belfast every day for years when Belfast city centre was fetchingly

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sift -- sealed off so traders have been through this before. As far as

:47:33.:47:37.

the on the move project go, it is a pragmatic group of people and they

:47:37.:47:41.

will put up with a bit of short- term pain for long-term gain. The

:47:41.:47:47.

big fear here is that the surgery may kill a few patients because

:47:47.:47:55.

many businesses are on life support and the possibility is that this

:47:55.:48:00.

could exacerbate the situation. is clearly not as bad as it was in

:48:00.:48:06.

the dark days, but you make the point that the violence was in

:48:06.:48:11.

Newton Abbey. That is a distinction that might pass people by but the

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fact is it is happening in or around Belfast. An awful lot of

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people are affected. That is why I mentioned the toxic perception

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which is not running well with the reality where people can come in.

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They have been scores of successful events that have continued and that

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is not a criticism of those that were cancelled. But there are

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people who are nervous and don't want to do that for whatever reason.

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And that is why the campaign and the funding from the executive and

:48:43.:48:46.

Traders and all that is on offer in the city centre will breathe life

:48:46.:48:50.

back into the city centre and we will encourage people to come in

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and let them know it is safe. I will continue to do that and back

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fell -- Belfast and I hope others will as well.

:49:00.:49:10.
:49:10.:49:10.

With me now is Malachi O' Doherty and Jim Flanagan. It's been branded

:49:10.:49:13.

the "hokey-cokey vote". On Wednesday, David Cameron pledged to

:49:13.:49:16.

hold an in/out referendum if the Conservatives win the next election.

:49:16.:49:19.

He described it as a decision on the UK's destiny, but just how

:49:19.:49:23.

important is Europe to Northern Ireland? Would we be better in or

:49:23.:49:26.

out in future? In a moment, I'll be putting those questions to David

:49:26.:49:29.

McNarry from UKIP and the SDLP's Conall McDevitt. But it's the

:49:30.:49:32.

farming community that's often quoted as the big beneficiary of

:49:32.:49:35.

our current relationship with Europe, so Conor Spackman headed

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off to Ballymena livestock market to sample opinion.

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So much of our income is derived from the subsidies from the easy so

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I think most farmers would like to see as staying in but there are so

:49:52.:49:56.

many will then regulations. It is difficult to answer. He in my young

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days, I could have made more money outside be in new. It is a way

:50:03.:50:07.

you're trade is and we are not big enough to stand on our own here. At

:50:07.:50:14.

the end of the day, that's where things go down so you have to be in.

:50:14.:50:20.

There is too much paperwork now for farmers. You need to be a clerical

:50:20.:50:27.

worker. If you are not in the team you cannot win. We are not an

:50:27.:50:32.

imperial nation anymore so we have to. We have to go with our European

:50:32.:50:38.

partners. It is dependent on the industry. I don't think it is ever

:50:38.:50:44.

as clear cut as a yes or No. It is good for business to have that

:50:44.:50:48.

connection. It makes it easier. You suddenly don't want a massive

:50:48.:50:51.

border that will cause problems whenever they are trying to sell

:50:51.:50:56.

between Europe and ourselves. think we are better staying in.

:50:56.:51:03.

That is what we get the EC money for, isn't it? If you can the

:51:03.:51:06.

thoughts from the community there. The SDLP's Conall McDevitt and

:51:06.:51:14.

David McNarry of UKIP are with me now. Is there any need for a

:51:14.:51:20.

referendum? It is an unhelpful development and reduces us to

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something like a flag wicking -- flag-waving contest between

:51:25.:51:29.

nationalists and people who understand their history and that

:51:29.:51:34.

60 million people died in Europe at the Second World War. As a result

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of those deaths, a pledge was made an the pretty -- Treaty of Rome --

:51:41.:51:44.

to build an ever closer union between the peoples of Rome and to

:51:44.:51:49.

remove the causes of potential future conflict. If we tinker and

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mess around with their huge benefits of integrating with Europe

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over the past 50 years we do so at our peril and no one should reduce

:51:58.:52:03.

this to a political football and I regret that is what is happening.

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assume you remain unconvinced? don't see those benefits and I

:52:08.:52:12.

don't think the people of the UK see them. What we have had from

:52:12.:52:19.

David Cameron was smoking areas. We have a British prime ministers

:52:19.:52:24.

saying we will have a referendum provided a win an election. As --

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at this moment, I wouldn't give his chances to be very good to win. His

:52:29.:52:34.

Coalition partners are not with him and he is deceiving the public. I

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think it will be a matter of trust. In so far of the benefits of Europe

:52:39.:52:45.

to the people of the UK, I think the rise of the UK it demonstrates

:52:45.:52:52.

the people of the United Kingdom do not see them -- the United Kingdom

:52:52.:52:58.

Independence Party, and they do not share... It maybe they just don't

:52:58.:53:01.

understand what the benefits are. Looking at Northern Ireland

:53:01.:53:09.

specifically, Farmers benefit hugely from EU membership. CAP

:53:09.:53:12.

brings in �100 million for farmers, peace programme backed projects

:53:12.:53:15.

totalling �73 million in recent years. In the past six years,

:53:15.:53:21.

Northern Ireland has received �800 million from EU - �154m a year!

:53:21.:53:26.

That is an enormous amount of money. If he took that out, we would

:53:26.:53:31.

notice the difference. I don't believe coming out of Europe we

:53:31.:53:40.

will displace that money. In terms of the United Kingdom being a net

:53:40.:53:44.

contributor to something like 8 billion pounds, that is on top of

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what we already do. In value, these figures... But on average, the UK

:53:51.:53:58.

is sinking up to �50 million a year. In so far as what is happening to

:53:58.:54:02.

our farming industry and the fishing industry, I represent the

:54:02.:54:06.

fishing industry and a farming industry constituency. The fishing

:54:06.:54:16.
:54:16.:54:17.

industry has been decimated because of Europe. I think we need some

:54:17.:54:23.

semblance of reality... Just finish that point. In so far as the single

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farm payment is concerned, I am quite sure the money that isn't

:54:28.:54:35.

given into Europe will compensate for that. Farmers will not lose

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their single farm payment if we come out of Europe. Can you give an

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assurance like that? I don't understand how he could give that

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assurance. If you are a millionaire farmer sitting on prime land, you

:54:50.:54:55.

may have an issue with the Common Agricultural Policy but there isn't

:54:55.:55:00.

a farmer in Ireland, Wales or Scotland he will not recognise the

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fact that the way the farming is structured would not be possible

:55:05.:55:10.

except because of the EU and there are good reasons why we continue to

:55:10.:55:14.

be in there. It is about the says - - sustainability of the rural

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community and if you don't buy those arguments, what about the

:55:18.:55:23.

fact that Europe has been at peace for the longest periods -- period

:55:23.:55:29.

ever in its history. We tinker and mess around with the sort of

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poisoned politics at that sent Europe to war at our peril. We can

:55:33.:55:40.

talk about the figures... But there is a no shame that the United

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Kingdom Independence Party has sat into about interference by Brussels

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and people do not like it. That is what they read about and they are

:55:48.:55:54.

wary of. I think what they are tapping into... The evidence does

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not suggest the wider might of political interference. In many

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ways, people like me would argue there is a democratic deficit at

:56:04.:56:08.

the heart of Europe and that the EU parliament is not strong enough.

:56:08.:56:13.

What I think they are tapping into other British nationals and some

:56:13.:56:18.

sort of nonsense that we can return to the Empire in the same way some

:56:18.:56:23.

people here think we can return to the old Northern Ireland. Is that

:56:23.:56:27.

what the UK Independence Party is about? I don't think so. Here,

:56:27.:56:32.

there is a name that goes with us who are British and cling on to it,

:56:32.:56:37.

self-determination. It is a big thing here. The people of the

:56:37.:56:43.

United Kingdom are not going to vote for political union with the

:56:43.:56:50.

United States of Europe although it to be governed by France or Germany.

:56:50.:56:58.

They are not going to. No one has suggested that, have they? We are

:56:58.:57:04.

legislators and 70% of the legislation and laws that are taken

:57:04.:57:09.

through the United Kingdom actually our European laws. Europe is

:57:09.:57:15.

governing the United Kingdom. The people of the United Kingdom are

:57:15.:57:20.

saying, we want self-determination and we want to govern ourselves and

:57:20.:57:25.

make our laws and look at them. We want to take those laws through. We

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want to be able to be accountable. It is the case that there is a lot

:57:32.:57:35.

of UK legislation which has to beat the you compliant and it is the

:57:35.:57:39.

case that the highest court in the land it isn't in the land. Very

:57:39.:57:44.

often now things have to be well done by European judiciary figures.

:57:44.:57:49.

A highest court in the land, the European Court of Justice, isn't

:57:49.:57:55.

part of the European Union. People start these myths about the EU

:57:55.:58:00.

being the root of all evil when it is not true. If it was true, the

:58:00.:58:08.

United Nations is also the root of all evil. No one is right -- no's

:58:08.:58:12.

one an right to threat self determination is threatened by the

:58:12.:58:16.

Treaty of Rome, but what is set and his these stability in socio-

:58:17.:58:25.

economic terms. Let us drill it down to one thing. Week in the

:58:25.:58:31.

United Kingdom are so lucky we are not in the eurozone. Isn't that a

:58:31.:58:40.

godsend? We will see if that happens. Plenty of opportunities to

:58:40.:58:45.

discuss it between now and the referendum, if it happens. Thank

:58:45.:58:48.

you David McNarry and Conall McDevitt thank you. We'll hear the

:58:48.:58:52.

final thoughts of my guests Malachi O'Doherty and Jim Flanagan in a

:58:52.:58:55.

moment, after a look back at the week's political headlines in 60

:58:55.:59:05.
:59:05.:59:05.

The DUP said it may call Sinn's Fein bluff by agreeing to a border

:59:05.:59:10.

poll and was accused of doing a U- turn, which is what drivers

:59:10.:59:15.

standard by heavy snow would love to have done. If there are lessons

:59:15.:59:20.

that can be learned from the experience over recent days we will

:59:20.:59:27.

apply those. Extra cash was promised, but the Finance Minister

:59:27.:59:34.

was annoyed that the MLA was not there to hear about it. I have good

:59:34.:59:41.

news for the Green Party that don't even turn that -- the M -- the

:59:41.:59:45.

Green Party didn't turn up. This commentators said it wasn't that

:59:46.:59:48.

simple. It is not just about getting walls

:59:48.:59:52.

down but making people secured in Interface areas so they know when

:59:53.:00:02.
:00:03.:00:06.

the walls come down -- than they Inez McCormack died after a long

:00:06.:00:10.

illness. Now a few final thoughts. A word on

:00:10.:00:15.

the debate we have just had about Europe and whether Europe is good

:00:15.:00:18.

for Northern Ireland or whether there should or should not be a

:00:18.:00:23.

referendum. It was right to be located in identity politics and

:00:23.:00:27.

that is what is really going on here. I take that back to Northern

:00:27.:00:32.

Ireland and say, how would I feel as a Northern Ireland person in a

:00:32.:00:36.

devolved region is Britain pulled out of Europe and we ate in --

:00:36.:00:41.

ended up with a United Kingdom Independence Party. I would feel

:00:41.:00:51.
:00:51.:00:51.

more Irish. A I would rather be in the union of Europe through Ireland

:00:51.:00:56.

than in a little Britain through Britain. I think that we have these

:00:56.:01:01.

discussions about Britain in Europe and don't consider enough how the

:01:01.:01:04.

it affects people in the regions and their sense of identity within

:01:05.:01:10.

the regions. Do you share that perspective? I have no issue with

:01:10.:01:13.

the referendum and I thought that was what the essence of democracy

:01:13.:01:19.

was. I think it is a perfectly reasonable position all the way

:01:19.:01:25.

except that... It is reasonable to say that we will have all the

:01:25.:01:30.

arguments for and against and then ask the electorate to make a mature

:01:30.:01:36.

and informed decisions. But we can't have the Ballymena editor

:01:36.:01:41.

reverse without talking about what will happen tomorrow. Liam Neeson

:01:41.:01:45.

will be conferred with the freedom of the borough tomorrow and that

:01:45.:01:50.

will be a big day, won't it? It is the hottest ticket in town.

:01:50.:01:54.

Hollywood stardust on our doorsteps! It is a measure of how

:01:54.:01:59.

far northern Ireland has come because you have eight council

:01:59.:02:04.

dominated by eight Unionists and there will be a nationalist mayor

:02:04.:02:08.

hamming over the highest accolade that can be bestowed to a member of

:02:08.:02:11.

his community. If you could bottle that and feel to it through to the

:02:11.:02:15.

rest of Northern Ireland we will be moving in the right direction.

:02:15.:02:22.

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