27/05/2012 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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Reconciliation and an appeal to dissident republicans - we'll be


hearing from the Sinn Here: Fein President Gerry Adams after his


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1671 seconds


party's conference in County Kerry Hello and welcome to the programme.


Reconciliation was kind on the agenda at this weekend's Sinn Fein


Ard Fheis in Killarney. Delegates heard for the first time about


talks with civic leaders within the Protestant community. Offers of


talks were also made to dissident republicans. When I was based in


Belfast, I contacted the various, as I understood it, officers for


people who would be representing the various factions. Let them


steady up. Let them test us. will hear more from Sinn Fein


president Gerry Adams shortly. Also, this time next week we will know


how the republic voted in the latest referendum on Europe. But


though the outcome matter to people in Northern Ireland? Here to talk


about all that and more are our guests of the day, Professor Rick


well for Dundee -- and economist Mike Smythe. It was sunshine all


the way in County Kerry when around 1000 delegates descended on


Killarney for the Ard Fheis. The big themes what Ireland's economy


and building bridges with Unionism. Yvette Shapiro went to County Kerry.


The glorious kingdom of Keddie. One of Ireland's key tourist


destinations. And on a day like this, you can see why. All roads


lead to Kerry for the annual Sinn Fein Ard Fheis this weekend, and


they couldn't have chosen a better time for it. Not only is the sun


shining on the party in electoral terms and in terms of its recent


strength and the opinion polls here, but it's also just days away from


the all-important fiscal treaty referendum. Sinn Fein is taking the


lead in the No campaign. There's a considerable section of people who


were worried about the future funding issue. There have been huge


scare tactics in this campaign. We will try and give hope to those


people in the time ahead. Of course, the French presidential election


was a victory of hope over fear, at the hope here in Ireland we will


have the same outcome. The treaty isn't the only big event coming up.


Euro 2012 provided the theme for several speakers. The team in the


euros are going to be stronger because they will be in the squad


alongside Keane and Shay Given, because Eilish -- Irish teams are


stronger. A senator made a dramatic point about emigration. One of many


clubs unable to field a team. of the key issues of this advice is


reconciliation, with calls for Martin McGuinness and other senior


figures for greater Unionist engagement. Sinn Fein's new MEP,


Martina Anderson, has been involved in this type of outreach work for


the past six years. I would suggest that those people who have had an


opportunity to sit down with us, have realised... I wanted to talk


about as human beings, based on our commonality, all that we have in


common. And as people, it didn't matter if we came from one


tradition or none. But if we had an experience based on the social and


economic set-up that we share it in one space. Sinn Fein likes to play


off it's all Irish credentials, but is at a party of two hearts? Some


of their parliamentarians in the republic are quite honest about the


fact they feel the party has been to Northern focused. It's


inevitable because of the Troubles and the fall-out from that, that


the party has been Northern focused. But they want to get over that.


They feared its holding them back in the republic. The sunshine


brought out the leaders. First Martin McGuinness soaked up the


attention, and then it was Gerry Adams' turn with a photocall with


now too familiar delegates. From the platform, Mr Adams had a clear


message for Unionists. We want to demonstrate to Unionists that a


union of Ireland is in our interests. It makes sense, a single


island economy makes sense. And united Ireland will emerge through


a Jenny Gunn process of national reconciliation. Gerry Adams says he


will lead the party into the 2016 election. And after that, he will


make way for a new generation. After his keynote address, our


political Editor spoke to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, and asked


him about the significance of the reconciliation talks. I think it's


very significant. Obviously this is a journey that we are all on. I


think the fact that both sides in this, the Republicans and the


people from the Broady Unionist region, they both see the value in


it. Both accepted as genuine. I think it's important. You have to


put it in the context of Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson


continuing to do their work. So there is an example of practical


reconciliation. Both these men have their own politics, their own


review of the world and of Ireland, but they can work together. What we


need to do is to move into a slightly different phase, where we


actually start to make friends with each other. Would your party


chaired challenge the political leaders to get involved, but they


might ask what it is about. Is it about reconciliation or a stage on


the way towards the United Ireland? We need reconciliation anyway, but


reconciliation on a personal level, it's a personal issue.


Reconciliation as part of a conflict resolution process is


bigger than that. You want to try and ensure that any one who is on


the fringes of what is happening is set a better example. So it's clear


that Sinn Fein is a united Ireland party, that's what we are, we make


no bones about it. We believe that we would be better governing


ourselves and we would make a better fist of it. We think that a


republican form of government would be the best model. So let's


Exchange and debate and talk these issues out. You say you want to


persuade the Unionists of your perspective in relation to Irish


unification, but you want persuasion the other way. They will


say, what we've got right now is probably the best governance. It's


a compromise. It's the best compromise at this time. Given


where we all have come from, it's really crucial that we continue to


stabilise the progress that has been made. Martin McGuinness put it


today, when he said, we can't have a union Ireland without the


Unionists. This is a cordial union. A great Protestant patriot 200


years ago talked about the need for a cordial union between the people


of Ireland to protect our commercial interests. To prevent


the English from interfering. That is still true today. In terms of


dialogue, the other group that Martin McGuinness was talking about


was the dissidents. He denounced their campaign but said he was open


to talk to them. At least one group has said that it is empty rhetoric


and nothing came of a similar offer you made a couple of years ago.


isn't that the rhetoric... Personally I'd tried. When I was


based in Belfast, I contacted the various, as I understood it,


officers for people who would be representing the various factions.


So let them steady up. Let them test us. That group that you have


just described, if they want to come along and talk, let them come


along and talk. We want to be in a situation where we can persuade


them. But they can object to us, they can have different policies to


us, that is their entitlement. But there is no justification at all


for their involvement in violent actions at this time or defending


violent actions at this time. talk to Professor Rouga Wilford


from Queen's University. Something of a mixed message on


reconciliation. I think the reconciliation is the first step on


a journey towards eventually the realisation of the unified Ireland.


In order to make progress on reconciliation, I think political


Unionists are going to insist that a condition of reconciliation is


trust. That people will speak the truth as they go to power. Because


if you are going to try and build an edifice of reconciliation brick


by brick, in order to hold that edifice together you need mortar


and the mortar has to be the trust that is invested in the process.


But they will be suspicious, the Unionists. They will see this as a


step on the road. Unionism, including the DUP, are not ill-


disposed to the idea of good neighbourliness with the Republic.


But it's the constitutional issue, the grumbling appendix. It can be


induced into a chronic condition at any moment. If there is a lack of


trust. But is it interesting that they've gone for civic leaders as


opposed to politicians for these initial talks? I suppose they're


spin one that would be you have to take the first step somewhere.


There are many people within the Unionist community who historically


have been prepared to talk to leaders of republicanism, in order


to try and get disarmament and decommissioning. It could also be


read as a signalling of weakness. Bano, Sinn Fein that is, that there


is very little mileage at this junction in trying to engage the


leaders of political unionism in talks that are designed or


suspected at being designed to lead towards unification of Ireland.


They've got to start somewhere. We don't have a Civic Forum which


would be an ideal venue for such talks and discussions and


negotiations to take place. It seems to me rather improvised, low-


key, but it's used as a vehicle to demonstrate to Unionism by


republicans that they are sincere about trying to effect better


neighbourly relations. But then the Unionists believe that good


neighbourliness depends on the various factors. On the overall


picture for Sinn Fein, riding high in the opinion polls in the


republic. But is it easier for them because there are such


disenchantment among the public in the south? Yes. But the latest


opinion polls suggest that the Yes vote is going to be injured on


Thursday. Not necessarily by a large margin. But they are out of


government and they can position themselves as the opposition. There


was a kind of almost paraphrased, Roosevelt's famous phrase of you've


nothing to fear but fear itself. And McGuinness saying that people


mustn't be governed by fear of the future. And across Europe, there


are political parties and movements who are opposed to what BC as the


stringent austerity that is being visited upon them. In that sense,


they are running with some popular tide. But actually, I don't think


they are going to win. I think people are so fearful, a step in


the direction of the treaty is one thing. The other is the great


unknown. I think people will step This time next week, voters in the


Republic will have been to the pollster vote yes or no on the


fiscal treaty referendum on Europe. We asked our Dublin correspondent


for an idiot's guide. 10 years after its launch, the euro has run


into trouble because member states have persistently broken rules


about controlling debts. Hence the fiscal treaty. Just as it is unwise


for households to spend money they don't have and to get too deeply


into debt, the treaty demands that eurozone members reduce their


borrowing. The Republic is one of the biggest debt offenders. Mainly


as a result of paying to clean up its failed banks. Countries must


obey the new rules, either by raising taxes or by cutting public


spending. All too often it is both. And if they don't, they face heavy


fines. All the main political parties say the treaty is necessary


for stability, which in turn will lead to investment in jobs.


Opponents, like Sinn Fein, say it means never ending all austerity.


Unless the Republic ratified the treaty, it won't get access to


emergency loans. An insurance policy which it might well need


when it exerts its current bail-out loan at the end of next year.


Thursdays bulb could well come down to the conflicting emotions of fear


of the unknown reverses and go about austerity and calls for the


banks. What are the implications for as in Northern Ireland? Mike


Smythe, you know all about this. If the No vote was successful, what


would that mean for business in Northern Ireland? I don't think it


will make that much difference. A No vote will send out a fairly


negative message to international investors in Ireland. It puts a


question over whether Ireland will move on to the next stage of what


ever the European project will be. As far as North-South, economic


relations, I don't think it makes much difference. A Yes vote,


however, would cement the Republic early permanently into the euro


project, where ever it goes. There would be permanently two currencies


on the island, two different tax systems, security systems, etc. And


closer economic co-operation would be made that much more difficult.


Are you surprised how the whole debate over the treaty has gone?


is a Hobson's choice. Even then Yes campaign has been characterised by


a rather negative campaigning. Saying, look, if we don't vote yes,


international investors will lose confidence and it may threaten


foreign investment, companies might pull out. On that the no side,


their main argument has been, even if we don't need a second bail-out,


someone will lend us the money. So what hasn't been clear. It hasn't


been decisive. To be fair, the whole euro thing has moved on. This


treaty, which was agreed six months ago, was supposed to be part of the


solution to the euro crisis. The euro crisis has got a lot worse and


has a lot further to go. That is a big issue, even for the voters who


have decided. The polls suggest that most of them don't want to


vote on the referendum at this stage and Bielik should have been


postponed. That's true. The French election added some way to that


argument. But austerity, holding onto your job, combating falling


living standards - those kind of bread and butter issues of far more


important now in the republic and a rather abstract treaty referendum.


And nobody has a crystal ball to know if Ireland would be better on


its own. There is a tenuous argument that compared with Greece,


Ireland has a Plan B. And that would be, if it ever came to it,


Ireland could leave the euro and referred back to the sterling euro.


It would have to default on a large part of its debts, but the feeling


is it could overcome such a setback. Whereas with Greece, there doesn't


seem to be any alternative. Now for our regular look at the week in 60


Sharing land in north Belfast divided opinions. The alliance had


enough of talking and instead opted for walking. Alliance has grown


because the work behind the scenes was achieving nothing. Nothing came


from a Medical Research Centre, which cost taxpayers �2 million.


It's clear that there was mismanagement, bad management,


there seemed to be incumbency from start to finish. Numbers of a


different kind exercised a Deputy Speaker. Questions number one,


three, four, 7, 8 and 14 are withdrawn. I think I'm calling


bingo at this time. A bit ridiculous. But someone did have


the finance minister's number. Let's look at the start of that 60


seconds. The alliance walking away. What does it tell us about the DUP


and Sinn Fein? Critics would say this is just another exemplar


vocation of the difficulties between the two major parties.


Although the SDLP were photographed alongside them in this instance.


What it suggests, we were talking earlier about reconciliation, what


this looks like is a separate but equal solution, with a common that


space in between. It is significant that alliance, who have been highly


in favour of trying to reconcile and promote community relations,


they have the bottom line for taking up the justice post,


progress on community relations and their improvement. Now they've


walked away, I don't think he's going to walk away from his


department. I think it is more than a hissy fit. I think it


demonstrates to us how difficult it is to actually make progress on


community relations at ground level. It is improving but it has a long


way to go. I think what this does... It is perceived by critics as being


a kind of home runs policy. You keep people separate. It throws


that kind of rhetoric out that we heard yesterday, signals about


reconciliation and discussions, I think it throws it into a harsh,


Inter communal rite. Here we have two parties who simply cannot agree


on a common programme that was designed to make Northern Ireland


an nation at ease with itself, where there is social integration.


Others would argue that they've taken the pragmatic approach and


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