27/05/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


27/05/2012

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

:01:43.:01:45.

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

:01:45.:01:55.
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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1671 seconds

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

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

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

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talks with civic leaders within the Protestant community. Offers of

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

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

:30:07.:30:14.

people who would be representing the various factions. Let them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the way in County Kerry when around 1000 delegates descended on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:32:14.:32:24.
:32:24.:32:24.

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

:32:24.:32:34.
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clubs unable to field a team. of the key issues of this advice is

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reconciliation, with calls for Martin McGuinness and other senior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of their parliamentarians in the republic are quite honest about the

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

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

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

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

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brought out the leaders. First Martin McGuinness soaked up the

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

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

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

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

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island economy makes sense. And united Ireland will emerge through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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put it in the context of Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson

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

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

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

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

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

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chaired challenge the political leaders to get involved, but they

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

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

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

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Reconciliation as part of a conflict resolution process is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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persuade the Unionists of your perspective in relation to Irish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of Ireland to protect our commercial interests. To prevent

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

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dialogue, the other group that Martin McGuinness was talking about

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

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

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

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

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

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officers for people who would be representing the various factions.

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

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

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

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

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

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for their involvement in violent actions at this time or defending

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violent actions at this time. talk to Professor Rouga Wilford

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

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reconciliation. I think the reconciliation is the first step on

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a journey towards eventually the realisation of the unified Ireland.

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In order to make progress on reconciliation, I think political

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Unionists are going to insist that a condition of reconciliation is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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disposed to the idea of good neighbourliness with the Republic.

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

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

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

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

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

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There are many people within the Unionist community who historically

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

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

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

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

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leaders of political unionism in talks that are designed or

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suspected at being designed to lead towards unification of Ireland.

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

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would be an ideal venue for such talks and discussions and

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

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

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republicans that they are sincere about trying to effect better

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neighbourly relations. But then the Unionists believe that good

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neighbourliness depends on the various factors. On the overall

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

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

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

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

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

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government and they can position themselves as the opposition. There

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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fiscal treaty referendum on Europe. We asked our Dublin correspondent

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

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into trouble because member states have persistently broken rules

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

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

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into debt, the treaty demands that eurozone members reduce their

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

:42:36.:42:41.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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emergency loans. An insurance policy which it might well need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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negative message to international investors in Ireland. It puts a

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

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

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

:44:05.:44:11.

however, would cement the Republic early permanently into the euro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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international investors will lose confidence and it may threaten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:45:21.:45:25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:46:02.:46:05.

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

:46:05.:46:09.

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

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

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

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Sharing land in north Belfast divided opinions. The alliance had

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

:46:39.:46:44.

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

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

:46:46.:46:50.

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

:46:50.:46:55.

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

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different kind exercised a Deputy Speaker. Questions number one,

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

:47:06.:47:11.

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

:47:11.:47:21.
:47:21.:47:33.

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

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

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

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vocation of the difficulties between the two major parties.

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Although the SDLP were photographed alongside them in this instance.

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

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

:48:02.:48:10.

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

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in favour of trying to reconcile and promote community relations,

:48:15.:48:21.

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

:48:21.:48:23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:49:06.:49:10.

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

:49:10.:49:14.

on a common programme that was designed to make Northern Ireland

:49:14.:49:18.

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

:49:18.:49:22.

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

:49:22.:49:27.

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