29/01/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


29/01/2012

Andrew Neil and Tara Mills with the latest political news, interviews and debate including Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury, on the state of the UK economy.


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In Northern Ireland this week: Best seats in the house for Peter

:01:23.:01:26.

Robinson at his first GAA match. It's the right time, the First

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2018 seconds

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Minister says, as he watches the Hello and welcome to the programme,

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and it's a tale of two unionist parties: the DUP leader Peter

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Robinson wins praise for attending his first GAA match, while Tom

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Elliott reveals disunity among the Ulster Unionists over, of all

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things, unionist unity. With me is MLA Basil McCrea.

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Thank you for joining us. What did you know about these talks

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involving Dave Wallwork Nouri? Frankly, not very much, I did not

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know they were going on at all. That's not to say it is in the

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right thing to be doing. It's a mixed message that is being sent

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out. On the one hand on Friday the party leader issued a statement

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saying that talks were normal and part of normal political life, and

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yet he sacked David from the education committee. Well, there

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are a number of different things working in that scenario. First of

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all, Tom Elliott has explained his interaction with different

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political leaders and has kept us all up to date on that. I think it

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is proper of the political leaders should be talking about things. The

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issue of discipline and what happened with David, that's an

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internal matter. I don't know the details or what exactly what went

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on, but the leader does have the right to impose discipline if he

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thinks it appropriate. But it's a very public discipline, at losing a

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very public position. Well, I can only say the internal discussion

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was just that - internal. But what is the message that sends out, both

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to party members and also due supporters? Nobody really wants to

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take discipline. Everybody should be self-disciplined and working

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together as a way of putting forward a good message to the

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public. If you get to a situation, and I don't actually know what the

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details are and and certainly not prepared to speculate on them, but

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if you get to the situation where the leader feels it is necessary to

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take certain actions, then other party leaders have done similar

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things. Margaret did with the SDLP as well. I support the leader in

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taking that action. Are you opposed to the meetings that David held?

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I've already said, I don't know what the details were. Well, we

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don't know the details but we know they have taken place, both parties

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have confirmed that. I don't know what the substance was or why they

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were taking place. I've made it clear in my public statements in my

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leadership campaign and beyond that I do not think there is merit in

:38:06.:38:11.

having a single Unionist Party. I am absolutely opposed to any such

:38:11.:38:16.

link-up, I think it would be a detriment to the people of Northern

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Ireland and to politics. But I'm not sure that that is what was

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being discussed. There may have been reasonable reasons for having

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discussions on specific issues, and the party has said that on specific

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issues it is quite happy to engage with any and every party. So the

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talks about closer co-operation, do you think they will continue, or

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are they over? There is a time and place for people to be informed

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about issues, and we are very genuinely a democratic party. Any

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genuine democratic decisions that need to be taken will go through

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the proper channels, through the Executive, through the party

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offices. Those discussions will take place and they will be in

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private. But is the fact there is perhaps a lack of party discipline

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a problem? People were going on radio programmes and speaking out

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of turn. People like me on your show?! The issue is, the party is

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keen to solve problems internally, but we do need to debate. I've been

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to two meetings last week where we had brilliant discussions, people

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really looking at the issues and seeing how we can go forward. Most

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people I have spoken to are adamant we should remain independent.

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Surely Tom Elliott's leadership is in doubt now? I would say the

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leader has to be in support of all ml a East and the party. -- MLAs. I

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have been hearing a rumblings in that regard. It is crucial in any

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political party that the leader retains the confidence of the party,

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and I think he does. But surely this has been a huge mistake, the

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way it has panned out in the press. There is no doubt it has been

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difficult. Nobody likes things to come out in the press but you do

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have to deal with these issues. The mark of good leadership is not that

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there are problems, but there you deal with the problems. Tom is

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dealing with the issues and we will see what he has to say-was. On that

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basis, the party will decide how best to go forward. -- has to say

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to us. All the atmosphere be like tomorrow? Well, the good thing

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about the party is it is able to talk about issues. What do we have

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to clarify, how can we explain to people what is going on? It is part

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of the price of democracy that you cannot do everything without some

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form of criticism. That positive criticism is a good thing and I'm

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quite sure there will be a lot of support for the leader and for the

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way forward. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

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It's been hailed as another little piece of history. Last night the

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First Minister attended a GAA match for the first time. The DUP leader

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was a guest of the Ulster Council for the final of the McKenna Cup

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final between Derry and Tyrone. Peter Robinson took his seat just

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after the throw in. Four years ago, his colleague Edwin Poots became

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the first DUP politician to attend a GAA game in an official capacity

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when he also went to a McKenna Cup game.

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Speaking after the match, the DUP leader told Mark Sidebottom why

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he'd made the move. I think if it's left to some people, there is never

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a right time to do anything. I think the GAA are moving forward

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and being responsible, and I think it is the right thing to do. We

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have to move away from beat them and as attitude and show respect

:42:10.:42:20.
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for each other's way of life. -- the them and us attitude. I believe

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people on both sides of the community want to see as reaching

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across to each other. There will always be people not happy with

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that too well at lag behind. But I think we are moving forward.

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match itself, what did you make of it? Go, the first sport I have

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watched where I thought I would be safer at Stormont!

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With me now is the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. Was he right to

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go to the much? Of course, he has shown great leadership as leader of

:43:00.:43:10.
:43:10.:43:11.

the D P. -- the DUP. I think it's a very positive mood -- move indeed.

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How significant is it in the wider political sense? It is part of

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Northern Ireland moving forward. It does not in any way compromise

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Peter Robinson's principles or the principles of the party, but it

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says a strong signal to people that we are moving forward in Northern

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Ireland, moving forward together as much as possible. Of course there

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are political differences, it doesn't change the fact that week

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in the DUP want is the United Kingdom with Ireland. But we much -

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- we must move forward for the good of the people, jobs, the health

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service and all the rest of it. a unity in the DUP about him

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attending? Absolutely, no doubt about that. To broaden our appeal

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and are based and increase our membership and vote, we have

:44:08.:44:18.

brought people along with us. -- our. I would say it is one of the

:44:18.:44:23.

most United parties in the UK as a whole. When I go to Westminster, we

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are a very strong it united party. Peter Robinson said there he has

:44:28.:44:32.

not changed, but things have changed. It is inconceivable that

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this would have ever happened even 10 years ago, five years ago.

:44:36.:44:40.

think a lot of things that people thought were inconceivable have

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happened in Northern Ireland, because politicians and civic

:44:44.:44:48.

society have recognised we need to move forward. And that is for the

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good of all people. We have accepted that the constitutional

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position is settled, in my view. I believe that Northern Ireland's

:45:00.:45:09.

position is secure in in -- in the United Kingdom. And that is what

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people want. They don't want to go back to the dark days of violence

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or the days of destruction. They want to move forward and that is

:45:17.:45:21.

why you saw the coming together of society very strongly with that

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despicable murder of the PC and other events. People said they

:45:27.:45:32.

wanted the political process to continue to move forward. So whew

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wrong in the past to take the never stance? No, I think we were right

:45:39.:45:43.

to say never to united Ireland. We believe that Northern Ireland's

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position is strong in the United Kingdom. But we want to work

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together for the good of the country. Many of the people in the

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Unionist camp wanted to move towards greater integration. So we

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have always believed there is a role for politicians to work

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together. I remember Tony Blair telling me in the House of Commons

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that we could never achieve things that we have achieved. As a result,

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we have a firm base upon which to move forward, which invites

:46:21.:46:26.

stability and progress. At in the party's are facing up to the

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challenges of Northern Ireland and attempting to work with others. --

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I think the parties are facing up. Comments like other Unionists

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seeing us as not ethically more or the equivalent of them, it goes

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back to the days when it people fought there were decent people and

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not decent people. I think people have rejected that approach now.

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Were you involved in those talks in the Ulster Unionist Party? The

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talks about corporation? What I will say is that the party has

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always taken an approach of co- operation. I'm not going to go into

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the details of discussions. But you were at them? They are not secret,

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but they are private and it would be remiss of me to start talking

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about the content or who was at them or who wasn't at them without

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the full support of others who were there. But we are there to try to

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work together. That is what people right across communities want, they

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want parties of different perspectives working together. I

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think it is strange when you see people coming on, briefing the

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press as we have had, saying, we won more opposition opposition's

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sake. That is putting party before country, party before people.

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you see one meet Unionist Party in the future? First of all we have to

:48:11.:48:17.

work together. So, electoral pacts in the meantime? I don't think we

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can describe what is going to happen but there is a moot in the

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Community's at large in Northern Ireland for parties to work

:48:23.:48:33.
:48:33.:48:36.

together. -- communities. As Unionist parties we could work very

:48:37.:48:41.

closely together, we have a lot in common. Is there place for David in

:48:41.:48:45.

your party should he want it? have had many join our party and

:48:45.:48:49.

there is always a welcome to those who subscribe to the views and

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principles of the Democratic Unionist Party. That is entirely a

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matter for everybody themselves, but if people want to join a

:48:58.:49:01.

progressive party that is looking for the best for Northern Ireland,

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bringing people together and working together, then I think we

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are a natural choice. For some reaction to all of this

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let's speak to SDLP councillor Nicola Mallon and commentator

:49:12.:49:21.

Newton Emerson. Where does this leave the SDLP if they had to merge

:49:21.:49:29.

with Sinn Fein? We are clear. We stick to our beliefs and our vision.

:49:29.:49:34.

We do have concerns, let's be honest, this is about the

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politicisation of the DUP and we don't think it is conducive to

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building reconciliation, to have monolithic blocks of nationalism

:49:45.:49:55.
:49:55.:49:56.

verses unionism. Newton Emerson, what is your take on this? They are

:49:56.:50:06.
:50:06.:50:06.

being continually triangulates it. A cynic might say it is when we in

:50:06.:50:16.
:50:16.:50:20.

for the DUP. -- win-win. People are seriously starting to wonder what

:50:20.:50:30.

the UUP is four. What do you think about his leadership and his

:50:30.:50:35.

chances of remaining in the long- term? Some people still seem to

:50:35.:50:42.

think that the you p can be a broad church but the congregation is

:50:42.:50:47.

shrinking. The UUP, if it is going to survive, needs to find a role

:50:47.:50:51.

and focus on it. We cannot have these two Unionist parties saying

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we are the sole Unionist Party, no, we are the salt Unionist Party.

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They have to find a niche, separate roles.

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Now for our regular look at the week in 60 seconds with our

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political correspondent Gareth Gordon.

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As the source of the disease outbreak is fan, the questions

:51:15.:51:25.

begin. Could more have been done before three babies died? I suspect

:51:25.:51:31.

the answer to that question would be yes. And as the debate over

:51:31.:51:34.

independence rages, Scotland finally heard what the question

:51:34.:51:40.

would be. The question is, "de believe that Scotland should be an

:51:40.:51:50.
:51:50.:51:54.

independent country?" new memoirs caused a stir. I don't regret a

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word. And the Tourist Board got a new slogan from an unlikely source.

:52:00.:52:10.
:52:10.:52:19.

If you are not in Northern Ireland Staying with the tourist theme,

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Derry didn't when the cup, but they did when the flower. We are

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expecting something like 300,000 visitors, it is just another

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example of what Northern Ireland can do in tourism and we are

:52:33.:52:38.

building on that in the next couple of years. Newton, you won so

:52:38.:52:43.

impressed with the adverts in your column this week. It just looks

:52:43.:52:48.

like the at any region in the UK produces. Very familiar to the one

:52:48.:52:53.

in Yorkshire, for example. But the unusual reaction was how popular it

:52:53.:52:59.

was here, it when viral locally. I think people here seem to want to

:52:59.:53:03.

believe that we're the sort of place betrayed an advert, but I

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fear that tourists arriving here will be very disappointed. Visitors

:53:07.:53:12.

is the problem, isn't it? The number of pure holidaymakers was

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dying past year. 11%, yes. City breaks, I think Northern Ireland,

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to visit it solely as a city location, that is going to be the

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sort of discretion the spending that gets cut first by people

:53:26.:53:33.

trying to save money. Coming to places like Northern Ireland

:53:33.:53:36.

speculatively like people used to go to, I think that market might be

:53:36.:53:40.

gone completely. Nicola, if we can't do it is here, we will never

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do it. Well, we have got the City of Culture, and even this year we

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have Titanic, so there are a lot of opportunities, they just have to be

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captured. We have a lot to offer, but the most important thing is our

:53:54.:53:57.

people. We have to put our shoulders to the well and try to

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get as many people to experience the country as possible. Is there a

:54:02.:54:06.

sense, particularly in your constituency of North Belfast, do

:54:06.:54:10.

people feel part of the celebrations? I think there is an

:54:10.:54:15.

element of disengagement. The area I represent is working class and

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there is a sense that perhaps the peace process has not delivered in

:54:18.:54:22.

that area as it has elsewhere. But that means there is a

:54:22.:54:25.

responsibility on us to ensure all communities across Northern Ireland

:54:25.:54:33.

get to be part of his then get to benefit from it. -- part of this

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and get to benefit from it. councils have to do the job the

:54:38.:54:42.

best they can, but I would be concerned that things like our

:54:42.:54:46.

licensing laws and Sunday trading laws have not been addressed at all,

:54:46.:54:49.

so people coming here for a weekend spent half the weekend with

:54:49.:54:53.

literally nothing to do. So they have to look elsewhere, really, and

:54:54.:54:57.

perhaps not choose Northern Ireland as a destination? We have to

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