29/01/2017 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland

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Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate.

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Coming up in 20 minutes: on refugees and citizens of seven


I'll be asking the Ulster Unionists


and the SDLP what they want from Theresa May as she prepares


for meetings with the devolved administrations and the Dublin


Should she have spoken out more strongly?


We'll ask former Ukip leader and Trump confidant Nigel Farage


what he makes of the travel ban and the Prime Minister's


In London this week, the mayor, Sadiq Khan,


has been coming under pressure to explain his fares freeze


and why it doesn't apply to everybody.


And with me, the best and brightest political


panel in the business - Steve Richards, Julia


They'll be tweeting throughout the programme.


It was soon after Theresa May left the White House on Friday that


Donald Trump signed the executive order banning citizens from seven


President Trump's 90-day ban covers Iran, Iraq,


Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria, from


where refugees are banned from until further notice.


Donald Trump's executive order also imposes a complete ban


on all refugees coming to the US for the next 120 days.


Mr Trump said that the ban would keep radical Islamic terrorists out


But the ban has sparked protests across the US,


as people affected and already in the air were detained


US laws have begun legal action to challenge the ban, which many


At a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, Theresa May was asked


about the refugee ban three times before giving this response...


Well, the United States is responsible for the United States'


The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom's policy


on refugees, and our policy on refugees is to have a number


of voluntary schemes to bring Syrian refugees into the country.


Downing Street later issued a statement saying:


This morning, the Treasury Minister, David Gauke, was asked why


Theresa May had refused to condemn the travel ban at yesterday's


The Prime Minister is not a shoot-from-the-hip


She wants to see the evidence, she wants


to understand precisely what the implications are.


She'd been in a series of very lengthy meetings with


President Erdogan, and she's someone who wants to see the briefing and


understand it, and then will respond to that.


I think there are times where, you know, there's always


pressure to respond within a news cycle and so on.


The important thing is, we are saying we disagree with it


We're joined now from North London by the Conservative


Should the Government in general and Theresa May in particular be more


vocal in their criticism of Donald Trump's travel bans? Well, as David


just said, it is obviously right that Theresa has now said this is an


appropriate and not something we agree with in our Government, but I


wish she had said something at the time, not least because it affects


our own citizens. One of our own MPs, Nadhim, for example, because it


is also a global crisis. She had clearly built an excellent with


Donald Trump -- she had built an excellent relationship with him, but


she could have been firmer. Mrs May hasn't said any word of criticism


about the travel bans. She refused to say anything three times in


Ankara, and it is merely an anonymous Downing Street


spokesperson that has issued the subsequent mild criticism. We have


not heard from the Prime Minister at all on this matter in terms of


criticism. No, but the spokesperson will be speaking with her blessing,


so it is clearly something she has acknowledged. As I said before, I


wish she had said something at the time. The global climate at the


moment is delicate and we need our leaders to work together to address


things like the refugee crisis. Potentially, this plays into the


hands of Daesh. It is absolutely not the right message. What would you


like the Prime Minister to say? As with any new relationship, it is


about testing the boundaries. They had clearly got on well, so she


should have felt braver to say something there and then. I would


have preferred her to say, for example, I need to talk to Donald


Trump about this. It is not something I support and I want to


understand why because I believe there is a better way to deal with


the terrorist threat. I would have liked her to suggest that she would


engage with him to do that. The president has instituted a 90 day


temporary ban on people coming from seven mainly Muslim majority


population countries. The seven were on President Obama's list of the


biggest terrorist threats to the United States. Mr Trump wants this


temporary ban until he puts tougher vetting procedures in place. What is


wrong with that? Because it appeared to me that it wasn't thought through


and it was affecting ordinary citizens and some British citizens.


It can't be right that a president in that position of power can


arbitrarily come up with executive powers like that. It has already


been challenged by his own courts. So it is not the considered approach


I want to see in a global leader. Who do you believe will be hurt by


this, given that there can be exceptions on a case-by-case basis?


I think potentially, our global reputation is going to be hurt by


this. I have been to the refugee camps in Europe myself. There are


desperate people trying to free persecution who will be hurt by


this. We are trying to heal the wounds in this country not only


because of Brexit. This is a time of coming together, not about saying it


is located discriminatory against race and religion in this way. Do


you believe that Mr Trump's state visit should go ahead? Well, he is


the leader of America, so it does need to go ahead and we need to work


with him. I believe Theresa has started in a positive manner was


that she just needs to continue in that vein. If he comes to our


country, he needs to respect the way we feel about things. But yes, he is


the president, so he does need to come to the UK. There is some debate


within Westminster as to where it is appropriate for him to speak to MPs,


but it is right that he comes. But if he does come on a state visit,


should he be granted what this country has always thought of as a


great honour, which is a joint address to both Houses of


Parliament? I haven't been an MP long enough to understand the


protocol of where is the right location for him to do that, but I


believe in the past, it has been the greatest leaders, when they have


achieved great things globally, it is Westminster Hall. But there are a


number of MPs saying that is not the most appropriate place and I am


inclined to agree. You don't think he should be accorded the privilege


of speaking to a joint session of Parliament? I think there are places


where he can do that, but Westminster Hall is not yet the


right place. Thank you for joining us.


Steve, within 24 hours, we have seen the difficulty of becoming Donald


Trump's best friend. On the one hand, it could have huge advantages,


particularly for a Brexit Britain. On the other hand, if you are going


to be his best friend, you don't have to give a running commentary on


every major thing he does. Yeah. We have learned a bit about Theresa


May, that when she has to produce a set piece speech which she has time


to prepare, she can get it totally right and sometimes more than right.


When she is faced with a fast-moving story, she is leaden footed and


can't think quickly on her feet. We know, did she regret not saying


more? Evidently she did, because we got a statement from the Downing


Street spokesperson saying more. So she can't think quickly. She's going


to have to think very quickly in response to some of the things he's


going to be doing, because she will be asked about it all the time. It


does highlight the wider danger that the assumption that the special


relationship is always a safe and fertile place to be has been proven


wrong before and I think it will be proven wrong big-time in this case.


You're shaking your head. I don't see why we are responsible for


American domestic policy. I am as appalled as the next person by what


Donald Trump has done. He said he was going to do this, which was why


I did not want Americans to vote for him. In fact, what he has


implemented is much less than what he said he would do when he was


campaigning. I have always felt that the campaigning Trump was the real


Trump. But what he has done is actually constitutional. He has the


executive power to issue this order. It is within the rules in terms of a


class of aliens deemed to be a risk to the United States. It is a 90 day


limited ban. The last president who did this was a Democrat president,


President Carter. He did it in the aftermath of the Iranian crisis.


Well, given the spate of terror attacks on American territory in


recent years, you could argue that he meant well. I don't agree with


Donald Trump. But have people from these countries that he has banned


been involved in terrorist attacks? That is the absurdity. He has not


included Egypt or Pakistan. But I don't remove everyone getting in


such a state about President Carter. The reality is that it is a legal


thing for him to do. I don't like it. But it is not my territory. It


is illegal, because they have been given a right to remain by a judge


in Brooklyn and another judging Alexandra. That is a different issue


for people who have already gone through the vetting. I don't agree


with this. However, I don't think it's reasonable to say that Theresa


May, because she wants to do a deal with Donald Trump, I don't give is


reasonable to say she have to agree with each of his policies. It is


nonsense. But the issue, Janan, is not whether she needs to agree with


him. The question is that she will be questioned about him all the time


now. And although these are matters of domestic policy, the refugee


policy is international. They speak to issues that affect Britain as


well, and I would suggest that she will not get away with this


anonymous statement from Downing Street. People will demand a she


says something on the record. She would get away with it indefinitely.


These situations will recur every time Donald Trump says or does


something contentious. She will be pressed to this associate her


administration from his. She will probably be in a better logistical


situation to do so. She has spent a big chunk of the past 72 hours in


the air. She flew from Washington to Ankara, than from Ankara to London.


We don't have Air Force One, we don't have those frictionless


communications with the ground. She would have been incommunicado for


large periods of time when this story was breaking. That doesn't


excuse the stiff response when she landed and issued a statement via


Downing Street. But during that delay, she did have a plausible


excuse. She has also got a much more tricky geopolitical situation than


many other world leaders. She has to strike a favourable trade deal with


the new US president. It is all very well people saying Justin Trudeau of


Canada was much more vociferous in his criticism of Donald Trump. He is


already in Nafta, he is not striking a new deal. For how long, we don't


know. Exactly, he's trying to stay in Nafta, but he is in a less tricky


situation than she is. Now, Theresa May's was the first


foreign leader to meet President Trump and the visit


was seen as quite a coup for the Prime Minister,


keen for a new trading relationship with the United States


in the wake of Brexit. The Prime Minister congratulated


the new US President for his "stunning election victory"


but might not have intended to be pictured walking


through the White House with him That picture of Donald Trump helping


Theresa May down the steps through the White House colonnade


will be the enduring image Mrs May said the President


told her he was "100% behind Nato". And for her part, the Prime Minister


said she would work hard to make sure other Nato countries


increased their defence spending It's been announced


that there will be a new trade negotiation agreement,


with high-level talks The hope is that this will lead


to a new trade deal between the two countries as soon as


Britain leaves the EU. Mr Trump said he believed "Brexit's


going to be a wonderful thing". On Russia, Theresa May made clear


to Donald Trump her continued


backing for sanctions. And following the controversy over


the President's support for torture, Mr Trump said he would defer


to his Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, who argues


that the practice doesn't work. And I'm joined now by the former


Ukip leader, Nigel Farage. Do you agree with Mr Trump's


decision to ban Syrian refugees indefinitely from entering the


United States? I agree with the concept of democracy, a point which


appears to be missed by almost all commentators including the BBC. He


was elected to get tough and say he would do everything in his power to


protect America from infiltration by ISIS terrorists. There are seven


countries on that list. He's entitled to do this. I didn't ask if


he was entitled, I asked if agree with it. I do, because if you just


look at what's happening in France and Germany, if you look at Angela


Merkel's policy which was to allow virtually anyone in from anywhere,


look what it led to. You said in 2013 there's a responsibility on all


of us in the free west to help some of those people fleeing Syria


literally in fear of their lives. That's the Christian community in


virtually all of those country, it is almost too late because many have


been wiped out but if you are looking for a genuine definition of


a refugee, going back to 1951, it is someone in direct fear of


persecution of their life because of their race, religion or beliefs. But


you didn't talk about only Christians, and in January 2014 you


said, I seem to recall it was Ukip who started the debate on allowing


Syrian refugees, you seem to be in favour of allowing proper refugees


into this country. If they can be defined. Mr Trump won't let any in.


He is running American policy, not British policy. Since I made those


comments, we have had the Angela Merkel madness and I think Trump's


policy in many ways has been shaped by what Angela Merkel did. He is


fully entitled to do this, and as far as we are concerned in this


country, I would like to see extreme vetting. Since 9/11 can you name any


terrorist event in the United States that has involved refugees that have


been allowed into the country? No, in fact the terrorist events have


been US citizens radicalised. When you have a problem already, why


would you wish to add to it? I would remind you that of the eight people


that committed those atrocities in Paris, five of them had got into


Europe posing as refugees so there is an issue here. But perhaps not


for America because it has the most rigorous and lengthy screening


process in the world, especially for Syrians. You have to register with


the UN agency for refugees, which then recommend certain names to


America, they then go through biometric screening, database


screening, intelligent screenings, including four separate intelligence


agencies screening you. How more rigorous would you want it to be? It


is much more rigorous than we are or the rest of Europe. This is why we


have elections, so voters can make choices and they voted for Donald


Trump to become president and he said he would put bans in place and


then move towards extreme vetting. As far as the Syrians are concerned


he's made that decision but that's what he was voted in fourth. Since


you know him, you have met him, you are confident of his, I'm testing


you on the logic of it. Not that he's democratically elected, I'm not


asking about that, I'm trying to get the case, particularly since if you


take the seven countries of which the ban applies for 19 days, again,


of these seven countries, its citizens have not been involved in


terrorist attacks in the United States. It would be a mistake to say


it is just Muslim countries because the biggest Muslim countries in the


world have not been included in this. The point is they have made


this assessment, they bought themselves 90 days to think about


the policy. This is exactly what Trump's voters would have wanted him


to do. You said the President's rhetoric on immigrants made even you


feel very uncomfortable. Because he started by saying there was a total


ban, then amended it to say there would be vetting. My guess is that


what he will do is try to genuinely help Syrian people and he will be


talking about the creation of some safe zones. Let's see. He hasn't. We


will see. I suspect something like that is coming down the trap. What


advice did you give to the president and his advisers ahead of Theresa


May's visit? That I wanted us to talk about trade and to give the


Prime Minister the impression that actually... When she has been


surrounded by her whole career by civil servants and politicians who


say that everything takes five years or seven years or ten years, to make


it clear to the Prime Minister that if there is will, these things can


be done quickly. Isn't there a danger of a British Prime Minister


who has to deal with the president of the United States, to Ally


herself so closely with such an unpredictable, controversial


president, banning Muslims in certain ways and refugees, building


a war with Mexico, threatening trade was with other countries, thinking


of ending sanctions against Russia? I missing something here, what is


controversial about defending the Mexican border? Bill Clinton spoke


in tough terms, George Bush built six miles of fence, and because it


is Donald Trump there is uproar. So you think there is no risk of the


British by Minister being the best friend of this type of president? I


think there is no risk in putting together a trade deal and no risk in


her being the bridge between America and the rest of Nato to say to Nato


members if you don't pay your 2% he is serious so on those things there


is no risk at all. It was clear from her Lancaster house speech that the


Brexiteers in the Government had won pretty much every argument in terms


of negotiations to come out. What you want from her? She was very good


as Home Secretary, Tory party conferences, the Tory press saying


this was the new Thatcher and she failed. She even failed to control


immigration from outside the European Union so yes, it was a good


speech and for many on the Eurosceptic side of the argument, I


could scarcely believe that a British Prime Minister was saying


things which I had been roundly abused and vilified for. But I have


a feeling we may be in for a very frustrating 2017. The mood as I can


see it in Brussels is that negotiating with Britain is not a


priority, they are far more worried about Dutch elections, French


elections, German elections and possibly even Italian elections. I


worry that by the end of this year we may not have made much progress


and that's why the Trump visit suddenly things brings into focus.


What if by the middle of June, for argument 's sake, the Americans say


OK we reached this position with the British, compromised on the tough


stuff, food standards and things like that, we are ready to sign a


deal now, and Theresa May is to say actually Mr Juncker says I cannot


sign this until we leave. What will they do? They cannot throw us out,


we are living anyway. But everybody agrees you can talk about the deal,


maybe even do the heads of agreement but you cannot sign a treaty until


we have left the EU. Let me predict that at the end of this year we will


find a European Union who frankly don't want to talk to us and


countries around the world that want to get on and do things and that


will be the big tension for Mrs May over the course of this year. If the


Prime Minister is giving you everything you want on Brexit, you


agree that she's trying to get from your point of view the right things.


If she delivers on that and get Brexit on the terms of which you


approve, what's the point of Ukip? You could argue that about any


political party. If we have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve,


there are right now out there 4 million people who are Ukip


loyalists. They are delighted that by voting Ukip we got a referendum,


they will be even happier if they seek us leave the European Union and


I think there is still a gap in British politics for a party that


says it as it sees it, is not afraid by political correctness and is seen


to be on the side of the little people, and that's why, with the


Labour Party is fundamentally split, and it really is totally split over


this European question, I think Ukip is in good shape. That proposition


will be put to test at the Stoke Central by-election, one of Ukip's


best prospects in the country. Some people call it the capital of


Brexit. Labour is in chaos over Article 50, is picked a candidate to


fight Stoke Central who has described Brexit is a pile of notes.


If your successor, Paul Nuttall, cannot win the Stoke by-election,


there's not much hope for you, is there? I think he will. I've always


been told don't make predictions but I think he will win. If you doesn't


it will be tough, we will still have our 4 million loyalists, but if it


does we can actually see Labour are beatable in their heartlands and


Ukip will be off to the second big stage. Nigel Farage, thank you for


being with us. Hello and welcome


to Sunday Politics. with Donald Trump, Theresa May


is set to meet Enda Kenny tomorrow, where the issue of Brexit


will be top of the agenda. I'll be asking the Ulster Unionists


and the SDLP what they would be saying to the Prime Minister


if they had her ear. Plus - I'll be asking a Fine Gael TD


what Enda Kenny should And with their thoughts throughout,


it's Chris Donnelly MPs will have their say


on the snappily titled The SDLP will back an SNP amendment


which aims to stop the bill Despite campaigning to remain,


the Ulster Unionist Party's MPs Joining me are the SDLP's Claire


Hanna and Philip Smith from the UUP. Philip Smith, your party's


official position on the EU referendum was to remain,


but now you're supporting the Democracy. On the 23rd of June, the


British population voted to leave the EU, by a relatively narrow


margin, but they'll voted to leave nonetheless. -- they voted to leave.


We saw it as a national referendum and result, so we will abide by


democracy, and our challenge now is not to fight the referendum again


but to get prepared for Brexit. That is one of the problems. The previous


executive, DUP and Sinn Fein, could not agree on a plan for Northern


Ireland and we have no executive or assembly and we're doubly impacted,


which is a legacy of the past executive and is appalling.


Your MEPs said that... or region of the UK yet


it is the least prepared. You published a list of 10 key asks


for NI from the government as part of the Brexit debate last September


- and with no guarantee that you've secured any of them,


you're going to back It is back to that word democracy.


What we wanted the executive to do was instead of giving a 2-page


letter, which they produced in August, was to produce a plan for


Northern Ireland, how we're going to mitigate the impact on our


agriculture, how we will improve our economy, how we will deal with the


border, how we will ensure that Northern Ireland doesn't go into


internal exile in the rest of the UK. These are fundamental issues.


But what are you doing about them? You listed ten key points, including


safeguards for the Common travel area, have you just forgotten about


them? We have been pushing in the assembly. We are the opposition,


remember. We have been trying to make sure the executive parties are


focused on the challenges that face Northern Ireland. Are now you have


rolled over? We haven't. People will have an opportunity to vote for us,


put us into Government and implement that plan. Come the 2nd of March,


that is one of the reasons why people need to vote for us and get


some clarification. Claire Hanna, Colum Eastwood has


pledged your party's MPs will use all means possible to defend


the interests of the people Nothing we have seen since the


referendum has given us any assurance that it will not be --


that it will be anything other than damaging. We are working with the


SNP to make sure there will be consultation with devolved


governments. Minor modifications and amendments - to you except that?


Northern Ireland is unprepared. The parties cannot use the RHI issue. It


predated all of this. Sinn Fein did not really lift a finger before the


referendum and have tried to pin everything on the Dublin Government


since then, but there are options and opportunities. You can't stop


the juggernaut. That's the phrase your part the Lido. -- party leader.


You have three MPs out of 650 and you will not stop the juggernaut. We


are collaborating with the SNP. Everybody has accepted that there


will be different manifestations and impacts on this island, and on


Northern Ireland, and we intend to maximise those. There is a lot of


support over special provisions for Ireland. If Nissan can get a special


deal, so can Northern Ireland. Give me some specifics. What shape would


you put on it? We think some access to the single market. She has


already said no. She hasn't said how it will work. Anyone who saw Theresa


May's sycophantic appeasement of Trump will know how desperate the


situation we are in. She has cut off our nose to spite your face on


trade. She might see some value in having at least part of the UK


within the single market, and every some opportunity for that. We have


had a sympathetic ear. Colin eastward has been around Europe and


has found a lot of leaders open to it. Are you not let down by the


Ulster Unionist Party? There are areas where we have worked closely,


and it is no secret that we have different ideologies and


aspirations. The Ulster Unionists are focused on the clearance of the


UK, but we are focused on Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland


economy. We have common ground around access to funding. There are


clearly areas where you do not agree, and you told us that we need


to think about an alternative Government on the 2nd of March. Here


is a critical issue on which you don't agree. We don't agree on


everything. The SDLP are a Nationalist party and we are a


Unionist party. We're talking about Brexit. Everybody knows about your


disagreements on Northern Ireland, but you don't agree on a lot of this


stuff either. We are focused on getting the best deal for Northern


Ireland. You are accepting Government plans without trying to


put any shape on it, which is not the same approach as the SDLP. The


UK is leaving the European Union. And the SDLP are wrong to reject


that? They have Aeron agenda. Northern Ireland didn't vote to


leave -- they have their own agenda. Northern Ireland, Scotland and


London did not vote to leave. Northern Ireland is in receipt of


?600 million per annum. We will only get 300 million, so there is a mass


of funding gap. Farmers will be impacted, so will businesses and


universities. So, you're way of dealing with it is to back Theresa


May's hard Brexit. A lot of people will watch and wonder how this makes


sense. To get over that, we need to negotiate with the Government to


ensure a package of measures are put in place to ensure that Northern


Ireland is recognised as being most affected but is also most prepared.


That is the difference between our position and that Sinn Fein and the


DUP. One or two might of the former First Minister and Michelle O'Neill


are attending to that. In what capacity, I don't know. We're not


going to agree... So they are representing Northern Ireland in a


capacity we don't understand and they won't agree. We will hear our


plan tomorrow from Wales and Scotland. It is a failing of the


executive that predates the current one. There are areas where there is


commonality, including how we manage some of the repatriated devolved


rules. Jim Smith, if it were your party leaders attending the meeting


in Cardiff tomorrow, you could not speak with one voice either, because


your party leaders take fundamentally different views as


well. You can criticise Sinn Fein and the DNP all you like, but if


there was an Ulster Unionist representatives sitting down


tomorrow to articulate a Northern Ireland position, there would be two


separate positions. Are fundamental difference opposition has shown is


that both parties can work together, come to agreements. You don't agree


on this. You like but we can work together, negotiate and come up with


a solution for Northern Ireland. That is the fundamental difference


between our parties and the DUP. There is no commonality there. There


is. You tell me where the commonality is, on that


specifically. We don't know from day-to-day what is in Theresa May


Boruc Johnson's head. It is evolving. By the 9th of February, we


will have a clearer idea and a clear response to that. -- Boris Johnson's


head. We will collectively work together to get the best deal for


Northern Ireland and the island. We will bear that in mind and


times between now and the 2nd of March.


Let's hear from my guests of the day - Lesley Carroll


Be two parties are as far apart as Sinn Fein and the DUP were apart


when they held the positions of First Minister and Deputy. It stems


back to decisions taken on the referendum and since then how the


Ulster Unionist Party have moved to a position of saying that the


British public voted for it so we have to support Brexit. There could


be ground over a period of time to agree principles around trying to


minimise the impact, but the sense of powerlessness that I think


politicians and the public now have is overwhelming. This is a much


bigger political game being played, at a level of Theresa May and the


EU. Perhaps there is an influence we could wield with the Irish


Government, and I think that somewhere in there... You were an


Ulster Unionist candidate at the last election in May. I want to take


a broader overview with you. How big difficulty is it for Northern


Ireland that it doesn't have a single voice in the Brexit debate at


this stage? We don't have a functioning executive and the two


people at the meeting tomorrow take very different views on this issue.


I think it is a massive issue that we don't have a united voice. Claire


Hanna spoke about Northern Ireland being unprepared. Westminster is


unprepared as well not only for what we face but for taking account of


the regions. Scotland is different because of the massive SNP vote so


there is a united voice, unlike here. We need to get to that voice


urgently, very, very urgently. Claire also spoke about the


coherence of the Ulster Unionist Party, being concerned about the


coherence of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Actually, the


coherence of these islands matters in terms of Brexit. Chris is right,


we need to look to the south. Without that united voice, our


capacity to influence is so limited, and we end up feeling powerless in


it all. We will talk to your bit later in the programme. Thank you


both very much indeed. Now, let's pause and take a look


back at the political week gone past in 60 seconds,


with Gareth Gordon. The terms of the RHI public enquiry


were revealed. To get to the fact of the eye which I -- the RHI scheme,


to identify corruption and abuse. Arlene Foster was confident that one


of her former advisers will be cleared of wrongdoing. It is wrong


that we pursue people on beliefs. What we need to do is get to the


facts. Sinn Fein unveiled its new northern leader. Agreements must be


honoured, commitments must be delivered with partnership


Government must mean exactly that. The Director of Public Prosecutions


rejected allegations of bias in Troubles cases. They are being


insulting and questioning our integrity. The DUP still believes


there is still too much focus on former soldiers. This system at the


moment is not fair, focused almost entirely on what the state does. And


the assembly ended in low-key fashion. The assembly is adjourned.


Gareth Gordon looking back at another busy week.


Theresa May has been doing the rounds this week -


first Washington, then Istanbul, and tomorrow she'll be visiting


She has already declined an invitation to address the Dail,


but there will be no shortage of things to talk about


With me is the Fine Gael TD for Louth, Fergus O'Dowd.


How important is that meeting between the two premiers?


It is hugely important. Brexit is the biggest decision facing these


islands for generations. An important successful outcome of


these discussions will be hugely beneficial to all of us on this


island and in the United Kingdom as well.


Does that suggest Ireland is not a priority for her?


I don't think so. That invitation came indirectly from a member of the


house. I think the invitation is listed and always will stand. It was


not a snub? No. We would love her to address our Parliament. Our


relationship with Britain is hugely important, as are our relations with


the North. Enda Kenny in Theresa May have commonality in keeping peace in


this island. We are joint guarantors of the Good Friday agreement. Our


economies are interlinked. Britain and Ireland for generations, for


centuries, there have been people over and back, we have families, we


have everything in each other's countries, so we must work hard.


Enda Kenny and Theresa May will work to ensure the best outcome in this


difficult position. What do you think the Taoiseach will want to


hear from Theresa May? We have had a conversation about the SDLP


perspective that Theresa May is driving a hard Brexit juggernaut.


That is not the vehicle that Enda Kenny would like her to be behind


the wheel of, but there we are. The island won't benefit from that. Our


economy, North and south, we are interlinked and joined up with


everybody in every way. Farmers in the North export milk down to us,


and we send it back up. Our business, trade, commerce is


interlinked. Do you think he needs to explain that? If we listen to


what the Chambers of commerce are saying, they are interlinked and


intertwined. Huge progress has been made others -- as a result of the


Good Friday agreement and we must continue that. The softer the border


the better. I think we have to use every possible imaginative outcome


we can have. The Irish Government has been planning for a long time,


looking at all the different options, and I think this meeting


with Theresa May is critical to progress on all of these islands.


Are you saying that he will be arguing, the Taoiseach, for a


special arrangement between Ireland, north and south, and the UK when


Brexit happens? The difficulty is that the negotiation at the EU level


is between heads of state and Britain. The only Irish person


speaking at those will be Enda Kenny, so his voice is powerful and


influential, but I think that the relationship between Britain and


Ireland is extremely important and special, and we must take that as


far as we can. We don't have the power to clearly negotiate but we


have to have the agenda agreed between us. If we don't, it will be


bad for everyone. Is he more concerned about the Republic trading


with the UK than he is over the border between the north and South?


I live in a border county and we never want to go back to what


happened before. Clearly, peace in Ireland, the Good Friday agreement,


is absolutely critical to the future of everybody on this island, so I


would say it is number one out there. And our economy, obviously,


and our cooperation between counties. If you look at health


cooperation in terms of cancer services in the North West, all


those things, all our communications, our whole country


together, forgetting our constitutional issues, working


together is where it is at. Which is more important, in your view,


Dublin's relationship with Brussels or with London? I think our


relationships on this island with each other are the priority.


Clearly, we have the influence in Brussels, and Britain as the


influence in the British Government. We have to work together. Peace on


this island is number one. It is a no-brainer. We can't have a Mexican


wall between North and South in this country. Our future is together, and


that's the only place we'll get on, and we must get on. We must overcome


the barriers, we must do it. If we don't, we will ultimately go back to


where we were, when nobody wants to go. Let's talk about the choppy


waters Mr Kenny seems to have got into over a coalition in the future


with Sinn Fein. He has issued a statement of clarification ruling


that out after seeming to suggest that his position was softening


earlier in the week. His position is clear. Now it is, it wasn't earlier


in the week. He has said there will not be a Government between Sinn


Fein and Fine Gael. Earlier in the week, he refused to answer the


question. You have answered in a straightforward way now. Why did he


make such a mess of it? There is a position of absolute clarity. We


absolutely agree that it will not happen. He has made a rod for his


own back. The papers are talking about him maybe not being lead by


Easter. Are you aware of a push to get rid of him because he has been


so clumsily footed? It is up to him whether he should leave the office.


Do you think he should go sooner rather than later? We need a


Taoiseach in place for these Brexit negotiations. So he should not go


until 2018? We have to bring Brexit to its finality. Individual


personalities are not important. What is critical is the cooperation


and the unity of our ideas if we can't unify our politics, we must


work together. It is the only game in town. Thank you for coming in to


join us. A final word with Leslie and Chris. When the Taoiseach ties


himself in knots, is this good news for Sinn Fein? What is clear is


whatever Enda Kenny has been saying this week, flip-flopping over the


issue of coalition with Sinn Fein, in the likely scenario of Sinn Fein


being led by Arlene McDonald or Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein would find


reasons and find possible -- Fine Gael would find it possible to make


a coalition with Sinn Fein. The problem at the moment is Gerry


Adams. That is interesting, and it is a subject we will return to


repeatedly over the coming months. Leslie, are you planning to sit this


one out? I am sitting it out. Has a candidate been chosen for North


Belfast? Yes. You didn't throw your hat in the ring? No. No regrets? I


think the position are goverment finds itself in is now so difficult


and it is difficult to predict what will happen in this snap election


that I am very happy to sit it out for the time being. Does it look to


you like being the brutal campaign that Arlene Foster predicted? It has


the potential to be that, but if we allow that, we will slip back into


behaviour from before the Good Friday agreement, and we need not to


go there. We need to focus on partnerships and relationships. What


do we need to look out for in the next week? Brexit, over the next


coming days, with Theresa May in Dublin, will be a key issue. After


that, we will see what happens. The reactions to Trump will be


important. That's it from Sunday


Politics for this week. Join me for The View on Thursday


night at 10.40pm on BBC One. But for now, from everyone


in the team, bye-bye. We know you understand the risks


associated with your pregnancy. Because I'm smaller, people think


my hopes are not so great.