12/01/2017 The View


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I believe today is the right time to call a halt to the DUP's arrogance.


We find ourselves in this situation because of political calculation by


Sinn Fein that they are better in the position they have chosen. That


is a regret. Whichever way you look at it,


it seems we're facing "A stark and very serious


situation at Stormont The words of the Secretary


of State, James Brokenshire. As talks continue to try


and save the political institutions, Sinn Fein says it'll meet the DUP,


but the time for talks has passed. With claim and counter-claim over


who's to blame for the breakdown in power-sharing and who's set


to lose out because of it, I'm joined by Sinn Fein's Mairtin O


Muilleoir and the DUP's Paul Givan. And with a war of words well


underway on the hill, what words of wisdom will there be


in Commentators' Corner? Professor Deirdre Heenan


and columist Newton Emerson are joined by our political editor,


Mark Devenport. Plus - while it's all very


serious stuff at Stormont, Tonight - is time running out


for the Assembly with talk of parties organising selection


meetings ahead of what looks Since Martin McGuinness'


resignation on Monday, the political drama played out


between the two main parties has left little hope


for a last minute agreement - with today's double controversy over


the Irish language and the bedroom tax throwing their differences


into sharp focus. I'm joined by the Finance Minister,


Mairtin O Muilleoir, and the Communities Minister,


Paul Givan. Welcome to both of you. Paul Givan,


you gave 34,000 people a reason to be concerned about having to pay the


bedroom tax but as a Finance Minister told you, the mitigation


payments can be made? The Finance Minister is wrong. And the advice I


received from my Permanent Secretary backs that up and stop with clear


legal advice from the attorney general, I don't know the Finance


Minister has consulted the attorney general and maybe he should but I am


very concerned and I have taken the unprecedented action after exploring


the emergency options to lay down regulations in the Assembly going


directly to the Assembly and asking for members to vote on that on


Monday, with the speaker and the Business Committee... You have found


a way as the Finance Minister said you would? Under normal


circumstances you bring regulation to the executor. These are not


normal circumstances. We did the regulation to the Executive and


because of the actions of Sinn Fein is nonexecutive and I am determined


those vulnerable individuals we wanted to protect from the bedroom


tax will not be used as part of the collateral damage as a result of the


Executive collapse. They will not lose out, 34,000 people will not


have to pay the bedroom tax because of mitigation will not have to pay


that? If politicians follow the lead I am giving on this. Why would they


not? I hope they don't but I have had to take this action, laying down


these regulations in the unusual circumstances they are in to protect


these individuals. This is not the way you normally conduct business


but given the unprecedented circumstances we face as result of


the actions of Sinn Fein, I am taking this action based on the


clear legal advice that I have received and these regulations will


be laid. And that contradicts what the Finance Minister has repeatedly


said and has resorted to character assassination whenever he has tried


to justify his actions. We can hear from the Finance Minister. Away for


mitigation payments to be made has been fined, can you confirm that


Sinn Fein politicians on Monday will support what the Communities


Minister is doing? This is the fifth time I have put this on the record.


There will be no bedroom tax, in a interview on Monday night, Paul said


that because the Executive was coming down, he would have to


introduce the bedroom tax and he said there is a 99% chance he will


have to introduce the bedroom tax and I said to explore that 1%. As


long as politicians fall into line and support the actions that he is


taking on Monday, it will be sorted? If he had taken my advice on Monday


and later in the week there would be no bedroom tax and we fought long


and hard against Tory posterity, we got the DUP on that page and we have


insisted there will be no bedroom tax here and whether Paul does this


through regulation or the mitigation payments, which is able to do so, he


is making payments without regulations from his department so


he has the ability to make these payments. I am quite relaxed but I


am saying tonight to the DUP, you should not have been scaremongering


on this issue and also, I am saying to the DUP, there will not be a


bedroom tax introduced. Sinn Fein MLAs will support whatever


administrative regulation -- legislation is put before the house


on Monday? It is the prerogative of the Minister to sort this but Sinn


Fein will support him in opposing the bedroom tax. There will be no


bedroom tax. We will make sure of that. Paul Givan is planning to


bring those proposals directly to the Assembly on Monday. Should your


party colleague, Michelle O'Neill, the Health Minister, do the same


thing with her proposals to cut waiting lists, which she says she is


going to have to drop? They are different issues but you bring us


back to the reason why we are in this medical impasse, not of our


making, but because of the work of the DUP. We did not create the RHI


debacle. You have gone off. If Paul Givan can sort out the bedroom tax,


why can't Michelle O'Neill use the same method to sort out the waiting


list problem she clearly has? No one is suggesting that can be sorted out


by regulation at Stormont. It is different. Paul Givan has to find a


way and I have offered him two ways, through his administration... This


cannot be introduced on... Why not? They are different things. I want to


come back to this point. The impasse were in, none of us are more


disappointed than I am as the Finance Minister and the people I


meet every day across the community, and we're in this impasse because of


the behaviour the DUP. Your powers are limited? You can give two ways


to Paul Givan for bedroom tax but you cannot find a way for your own


party colleague to sort out the problem for the waiting lists? The


Health Minister says she will continue to tackle those issues but


I am saying we are moving into an election period and this will be a


snap election, the ministers will remain in post for the time ahead


but there will be disruption and we understand that the blame for that


lies squarely at the door of the DUP. Paul Givan has not engaged in


the petty sectarian antics on the eve of Christmas in relation to


Liofa, if Arlene Foster did the right thing and stood aside and


allowed a proper no hiding place investigation, we would not be...


The other view is we are in a situation like this because Martin


McGuinness chose to resign on Monday? And across the community,


people respect their work, the heroic work that Martin McGuinness


has done. That does not mean that they don't wish he'd stayed in the


job? People could see no great peacemaker and bridgebuilder at that


Martin McGuinness, he stretched me and the Republican constituency, he


said, let's have a fresh start and we tried that and to bring Martin


McGuinness to the point where he had to say, we have to hold this


corruption and bigotry... Alleged corruption. We have to draw a line


in the sand and say, the refusal of the DUP to engage in proper


power-sharing and respect parity of esteem, and I want to say this...


This is that wearying part about the DUP refusal to sign up... Can I


finish this... Paul did the right thing today. When he restored this


but he said he did not do this because he understood it was the


wrong thing, it was because he was trying to remove the electoral


advantage. People want him to respect ordinary people. Explain


where you are with Liofa? I welcome that he recognises that my solution


is the way to deal with bedroom tax and that is progress that they will


support my approach in dealing with that because I had to find that


solution, Mairtin never suggested this solution. You both agree there


will be no bedroom tax? My approach was right and I welcome Sinn Fein


realising that and in respect of the point that you make, well made, that


people on waiting lists, people who will be implicated, having the


implications of what the actions of Sinn Fein have, are putting those


people, using those people to pursue the party political agenda that Sinn


Fein have. That is hugely regrettable. Mairtin O'Muilleoir


says you were scaremongering with bedroom tax. Is Michelle O'Neill


scaremongering on waiting lists? With the Executive having to go


away, into the election, ministers are unable to action certain things


and you're seeing the manifestation of that, we don't have a budget


because Mairtin failed to bring the budget. Maybe you should have


thought more carefully about withdrawing funding from Liofa in


December, on the eve of Christmas Eve? We have no budget as a result


of the failure of Mairtin to bring the budget whenever there was an


opportunity. His Permanent Secretary cannot implement all of the


finances... Who is going to suffer? That is not the case on December 23


when you decided to remove ?50,000 from the Liofa scheme? Who will


suffer? The people, and politicians need to remember that we are elected


to serve the people. So what prompted your U-turn on


Liofa? I want to make sure that Sinn -- Sinn Fein are not able to


continue this line they had taken. You did not think they would be


annoyed about it and might accuse you of that? Give me one minute to


explain and hopefully I will do that. Mairtin has said the same


thing, that that decision was sectarian. How can a decision be


sectarian when the Irish language is for all of our people? That proves


the point I keep making, Sinn Fein sectarian iced the language by


saying it is the preserve of the republican community and that is the


problem. So your solution to the problem was to remove ?50,000 of


funding from Liofa? I wasn't prepared to allow Sinn Fein to


inflict further damage... So was the Culture Secretary where you were


going to make that decision? Had you spoken to her? That decision, the


50,000, was my decision about a kid on the basis that it would have been


premature commit expenditure in the next financial year. However,


recognising... Digital to the First Minister about it? Or any other


members of the Executive? No, I didn't. It was a solo run you had to


reverse, it was a mistake. Recognising the damage Sinn Fein had


been using around the Irish language, I was not prepared to


allow that. I want to move on, you say you didn't discuss with the


First Minister removing funding on the 23rd of December. Did the First


Minister tell you to reinstated? I spoke with the First Minister this


morning. Did she tell you to reinstated? If I have the


opportunity to give you the answer, I will tell you. I made it clear


that my view was that Sinn Fein were using this issue to distract from


all of the other issues and I felt it was one damaging to the Irish


language and two, used as a political distraction. She said I


could act on the basis that I then did act. She didn't tell you to do


that, saying you have made a dog's breakfast, you need to sort it out?


No, she didn't. I could see what Sinn Fein were doing around the


Irish language, they have used it as a cultural weapon and that is


damaging... With the benefit of hindsight, do you think it was worth


all of the first, producing the straw that broke the camel's back by


removing that ?50,000 of funding, which is 120,000 of your ?1 billion


budget? Liofa has been used as a victory for what Sinn Fein are


trying to do, they are trying to use this, to demand Arlene Foster step


aside because they want to remove her as the leader because


Republicans are frustrated that they are not able to take their agenda


forward, whenever it is about... Barry Michael Dobbs said Martin


McGuinness resigned because we want a united Ireland, no mention of


Liofa. He outfoxed you on Liofa, he spotted what you are out and called


your blood? As I said earlier, all of it was dissipated tonight when


Paul said the only will reason he made a decision was to get 1-over


Sinn Fein and instead of saying he now understands and accepts it that


it is wrong to discriminate against... But the DUP minister


saying he believes the Irish language is for everybody, due not


believe that? Absolutely and it is great to see Paul coming to that


with the rest of us but Paul has infected the entire basis of the


people who did provide the Irish language. All have his actions speak


louder than words in the Irish language, so I suppose the broader


point is, when the DUP going to accept the principles of... They


might think it is a bit rich coming from Mairtin O'Muilleoir and you can


clear this up for us, there was a lot of talk in the week that you


remove the union flag on a designated day from your office? It


was not a designated day and the flag should not have been flying


from my office. It is an issue for whoever put it up. Who did? I don't


know and it was put by mistake and I removed it. There is legislation


governing this and I observed that legislation, I tried to challenge


that legislation because especially at this time... But you're happy


enough with the union flag, you accept it will fly over your office


on a designated day? It turns out my office isn't a designated office


either. On designated days, the buildings are there. I object


wholeheartedly, I think there should be two flags or no flag, but that is


the law and we will continue to challenge it but in my office, there


are no flags up in my office. Let's talk about an election, you seem


pretty keen within Sinn Fein to get an election so people can have their


say, even though we did seven months ago. What would stop the election


train in its tracks? We are going to an election. We are not inevitably


going. I think inexorably we are, the people have to be given the


opportunity to give their say on the DUP's arrogance and belligerence,


they have to have their say on the RHI scandal, Arlene Foster stood up


in the Stormont Assembly and said she is the archetype of RHI. We know


it is a mess and every day from the public purse, there are allegations


of corruption and we know that before Christmas, we saw the most


unedifying spectacle in Stormont where the integrity of the office of


Speaker was... The Liofa issue has been resolved, bedroom tax is as


good as sorted and Arlene Foster said she supports a public inquiry


into the RHI scandal. Let's say legacy was sorted out and then offer


was put on the table by the DUP, could we not avoid an election?


Bedroom tax was never an issue, I was told there would never be a


bedroom tax. Let's just talk about the British government, because I


see James Brokenshire pretending to be an honest broker in this and the


issue of legacy is disgraceful and appalling. He is an honest broker


but... They have given the DUP a lot of cover on many things but


particularly on the issue of legacy, whether Lord Chief Justice,


unprecedented, says to the British, says to the DUP, says to the Deputy


First Minister, let's have an inquest and the DUP and the British


gang up. We have had this conversation. My point is that if


the DUP accepted your argument and said we will move towards you on the


issue, for example legacy, would that not be enough for us to avoid a


costly election? Credibility in these institutions is shot, it is


drained away. How does a fresh election sort that out? I don't


think it does but people see through what the DUP are doing. Arlene


Foster had a unique opportunity and it is not that long ago since there


was an allegation against me which proved to me groundless and


insignificant and Arlene Foster shared Maka de Laet said I should


step aside. But you didn't. Of course I didn't put if that is the


yardstick she is using, why isn't she stepping aside? But by your own


yardstick, she shouldn't step aside. Poor, Arlene Foster has predicted if


there is an election, it will be brutal, maybe in terms of potential


losses for the DUP? We are going to go very strongly to the electorate


highlighting what this is really about and what this is about, Sinn


Fein had shown what it's about, it is not about RHI. In the letter


Martin McGuinness sign in his resignation, it became very clear


this is about Sinn Fein frustrated that the key Republican agenda that


they have has not been delivered. That is why Barry Mackle Dove said


the resignation was about delivering a united Ireland and whenever Sinn


Fein, and I can understand why they are frustrated... That cannot be a


surprise to you. So does the SDLP. That is exactly why they are trying


to bring this to a head, they want to use this to extract and expand


Tich for Republicans and we can unionism and we can see exactly what


is going on -- extract an advantage. When it was brought down on three


occasions, he did so from position of weakness and he always ended up


costing unionism. Sinn Fein are bringing these institutions down and


should have learned from history. We know, because Gerry Adams has said


it, a quality is the Trojan horse to break these and I will not use the


foul language that he sought to use against those in the DUP and


unionists. Do you seriously think that over the past number of weeks,


the DUP has demonstrated a short-handed grasp of the issues and


fitness for government, or is it possibly the case that people within


your own party, your own grassroots, wondering aloud if you have frankly


lost your way in the DUP? No, because at every step, we have been


dealing with RHI, we have recognised the flaws that existed when it was


set up. Other parties didn't see that. Simo Hamilton came into office


and has been seeking to deal with this. You made a mess and now you


are looking to deal with it, the point is you made a mess in the


first place. We have recognised and Arlene Foster has said the deepest


political regret of her career is not having those cost controls in


place. You don't just say that and move onto the next thing. There are


implications and consequences of an admission like that. Arlene Foster


doesn't seem to recognise that fact. You fix the problem and that is what


the public expect, not walking away from the challenges, meeting them


head on and fixing them and that is what we have been doing and we have


sought to have a public inquiry set up because of the election. For a


long time coming you said you didn't want a public inquiry, that is


another U-turn. We have wanted to have the cost control mechanisms...


You have done a U-turn on the public inquiry. Mairtin's officials are


dealing with it and hopefully they will give him the advice. Maybe you


didn't hear me, you have done a U-turn on a public inquiry. Not at


all. Yes you have, the DUP and the Belfast City Council voted against


the public inquiry last week, it was so clearly in the house, "There will


be no public inquiry". Now all of a sudden the DUP wants a public


inquiry, that is a U-turn. Arlene Foster has said we want to get to


the truth, as do I, through an independent inquiry free from party


political interference so when Mairtin comes on this programme and


talks about corruption and says things without any evidence to back


things up, quite rightly it is pointed out that these things are


alleged because they want to engaging character assassination of


Arlene Foster and remover has leader. On Tuesday, your former


party leader said within our she would make an announcement about the


public inquiry. More than 24 hours late, we don't know what is


happening. What is the problem? Obviously, there is an ongoing


process. There is a sticking point, what is it? We have made it clear


that we want a public inquiry but interestingly, Sinn Fein don't want


the public inquiry. Why is that? Because the passer Nou Camp family


do not want... So no you cannot deliver public inquiry. They are


more interested in appeasing the Republican agenda than dealing with


the issue. I want to bring in Mairtin O'Muilleoir can, Arlene


Foster promised a public inquiry more than 48 hours ago, it has hit a


sticking point, you can't bring in a public inquiry? We want the public


inquiry. We understand that but you don't seem to be able to deliver it.


Let's be clear, part of the reason is because Sinn Fein are pulling the


shutters down on the institutions. Mairtin O'Muilleoir, where are we on


an investigative inquiry? To pick up on Paul given's point, because


Martin McGuinness has walked away from the Executive, you cannot


investigate the very thing you began this interview talking about as the


reason for the collapse of the Executive. I talked about


allegations of corruption and the breathtaking arrogance of the DUP.


And I talked about the refusal to... But in terms of an inquiry, if wants


to bring forward proposals, let him do that. But it is made all the more


difficult because of the root Sinn Fein has taken. It has been all the


more difficult but we will see what he comes up with. Let's go back to


the examples of the arrogance that led us here. Arlene Foster had an


opportunity, we need to investigate this botched scheme. She was at the


helm and the DUP Finance Minister signed off on it and the economic


minister was in the studio making allegations about that scheme. We


know it was a mess, it cost us a lot of money and they should have been


an investigation. They missed a golden opportunity to say to the


public, we understand you believe the DUP lives in a cultural bubble


and instead, we will show humility and they didn't. We have an


election, that initial assessment and then after the election, we have


talks for a limited period to see if we can get the Assembly back up and


running? What we have done is called time on the DUP's folly and


arrogance and the discrimination and refusal to accept... This is just


back and forth. We are back to the issues of equality and back to the


issues of the Good Friday agreement. You are in a political vacuum,


staring direct rule in the face. People will have a chance to have


their verdict on the behaviour of the DUP when time has passed and I'm


confident of further people will respond. Gerry Adams has made it


clear, equality is the Trojan horse to break unionism and what he really


wants is compliant unionists that rolled over to Republicans and time


and time again, we will not do that and that's really what Sinn Fein is


about because they are frustrated that we won't concede two key


Republican demands. We know what you're using it for. If we have an


election, there will be ample opportunity for you to to continue


this conversation in this very studio if you would like to do so.


And joining me now in Commentators' Corner are Deirdre Heenan


and Newton Emerson, who've been joined tonight


by our Political Editor, Mark Devenport.


Lots to talk about. If we pick up with what we have been hearing


tonight. Is any clarification on some of those seemingly impossible,


intractable issues? That we have been talking about. A few things


John died. Mairtin O'Muilleoir said we were inexorably going towards an


election and there was a bubble of optimism that the Taoiseach said,


there might be direct talks between these parties and the implication


was that they could avert this election and we have not had those


direct talks, and even if we do, the Finance Minister is giving us no


wriggle room, saying the election is coming. The other thing we heard was


the admission from Paul Givan that there is a sticking point in Arlene


Foster's cunning plan for the enquiry. She said earlier this week


that she wanted the enquiry to clear her name quickly and we were told


there would be progress within 24 hours. That deadline ran out on


Wednesday and we have not heard anything and it looks like no other


minister has gone to their age, they might have to do this themselves.


There is no love lost between those ministers. In the studio tonight, in


front of the cameras. The question is, is at the beginning of the


electioneering process? Does that tell us that effectively, for now,


relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein have gone? It seems that any


process this week is fully, were in the business of electioneering,


tonight Sinn Fein members in Derry had a meeting and they were talking


about moving towards an election, the DUP said they were getting their


candidate sorted. Everything is in terms of positioning ahead of that


election and I suppose part of the blame game, so if there is any mess,


any messy situation in terms of things going amiss, we will have


these parties blaming it on the other side and saying, we're not


responsible for this mess. It is you with the RHI work you for pulling


out? Eight weeks ago we were told by prominent DUP members and Sinn Fein


that they were working hard to get the partnership government really


going full steam and anybody who dared suggest things might be more


difficult than they were saying was getting their knuckles rapped. Just


over one years since the fresh start agreement, when OFMDFM said they


would can find the critics and have a new dispensation in government and


they would work in partnership but we are witnessing a very public


breakdown in relationships and are very toxic relationship and it is


difficult to see how they can come together. It was interesting that


Paul Givan said the removal of the grant was not political, he could


not explain what it was. What he made quite clear was the decision to


restore it was a political decision, to get one up on Sinn Fein, this is


not an olive branch to say, it was a ham-fisted decision, it was a


political decision. It is not in the nature of Sinn Fein to let a good


crisis go to waste, but it is a mistake to portray this as some kind


of Republican plot against unionism, it is a fact that Sinn Fein tried up


to Christmas to avoid this crisis and they tied themselves up in


embarrassing knots to get Arlene Foster off the hook so now it has


finally come to the red line, Gerry Adams has thrown the ball into the


air with gusto. That is something that Sinn Fein has taken upon


itself. There is no grand plot against unionism here. The question


is, if we are staring and election in the face, what happens when me,


to the other end and be presented with precisely the same problems? It


looks like the parties will be back in identical proportions as neither


party has set out what this election will achieve, if they hope this will


defuse the situation, that will not happen with the very divisive


rhetoric we have seen already. And it is the other alternative, if we


don't manage to get things running again after the election, of a


prolonged period of direct rule as Jeffrey Donaldson says is entirely


possible. And he is being realistic and some people are talking with


nostalgia about direct rule, at least we would have stability. Those


people would not be squandering our money. We have to be careful about


what we wish for, all of this discussion about welfare, make no


mistake, with direct rule we would feel the full force of welfare


reform. We would be looking charges we don't have, the tripling of


university fees, prescription charges, water charges. If we had


Tory ministers coming here, they would not be interested in the


particular situation in Northern Ireland and it is incumbent on these


people and we voted for to make sure they come to some agreement. We want


to be masters of our own destiny, we want devolution but it has to be


worked out and this very public breakdown makes it seem very


difficult. Mark, is this the bottom line? Were now in the area of having


to re-negotiate on a St Andrews style basis, the basis of the


agreement needs to be examined? Is that where we are going? It looks


like we shall have a long list of demands on either side if we get


into a situation of negotiations after the election and it looks like


any resolution will take longer than the three weeks set aside for the


formation of the coalition. I would agree there is a strong likelihood


we will end up having the return of some form of direct rule with a


suspension. If you get into the structures, our structures are


particularly clumsy because some of the safeguards built in with the


Good Friday Agreement have become mutually destructive, vetoes, and


any row, whether constitutional or something like welfare reform, like


the heating scandal, it is hard to handle. The changes to the


structures, the problems will be the main players will be pulling in


different directions. Sinn Fein might want to have a change to the


petition of concern, meaning it would not just be the DUP who could


operate that, would the DUP agree? Nationalists might want to change


what is more towards the joint authority model. These changes in


the structures will be difficult. And there are other things, at a


critical time in terms of Brexit negotiations, whether you are for


remain or a loser, Northern Ireland would not be represented at


government level, local government level, devolved administration


level, in London. And we don't have a plan for Brexit. We haven't set


out the options are what will happen, hard, soft, it is as if we


don't want to discuss this and this is a huge issue... The reality is...


Stormont could not agree on Brexit anyway and Theresa May was not going


to give Stormont any say so in literal terms it signifies the


issue. It will certainly stir up nationalist anger that we have no


say. We are already on an election footing, we have moved away from the


heating scandal and we're talking about republicanism against


unionism. Final sentence? I think Brexit, the British government will


take this decision but it might feature in negotiations because


nationalism will want that recognise.


I'll be back with Sunday Politics at 11.35am here on BBC One


but before we go, the events at Stormont


have been the gift that keeps on giving for local satirists


and the internet has been coming down with videos,


So we leave you with some of the best,


thanks to Keith Law and the people at Ulster Fry and Lad.


Our efforts as a party have been to try to exploit the Renewable Heat


Incentive at a time when we are needing to create more jobs,


Northern Ireland needs stability. But because of our selfish actions,


we have instability. This is how farmers make money...


So what if I forgot our poxy anniversary?


Er, I think this year was copper. 14th is poxy.


Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.


Like a marathon, you have to keep on going...


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