11/05/2017 The View

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Mark Carruthers and guests review the week's political events from Stormont and Westminster and follow the highs and lows of the political week.

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The Assembly election was all about RHI and Arlene Foster


according to Sinn Fein - but what about this time?


On The View tonight, I'll be asking Michelle O'Neill


if a vote for her party is a poke in the eye for Brexit -


and a warm embrace for an Irish Language Act?


It's four weeks today until the election and we now know


109 candidates will fight it out for our 18


Westminster seats - even if some of those candidates


have no intention of taking their places on the House


Tonight I'll be asking Michelle O'Neill how she intends


to fight London's Brexit plans - and what a mandate for


The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tells TDs


and Senators in Dublin that he wants to avoid a hard border -


but offers no guarantees on customs controls.


I'll be asking the Fine Gael MEP, Brian Hayes, if what he heard today


Mr Hayes joins me from county Wicklow.


And with me in the studio, the DUP MEP, Diane Dodds,


And ten years on from the historic Paisley-McGuinness devolution day,


do recent events demonstrate a failure of leadership?


There was an imperative for everybody to get this to work, to


ensure peace. I do not think that same imperative is there.


Newton Emerson and Deirdre Heenan...


Tonight - Michelle O'Neill says she has no problem with legislation


to protect Ulster-Scots or British culture, but insists


there will have to be an Irish Language Act.


Sinn Fein's Stormont leader also says MPs from Northern Ireland


who took their seats at Westminster in the past had no influence.


When she joined me in the studio earlier this evening,


I asked her what this election is about for Sinn Fein...


They are taking their lobbying directly to Brussels. The crucial


issue of Brexit will be dealt with the kingmakers, it will be the EU


member states, 27 member states, we cannot go over and wait for Theresa


May to bend down and listen to the issues we have expressed here. She


called the election because she wanted a bigger mandate to deal with


the Brexit issue as she was concerned people on the opposite


benches could derail the process from her point of view. She is


concerned about people sitting opposite on the green benches. If


you win seats you have the opportunity to be there influencing


the debate and knocking her back because that is what you want. But


you are not taking that opportunity. You are missing the point, all MPs


who are out there have not made a difference. The Tory mandate is


large and will be after the mandate. I believe the most effective way of


dealing with this is to be in Europe. When attempting to put


together an anti-Brexit pact failed here, Sinn Fein asked the LP to


stand aside and two consistencies, was attractive about the proposal


you made? I was the first leader to ask for an anti-Brexit pact, I


believe in this election. We need to maximise the number of anti-Brexit


MPs returning. The Alliance party, Green party and SDLP field to come


up and be part of the negotiations around that. In the last week I


asked the SDLP to stand aside in two constituencies, in South Tyrone and


North Belfast where I believe, voters will speak for themselves and


numbers speak for themselves. The only real possibility of returning


an anti-bracts that candidate and pro-Brexit candidates are the Sinn


Fein candidates. It does not matter if any of those pro-Brexit MPs


return to Westminster because you say the debate over there does not


matter, it does not really matter if Nigel Dodds returns to North Belfast


or Tom Elliott returns. Tyrone, that's the logic of what you told


me. I believe it is important we return, MPs getting to the bench as


Westminster. I gave you a number of examples of how ineffective our MPs


are, but... You think your MPs will be more affected by not turning up?


They can be effective in many ways, been part of an all Ireland team but


I was out in London along with an MP and we met with the Danish


Ambassador, the French and Spanish. We are influencing people who will


be decision-makers in relation to Brexit. That is why decisions will


be taken. Not Westminster. To follow your own logic in another way, you


said what you wanted to do in places like Fermanagh South and North


Belfast, when you make that offer, you wanted to keep out pro-Brexit


MPs, to that logic it means you should have stood aside a candidate


in south Belfast which is much more wearable as a seed for the SDLP then


North Belfast for Sinn Fein. If you look at the recent assembly


elections, it changed the political landscapes. I don't agree it is a


foregone conclusion, I believe Mairtin O'Muilleoiur is a unifying


candidate. And looking at how he topped the polls in March 2017, his


vote was up and that's why you think he will win the seat, the combined


vote of the two DUP candidates who stood was 1400 more than Sinn Fein.


Rogic is not on your side again? And again I do not agree with you --


logic. It is a good thing that politics are changing here. More


people are participating in democracy which is a good thing. I


believe the South Belfast seat is open for grabs, and I do believe the


people of south Belfast have a great candidate in Mairtin O'Muilleoiur...


You are happy to run the risk and come back after the election, if


Mairtin O'Muilleoiur takes votes from Alasdair McDonnell, an


anti-Brexit candidate. You are happy to stand with your decision to run a


candidate in Belfast if it means a pro-Brexit candidate is returned


instead? You split the nationalist anti-Brexit vote, you are happy with


that? Let's be clear. We are going to South Belfast to win that seat...


But you might not? We may not win a number of seats be cannot go into an


election on that basis. In South Belfast, with Mairtin O'Muilleoiur,


I believe he is a unifying candidate... Your logic is Mairtin


O'Muilleoiur is a good candidate and should run that risk in South


Belfast. And you should have a free run in two of the constituencies? It


is clear and the voters know it, that in Fermanagh South and North


Belfast, banded Brexit candidate. And we spoke in February, you are


clear, you told me, Sinn does that remain your position


today? You remember at the time I told you what we were dealing with.


An RHI scandal, the potential loss of millions of pounds at the heart


of government. Martin McGuinness asked Arlene Foster to stand aside


for an investigation and she did not do that. Is your position the same?


Martin asked her to stand aside. She refused. The only way to make sure


she would was for Martin to place his resignation and he did so. The


investigation is ongoing. Our position remains the same. We will


never get to the issue of Arlene Foster and her position to any


potential executive if we do not do with these issues. If we do not work


our way through and into and what is reasonable and implement what has


been previously agreed. What we are asking for is people to be given


their rights. It is as simple as that. We need that to form the


executive. We know that in quarry looks like it could take at least


one year. Some think it will take two. -- the enquiry. That could mean


no Stormont institutions. They could take a long time, we do not know how


long it would take that it is important to get to the bottom of


these issues... However long it takes Arlene Foster will not be in


the executive. Our position remains the same but we will not get to the


position of foreign executive if we don't deal with those outstanding


issues. Then we can look at the issue of Arlene Foster. As I speak


to you... We can forget the executive? We should not talk about


it as if it is a possibility let alone a probability. That is what


you are telling us? I believe that politics is about hope and people in


the last election ten weeks ago went and voted for their rights. They


voted for respect and integrity in government. It's the rise of Arlene


Foster to decide whether or not she should be First Minister of stuff


onto is up and running again? I will work with Arlene Foster everyday as


leader of the DUP -- Stormont. But I believe, I told you this last time I


was on the programme, there are ways for the DUP, if they want to power


shower and establish an executive, based on the principles of the Good


Friday Agreement and deliver for the citizens as intended, we need to do


that. You spoke about rights, which are


very important to you and you say to your voters. The Irish language


clearly is an issue that Sinn Fein and the DUP see different look. Two


weeks ago, you will have seen Arlene Foster visiting an Irish language


class and she met Irish language activists from Pobal and Conradh na


Gaelige as well. She says she is reaching out to that


community. What do you think? I welcome those visits, it should not


be newsworthy she is doing it but it is important, it shows that she is


reaching out. But unfortunately I think we have conflicting messages.


On one hand she is meeting groups and on the other hand, we have


Gregory Campbell and councillors in Belfast... She is the leader of the


DUP? Yes, but she is engaging and you want to understand, that's all


very positive and I welcome that... With respect to Gregory Campbell,


you said there would be no Irish Language Act be said there


-- he did not close the door down entirely. That strikes a chord with


what Arlene Foster has said? If you look at Gregory Campbell's track


record, the insoles that he continually throws at Irish language


and culture... He is one person in the DUP... Not saying the same thing


as Arlene Foster? It's important that you distance yourself from


unhelpful comments. If Arlene Foster is genuine and serious, we need more


than fluffy words. We need action. If Arlene Foster agree to an Irish


Language Act, would you agree to protect Ulster Scots and Orange


culture? That would respect the rights of a different part of the


community? I'm all about equality and affording people their rights.


That's what a good government should be about. I'm very open... You are


happy to tie this things together? It belongs to everybody, let's


respect everyone's right. We cannot have ministers taking bigoted and


sectarian decisions against one section and the next.


I am quite open and for doing something in relation to Ulster


Scots if there is the demand. I've said from day one. But appearing as


you did recently in Loughgall to commemorate what happened there 30


years ago when members of the IRA went to kill police officers and


they themselves were killed on that occasion, when you stand on a


platform and say you are proud of those people and what they set out


to do, that does not help people believe you when you say that you


are interested in the rights of everyone, can you see that?


Everybody has the right to remember the dead. I think it is important to


respect that. Do you have to remember the dead in such a public


wake and a provocative way, as the victims of IRA violence? Everybody


has a right to remember their dead. Nobody is dispute it is how you do


it... We respect each other's right to remember you're dead.


That is through proper reconciliation, people died in the


conflict. One mother 's grief and pain is no more or less than others.


It's not something new I have taken up, or something that Martin


McGuinness shied away from. It's part of who we are. What is your


message to those women sitting there who lost husbands, sons and brothers


over the last 40 years... I regret every loss of life, I regret that


mothers have lost their son and daughter, mother and father, it is


important we respect people have a right remember the dead. It does not


matter who you are. If we respect that difference, that is how we can


reconcile as a society... You are in a position of leadership and


influence where you to take on board how it is viewed across society. And


perhaps alter the way in which you commemorate those people, not stop


commemorating them but changing the way in which you do that? I think it


is important we respect that we all do things differently and remember


different. If I go to a commemoration it is respectful and


dignified. As a political leader, I will not be shy averaging out and I


will make sure I understand that everybody has had and pain. I'm


happy to do that but as I said, it's my job to make sure it never happens


again. Now, Brexit, a key part of the election. You were in Dublin


today and met the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, did you


hear anything from him that gave you cause for optimism as to what lies


ahead for those in Northern Ireland? Yes, it was great to see him in


Dublin today, I could speak to him after. It was really important,


important that we impress on other EU leaders, they will be the


kingmakers in relation to Brexit and the terms of Brexit. It's important


we influence those people. He is a clear understanding of a bus needing


special recognition -- he has a clear understanding of us. If you


look to other examples, like Denmark and Greenland, you can appoint where


we have been flexible, and we've been able to see other examples...


You said that you do not want a boarder at all on the island of


Ireland, he said that there would have to be some sort of customs


control set up by the EU rather than the UK but they will be there.


Whether you like it or not there will be a boarder? I'm absolutely


opposed to any sort of border on the island, that is a retrograde step...


But I do believe that the reason that we are in this scenario is


because the British public are only interest in themselves. The Tory


governor do not care what happens here. -- government. I think the


factories and they called this election at a moment in time where


we were building up some steam in the talks process shows blatant


disregard. The influence we need to bring to bear is in Europe, Brussels


and where other EU member states are.


We know that after the election, we have been told by the Secretary of


State, renewed talks to try to get the devolved institutions again,


what are people going to the voting for? Then mandate to go back into


government that Stormont, or not? Always to go back into government.


This, it marks ten years since Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley


had been power sharing again. It has to work as intended. I want to get


back to the executive. We are contending with conservative cuts,


people robbing the health service. It is important. I believe that


people want the executive to work, but we have got to deliver rights.


It has got to work on an equal basis. What is the seat target? You


had four. How many would you regard as a success on June nine? I am not


going to get you a number, but we are looking to maintain the four,


and we have targeted constituencies. I want to maximise the anti Brexit


candidates. You have got to come back with more than four. People


should come out in the selection, and make voices heard, against


conservative austerity, and the position, ignoring the will of the


people. And next week, I am going to be talking to the DUP leader Arlene


Foster. Now as Ms O'Neill mentioned,


the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, was in Dublin


where he addressed both houses While Monsieur Barnier


said he wanted to work to prevent a hard border here,


he acknowledged that customs controls are part


of EU border management. Tomorrow he'll visit


a food processing business Joining me now from Wicklow


is the Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes and in the studio,


the DUP MEP Diane Dodds... Welcome. Republic economy,


particularly vulnerable to any new regulatory barriers with the native


kingdom that could arise as a result of Brexit. Have you gotten off from


Michel Barnier to calm nerves? I think it was positive speech,


reflecting the work of the Irish government across all of the EU


institutions, making sure that going into these negotiations the


guidelines are going to be clearer, in terms of highlighting the


problems for Ireland. North and south, the importance of the Good


Friday agreement, and the importance of the free movement of people and


goods across the border. He has been aware of that. The former budget


commissioner, responsible for peace funding in Northern Ireland, and he


knows Ireland, north and south, and once we get through this collection


we want to see if we can get the Stormont executive running again and


get some great possessions. The north in the south, east west.


Across the sea. Making sure that we have got an agreed approach. If that


came from the island of Ireland, north south, the European


institutions and Michel Barnier especially would be looking at that


differently. It is an important responsibility to get this working


again, after the British elections so that the parties can come to some


agreement, going forward. So much to lose, north south, but I was


delighted to see Arlene Foster said that she wants to have the softest


possible Brexit. She is from the border community and knows the


importance of the free movement of people. We can work together to make


sure that at the end of this process, Brexit does not cause the


difficulties some people have suggested. And we have heard


Michelle making the point, that she does not want any sort of Brexit,


border? Cuckoo land? We were walking across the border north south, south


north, since the Good Friday agreement and the peace process,


that region has flourished, in terms of the number of people employed and


the private sector economy. It is really important from all


perspectives that we do not have customs posts, revenue officials,


that we actually have this freestanding border. Soul that


people can move on both sides. That is important south of the border,


and north. I think we can achieve that but the crucial thing, the


absolute responsibility on the parties in Northern Ireland to work


with the government and colleagues in London to get solutions. The


Europeans are looking for solutions. Michel Barnier emphasised, going to


have to be some form of customs controls, between Northern Ireland


and Europe, after Brexit. It well have consequences. What do you make


of that? I thought the speech from Michel Barnier was very typical of


the man, he has spent his life promoting Federalist, European Union


integration. I am not surprised that he stole the virtues of the EU in


Dublin. But it was a very pragmatic speech. In Brussels, London, Dublin,


and from the DUP, nobody wants a hard border. We want cooperation,


treat, we want the effective use of where we are now. You have said you


do not want the hard border. He said there will be consequences. Do you


accept that? Yes. And he also said that he had desires to negotiate an


ambitious trade agreement. Remember, it is in the EU's interests,


Brian's, beef farmers, dairy, two actually have that free trade with


the Great Britain market. 60% of Irish beef goes to market in GB.


Northern Ireland, and the importance of the British market, I have been


at Balmoral this week, spending my last few days there. Many food


processors have said we have to concentrate on the market, grow


markets, and have a free trade agreement, axis. You think you can


have the best of both worlds. Many people have said we can manage the


challenges, maximise opportunities that Brexit brings. You do not want


to have your cake and eat it? You do not want to talk about potential


difficulties? I think that we are starting from a good position. I


have met Michel Barnier on many occasions. And in Brussels, the


special considerations, the need geography, the history, it is well


known. I think we can work together with those in Dublin. We will be


with London, to actually do that. And the one thing that I absolutely


agree with Brian about, the fundamental that is more sing in


love this, it is devolved government in Ireland that would actually


advocate for Northern Ireland. Today, at Balmoral, we're talking


about the potential agricultural bill. We need a northern Ireland


agricultural Minister, working. I cannot find many people who would


disagree with that. And Michelle said that she wants to get back into


government. You all want that, but not necessarily on how to achieve


this. Do you agree, there is a way to square the circle. The special


status for Northern Ireland, something that suits the European


Union, Northern Ireland, and people living and working in Northern


Ireland. It is the job of politicians north and south, east to


west, to solve problems. We represent ordinary people in all


constituencies, and the reality of Brexit was brought upon us, not by


the people of Northern Ireland but British people by and large have


been spot on the question. We have got to do with this. And actually


solve the problem. I think we can solve those problems in a more


comprehensive way, working together. North south, east west, coming up


with solutions. Should we be talking about that, examining that? People


have said that is the way forward? Other people, dismissive, but


frankly the ball do not even agree what it is? Words on a page mean


different things to different people. I am more concerned with the


problems, regarding the border, hard Brexit. In terms of the divorce


settlement, over the course of the next 18 months, we have a short time


to do this, in terms of the European Union budget, and the liabilities


themselves. It has got to be resolved. And what we need is an


absolute priority, the longest possible transitional phase, so that


we can say to people, virtually no change, that would help businesses,


agriculture, supply, to get the best possible deal that we can. We have


got to be pragmatic and realistic. I want to go back to you for one final


thought. One of your colleagues is on record that he supports the


special status for the island of Ireland. Agree or a lone voice?


Nobody in Brussels, London, actually talking about the idea of special


status, whatever that means. What we are talking about, some special


considerations for the unique problems, challenges, and


circumstances that Northern Ireland finds itself having. Northern


Ireland will leave the European Union, with the rest of the United


Kingdom and we need to go forward, getting the best deal that we can.


Interesting. Thank you. This week saw the tenth


anniversary of the restoration The return of the Assembly in 2007


was seen by many as a high point in the Northern Ireland political


process. But now we're in a halfway


house between devolution Wonderful memories. The stable,


shared community. Everybody was working together for the benefit of


everyone in Northern Ireland. I was so happy I could play a part. We had


hard work there, alongside the St Andrews talks. The images, powerful.


But it was a feeling, that day, that the future was bright. All that.


About time! Because all of those trips to great houses in in England,


trying to agreement, the elections, people thoroughly fed up with


politics by that stage. I think it was a tremendous amount of hope.


People had become despondent. But to say these things resolved, and it


was clear to staff the DUP and Sinn Fein had come to some agreement, the


process was about getting the correct financial package.


The difference between now and then, then a process was in place. But for


a period of months it was obvious that we had a process, this time it


is not so clear. I think that if we had even, the people I knew,


including Dr Paisley and Martin McGuinness, I knew them both well...


If we had people of that experience, stature, and with that tolerance, we


could have got further. These two, warriors. Seen it all. And they


wanted to stop seeing that. An imperative for everybody, to get


this to work, to ensure peace. I do not think that seem imperative is


there. The parties do not have the same means as the people who started


this. Dennis Murray ending that


look at how things have Right back up to date now


with Professor Deirdre Heenan Just going back to that, that


interview with Michelle, one thing that struck me that was potentially


interesting, she said that she would back legislative protection for


Ulster Scots but you had to have a language act? thought it was


interesting she had no problem with that. No issues around legislative


detection. Although later on, she was quite dismissive of Arlene


Foster's attempts at reconciliation, I thought she was paradoxical in the


sense that she said on one hand it was important to vote for Sinn Fein


to ensure product that candidates did not get their seats. And on the


other hand saying it does not matter as they have no power anyway.


Reaching out to consolidate comments and then withdrawing it. It was all


over the place. There has clearly been movement on the language, no


pun intended, by the DUP and Sinn Fein, the Irish Language Act,


cultural, does it stand alone? Can you combine the two? Of course, Sinn


Fein said it was not a red line, they refused to say the Irish


Language Act as a red line. There is plenty of scope for movement. That


does not mean it will happen. If you are optimistic you would say that


that may mean that devolution is more attainable than perhaps we


previously thought. Then, there is the red line about Arlene Foster.


That has not changed more than three months ago? I agree, there appears


to be more wiggle room. But when you listen to the whole thing it was


pessimistic. They were not moving around their insistence that Arlene


Foster would not lead the party and government. With the election, we


took the eye off the ball and it was a serviceable performance by


Michelle O'Neill, juggling this and keeping it going. After all of these


talks, we are in this vacuum with no original government because of


respect and pride issues that really should not be blocking important


decisions. I do not think it is sustainable to keep the deadlock


going for much longer without it causing really serious problems. I


do not think we can stay in no man's land. We are either indirect rule


all we are not. We are in the process of getting more direct rule


and at the same time, we need to get more executive back. The interview


said we are not as this could take up to two years but there is no


movement saying we will push forward with devolution. Let's talk about


Michel Barnier. A mention of customs and realism perhaps with all


concerned from the EU's chief negotiators. Is that how you see it?


Let's not get hung up on that term special status. Europe uses the term


to cover what it has to make. But whatever happens here, they will be


called special status... People here do not agree on what special status


means. You saw that with Diane Dodds? They disagree on whether they


can use that term special status. It's a stupid argument, we have to


use it. It is the content which is the issue. It was interesting that


Diane referred to special status and said that there would not be special


status. What is the difference? Only semantics. There needs to be a


creative solution. A stand-alone act or a culture act. I thought what was


interesting was that he was saying that they do not have a solution.


They do not have one. Asking people to be creative and flexible, I do


not agree with Brian Hayes all, they have not been adapted in the past at


all. It's up to society in the broader sense to say that they are


removing Brexit, how can we make it work? And Charlie Flanagan, the


Republic's Foreign Minister saying to the BBC on HardTalk an open


border is a must in all circumstances? Customs can mean many


different things, the idea that the peace process would disrupt that is


observed. Thank you to both of you. -- absurd.


That's it from The View for this week.


Join me for Sunday Politics at 11.35 here on BBC1.


One of the stories of the week was the photograph of the former


Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, lying prone


on the floor of a hotel lobby - and that reminded us of a few other


incidents where political big shots hit the deck.


# We tumble and fall # Together we crawl


# For ever will be... # Tumble and fall #


It's the biggest event of the year for road racing fans.


Engage gear, watch the lights, ready for the start.


Join Mark Carruthers and guests on Thursdays for The View - the week's political news, comments and expert analysis. The View reports events at Stormont and Westminster and how they are affecting issues such as health and the economy. It follows the ups and downs of the political parties and debates the highs and lows of the political week. It also has an alternative view on the week's political headlines.