Mark Carruthers and guests review the week's political events from Stormont and Westminster and follow the highs and lows of the political week.
Browse content similar to 22/02/2018. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Whatever you choose to call it -
a draft deal, a draft framework,
an accomodation, an understanding -
the process is over and we're
back in limbo - again.
But how do we pick up the pieces -
and where do we go from here?
Welcome to The View...
It was the week in which the only
barrier to agreement seemed to be
several sets of square brackets.
The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
and Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly
are with me to explain why the words
contained within those brackets have
been allowed to become the source
of the latest political dispute
I'll be asking them how they plan
to break the current
logjam over devolution,
direct rule and Dublin involvement.
And as the first formal steps
are taken to hold a referendum
on abortion in the Republic, we hear
from both sides in the debate...
I have been called a murderer. I
know that I'm not. That is all that
matters. How I sleep at night is
that by 100% do not believe that.
Less women are having abortions
because our society has become more
tolerant and compassionate and
giving women better support.
in Commentators' Corner
to reflect on the latest
twists and turns -
the News Letter's Sam McBride
and Allison Morris
from the Irish News...
It's just over a week since
the Stormont talks collapsed amidst
finger-pointing and recrimination.
Since then we've seen
the publication of a leaked thirteen
page 'draft agreement text',
the status of which the two big
parties refuse to agree on.
We've had statements, denials,
assurances and a series
of Prime Ministerial meetings.
What we haven't had is any clear
idea of what happens next.
Let's see if Jeffrey Donaldson
and Gerry Kelly can clarify
things for us tonight.
Welcome to you both...
Thank you for joining us. Sir
Thank you for joining us. Sir
Jeffrey, before we dive in, you have
come from a meeting with the DUP
executive, that meeting was
discussing a restructuring of party
officers, what form did that take?
I'm not sure where that came from.
It wasn't our meeting for changing
anything. We received a report back
from the party leader, from our
negotiation team on the talks. The
executive strongly endorsed the
stance taken by our leader and the
No promotion Saudi
motions? Was Arlene Foster's
leadership discussed formally?
at all -- or demotions.
about the past ten days?
strong support for her at the
Was it unanimous
I would describe it that
way. As always, in the party, we had
a good debate on the issues but in
terms of the leadership, not a
single dissenting voice.
debate about the issues, there were
dissenting voices on how the
situation was handled?
say that. A good debate is on the
issues. There was no dissent around
the stance the party had taken.
Arlene Foster said yesterday very
clearly that she was never
contemplating an Irish language act.
Do you believe her when she says
Do think everybody
else believes her? The facts speak
for themselves. The DUP made their
position clear. We do not dislike
people speaking in Irish and
teaching their children Irish, we
spent £192 million in the last five
years on the Irish language in
Northern Ireland, £192 million.
Those are not my figures,
independently verified statistics.
Now, that being the case, the
question for me is, what do we do
next? The bottom line, Mark, it is
clear for my party. We uphold and
respect the right of whoever chooses
and wishes to speak and learn a
language in Northern Ireland. But we
do not believe it is right to impose
that language on others.
suggesting imposing it? A lot of
proposals that have come forward
from the Irish language groups and
Sinn Fein, they include signage,
using the language in public
services, having a quota for people
taking up employment in public
services... In this text, I have it
in front of me, I'm sure you've read
it, 13 pages, are those issues
addressed. These negotiations in the
text, you made it clear?
there are issues still contained
within the proposals that we find
But it was a very
advanced piece of work. Tightly
argued and carefully drafted over a
very long period of time. Ready to
be signed off on. Presentational
differences only at the very end.
With respect, I think they were more
than presentational. Square brackets
around key elements of the document
show there still wasn't agreement on
the text within the document. Still
not agreement on some of the
proposals, specifically related to
the Irish language act. If anyone
takes time to read the document in
any great detail, the number of
words inside square brackets, that
is very small in proportion to the
As Arlene Foster made
clear, before the talks came to an
end, we had made real progress
across a range of issues. We do not
deny that. It is our progress, we
worked hard to make it.
greatest respect, your colleague,
Gregory Campbell, on the programme
last week, he denied the DUP's
fingerprints were over this text at
all. He said it was of no more
significance of any of the papers
exchanged over the last few weeks.
One week and it looks very
Let me be very clear. The
document that you have is the latest
iteration in a whole series of
documents that were exchanged
between the two parties. The
document was constantly changing.
The final iteration...
That is not
the final iteration. I disagree, it
is not the final iteration. It
cannot be because it is not agreed.
There are still elements of that
document not agreed. Let me be
clear, in order for us to agree to
the proposals, they need to be
changes to the text that is that. We
cannot and will not accept the
document in its current form. That's
our position. Gregory Rose White to
say that there is -- Gregory was
right to say there is not an
But there was a very well
developed most recent iteration of
that document, and it is clear, if
you read Eamon Malley and Brian
Rowan, there was a large
correspondence around that, during
which senior representatives of the
DUP, your party negotiators, were
negotiating under the headline of
"Final draft agreement text".
keywords you use there is the most
recent iteration. That's all. It is
not the final product. It cannot be.
Because it has not been agreed.
pulled out. It is the last draft.
was as far as we had got.
decided to walk out, you did not
tell us all the British government
you were walking out, or the Irish
government. You went straight to the
press and you pulled the
negotiations down. For the record,
that is a DUP draft. That is the
draft that came from the DUP.
came from the DUP to Sinn Fein?
can be proven, it was sent by
Do you accept Jeffrey
Donaldson's point that there are
significant portions of this that
remain inside of square brackets
which have not been signed off on.
As you pointed out, these are
presentational issues. But, let's
get back to this, Jeffrey started
off on facts and he talked about 192
million. Let's deal with that. The
statistic is that education involved
in the Irish language medium. The
children who have a human right to
education, that money would have
been spent on them anyway. So here
we go again. With this
misinterpretation of what was said.
He started arguing against himself
over the issue that this was going
to be thrust on people.
I did not
Your supporters said that.
But the DUP were in negotiations.
The DUP knew that it was not true.
Unhelpful for Sinn Fein, to have
Irish language activists saying that
on the airwaves. That undercut your
It doesn't matter, people
have the right to say whatever they
want to say.
But it did not help you
in the negotiations, it spooked the
To be clear, DUP negotiations
went through line by line of the
legislation involved in the Irish
language act. And the Ulster Scots
act. They went through and agreed
What I am interested in, you
have accepted, Jeffrey, that there
was not a deal that you have said
there was a long process of
negotiation and this document is the
most recent iteration of that
process, you accept that it was
carefully drafted and worded and a
lot of hard work went into it. On
Tuesday night, on Spotlight, your
colleague said he had a hand in
writing this document, Gregory
Campbell said it did not exist a
week ago but things have moved on.
This draft is 13 pages long, and it
has a series of detailed annexes.
These bills spreading across some 20
pages, according to tonight's latest
revelation on the Eamon Malley
website. It doesn't stand up to
intelligent scrutiny. You saying
that suddenly at the last movement,
all of the Irish language stuff
would come out? I'm not saying that
I'm saying that elements of
the document on the Irish language
had not been agreed. We have major
concerns on those proposals. In
relation to the draft legislation...
The point is the bits within square
brackets were not agree. There's
plenty in here about it, not in
square brackets, but it was
officially recognition of the
language status in Northern Ireland.
Going through the details of what
the commissioner would do and will
not do, the best practice standards,
the same thing for Ulster Scots and
the same for the white respecting
diversity. Those are not in square
They are not but the
principle of how they will be dealt
with why not agreed. On the basis
that nothing is agreed until
everything is agreed, that's the
basis on which we operate. I can say
You walked out! Of the
That was not prepared
by our negotiators, the draft
legislation was drawn up by
officials within the Northern
Ireland Office, who looked at the
latest iteration and where it had
got to. We had not accepted or
endorsed or said that we would run
with any of that stuff. The reason
being, we had not agreed to
You were preparing to do a
deal that would include legislation
for the Irish language act. It does
not tie in with what your party
leaders said the other day. She was
not contemplating it at all. Clearly
someone in the DUP was contemplating
We never said that we could not
legislate, what we said was that we
would not agree to a freestanding
Irish language act. That is what we
You would accept Irish
language legislation? Actually, this
We already have Irish
We said we
would look but we are clear that
while we will uphold the right of
people, if they so wish, to learn or
speak Irish, what we will not agree
to, this is where there are
difficulties to what is proposed at
the moment, we think it still
crosses the boundary for us and that
is that we do not want to have
circumstances for people who do not
want to speak Irish have it imposed
Where is it mentioned?
Where has anyone suggested that? He
does not want that, why do you keep
There are elements in
these proposals that give us cause.
Can you clarify this for us?
been clarified over and again. There
was no issue of making anything
compulsory for people to deduct
Quotas were not
involved. -- Reuters.
here is the reality of the
situation. With Sinn Fein's
determination to push for a
freestanding Irish language act, it
has brought the whole thing tumbling
down around everyone's ears. If you
had been realistic and listened more
carefully to DUP negotiators, you
would have accepted that they could
not sell it.
Why would it be up to
me? They are the negotiators, they
need to work out what they can and
cannot do. You'd expect for 20
minutes. Let's deal with the issues.
We got to this draft act, whatever
you want to call it, but that's what
it was. The fact that Jeffrey hasn't
answered is that they didn't come
back and argue for something else,
they walk out, they walked out. They
brought this to a fault. In fact,
one of the things I noticed earlier
on, either love -- I believe
Baroness Paisley said, we wouldn't
be in any of this if you'd read the
text. Let me say this, because
Jeffrey spoke for quite a long time.
At the core of this, what we are
dealing with and the issues we are
dealing with other whether it is
legacy or the Irish language act, is
that the DUP's stance is to refuse
those rights which exist everywhere
else on these islands.
That is not
Their people supportive of
an Irish culture and language and
feel there is not parity of esteem
for their worldview in Northern
What rights do they not
have that I have?
They don't feel
that their Irish this is respected.
He is an -- give me an example of
how people who regard themselves as
Irish living on this part of the
eyelid of parity of esteem with
people who are British. -- part of
It costs five times more
to educate an Irish child than it
costs to educate the children that
go to the schools that go in the
You answer my
My Britishness is being
eroded. I could sit here and say
that my rights are being denied. I
see my Britishness being diminished
in Northern Ireland.
hear people in Sinn Fein constantly
denigrating my Britishness, I can
say that my rights... I don't
accept... I do not accept that Irish
language speakers in Northern
Ireland have been denied rights. I
don't accept that. I think we have
provided very generously for the
to what he's saying, he is saying
that... He is saying they had not
been denied rights.
And yet we were
so far on in talking about this, so
now Jeffrey is saying all of that
stuff is nonsense, because their
actual position is that there were
no rights to talk about in the first
I'd love to have time to
explore this because I think it's
interesting. Make it quick.
than 1% of people in Northern
Ireland speak Irish as their first
It's become totemic
because of how DUP has handled it in
you don't think the decision that
was made 18 months ago has made a
difference? You don't think that
weaponised the issue?
weaponised the issue.
think those things caused
When you set those
things alongside what the Northern
Ireland Assembly has done to promote
the Irish language in Northern
Ireland, at huge cost, I don't
accept that a language spoken by 1%
of the population of Northern
This document looks like
you were preparing to do an awful
lot more. I would ask you where we
go from here. Is this document the
basis for future talks, Jerry Kelly?
You can't look at and close down the
negotiations, which is what was
done, and we didn't know they were
going to do it, the British and
Irish governments didn't know, they
walked out in the middle of what was
OLD TALK AT ONCE.
You walked out in November.
McGuinness walked out last January.
I'm just stating that is what they
And others walked out,
including Sinn Fein.
What was your
What is the plan B?
can't walk out one day and then have
the cheek the
the cheek the next day, within
hours, to say, we need to go back
into talks, when everybody knows
what the issues are, when we spent
13 months trying to work it out,
when we made huge progress and then
the DUP, for their own reasons, were
unwilling to sell it, or they
couldn't sell it.
Is Sinn Fein still
prepared to go into talks?
go from here is, because the DUP are
refusing on three issues, not just
the Irish language, give people
their rights, the two governments
were signatories to the Irish
language act in the St Andrews
agreement as well, and the legacy
issues which the British government
has had sitting there for two years,
we need to pick that up but
have a lot of time, so you'd like to
see Westminster dealing with these
I was in any of those
sectors, the Irish language or
marriage equality, I'd want that
moved ahead. The two governments
have the responsibility, in the
absence of the executive. I want the
But if that doesn't
happen, you are saying that the two
governments take these issues to
Westminster and legislate there?
saying, set up the British Irish
intergovernmental conference and,
yes, sort out these things. The two
governments should be involved.
Legislate through Westminster? Is
that something you could agree with?
Take it out of your hands and then
there is plausible deniability
all-round and then all of the
problems you had with the document
the British equitable deal with at
Westminster and you could look your
supporters in the eye and say, not
No, it's not the right
thing to do. The right thing is to
What does that
The Irish government don't sit
at Westminster, so any government
taken forward for Northern Ireland
will be by the government of
northern Lee the United Kingdom.
you mean by legislating at
Westminster or getting back into
talks with Sinn Fein and sorting the
matter out and getting devolution
back up and running? Why did you
walk away from the talks?
hadn't walked out, we could have
been sorting this out. That's what
that was about.
You're not going to
cut yourself out of this one.
We said the talks, as far as
these proposals were concerned, we
didn't feel there was going to be a
meeting of minds.
And what happens
In terms of where we are, we
have set, and I repeat this, and
while we are sitting here tonight,
talking about this, I can tell you
that back home in my constituency,
what people are really interested in
is waiting lists and hospitals.
I appreciate this.
We know it, so I
don't want to waste time. People
I don't think we
waste time when we talk about the
issues that really matter to people.
This also matters.
You withdraw your
preconditions and let's form the
executive today, and we can continue
in parallel with taking the
decisions that help ordinary people
who are waiting for operations,
school principals struggling...
have made this point.
Let's form the
executive and continue to try and
work out these issues.
the frank exchange of views, and I
know we have tried to cover a lot of
ground. Should people be optimistic
that there is a glimmer of hope,
that these issues would seem
intractable can be sorted out
In my opinion there was not
an intractable problem that we've
sold problems than this. If you
wanted to move this forward, the
first thing, the DUP said they want
to be involved, it's about legacy.
Give the money to the Lord Chief
Justice and there are victims who
have been waiting 45, 46 years, give
them some respect, give the money to
the Lord Chief Justice, that's
nothing to do with politics.
isn't in this document.
because we were involved in
discussions with the British
And you agreed that?
There is a bit of sarcasm coming
from the right.
And you agreed it
with the British government is to
yes. The consultation was going
to be put out and the money was
going to be released to the Lord
When was it agreed?
Why can't that
this agreement has fallen?
go ahead. If that issue of legacy
payments has been agreed by Sinn
Fein and the British government.
We are happy...
victims and survivors should now
have their say and it is long past
time when they should have their say
on those proposals, but as for
handing over money to one element of
the legacy problem, we don't
The Lord Chief Justice
has asked for this money. I trust
him to be an impartial legal figure
who does what is right for everybody
in Northern Ireland?
It isn't that
we don't trust the Lord Chief
So you couldn't disagree
with his call for the money.
saying there is also money needed to
investigate the unsolved murders for
thousands of innocent people while
waiting and waiting for their cases
to be dealt with and, because they
haven't gone for an inquest, they
are not getting priority, and that's
just not fair.
To be clear, and we
are ticking extra time, because this
is an interesting development.
moment ago, Jeffrey said he didn't
know there were negotiations going
on about the legacy, and now he has
given the opinions on it.
is to know, let's take a minute or
two more, because we've got
somewhere I didn't think we'd get
to. -- I am curious to know. Did the
DUP know that that issue had been
agreed between Sinn Fein and the
didn't. I am our party's
representative on legacy issues. I
can tell you now that I am certainly
not aware of, and was not aware of,
the government agreed with Sinn Fein
they were going to hand over money.
To be absolutely clear, Jerry Kelly
has told me that's been agreed, and
I have to take his word, but you are
now telling me, as the DUP's person
on this, that you didn't know.
Is that a surprise to
you? Is a surprise it can say that?
-- a surprise to hear him say that.
As I understand it, and you may
contradict this, I understood that
members of the officer board of the
DUP said, maybe including yourself,
that you didn't know how far this
agreement had gone. And therefore
you didn't know about this as well.
Is that right? So now you are
talking as if you were completely...
You've been left out in the cold by
your own party.
You are a version of
events from Jerry Kelly. I will
speak on this issue for the DUP, but
I can tell you categorically that
the DUP has not been involved in
discussions, or been party...
is what happened the macro
it to us.
It was what happened.
Arlene Foster was very upset she was
getting back the legacy money.
Jeffrey Donaldson has now told us
they were holding back that money. I
said, OK, well, what is it
precisely? I was being told by the
negotiators they had no problem with
that. And one of the other
negotiators, who was clearly more in
charge, said, hold on, we have a
position. Explain that the officer
board didn't know what was going on?
I presume parts of the board,
certainly the lead of your party,
was involved in the negotiations.
What is communication like at senior
levels in the DUP?
relation to the legacy inquest and
funding and legacy proposals, no
such proposal was put to me. I most
certainly am not aware of any
agreement reached between Sinn Fein
and the UK Government to hand over
money for legacies.
interesting, he did not know about
that. Gerry was surprised you did
not know that, it seems that Gregory
Campbell did not know some of the
details of this agreement last week
either. Where there is some
negotiators trying to go ahead and
reach compromises with Sinn Fein and
other senior members of the party
were not told about that?
I do not
believe that is the case.
understand why people may think
Based on what Jerry is telling
You say that you do not
believe him, and what he just said
I have heard his version of
events. I am telling you that in the
meetings of the party officers that
I attended, that this issue did not
Did you attend them all?
was there at all of them.
phone after this to see how you were
I don't think I need to.
We are hearing what Sinn Fein were
saying but we will be talking to the
government at Westminster about it.
You would be pretty annoyed with the
government if you discovered what
Gerry Kelly was saying and you did
Once again the DUP are
refusing the rights of victims...
final question, we have gone way
over on this. Do you have a document
that clearly shows the issue of
legacy payments has been agreed
between Sinn Fein and the British
government? I can prove it. Will you
bring it into the public domain?
Otherwise we just had to take your
word for it.
You can take my word
for it. I understand, but it is not
my choice. It is not my decision.
Therefore I will not commit to put
it out there.
Unfortunately there we
just have to take your word for it
and it is your word against Sir
Fair enough, but I have
not discussed this with the
leadership. I'm not going to give a
commitment on this programme.
quite a development tonight, that is
Just to be clear, to say
that the DUP, or Jeffrey, did not
know about this, is erroneous.
intriguing conversation. Thank you
to both of you for joining us and
thank you for your frank exchange of
views. I suspect that this is an
issue that we will come back to very
soon. And your phone may be beeping
overnight, I would have thought
people would want to talk to you! We
will leave it there. We are not
going to hear Shane Harrison's
report from Dublin on the reform of
the eighth amendment for obvious
reasons. I think you would
understand that. Of course, we will
endeavour to bring it to you as soon
as we can.
Now a change of guard
in Commentators' Corner tonight -
and I'm joined by the News Letter's
Political Editor, Sam McBride,
and Allison Morris
from the Irish News...
Welcome, we don't have a lot of
time. That was very interesting.
First, did you see that coming? Did
you know that there had been an
agreement between Sinn Fein and the
British comment on legacy?
know, the 150,000,004 inquest a
completely different part of money.
Jeffrey was trying to combine the
two, they are very separate. It is
interesting, what we were told first
of all is that it wasn't a deal or a
draft but now what we are being told
is that there was a side deal in
relation to legacy between the
British government and Sinn Fein,
which would be good news if that was
the case for victims waiting on
inquests but it also shows the
distrust between the two parties
within those talks, that it is
greater than we thought. What
exactly was going on behind closed
doors, we had Gregory Campbell
denied that he was ever dealing in
the first place and Arlene Foster is
still denying that there was a deal
and Jeffrey Donaldson saying that
they had agreed to most of the
proposals. I am proud of the fact
that he helped to write it, even
though we were told two days before
that it did not exist.
I don't know
if you -- what you make of what
happened in the studio this evening
but it moves things on
The possibility of
this being a side deal, as Alison
has suggested, that will not be very
reassuring to DUP supporters, if
that is what has happened. There
could be plausible deniability, if
there were people in the DUP who did
know about that. It becomes a
crucial issue. Jeffrey Donaldson
should have known about it, that is
his area but what we did learn
earlier in the discussion which is
very significant, Jeffrey Donaldson
basically saying that Irish will be
an official language in Northern
Ireland. Do they support an Irish
language act, will they accept it or
not? Arlene Foster saying that she
would not contemplate it. It seems
to me that they will accept the
heart of what would be an Irish
language act but it will be called
that and there will be other bells
and whistles to cover over what has
Where do we go on
the issue of proving all of this?
Gerry Kelly was very clear. He
explained it, as he sees it. He says
he has proved, it is accurate, what
he said tonight. Jeffrey says he
knows nothing about it but Gerry
says he will not put evidence in the
public domain. There will be a lot
of questions asked over the next few
We will have to wait and see
whether the aim and marry website
can produce evidence not! That it is
clear that the agreements were a lot
further on than what we were led to
believe by the DUP. Clearly we are
at a more advanced stage and what
does surprise me is that the DUP
will tell them this is going to
happen and are doubling down on the
lie that there was no deal.
there was a hint that Westminster
need to take responsibility for
this. Westminster to legislate for
the languages and on the issue of
legacy and other issues like
understand, whether it is people
arguing for Irish language, it is
not so attractive potentially to
some of those people if it breaks
with the fact Parliament does not
legislate on devolved matters.
you very much.
That's it from The View
for this week.
Join me for Sunday Politics
at 11.35 here on BBC1.
Finally tonight, we know in this
part of the world anthems can be
seen as controversial,
divisive - even inflammatory.
But sometimes anthems
are just really, really bad.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I give you popstar Fergie at this
week's NBA All-Star game in Los
# O Say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
(POWERFULLY) # O'er
the land of the free
and the home of the brave?
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.