15/03/2018 The View


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


15/03/2018

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


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 15/03/2018. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

As the fallout continues

from dramatic claims about political

0:00:010:00:04

transparency from Northern Ireland's

most senior civil servant.

0:00:040:00:09

We ask: have our politicians been

keeping us in the dark?

0:00:090:00:17

Tonight on The View:

What price transparency?

0:00:320:00:34

I'll be asking MLAs past and present

if there really was a culture

0:00:340:00:37

of secrecy at Stormont.

0:00:370:00:41

Gareth Gordon has been assessing

the odds of a return

0:00:410:00:44

to a devolved Assembly.

0:00:440:00:46

I don't know. I wouldn't want to be

the bookmaker to take the odds on

0:00:460:00:50

that at the moment, now.

It's a

cert. You could put your house on.

0:00:500:01:00

We'll hear from Shane Harrison,

who's been running his eye over

0:01:000:01:02

the form guide in Washington ahead

of St Patrick's Day.

0:01:020:01:05

And just to prove there's

nothing new in politics,

0:01:050:01:07

we unearthed one of the classics.

0:01:070:01:08

So what is your problem?

Well, the

minutes aren't written yet.

I see.

0:01:080:01:13

So, what should I do?

Write them,

dear man.

0:01:130:01:18

And finally, with the inside track

on all of the above,

0:01:180:01:21

columnists Alex Kane

and Fionnuala O'Connor are in their

0:01:210:01:23

very own winners' enclosure.

0:01:230:01:29

Hello.

0:01:290:01:30

Not keeping records of meetings

between Stormont Ministers,

0:01:300:01:32

their advisers and officials

was this week described by the Head

0:01:320:01:36

of the Civil Service as "safer".

0:01:360:01:43

The reaction to David Sterling's

comments disputes that.

0:01:430:01:45

So where does that leave

the reputation of Stormont,

0:01:450:01:47

in the shape of both the former

political incumbents,

0:01:470:01:49

and the senior civil servants

who now run the place?

0:01:490:01:51

With me to reflect on Mr Sterling's

comments are two former Ministers -

0:01:510:01:54

the Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy

and the Independent Claire Sugden,

0:01:540:01:57

and the former Sinn Fein chair

of the Assembly's Finance Committee,

0:01:570:01:59

Daithi McKay.

0:01:590:02:03

Thank you for joining us tonight.

Claire Sugden did David Sterling's

0:02:030:02:08

comments about an absence of

note-taking come as a surprise to

0:02:080:02:10

you?

Yes because certainly the

department was always keen to be in

0:02:100:02:14

the room with me and take notes.

Some circumstances I nearly had

0:02:140:02:19

civil service on top of me. To be

honest, I felt that almost ruined

0:02:190:02:23

the dynamic in meetings I had. I

think again David needs to clarify

0:02:230:02:29

his comments because there's some

situations where it's maybe not

0:02:290:02:32

appropriate to have as many civil

service in the room as would want to

0:02:320:02:35

be.

Why would that be the case in

For example, as Justice Minister I

0:02:350:02:40

was meeting with victims and they

were telling me personal stories. To

0:02:400:02:43

have ten people sitting behind me

was intimidating.

0:02:430:02:46

I had a note taker at the least in

the room with me to give me cover or

0:02:460:02:52

something was said or I said outside

the room we had a record of that.

0:02:520:02:56

Was there an occasion when a senior

civil service said to you, minister,

0:02:560:02:59

it might be bet are for all sorts of

reasons not to put everything down

0:02:590:03:03

on-the-record because the last thing

you would want would be an FoI

0:03:030:03:09

request or inquiry application which

would then reveal something that you

0:03:090:03:12

might not want to be in the public

domain. Did that conversation ever

0:03:120:03:16

happen?

Not a senior civil service,

no, but a low grade civil service

0:03:160:03:21

into my ministry reminded me that

any comment I made in submission

0:03:210:03:26

papers or anything I said would be

subject to FoI. I don't think it was

0:03:260:03:31

to encourage any secrecy or lack of

transparency. If anything it

0:03:310:03:35

encouraged me to be more thoughtful

about what I put down in those

0:03:350:03:39

submission papers. We have to be

mindful around this, the debate on

0:03:390:03:44

the FoI when requests are asked for

they are very much asked about

0:03:440:03:49

specific pieces of information.

Policy a long development process. A

0:03:490:03:53

piece of paper can be taken out of

context in terms of the wider debate

0:03:530:03:57

around that. . Reflecting on it now.

Do you think there was ever a

0:03:570:04:00

circumstance when you as a minister,

in a meeting, that you knew was

0:04:000:04:06

being noted, held back from saying

something which you didn't want

0:04:060:04:08

subsequently to be on the public

record? No. I wouldn't have felt

0:04:080:04:12

that I held back in anyway. I didn't

really feel I needed to. I had

0:04:120:04:17

nothing to hide Serge as a minister.

I uphold that value of transparency.

0:04:170:04:23

No, certainly, I'm not perfect. I

rely on my civil servants to give me

0:04:230:04:28

information and my perspectives may

not have been correct. I wouldn't

0:04:280:04:30

have say everything floating around

in my head.

0:04:300:04:32

I was mindful about what I was

trying to do. That was trying to do

0:04:320:04:37

a good job and be as diligent as I

could be not to discourage

0:04:370:04:40

transparency.

David Sterling said

that in his experience it was fairly

0:04:400:04:49

common across all departments that

notes would not necessarily be

0:04:490:04:53

taken. So that they were not

recoverable at a later stage. Was

0:04:530:04:57

that a surprise to you to hear?

It

was an interesting contribution. My

0:04:570:05:01

initial take on it was that David

was trying to create a distraction

0:05:010:05:06

to ensure the focus of the session,

in terms of his involvement with

0:05:060:05:11

RHI, that wassic taen away. But I

think I agree that he has to clarify

0:05:110:05:17

what he means. He said a culture

developed. Was it by ministerial

0:05:170:05:23

direction or was it the senior civil

servants acting in response to the

0:05:230:05:28

political situation? This is an

important point because the public

0:05:280:05:31

has to remember as well that the

performance of ministers doesn't

0:05:310:05:35

only reflect on the ministers and

their parties but the senior civil

0:05:350:05:40

servants and their future career

prospects. It may be the case that

0:05:400:05:43

civil servants took it upon

themselves to do this rather than

0:05:430:05:46

the politicians. We don't not know

at this stage.

What about Sinn

0:05:460:05:50

Fein's involvement. David Sterling

said it was common across all

0:05:500:05:53

departments, in the evidence he was

giving he said it was particularly

0:05:530:05:57

the case with the two main parties.

The DUP and Sinn Fein?

His comments

0:05:570:06:02

are aimed towards the two main

parties. I think it's important now

0:06:020:06:05

that he follows through on this. The

Information Commissioner is also

0:06:050:06:10

wanting to hear further

clarification from imhad. I don't

0:06:100:06:14

think it's good enough for David to

hide behind the fact there is an RHI

0:06:140:06:20

inquiry going on his comments have

wider ramifify cautions.s if

0:06:200:06:25

ministers need to be named he needs

to name them.

People were surprised

0:06:250:06:28

how upfront he was in the comments

that he gave. If there was a

0:06:280:06:34

criticism or a surprise expressed it

was at the fact he was quite so

0:06:340:06:38

open?

Yesterday on the other hand

today there have been many questions

0:06:380:06:41

in regard to this. He hasn't come

forward clarify.

He is in America at

0:06:410:06:45

the moment.

Given the level of

public importance on this, I think

0:06:450:06:48

there is a duty on him to clarify

this as soon as possible.

Of course.

0:06:480:06:51

He is due to appear before the RHI

inquiry again in due course. If you

0:06:510:06:59

were surprised, Mr Sterling made

comments be quite openly this time.

0:06:590:07:04

During the Finance Committee's Nama

inquiry in 2015, you were the chair

0:07:040:07:08

of the committee at that time, you

will recall no doubt that he

0:07:080:07:12

admitted civil servants, "need to be

more consistent in our approach toic

0:07:120:07:15

itting notes of meetings." He said

it all before?

He had said it before

0:07:150:07:19

at that time. At that time Nama in

the South were taking minutes of the

0:07:190:07:25

meetings with DFP, but DFP were not

taking minutes. Because there were

0:07:250:07:29

so many questions about the Nama

issues at that time it got lost in

0:07:290:07:33

the undergrowth. He made reference

to the fact that his minister at

0:07:330:07:36

that time, I think it was Arlene

Foster, had actually made the

0:07:360:07:41

proposal that further minutes should

be taken. He actually agreed with

0:07:410:07:43

that. I think there is still so many

questions around this, it just needs

0:07:430:07:49

to be clarified before we can point

the finger at anybody.

It opens a

0:07:490:07:53

whole can of worms. A lot of people

were very surprised at what David

0:07:530:07:58

Sterling had to say even though he

had suggested it, it was the case in

0:07:580:08:02

certain circumstances before, as

we've discussed, back in November

0:08:020:08:06

2015. You were a minister for some

time in the Executive before. Were

0:08:060:08:11

you a ware of civil servants not

noting minutes you were involved in

0:08:110:08:16

for fear of subsequent recovery?

No,

my clear recollection is I neither

0:08:160:08:24

sought that records would not be

taken, nor did at any stage nicenor

0:08:240:08:30

civil servant or any civil servant

of any rank suggest to me it might

0:08:300:08:33

be a good idea that people stop

writing.

Was it ever pointed out to

0:08:330:08:37

you, as it was to Claire Sugden, you

needed to be mindful of the fact

0:08:370:08:43

anything you write on a paper could

be recoverable under an FoI request?

0:08:430:08:48

Of course. I think it's important to

distinguish between any discussion

0:08:480:08:54

that is are held within a meeting.

But discussions are discussions,

0:08:540:08:59

they are not decisions. I think when

we talk about minutes I think we

0:08:590:09:04

more properly describe them as

records of meetings because they

0:09:040:09:10

would normally reflect outcomes and

actual decisions which I think is

0:09:100:09:16

altogether different to having

widespread discussions.

Well, it's

0:09:160:09:19

just interesting, if you read the

civil servants guide "meeting notes

0:09:190:09:25

are intended to record accurately

any decisions taking or undertakings

0:09:250:09:29

made by the minister." Reagreed by

that "they may summarise the main

0:09:290:09:35

facts and arguments used during that

meeting" that's the critical point,

0:09:350:09:39

isn't it?

Yes. That would normally

have happened through submissions

0:09:390:09:42

which would have been written up and

brought to the minister for his or

0:09:420:09:46

her consideration. Mindful of the

earlier discussion, those sub

0:09:460:09:54

missions would reflect either the

minister's view or, in certain

0:09:540:10:00

contentious issues, an alternative

view, leaving it clear for a

0:10:000:10:03

minister to make the ultimate

decision. So there's nothing wrong

0:10:030:10:07

with that. I think the concerns that

we have, that I have, with the David

0:10:070:10:16

Sterling's remarks are that it

strikes, or it seems to query the

0:10:160:10:22

independence of the Northern Ireland

Civil Service and also the openness

0:10:220:10:27

and transparency of a local

administration. Of course we... The

0:10:270:10:33

Westminster conventions should be

the one that is are followed. That

0:10:330:10:37

is that whilst governments come and

go, whilst politicians are

0:10:370:10:42

transient, the civil servants are a

constant. They have to reflect, not

0:10:420:10:48

only the will of individual

ministers, or even government, but a

0:10:480:10:55

consistency across and an even

handedness. I think the suggestion

0:10:550:11:04

that David Sterling indicated

certainly there may have been some

0:11:040:11:10

type of control freakry at a senior

level within the Executive needs

0:11:100:11:15

further exploration.

Claire Sugden,

one former senior civil servant told

0:11:150:11:20

this programme the practice was

widespread and very prevalent on the

0:11:200:11:24

part especially of the DUP. What do

you make of that?

I can only speak

0:11:240:11:28

for the Department of Justice, which

I will say is perhaps a

0:11:280:11:33

differenclure to the other

departments because it we was

0:11:330:11:36

devolved later than other

departments. The practices in

0:11:360:11:41

Whitehall were practiced there

better than in other departments. I

0:11:410:11:43

didn't interfere from the DUP or

Sinn Fein work in other departments.

0:11:430:11:46

It wouldn't be appropriate to do

that. When we came together was at

0:11:460:11:51

the Executive table there were notes

taken there. I think we need David

0:11:510:11:55

Sterling to clarify his comments

here because it's quite a sweeping

0:11:550:11:59

statement to make and I'm not sure

it's applicable to all meetings we

0:11:590:12:03

had. As Danny has explained, it is

absolutely important to take a

0:12:030:12:07

record. For your own cover, more

than anything else. I certainly

0:12:070:12:11

wouldn't want someone I met saying

toe m that I said something I

0:12:110:12:16

didn't.

I do say Mark, I don't agree

with Daithi's earlier contribution

0:12:160:12:22

that suggested that David Sterling

was in some way starting another

0:12:220:12:26

fire in a different part of the room

to distract on any other issue

0:12:260:12:31

regarding RHI. I think David

Sterling is an experienced civil

0:12:310:12:35

servant. A senior civil servant. The

acting head of the Northern Ireland

0:12:350:12:43

Civil

Service, further clarification is

0:12:430:12:45

required, I would stay well short of

accusing him of trying to cause any

0:12:450:12:50

kind of real distraction.

0:12:500:12:55

It will be interesting to

0:12:560:12:58

It will be interesting to see what

comments or clarification he makes.

0:12:580:13:02

I am sure he will dispute the

suggestion you just said. He said it

0:13:020:13:07

was prevalent from the two main

parties, Sinn Fein has said that it

0:13:070:13:13

is not the case as far as it is

concerned, Mairtin O Muilleoir said

0:13:130:13:19

it was claptrap, so were you aware

of the DUP being involved in this?

0:13:190:13:25

Do you think the former civil

servant who suggested it was

0:13:250:13:29

prevalent on the part of the DUP has

it right?

My sense of the DUP during

0:13:290:13:37

my time in the Assembly is that they

were defensive about issues, they

0:13:370:13:44

didn't try for street processes with

the office of First Minister and

0:13:440:13:50

Deputy First Minister so it isn't a

surprise that they haven't clarified

0:13:500:13:56

their position, but there is a

suggestion that freedom of

0:13:560:14:02

information legislation is being

interfered with because they are

0:14:020:14:06

fundamental to political culture

here and transparency, so what this

0:14:060:14:10

flag is up for me is that the

Freedom of information legislation

0:14:100:14:16

needs to be strengthened.

David

Stirling pointed the finger at the

0:14:160:14:22

two largest parties. Short of

further clarification, there are

0:14:220:14:26

issues to be addressed and there

presumably is an opportunity for the

0:14:260:14:33

civil service to get its act

together in advance of Stormont

0:14:330:14:37

being resumed, however unlikely that

is.

I think it is an issue we will

0:14:370:14:43

return to. We would have liked to

have been able to put these issues

0:14:430:14:49

to a representative of the DUP but

the party declined to take part in

0:14:490:14:54

this discussion. A spokesperson said

it is inappropriate that the DUP be

0:14:540:14:59

asked to comment on issues that are

subject to a live public inquiry.

0:14:590:15:07

Thanks for now, we'll come

back to you again later.

0:15:070:15:08

Now, a former Irish diplomat has

said the British-Irish

0:15:080:15:10

Inter-governmental Conference

will only be brought back as a "fall

0:15:100:15:13

back position" and would be a sign

that Northern Ireland

0:15:130:15:15

is in for a period of direct rule.

0:15:150:15:17

Nationalists here and the Dublin

government have called

0:15:170:15:19

for the return of the body,

which last met 11 years ago,

0:15:190:15:22

to allow the two governments

to plot a way forward

0:15:220:15:24

in the absence of devolution.

0:15:240:15:25

Gareth Gordon has been looking

at the odds of Stormont coming back.

0:15:250:15:30

For the British and Irish, the race

to restart devolution in Northern

0:15:300:15:36

Ireland runs without end. Just when

they think they are in the final

0:15:360:15:41

straight, they are dragged back to

the start.

My powers as Secretary of

0:15:410:15:47

State for Northern are and are

limited. The scope of this house to

0:15:470:15:52

pass legislation on devolved issues

is limited.

Compared to that,

0:15:520:15:58

picking a winner at Chaston seems

easy. People who know about betting

0:15:580:16:03

think Stormont is ably conducted.

I

think it's dead in the water, they

0:16:030:16:09

need to bring the other parties in

to help negotiate.

What are the odds

0:16:090:16:15

of Stormont coming back?

I wouldn't

take the odds on that.

It's not

0:16:150:16:23

something to bet your house on, it

will never work with that crowd.

The

0:16:230:16:30

options available to Karen Bradley

appear limited. Some form of light

0:16:300:16:35

touch direct rule appears to be the

front runner, in front of a shadow

0:16:350:16:40

Assembly. A British-Irish

Intergovernmental Conference seemed

0:16:400:16:46

to be a safe bet although odds may

have lengthened after remarks by the

0:16:460:16:52

Taoiseach. An Assembly and

full-blown direct rule remain

0:16:520:16:58

outsiders. Whichever option Karen

Bradley puts money on, someone will

0:16:580:17:03

attempt to put a in her way. Let's

look more closely at the options. A

0:17:030:17:11

shadow Assembly would keep the

political class is busy until the

0:17:110:17:15

real thing comes back. It's been

tried before, most notably in the

0:17:150:17:20

1980s. It did not end well after

being dissolved by the government

0:17:200:17:26

against unionist wishes.

The police

say 21 officers were injured, more

0:17:260:17:33

than half required hospital

treatment. Police in the building

0:17:330:17:36

were asked by the clerk of the

Assembly to clear the chamber. They

0:17:360:17:42

cleared in and politicians were

thrown out.

It was mainly a DUP

0:17:420:17:48

protest although I youthful Jeffrey

Donaldson was one of two Ulster

0:17:480:17:53

Unionists also evicted.

I have two

members of my family murdered by the

0:17:530:18:01

Provos and what do you do in return

for that? You throw me out of the

0:18:010:18:07

forum for which I was elected.

The

other Ulster unionist member

0:18:070:18:12

involved remembers it.

I remember a

police officer saying to me, do you

0:18:120:18:20

want carried out or would you walk

out? I walked out with two policemen

0:18:200:18:26

in front and two policemen behind

and they left me at the top of the

0:18:260:18:31

steps with members who had been

carried out and some of them didn't

0:18:310:18:35

do in a very dignified way but it

was an interesting experience.

An

0:18:350:18:43

experience missed by the SDLP and

Sinn Fein, who boycotted that

0:18:430:18:48

Assembly and didn't seem keen on

another.

The Secretary of State

0:18:480:18:54

hasn't made detail available but the

idea we go into a talking shop while

0:18:540:18:59

there is no movement on issues which

has caused the blockage is a waste

0:18:590:19:05

of everybody's time.

The

transitional Assembly fared better.

0:19:050:19:11

Its first day got off to a bad start

with an unwelcome visitor called

0:19:110:19:16

Michael Stone.

0:19:160:19:21

Michael Stone. The then Speaker

doubts the present government would

0:19:210:19:24

repeat the exercise.

They thought

they would try this to keep the MLAs

0:19:240:19:33

who were directly involved in

negotiations, to keep them thinking

0:19:330:19:38

of themselves as parliamentarians

and they would have work to do in

0:19:380:19:43

the Assembly, it would still be

alive thing. I think that is a good

0:19:430:19:47

idea.

Nationalists want the

British-Irish Intergovernmental

0:19:470:19:54

Conference, last held here 11 years

ago.

Devolved administration is the

0:19:540:20:02

number-1 objective and if they

achieve that by another method, that

0:20:020:20:08

is fine. I see the conference as a

fallback solution, it talks go well

0:20:080:20:14

then you wouldn't want to antagonise

local parties, especially the DUP.

0:20:140:20:21

If you had the conference it would

be a sign we are battening down for

0:20:210:20:26

direct rule.

Whichever ever or she

backs, the Secretary of State may

0:20:260:20:31

find that she cannot win.

0:20:310:20:32

Gareth Gordon reporting.

0:20:320:20:33

Let's hear what my guests

Danny Kennedy, Claire Sugden

0:20:330:20:36

and Daithi McKay make of those odds

for a return to Stormont.

0:20:360:20:38

Daithi McKay, if you were a betting

man, would you take a punt

0:20:380:20:42

on the Assembly coming back

any time soon?

0:20:420:20:44

I don't think so. In terms of the

pretend Assembly, I don't think

0:20:440:20:52

Nationalists will touch that with a

barge pole, as far as the main

0:20:520:20:57

nationalist parties are concerned

the only show in town is the

0:20:570:21:01

intergovernmental conference.

You

have come a long way. Danny Kennedy,

0:21:010:21:11

will you be pushing for a pretend

Assembly?

I'm still trying to come

0:21:110:21:15

to terms with the crowd by Daithi

McKay about John Tait. I think what

0:21:150:21:21

is more likely is more negotiations,

I think this suggestion I would have

0:21:210:21:31

is that they be made multiparty and

not just to parties because that

0:21:310:21:36

would lend some difference to it and

it might create a better atmosphere.

0:21:360:21:43

You were optimistic that the process

can be reinvigorated sooner rather

0:21:430:21:48

than later although it ended in a

complete shambles a few weeks ago.

I

0:21:480:21:55

think there will be one more attempt

by the two governments to achieve

0:21:550:22:00

that, whether or not it is in the

two largest parties' interests to

0:22:000:22:07

have those negotiations, to widen

them out to other parties or stay

0:22:070:22:11

where they are with the Westminster

influence of the DUP and the

0:22:110:22:17

prospect of an Irish election for

Sinn Fein.

Claire Sundin, do you

0:22:170:22:23

think the people will stand for some

kind of transitional shadow

0:22:230:22:30

Assembly? They want people to get on

with their job or clear off and find

0:22:300:22:35

another job.

I think anything short

of an executive and the Assembly,

0:22:350:22:42

anything else would normalise the

situation and allow the other actors

0:22:420:22:49

involved, namely the British

government in terms of their

0:22:490:22:51

interest around Brexit, to let

Northern Ireland to go on this way.

0:22:510:22:57

People speak to me every day about

how frustrated the art that

0:22:570:23:03

institutions are not running because

it affects them day-to-day so I

0:23:030:23:08

worry this is another stopgap so

they can get on with the other

0:23:080:23:13

politics distracting them, and

perhaps now that the budget has been

0:23:130:23:17

passed at Westminster, maybe there

is a chance for talks because it

0:23:170:23:22

means the DUP have had an input into

a budget so maybe now they might get

0:23:220:23:28

back to talking.

We will find out in

due course if you are onto

0:23:280:23:35

something. Thank you all for joining

us.

0:23:350:23:37

A St Patrick's Day

reception is taking place

0:23:370:23:39

in the White House this evening.

0:23:390:23:41

Earlier the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar,

met Donald Trump for the traditional

0:23:410:23:43

shamrock ceremony in the Oval

Office.

0:23:430:23:45

So will a trip across the pond

help improve relations

0:23:450:23:47

between the parties after last

month's failed negotiations?

0:23:470:23:49

Shane Harrison is in Washington

for us this evening.

0:23:490:23:54

What's happening as we

speak, then, Shane?

0:23:540:24:00

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has

just left the White House after

0:24:000:24:06

presenting Donald Trump with the

traditional bowl of shamrock. There

0:24:060:24:10

is a reception on going, not present

are the current leaders and deputy

0:24:100:24:16

leaders of Sinn Fein or the DUP but

Gerry Adams, the former Sinn Fein

0:24:160:24:23

leader, and Ian Paisley, the DUP MP

for North Antrim. The two men met

0:24:230:24:31

earlier, they discussed our

hardboard and Brexit and the

0:24:310:24:35

American president said he would

like to visit Ireland soon and that

0:24:350:24:40

he had a great property there. The

Doon Bay golf club.

And that golf

0:24:400:24:47

club and the association with Donald

Trump and Leo Varadkar now causing a

0:24:470:24:53

bit of a difficulty for Mr Rudd cart

because of previous contacts he had

0:24:530:24:58

with the now president a couple of

years ago.

Leo Varadkar surprised

0:24:580:25:05

many people in his speech at Capitol

Hill when he went off script as if

0:25:050:25:11

his sudden memory about a previous

contact with Donald Trump had come

0:25:110:25:15

to him and he remembered that four

years ago he was in London for R&B

0:25:150:25:22

weekend when Ireland played England

and he got a phone call from someone

0:25:220:25:26

saying Donald Trump wanted to talk

to him about planning permission, to

0:25:260:25:32

object to planning permission for up

wind farm. Leo Varadkar said he

0:25:320:25:38

contacted Clare county council and

the wind farm was refused. He says

0:25:380:25:44

he wasn't responsible for that bit

of Donald Trump wants to give him

0:25:440:25:49

credit, he will accept that. Clare

county council say they have no

0:25:490:25:54

record of Leo Varadkar's

intervention.

What about the

0:25:540:26:01

appointment of a new US peace envoy?

There had been speculation that

0:26:010:26:08

perhaps to Donald Trump would

announce the appointment of at UN

0:26:080:26:16

special envoy. He didn't seem that

keen on it, American encouragement

0:26:160:26:22

but no need for an honest broker.

This was an issue I spoke too with

0:26:220:26:29

Congressman Richie Neal, who was a

Democrat and friend of Ireland, and

0:26:290:26:33

I asked where we stood with regard

to this.

In September I spoke to the

0:26:330:26:41

president who indicated to me he

intended Philippe to do that and

0:26:410:26:45

later General Kelly confirmed they

intended to do that. There has been

0:26:450:26:51

a delay with the process but I

understand they renewed their

0:26:510:26:54

interest and expect to go forward.

When do we expect an announcement?

0:26:540:27:02

The White House say every day is a

challenge, they seem to start with

0:27:020:27:08

intentions but get derailed by

another issue.

Might the fact that

0:27:080:27:14

Rex Tillerson is no longer Secretary

of State complicate it?

He confirmed

0:27:140:27:21

that it was the Trump

Administration's position that they

0:27:210:27:24

would appoint an envoy.

Leo Varadkar

it didn't seem too keen on envoy, he

0:27:240:27:31

said he was looking for

encouragement but not an honest

0:27:310:27:34

broker.

There might be an argument

that suggests differences between

0:27:340:27:42

the parties now are relatively small

compared to what they were 25 years

0:27:420:27:46

ago so he might be saying that

nurturing might be what they are

0:27:460:27:53

interested in, at the same time I

think getting those institutions up

0:27:530:27:58

and running in a representative

democracy are critical.

Who does

0:27:580:28:05

Irish America blame for this

impasse?

Irish America would

0:28:050:28:11

indicate the DUP is responsible for

the delay and I think Irish America

0:28:110:28:15

play an important role in offering

dimension to the success of the Good

0:28:150:28:20

Friday Agreement.

0:28:200:28:23

What happens over the neck couple of

days?

The Taoiseach will meet the US

0:28:230:28:29

Vice-President Mike Pence there is

Irish media interest in that. Mike

0:28:290:28:33

Pence is not noted for his support

of gay rights. Leo Varadkar has been

0:28:330:28:39

referencing his support for gay

rights, for same-sex marriage. There

0:28:390:28:42

is a lot of interest in that. Later

on in the day he will head to New

0:28:420:28:46

York where of course there is the

big

0:28:460:28:52

St Patrick parade on Saturday.

. You

very much .thank indeed.

0:28:520:28:58

Let's hear from tonight's

commentators, Fionnuala

0:28:580:29:00

O'Connor and Alex Kane.

0:29:000:29:02

Welcome to you both. Good to have

you back. Let's talk about

0:29:020:29:07

transparency in government first of

all. Fionnuala, how big an issue is

0:29:070:29:14

it that Davidster Sterling said what

had he said at the RHI inquiry?

It

0:29:140:29:17

seems to be a pretty big issue thchl

is the head of the civil certificate

0:29:170:29:24

advice behaving in a way that poses

as many questions about civil

0:29:240:29:27

servants as it does about

politicians. That is an easy

0:29:270:29:30

statement for him to make when he

suggests that the two main parties

0:29:300:29:35

were involved with no way of... The

two main parties suggested this

0:29:350:29:40

policy if they didn't actually

enforce it of discouraging minutes.

0:29:400:29:46

He didn't actually say - they said

you must do this. He suggested a

0:29:460:29:52

culture, I think that was the way he

put. It which leaves you to suppose

0:29:520:29:57

that civil servants decided off

their own bat that this was a way to

0:29:570:30:00

please the ministers. That they

would not go for minutes. Really,

0:30:000:30:05

that's a dreadful, very uncivil

servant position to take.

It could

0:30:050:30:09

equally be the case that it was the

ministers who decided that that's

0:30:090:30:13

the road they wanted to go down and

prevailed upon the civil servants

0:30:130:30:19

to.

Civil servants are supposed to

be masters and mistresses of clear

0:30:190:30:27

and logical pros. This was an owe

bake thing to say. It was also a

0:30:270:30:32

fairly shocking thing to say at the

moment we are told repeatedly that

0:30:320:30:36

civil servants are carrying

government. That we are lucky to

0:30:360:30:39

have them carrying government in

lieu of the politicians. I was taken

0:30:390:30:44

by the suggestion that might just

have been an intended as distraction

0:30:440:30:50

from the RHI inquiry, from David

Sterling's role in the RHI scheme.

0:30:500:30:55

It's a theory he floated. No

evidence to suggest -

What a weird

0:30:550:31:01

thing for a civil servant to be

doing.

The former senior civil

0:31:010:31:05

servant who we spoke to who said it

was indeed pretty prevalent

0:31:050:31:09

particularly on the part of the DUP

told us it's got a lot worse in

0:31:090:31:13

recent years. FoI began when the

government's position was to give

0:31:130:31:18

information. That turned around into

trying to not give the information

0:31:180:31:22

to members of the public.

What we

don't know for certain is how long

0:31:220:31:26

it's been going on. Certainly the

information seems to be that SDLUP,

0:31:260:31:31

and Alliance ministers are saying

they had no experience of it. They

0:31:310:31:34

didn't understand this. Did it

happen in 2016 when the DUP and Sinn

0:31:340:31:39

Fein cut their own deal.

Obviously

not. In the Finance Committee

0:31:390:31:44

inquiry into Nama in November 2015

David Sterling was then telling

0:31:440:31:49

Daithi McKay was a problem and they

needed to stop doing that.

I accept

0:31:490:31:55

that. It the doesn't seem to have

changed. The most extraordinary

0:31:550:31:58

thing about Sterling's comment was

that this seems to have been done to

0:31:580:32:03

spare the blushes of the Sinn Fein

and the DUP. That will they might be

0:32:030:32:07

doing or making unpopular decisions.

Thinking the unthinkable.

Given the

0:32:070:32:11

timing of this, Mark, two weeks

after Sinn Fein and the DUP falling

0:32:110:32:14

about over pieces of paper which

ended up being leaked. This man now

0:32:140:32:18

saying - we are keeping touch away.

. The whole idea is consist sent i

0:32:180:32:24

and continuity. We record this, but

won't bother with this. Say a new

0:32:240:32:31

minister comes in or disagreements

with the parties you need records.

0:32:310:32:34

If it will embarst ration a minister

further down-the-line, tough, that

0:32:340:32:37

is what politics is.

Let us tie it

into the other conversation about

0:32:370:32:44

whether or not transition/shadow

Assembly could be in the offing

0:32:440:32:46

sooner rather than later. If you

were a betting woman, would you take

0:32:460:32:49

a punt on that?

Oh, not for a

minute. It ties together in an odd

0:32:490:32:56

way, when you think of it. The

suggestion is that they we have to

0:32:560:32:59

have the Assembly back because civil

servants should not be left to run

0:32:590:33:03

government because this isn't right.

This isn't democratic. Meanwhile we

0:33:030:33:07

get this intervention by a civil

servants which makes us think, are

0:33:070:33:11

we so sure about the civil service?

What I do think is absolutely

0:33:110:33:15

unlikely is that there would be any

nationalist buy into this at all. As

0:33:150:33:21

again Daithi McKay said. Who would

will go back to that? This is

0:33:210:33:25

pre-Good Friday Agreement

proposition. No Executive, an

0:33:250:33:28

Assembly that is a talking shop.

Final thought on that. Nationalists

0:33:280:33:33

won't wear it, Alex

I don't think

anybody will wear it. The public

0:33:330:33:36

won't wear it. A real Assembly that

doesn't work. Even bring in a

0:33:360:33:43

pretend, that is crazy stuff.

We

will leave it there. Thank you both

0:33:430:33:46

very much.

0:33:460:33:50

That's it from The View

for this week.

0:33:500:33:52

Join me for Sunday Politics

at 11.35am, here on BBC One.

0:33:520:33:54

But we leave you tonight

with the observations of one

0:33:540:33:57

of Britain's finest civil servants

on what should - and should not -

0:33:570:34:00

be a matter of public record.

0:34:000:34:01

Good night.

0:34:010:34:02

What is your problem?

Well, the

minutes aren't written yet.

I see.

0:34:020:34:05

So what should I do?

Write them,

dear man.

The problem is, the Prime

0:34:050:34:12

Minister did try to suppress the

chapter, didn't he?

I don't know,

0:34:120:34:15

did he?

Didn't he, don't you

remember?

What I remember is

0:34:150:34:20

irrelevant Bernard. If the minutes

don't say he did, he didn't.

You

0:34:200:34:25

want me to fallify the minutes.

I

want nothing of the sort. It's up to

0:34:250:34:29

you Bernard, what do you want?

I

want to have a clear conscience.

A

0:34:290:34:34

clear conscience.

Yes.

When did you

acquire this taste for luxuries? The

0:34:340:34:39

purpose of minutes is not to record

events it's to protect people.

You

0:34:390:34:45

do not take notes if the Prime

Minister says something he did not

0:34:450:34:48

mean to say, particularly if it

contradicts something he has said

0:34:480:34:51

pub iically. But how do I justify

that?

You are his servant.

Oh, yes.

0:34:510:35:04

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.