01/07/2014 Stormont Today


01/07/2014

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Transcript


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As the Assembly once again discusses parades, the focus narrows in

:00:25.:00:30.

Returning home on the Twelfth night along the main Crumlin Road to their

:00:31.:00:45.

starting point at Ligoniel. Is it too much to ask?

:00:46.:00:49.

Edwin Poots criticises the Belfast Health Trust over the

:00:50.:00:51.

Management of the flow of patients, in the Royal Victoria Hospital and

:00:52.:00:55.

across the Trust as a whole, could have been handled better. I am very

:00:56.:00:58.

disappointed by the Trust's apparent inability to identify and

:00:59.:01:01.

plan for those anticipated pressures.

:01:02.:01:05.

And I'm joined by Steven McCaffery, editor of the news website

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It was the last scheduled sitting of the Assembly today and,

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perhaps fittingly, proceedings were dominated by a continuing point

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of contention - parades, protests and how to police them.

:01:22.:01:25.

The Ulster Unionist motion called for everyone involved to show

:01:26.:01:28.

"respect, restraint and tolerance", but in

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And once again the ongoing stand-off at Twaddell Avenue was

:01:31.:01:35.

It is unfortunate that during the multiparty talks that we could not

:01:36.:01:51.

find agreement on the issue of parades and related protests. I

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suppose we came reasonably close to an overarching agreement. But even

:01:59.:02:02.

if we did it was not going to deal with a number of those contentious

:02:03.:02:07.

parades. That is a major difficulty that we will have even if we do find

:02:08.:02:15.

that resolution we are looking for. I do hope that these words will see

:02:16.:02:21.

positive actions to follow. We have seen on a number of occasions

:02:22.:02:24.

statements put forward by the executive and this assembly and that

:02:25.:02:31.

actions following that have not met the high standards of the statement

:02:32.:02:38.

put forward. We have seen members of the opposing party, the Ulster

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Unionist party, put up tension by telling international mediators to

:02:43.:02:47.

go home. When their party leader was in negotiation with that

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international mediator around these difficult issues. I was part of a

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joint delegation to the Parades Commission. When the chair said in

:02:59.:03:03.

relation to Ardoyne, I quote, there is absolute rejection from what we

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have heard from all nationalist parties to an evening parade. So

:03:08.:03:13.

accommodation, shared space, shared future, tolerance and respect, there

:03:14.:03:19.

is not any. There is absolute rejection from all sides. This is

:03:20.:03:24.

not an issue that only cropped up in the past number of years, it is not

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something conjured up by Gerry Adams or Jerry Kelly. It has been going on

:03:31.:03:35.

for hundreds of years. It is part of our history. Going back to the

:03:36.:03:40.

1800s, the early 20th century, there have always been issues around

:03:41.:03:44.

parades and they have not been resolved. In the times we are living

:03:45.:03:51.

in, in the debate that we are having, does it not come down to

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this. Clever people in every party are prepared to say today that

:03:59.:04:04.

whatever happens in the next two weeks, that they themselves as

:04:05.:04:10.

parties and that they will advise people wherever it might be in

:04:11.:04:13.

Northern Ireland to accept the decision of the Parades Commission.

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Three small lodges and one band returning home on the Twelfth Night

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along the main Crumlin Road to their starting point at Ligoniel. Is it

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too much to ask? Is there sufficient respect, restraint and tolerance on

:04:35.:04:39.

that side of the chamber to allow them to do that? They may vote for a

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motion that speaks about these things, but the reality is there is

:04:46.:04:51.

no respect and there is no tolerance.

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I think it is late in the day, this is already the 1st of July. The

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Richard Haass talks are over six months. We have had a period of

:05:03.:05:11.

party leader discussions on and off for the last several weeks. So

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tomorrow dolls commence a set of negotiations, none of us know where

:05:16.:05:21.

they will go. Certainly from our party 's point of view are committed

:05:22.:05:25.

to making sure they're successful and we do conclude on the business

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laid out by the Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan final paper.

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Sinn Fein as the party are those who demand shared government. But not

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repaired to share the public road. -- prepared. The audacity to say, we

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demand as of right to share in government, but we will not

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tolerate, permit, allow, the sharing of public space.

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Steven McCaffery joins me in the studio.

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Steven, it did seem an odd time to be debating the parading issue,

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It was one day that created the impression that Stormont is

:06:12.:06:22.

sometimes in a bubble. But more positively at least the motion was

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aimed at sending out a positive message. And the debate itself was

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calm except that the DUP representatives from North Belfast

:06:33.:06:35.

came maybe more agitated than the others. But there and sit in the art

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in the eye of the storm. Dashed their constituencies. We have had a

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debate about parades involving politicians that did not deal in any

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detail with the data that exists showing there are more parades than

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ever before. We have reported on this for three years. Over 95% go

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ahead with no restriction whatsoever. And further research

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from Queens extended that vision even further to show that wider

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loyalist culture is enjoying something of a golden age. That does

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not seem to impact on the temperature of the politics around

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this issue. Not necessarily help people from that community would

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interpret things. That is the disconnect. Parades being discussed

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by the five parties tomorrow in this pick-up from the Richard Haass

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talks. You any optimism of a kind of resolution? Given that since the

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talks themselves collapsed at the start of the year, we have had

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nothing but critical recrimination and infighting on all kinds of

:07:51.:07:55.

issues. The climate could not be worse. I do not know anyone who has

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expectations. And parades is the example of where the reality does

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not match the perception. And the realities of these issues does not

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impact on the political dynamic. The first and deputy first ministers

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will not even be at the first day of the talks. Important meetings are

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taking place in London on that day but it will give the impression that

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the talks will begin with a whimper instead of a bang. The Sinn Fein

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delegation meeting the Prime Minister in Downing Street tomorrow.

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The first time they have met David Cameron in that way since he took

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office. Yes, it is incredible and the funny element is that that

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conversation is likely to be dominated by the fact that the Prime

:08:47.:08:49.

Minister has a close relationship with the DUP. It will be one of the

:08:50.:08:56.

more interesting ones perhaps, what made come out of the talks that day.

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And there is another meeting to discuss the Northern Ireland

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economic pact. Well you might save this is important mood music to help

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the talks. If you were more suspicious you might say it is

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choreography to give the impression of action when there is not any.

:09:17.:09:22.

It was a busy day for the Health Minister.

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In his first appearance before the house, Edwin Poots criticised

:09:26.:09:27.

the Belfast Health Trust for its management of patients, particularly

:09:28.:09:30.

prior to the declaration of a major incident in January.

:09:31.:09:32.

His comments followed the publication of a review by the

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Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority into unscheduled care

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The RQIA has identified planning and systems failures by the Belfast

:09:37.:09:50.

trust in the period leading up to be inserted in January. Management of

:09:51.:09:53.

the flow of patients in the Royal Victoria Hospital and across the

:09:54.:09:56.

trust could have been handled better. I'm disappointed at the

:09:57.:10:01.

apparent inability of the trust to identify and plan for these

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anticipated pressures. I am contacting the chairs and acting

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chief executives of the Belfast trust and health and social chair

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board to ask them to account for these systems failures. I required

:10:14.:10:16.

their assurance that they have learnt lessons from the findings of

:10:17.:10:21.

RQIA and are taking steps to prevent this happening in the future. RQIA

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has made a number of recommendations for concerted actions across the

:10:31.:10:33.

region to improve the delivery of unscheduled care. I believe the

:10:34.:10:39.

floor to secure improvements in the delivery of unscheduled care, then a

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reasonable approach is essential. -- regional. I am announcing my

:10:43.:10:47.

decision to establish a regional task group to take forward the

:10:48.:10:53.

recommendations under the leadership of my department?s Chief medical

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Officer Doctor Michael McBride and the chief nursing officer who will

:10:58.:11:03.

co-chair the task group. I want to see results and have set the clear

:11:04.:11:08.

aim for the task group of eliminating all avoidable 12 are

:11:09.:11:13.

waiting time breaches from this winter onwards. And over the next 18

:11:14.:11:17.

months make significant process towards achieving the four hours

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waiting time standard. The findings are back in the five years covered,

:11:24.:11:28.

83 serious adverse incidents were recorded. Of those 48 involved death

:11:29.:11:34.

of a patient. 13 of those identified some element of delay in aspect of

:11:35.:11:39.

their care. Delays arose from a range of reasons. Including issues

:11:40.:11:46.

around the triage process, a misdiagnosis, the accurate and

:11:47.:11:51.

timely communication of information and the speed with which medications

:11:52.:11:55.

or treatments were delivered. It is impossible to definitively say to

:11:56.:11:58.

what extent any delay has contributed to any death. It is

:11:59.:12:08.

clear that RQIA have identified that there were planning and systems

:12:09.:12:11.

failures by the Belfast trust. But what is quite stark in the

:12:12.:12:16.

Minister?s statement is his comment that I am very disappointed by the

:12:17.:12:21.

trust?s apparent inability to identify and plan for these

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anticipated pressures. Can the Minister therefore give this

:12:27.:12:31.

house and insight as to first of all what were the systems failings and

:12:32.:12:38.

indeed what recommendations will be progressed and also, if he would go

:12:39.:12:46.

as far as to comment on the response from the ombudsman this morning

:12:47.:12:50.

around high levels of dissatisfaction with the complaints

:12:51.:12:56.

processes within the health trusts. I think it is important that we

:12:57.:12:59.

ensured that when we are dealing with complaints coming in from the

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public, but they are dealt with in a very clear and consistent way. Some

:13:05.:13:12.

trusts perform better in terms of managing complaints than others and

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I have experienced that myself. Therefore I would like a greater

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level of consistency applied throughout the trusts in terms of

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their response to complaints. There was no let up for the

:13:22.:13:30.

Health Minister. During Question Time,

:13:31.:13:32.

he was asked about the impact that failing to reach an agreement

:13:33.:13:35.

on cuts to the welfare system was Mr Poots began

:13:36.:13:37.

by outlining the savings he planned to make in order to accommodate

:13:38.:13:41.

his department's share of the Some ?160 -- million pounds of

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additional resources are estimated to be required to balance the

:13:54.:13:58.

books. The deficit remains in spite of my commitment to deliver some

:13:59.:14:03.

?170 million of savings. I have requested further resources in the

:14:04.:14:10.

June monitoring round and is not forthcoming the executive will

:14:11.:14:13.

effectively agreed to a number of serious implications such as pay

:14:14.:14:18.

constraints on hard-working staff, reducing the standard of services

:14:19.:14:21.

offered and the addition of dashed the introduction of additional

:14:22.:14:27.

charges. Longer waiting times for scheduled care. I have not and will

:14:28.:14:33.

not take actions by myself that will have an impact on front line care

:14:34.:14:37.

for patients and clients. And I will not plan for cuts in vital health

:14:38.:14:42.

and social care services to pay for the current refusal of some members

:14:43.:14:46.

of this house to take the necessary decisions in relation to welfare

:14:47.:14:50.

reform. To do nothing is not an option. The failure to agree welfare

:14:51.:14:57.

reform is unforgivable and as financial penalties are imposed by

:14:58.:15:03.

the Treasury there are surely better directed at meeting the real and

:15:04.:15:07.

pressing health and social care needs of some of the most vulnerable

:15:08.:15:21.

people in our society. Hit in the present financial year. If the

:15:22.:15:27.

welfare reform issue is not settled soon, what are the indications for

:15:28.:15:35.

future budgets of this department if we have to pay penalties to

:15:36.:15:37.

Westminster because of our inability to deal with this issue? Every

:15:38.:15:45.

departure and will feel the pinch. Dyas the

:15:46.:15:46.

departure and will feel the pinch. Dyas the minister if we would be

:15:47.:15:51.

better served not following his campaigns Aleem Maqbool ideological

:15:52.:15:55.

campaigns on welfare reform... The rough finds which have not even been

:15:56.:16:02.

implemented by the executive yet. Irony despair at the lack of

:16:03.:16:07.

knowledge demonstrated by the member who has just spoken. Order, order.

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The fact that members will close their eyes. You take your decision,

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stand by it. Come to this house and say, we believe that we are better

:16:21.:16:23.

spending this money on welfare than on health. Stand up and say it. Do

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not be a coward. People need to be very clear that money is being taken

:16:29.:16:33.

from the Northern Ireland budget. The consequence of that money being

:16:34.:16:38.

taken is impacting health and education and justice. And the

:16:39.:16:43.

members opposite are the people who are doing it. Would this argument is

:16:44.:16:47.

not have greater weight and credibility in the wider public mind

:16:48.:16:52.

if he was able to demonstrate some measure of ability in transforming

:16:53.:16:59.

his care plan against the 1999 targets so that people would

:17:00.:17:01.

understand not just that he needs the money but where the money is

:17:02.:17:03.

going? The SDLP's Fearghal McKinney.

:17:04.:17:10.

Steven McCaffery from the Detail is still with me.

:17:11.:17:12.

Steven, thank you. Welfare reform seems to be the goal

:17:13.:17:21.

to defence for any DUP Minister? It seems like the argument really

:17:22.:17:26.

involved the DUP and Sinn Fein but I'd think that today's debate, it

:17:27.:17:31.

was obvious that the STL P was launching in on this idea that the

:17:32.:17:36.

DUP are using it as a blanket defence in health at least. I

:17:37.:17:42.

thought eye detected a little bit of annoyance on the part of the

:17:43.:17:46.

minister when that was put to him. Do you have any sense that this is

:17:47.:17:49.

an issue which is nearing some kind of resolution or is it as

:17:50.:17:55.

intractable now as it was six months or a year ago. The same reasons that

:17:56.:17:59.

lead to it being blocked are still in place so it is hard to imagine

:18:00.:18:04.

that it will be blocked. Given that Sinn Fein are talking about some

:18:05.:18:08.

kind of movement if and when the government is replaced next year in

:18:09.:18:12.

London, that would suggest that we are in for a long haul and not a

:18:13.:18:18.

short solution. There has to be some sort of resolution. It cannot drift

:18:19.:18:22.

for ever with the current state of play. There has to be ultimately

:18:23.:18:28.

some kind of compromise. We have been in this position on other

:18:29.:18:32.

issues at Stormont, issues that have gone on for quite some time and have

:18:33.:18:36.

involved important issues. Irony think that the parties reluctance to

:18:37.:18:42.

accept the reform are digging in their heels. It will be interesting

:18:43.:18:51.

to follow. The damning report into A here in Belfast that we reported

:18:52.:18:54.

on a few minutes ago, the Health Minister is clearly not happy with

:18:55.:18:57.

the performance of the Belfast trust. Yes. His defence was to go on

:18:58.:19:02.

the attack. That was something that did not wash with the Ulster

:19:03.:19:05.

Unionists. They accused him of spinning the figures away from the

:19:06.:19:12.

wider problems. But that is a row that is also not going away any time

:19:13.:19:14.

soon. Thank you indeed. Steven, thank you.

:19:15.:19:18.

Yet another health related story, and MLAs today called for the

:19:19.:19:21.

setting up of a biomedical research centre in Northern Ireland.

:19:22.:19:23.

Members also asked the Health Minister

:19:24.:19:25.

for more cancer research and greater access to experimental drugs for

:19:26.:19:27.

those suffering with the disease. The SDLP's Fearghal McKinney

:19:28.:19:28.

brought the motion to the house. We can approach this issue from a

:19:29.:19:42.

number of different angles but we will not achieve the full ambition

:19:43.:19:49.

and -- unless we see this as a journey which will affect them all

:19:50.:19:52.

equally. Cancer patients benefiting from diagnostic treatments, drugs

:19:53.:19:56.

developed here and trials here through well-paid jobs which are

:19:57.:19:59.

based here, bringing income which they see. A global centre of

:20:00.:20:08.

excellence. We need to do more to see the development of a world-class

:20:09.:20:11.

centre of excellence in cancer research and the development of

:20:12.:20:16.

drugs here in Northern Ireland. In relation to cancer drugs, there is a

:20:17.:20:20.

real need for access to the 38 drugs are available in the rest of the UK.

:20:21.:20:24.

There is a strong lobby out there for such treatments and I know the

:20:25.:20:28.

Minister has a lot of sympathy for the provision of such drugs. Whilst

:20:29.:20:32.

there are significant of elements that I have alluded to, in terms of

:20:33.:20:39.

research and treatment, as the proposers of the motion, we rightly

:20:40.:20:44.

state that we have equality issues when it comes to access to the type

:20:45.:20:50.

of drugs that are required. And it is very clear to us all that access

:20:51.:20:57.

to drugs and treatment should not be by dint of postcode. How do we

:20:58.:21:02.

develop a dedicated cancer drug fund for liberally funding those of very

:21:03.:21:11.

high cost drugs, sometimes experimental drugs that are very

:21:12.:21:15.

expensive. I think that is something I've wanted to see people across

:21:16.:21:18.

Northern Ireland having access to. And I think that is vital that they

:21:19.:21:23.

have access to them. I want to see that. We are lagging behind the rest

:21:24.:21:28.

of the country in that and that is something that this assembly should

:21:29.:21:32.

be aiming to put right. One of the members said he wanted equality with

:21:33.:21:39.

England. England charge ?8 a head for prescriptions. I am not

:21:40.:21:41.

proposing we do that. I want to do something less. The member said, and

:21:42.:21:51.

that will take an intervention. But does he want an ?8 prescription

:21:52.:22:00.

charge? I want to do something considerably less. Ten years ago, I

:22:01.:22:03.

was diagnosed with cancer and given the treatment. I was given the right

:22:04.:22:08.

drugs. Are you really saying no to people like me today?

:22:09.:22:11.

The Justice Minister, David Ford, also faced questions today

:22:12.:22:14.

and he was asked to introduce legislation aimed at compelling

:22:15.:22:17.

former RUC officers to give evidence in Troubles-related cases.

:22:18.:22:19.

The SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley raised the matter, referring to the recent

:22:20.:22:22.

Police Ombudsman's investigation into the murder of RUC Constable

:22:23.:22:24.

Can ask the minister a question regarding the police ombudsman's

:22:25.:22:40.

report into the matter of Sergeant Joe Campbell of the RUC? Is the

:22:41.:22:48.

minister concerned that attempts to frustrate the ombudsman's

:22:49.:22:50.

investigation through the symptomatic destruction of evidence?

:22:51.:22:59.

I need to be very careful, especially as Sergeant Campbell was

:23:00.:23:03.

murdered long before I came to office and under very different

:23:04.:23:06.

circumstances. That is exactly the first thing high would wish to

:23:07.:23:13.

save. I will record my sympathy for Sergeant Campbell's family because

:23:14.:23:18.

of this publicity. It would be a matter of concern that if evidence

:23:19.:23:24.

was destroyed as part of any investigation. There are other

:23:25.:23:29.

factors about witnesses. I wonder if there is division in this house

:23:30.:23:33.

about these issues. On that point, with the Minister agree that there

:23:34.:23:38.

is a need for legislation to ensure that retired members of the RUC

:23:39.:23:44.

cooperate with the ombudsman's investigations? Well, I have a paper

:23:45.:23:54.

before the executive looking at the issue of a number of matters

:23:55.:23:57.

relating to the ombudsman's work, including the compatibility of

:23:58.:24:02.

retired police officers. It is clear that there is no political consensus

:24:03.:24:05.

and it is unlikely that legislation would pass the house, but I can see

:24:06.:24:09.

why members of families like the Campbell family would mesh the lack

:24:10.:24:14.

-- would wish to see compelling ability. We have the knowledge that

:24:15.:24:18.

if we go back that far there might be no valid evidence forthcoming in

:24:19.:24:21.

such circumstances but it is understandable why people would wish

:24:22.:24:26.

to explore that. Can ask the minister if he agrees that the only

:24:27.:24:29.

way to avoid the criminal justice issues that have come out of these

:24:30.:24:35.

controversial parades are the only way to deal with that is for people

:24:36.:24:38.

to get around the table in the same way that happened in Derry, and top

:24:39.:24:44.

out the issue, to ensure that we can have respect and tolerance across? I

:24:45.:24:54.

am happy to agree, between an MLA from foil in the speakers chair and

:24:55.:24:58.

one asking the question, there are definitely was the examples of

:24:59.:25:03.

instances where people from Derry and Londonderry have got together to

:25:04.:25:08.

deal with the issues. To get that kind of mood into certain areas of

:25:09.:25:10.

Belfast is lacking at I hope that the leadership in this house would

:25:11.:25:15.

provide some of that joining up. How do you respond to criticism,

:25:16.:25:19.

Minister, levelled against your department by sinister is for

:25:20.:25:23.

solicitors for the most senior coroner that the access to legacy

:25:24.:25:28.

issues is an enormous embarrassment to the state? As I said to other

:25:29.:25:36.

members of this house, it is absolutely clear that there are

:25:37.:25:38.

fundamental issues of resources. Issues like obtaining all the

:25:39.:25:44.

necessary information for inquests are enormously complex and demanding

:25:45.:25:51.

of time. Skilled personnel, of whom there are a limited number, are also

:25:52.:25:55.

in demand. There have been difficulties encountered in doing

:25:56.:26:00.

that. That has never been denied. What is at issue is to ensure that

:26:01.:26:04.

we provide the system in as joined up a way as possible. That would

:26:05.:26:08.

best be done if we can agree on some of these outstanding issues and find

:26:09.:26:11.

ways that we could collectively deal with them without using the existing

:26:12.:26:15.

inquest system to deal with legacy matters which are more complex.

:26:16.:26:18.

The Enterprise Minister announced that an updated tourism strategy is

:26:19.:26:21.

to be developed following a review of the Northern Ireland Tourist

:26:22.:26:23.

Board which is to have its name changed.

:26:24.:26:25.

Arlene Foster explained that the executive summary of the report

:26:26.:26:27.

highlights ten key recommendations including a review of the skills

:26:28.:26:30.

needs of the tourism sector, and greater collaboration between the

:26:31.:26:32.

The chairman of the Enterprise Committee questioned the updated

:26:33.:26:40.

Note that in the tourism strategy, the consultation document referred

:26:41.:26:51.

to the executive, which should publish an up updated strategy for

:26:52.:26:58.

tourism. Given that this came before the assembly in 2010 and then

:26:59.:27:03.

disappeared into the black hole of the executive, does the Minister

:27:04.:27:09.

rate any higher the chances for success of a fresh strategy for

:27:10.:27:16.

tourism? I thank the member for those points. In relation to the

:27:17.:27:23.

tourism strategy, he is right to say that the last strategy, which was

:27:24.:27:26.

actually brought about after an industry lead panel brought forward

:27:27.:27:32.

recommendations, we brought that aura to the executive.

:27:33.:27:36.

Unfortunately, that was just before the assembly elections and it never

:27:37.:27:44.

came back out again. Therefore, the reviewer has indicated that we need

:27:45.:27:47.

an updated tourism strategy. I have to say that the fact that we have

:27:48.:27:53.

not had an officially endorsed tourism strategy has not prevented

:27:54.:27:56.

the tourism industry from growing and I'd pay tribute to the way the

:27:57.:28:02.

tourism industry has continued to grow during that important year of

:28:03.:28:08.

2012. It will be an updated tragedy taking into account the fact that

:28:09.:28:11.

business tourism has grown, particularly in and around Belfast.

:28:12.:28:16.

Mr Hunter points to the success of visit Belfast in that regard. It

:28:17.:28:22.

will also take into account the whole experience, and the five

:28:23.:28:29.

pillars he talks about. Those need to be reflected in the updated

:28:30.:28:35.

strategy. Finally, the review of public administration will have to

:28:36.:28:38.

be factored into any tourism strategy because rules and

:28:39.:28:39.

responsibilities have changed in that regard.

:28:40.:28:42.

The Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster.

:28:43.:28:43.

Do join me for The View on Thursday at 10.35 on BBC1.

:28:44.:28:48.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont, and is joined by key people from decision makers to opinion formers to make the experience enlightening and entertaining.