01/12/2015 Stormont Today


01/12/2015

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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Helping children with Special Needs, climate change and the refugee

:00:24.:00:27.

crisis - it was the proverbial mixed bag up here on the Hill.

:00:28.:00:32.

But don't worry, there was still room for some good

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old-fashioned argey bargey and name-calling in the chamber and

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time for more details about Peter Robinson's departure as DUP leader

:00:38.:00:39.

Questions about manufacturing and Corporation Tax get personal...

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So here we have in Northern Ireland and opportunity to attract 30,000

:00:54.:01:01.

jobs in Northern Ireland. And the small minded, petty can just snarl.

:01:02.:01:06.

The First Minister gives his support to the refugees due to

:01:07.:01:09.

These are people who are genuine refugees and if I know anything

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about the people of Northern Ireland is that they are charitable and

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giving people who will extend the hand of welcome.

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And joining me with his thoughts on today's developments is

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Professor Rick Wilford from Queen's University...

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He's long been a thorn in the side of the DUP,

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but Jim Allister found himself up against the purple prose of the

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"Small-minded, petty and a self-professed expert

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in everything" - just some of the descriptions Jonathan Bell

:01:41.:01:42.

chose to deploy against the TUV leader in the chamber.

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Mr Bell was answering questions on his brief, including the hosting of

:01:49.:01:51.

the Northern Ireland football team at Stormont, but it was an inquiry

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about the manufacturing sector that kicked the war of words off...

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He talks about ongoing discussions with the minister which will produce

:02:03.:02:11.

the skills needed if he exaggerates his claim about 30,000 jobs on the

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back of corporation tax is ever to be met. The Seaham Minister has time

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about number in recent months complained vigorously and publicly

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about the lack of commitment to skills and skilling up and training

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to meet that challenge. So how is it that the minister thinks he is

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making progress about delivering these things and the minister in

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charge does not seem to know anything about it? We have just got

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another prime example of a small person that needs to try and talk

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other people down. To talk the manufacturing industry down in an

:02:55.:03:03.

attempt to make himself look big. I tell the member, contrary to what he

:03:04.:03:07.

would self believe, he does not know it all. None of us do. The reality

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that we have got is from Professor Neil Gibson of 30,000 jobs. The

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member I know believes himself to be a self-professed expert in

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everything, but he is not and we turned to the best evidence that we

:03:25.:03:30.

have. Here we have in Northern Ireland, an opportunity to attract

:03:31.:03:36.

30,000 jobs in Northern Ireland. And the small-minded, petty can just

:03:37.:03:41.

snarl. Tourism Northern Ireland has been working closely in recent years

:03:42.:03:46.

with various sporting organisations such as the Irish Football

:03:47.:03:49.

Association in developing initiatives to promote Northern

:03:50.:03:54.

Ireland. In terms of the European Championships 2016, tourism Northern

:03:55.:03:58.

Ireland will work with its partners, Tourism Ireland to exploit any

:03:59.:04:04.

potential destination marketing and PR opportunities to promote Northern

:04:05.:04:09.

Ireland in overseas markets. I was disappointed to note that the

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Department for culture arts and leisure have not held a reception

:04:13.:04:16.

for the Northern Ireland team at Stormont, given that the Minister

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has previously welcomed foreign nations, does the Minister plan to

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welcome the team to Stormont in the near future and show his support for

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our home team? I have already issued an invitation which I understand

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will be taken up by the Northern Ireland football team and the

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management around them because it is important for us to celebrate what

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is a huge success for the Northern Ireland team and what they have

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achieved, because even under the old rules of qualification for the

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Euros, Northern Ireland would have qualified this time as well. There

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was no play-off required for the team, they delivered and they

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delivered well and came on top of their group and they deserve the

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support of all of us. And the success not only of our football

:05:03.:05:07.

team also comes on the back of the success of Rory McIlroy, Darren

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Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Carl Frampton, a P McCoy, our

:05:14.:05:16.

Commonwealth Games team and our Olympians. It would be great if our

:05:17.:05:22.

football team -- go would be a disgrace if they were not recognised

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at Stormont. We will ensure that a suitable date, hopefully around the

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time of the March international break, we'll be here to honour the

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team and I hope that all of us, because when I looked at Windsor

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Park and Northern Ireland getting behind the team on one of the best

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nights I have ever enjoyed, and it did give, not only a huge lift to

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those there, it gave a huge lift the country and I hope we can all come

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together and celebrate that success together.

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Jonathan Bell, nailing his sporting credentials to the mast.

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Jim Allister likes to be the one dishing out the ascerbic asides.

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Do you think having Jonathan Bell nipping at

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Not at all. Totally nonplussed. I was reminded of Denis Healey's

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description of being assaulted verbally by Geoffrey Howe like being

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savaged by a dead sheep. This is probably comparable to that. You

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cannot deliver that put down line, you just cannot do it. He could not

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deliver well. He needs to strip to an orthodox script and not try and

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engage in verbal fisticuffs with Jim Allister.

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Do you think the Enterprise Minister is growing into the role?

:06:37.:06:40.

It is a big role to fill. It was formerly occupied by Arlene Foster

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and I think she did do a pretty good job in helping to sell Northern

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Ireland, particularly to overseas investors. I think the shoes are

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probably a bit too big for him, I am not sure he is up to ministerial

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work. not sure he is up to ministerial

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the job over time. With a new leader not sure he is up to ministerial

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in the offing, he could be reshuffled sideways or out, I do not

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think he would be missed. And the potential visit

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of the successful Northern Ireland football team to Stormont still has

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the potential to ruffle It is bound to, but goodness me, if

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you cannot celebrate the success of any sporting venture, whether it is

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an individual or a team, I think there needs to be some sort of

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reception, that is worthwhile. It would be a shame if it did not

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happen and I see there is some possibility for the parish and

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Northern Ireland team celebrated in Dublin and I think it would be

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remiss if they could not happen in Belfast.

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We'll hear more from you again later.

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Today in the chamber, after nine long years, the bill dealing with

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Special Educational Needs - or S-E-N - reached its consideration stage.

:07:54.:07:55.

The goal is to improve the help available to children who

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The bill will only have the desired outcomes if there is a more complex

:07:59.:08:12.

the approach from education and health working through the

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legislative processes, this bill is fine, but the true measure of its

:08:17.:08:21.

effectiveness will be determined how well our SEN children are catered

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for in the future. The sharing is two sided, information can travel

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both ways and importantly may pull budgets and researchers for this

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purpose as exercising their functions. We have heard of the

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example in the delay of child receiving the appropriate care was

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down to a simple yet elongated debate about who would pay for it.

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The committee amendment would resolve that debate and the obvious

:08:48.:08:53.

delay. I support the bill and the amendments. She mentioned the fact

:08:54.:08:58.

that the first review was nine years ago. I think it was only myself and

:08:59.:09:02.

the minister who have been involved with this right through the whole

:09:03.:09:05.

nine years, it sometimes feels like 19 years, but I am glad we have got

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to where we are now and I welcome the bill having got to this stage. I

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think this is a huge step forward with regards to special educational

:09:14.:09:20.

needs. The whole concept behind it is to try and speed up what is an

:09:21.:09:27.

incredibly bureaucratic system. I think everyone in the house will

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welcome the attempts to speed that process up. It goes back to some of

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what I said at second stage, what is disappointing is we have a

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Department of education bill for special education needs when what we

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need is an executive bill for special education needs, because SEN

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and disability is not the sole remit of one department, it cuts across a

:09:54.:09:57.

number of departments and indeed, much of the conversation today has

:09:58.:10:01.

been around the need for departments to co-operate. I think it is proper

:10:02.:10:07.

that we reflect on the steady increase of numbers of people with

:10:08.:10:15.

SEN over the last ten years. Some 73,435 pupils with SEN in 2014 and

:10:16.:10:21.

2015. There is a stark but clear need in relation to advancing this

:10:22.:10:26.

legislation. This bill has not been delayed due to political fallout or

:10:27.:10:30.

expediency. This bill has been brought forward on the basis that we

:10:31.:10:34.

want to bring as many people with us as possible. We have sought

:10:35.:10:39.

agreement, we have interrogated the issues, we have debated the issues

:10:40.:10:45.

both in terms of the original consultation. Many debates within

:10:46.:10:49.

the committee even in my time in the committee, presentations by myself

:10:50.:10:55.

to the current Education Committee, and by others in the SEN field

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because we want to get this piece of legislation out. We want to make

:10:59.:11:01.

sure that this piece of legislation is the building block upon which we

:11:02.:11:05.

build a moderate SEN service. It's been just a week since MLAs

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applauded Peter Robinson leaving the chamber, but he was back again

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today reporting on the most recent meeting of the

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British-Irish Council in London. And the outgoing First Minister was,

:11:14.:11:16.

perhaps surprisingly, complimentary about the Irish government's

:11:17.:11:18.

involvement with the Council - and critical of the commitment

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of the British government... I am sure the First Minister

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appreciates the role of the Secretary of State for Northern

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Ireland in hosting this but does he have any concerns that the UK

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Government is not represented at a senior level as the Irish government

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at these meetings? I think we need to be clear that the Secretary of

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State hosted this summit, it need not have been the Secretary of State

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although we welcome the presence of the Secretary of State and the fact

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that she did post this session. I think it does need to be said

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certainly in discussions, the Deputy First Minister and I recognise the

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distinction that there was, that end Kenny comes faithfully to every big

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meeting, as did his predecessor comes faithfully to every big meaty

:12:17.:12:20.

but I can only recall in my time at one meeting with the Prime Minister

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was present and I think there is a requirement for all of us to

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recommit to make sure that we are represented at the highest levels.

:12:30.:12:36.

Can I ask the Minister in relation to dealing with refugees,

:12:37.:12:40.

particularly Syrian refugees, did the First Minister learn anything of

:12:41.:12:44.

value that could be applied here and further to that point, if I might in

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dolls the principled Deputy Speaker, there is an anti-refugee

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demonstration called for Saturday, and I would ask the First Minister

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to give his view on whether or not that Raleigh should in fact take

:13:06.:13:10.

place? In terms of Northern Ireland, yes I think we did learn quite a bit

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because Scotland has already received refugees and they already

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have experience and officials here will be continuing to contact

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officials in the UK generally but Scotland in particular, because they

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have the direct and immediate experience. I perhaps can well

:13:30.:13:37.

comment on this issue with the reference to the so-called rally on

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Saturday. It needs to be remembered that these are people who have had

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complete security checks carried out. They are families that are

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coming into Northern Ireland, ten or 11 families. They are people who

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have faced in some cases torture, in other cases, trauma, they are people

:14:01.:14:11.

who are in need of support. They are not the Mediterranean economic

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migrants. These are people who are genuine refugees and if I know

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anything about the people of Northern Ireland, it is that they

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are charitable and giving people who will extend the hand of welcome and

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I have just noticed over the last few days, since the Deputy First

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Minister and I were covered on television speaking about this

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issue, I have had several churches and a number of individuals all

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wanting to know how they can put themselves forward in order to give

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assistance and support and welcome to these people. So, I do not think

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that those who are going to campaign against the presence of refugees

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will get a very warm hearing from the people of Northern Ireland.

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The First Minister making clear his support

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for the Syrian refugees currently en route to Northern Ireland.

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We've received more details on when exactly Peter Robinson will be

:15:04.:15:07.

The meeting on the 17th, the electoral college. I assume there

:15:08.:15:32.

will only be the one nominee. Then the patronage is exercised by the

:15:33.:15:36.

leader of the party and becomes nominating officer. I doubt very

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much it will be done at that location and it may well wait until

:15:42.:15:45.

January. That opens up the issue of who will become deputy leader and

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whether that will be somebody else, or somebody preferably from within

:15:52.:15:55.

the assembly block. Just a huge assumption that it will be Nigel

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Dodds, and we haven't even heard from him that he wants the job! This

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is more akin to how the Conservative party, when Alec Douglas Hume got

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the job, the Magic Circle with the secular equivalent of the magic

:16:16.:16:23.

white smoke. It looks very much like that is the process by which the DUP

:16:24.:16:26.

will engage. Peter Robinson is still expected to

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be First Minister That is interesting. And they wonder

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why because with the session ending you would think that was an

:16:40.:16:43.

appropriate time to go but maybe one or two things he wants to tidy up

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before he leaves. We will find out what those might be course and speak

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to you before the end of the programme.

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A bill to update the regulation of the social care sector has had

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Although it passed on a unanimous oral vote, some members

:16:57.:17:00.

of the Health Committee felt it shouldn't have been brought in this

:17:01.:17:03.

mandate because they might not have enough time to scrutinise it.

:17:04.:17:08.

The health and personal social services Amendment Bill aims to

:17:09.:17:14.

achieve two things. It will modernise the council's conduct and

:17:15.:17:21.

extend the range of sanctions and extend the council's powers to

:17:22.:17:24.

formally recognise the learning achievements of social workers. The

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minister introduced the bill last week and prior to this happening,

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the committee had written to the Minister on 18th of November to ask

:17:36.:17:39.

him not to introduce this bill during the remainder of this

:17:40.:17:44.

mandate. This was on foot of a discussion which the committee had

:17:45.:17:47.

in relation to our legislative programme. As members will be aware,

:17:48.:17:53.

the human transplantation bill is currently at committee stage and we

:17:54.:17:57.

are all aware that it is a complex and emotive piece of legislation

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which will require the committee's detail the tension between now and

:18:02.:18:05.

the end of January. The minister had also indicated to the committee that

:18:06.:18:10.

it was his intention to shortly introduce the health miscellaneous

:18:11.:18:16.

provisions Bill, and that happened yesterday, and again that piece of

:18:17.:18:20.

legislation will require the committee's attention over a

:18:21.:18:24.

relatively short period of time. Can I also concur with the remarks made

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by the chair in relation to not pursuing this legislation, not

:18:32.:18:36.

because we don't support the general principles, but because of the

:18:37.:18:42.

committee's ability to scrutinise and get what I am saying about both

:18:43.:18:48.

the proposed rules and the extent of the work undertaken, and the needs

:18:49.:18:54.

of the workforce. They need to know and I think it is important to say

:18:55.:18:57.

that the workforce needs to know that these matters are properly

:18:58.:19:03.

scrutinised because of the importance. Once the latest process

:19:04.:19:08.

comes to an end, Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK that

:19:09.:19:12.

registers its whole social care workforce. While I understand the

:19:13.:19:17.

rationale behind what the department is trying to achieve in improving

:19:18.:19:22.

safeguards and making sure those who often have unaccompanied access to

:19:23.:19:26.

our vulnerable and their homes, I would encourage the Department to

:19:27.:19:32.

work very closely and carefully with the sector to ensure undue pressures

:19:33.:19:40.

are not placed upon employees. Looking forward to the future and in

:19:41.:19:45.

keeping with the direction of travel provided by transforming your care

:19:46.:19:48.

and other potential reforms, social workers and other stuff that worked

:19:49.:19:52.

in the community are set to take on more and more responsibilities for

:19:53.:19:58.

delivery of health and social services outcomes. In this regard, I

:19:59.:20:03.

do believe that the additional regulation offered by this

:20:04.:20:07.

legislation is appropriate at this time. This shouldn't be seen as an

:20:08.:20:12.

attack on the sterling efforts of social workers but an

:20:13.:20:16.

acknowledgement of their critical and growing role and the existing

:20:17.:20:22.

professional standards. Whilst understanding and appreciating the

:20:23.:20:27.

pressure is the service has to content with I wasn't prepared to

:20:28.:20:31.

further delay modernisation and regulation of the social care

:20:32.:20:35.

workforce. Other members midpoints around the timing issue and Mr

:20:36.:20:39.

McKenney mentioned, and I hope I am not quoting inaccurately, but he

:20:40.:20:43.

spoke about the need to have full and lengthy robust scrutiny of

:20:44.:20:47.

legislation and there I agree with that point. Those principles I

:20:48.:20:51.

believe should be applied to all legislation, particularly those that

:20:52.:20:52.

are of a controversial nature. As world leaders discuss climate

:20:53.:20:54.

change in Paris, the topic was also raised closer to

:20:55.:20:57.

home during questions to Mark H Durkan was asked

:20:58.:20:59.

about climate change legislation here, but before that, he responded

:21:00.:21:03.

to a question on proposals to make changes to George Best Belfast City

:21:04.:21:06.

Airport's planning agreement... With regards to the PAC report of

:21:07.:21:21.

the public inquiry into the proposed modification of the planning

:21:22.:21:25.

agreement with George Best Belfast city airport, the department

:21:26.:21:28.

received that report from the PAC on the 30th October this year.

:21:29.:21:32.

Interested parties were notified that the report was received. Before

:21:33.:21:37.

releasing this report, which I haven't seen yet, I will consider

:21:38.:21:42.

the advice of my department on if and how the agreement should or

:21:43.:21:47.

could be potentially modified. The report will subsequently be made

:21:48.:21:52.

available to other stakeholders and the general public after it has been

:21:53.:21:57.

the closed to the airport themselves as the other party to the plan. --

:21:58.:22:04.

disclosed. Mr Deputy Speaker, perhaps the Minister did outline

:22:05.:22:08.

what further steps are then taken as part of the overall process to reach

:22:09.:22:12.

accommodation around what are clearly as he has views on the

:22:13.:22:21.

issue? As the member puts it, there clearly are differing views on this

:22:22.:22:25.

issue and I certainly have a degree of sympathy with those living in the

:22:26.:22:28.

immediate vicinity of the airport who feel that the noise has become

:22:29.:22:36.

too much for them. Under the current agreement with George Best Belfast

:22:37.:22:40.

city airport, there are restrictions on seat numbers as well as

:22:41.:22:45.

restrictions on times of your traffic. Some of the breaches which

:22:46.:22:52.

residents and objectors to the noise have pointed to, breaches of the

:22:53.:22:58.

times, for example, are beyond the control of George Best Belfast city

:22:59.:23:02.

airport, realistically. We are not going to see the introduction of

:23:03.:23:07.

climate change during this mandate and that is something that causes me

:23:08.:23:11.

regret. As I have said over the past two years I have been attempting to

:23:12.:23:16.

build consensus, I believe we are making slow but steady progress in

:23:17.:23:20.

that regard, and I think the topicality of this as I have said

:23:21.:23:23.

over the past two years I have been attempting to build consensus, I

:23:24.:23:25.

believe we are making slow but steady progress in that regard, and

:23:26.:23:28.

I think the topicality of that has been afforded to the ongoing

:23:29.:23:31.

confidence in Paris and the issue of climate change is something that we

:23:32.:23:35.

can work to our advantage. I do feel the passion from him and the

:23:36.:23:39.

enthusiasm from him about climate change legislation in Northern

:23:40.:23:42.

Ireland and I want to thank him for that. But as he says, it is not

:23:43.:23:47.

going to happen in this mandate with you being the Minister, how does he

:23:48.:23:56.

feel the new structure of the two departments working together, isn't

:23:57.:24:03.

going to enhance the possibility of getting that legislation or is it

:24:04.:24:10.

going to be a hindrance? I thank the member for that question. I am not

:24:11.:24:16.

sure how she felt my passion. I hope it was as good for hard as it was

:24:17.:24:23.

for me! The new departmental setup could work either way. There are

:24:24.:24:33.

potentially advantages in the amalgamation of agriculture and

:24:34.:24:39.

environmental policy, and it will bring officials from most apartments

:24:40.:24:42.

closer together and hopefully working towards common goals,

:24:43.:24:49.

however the member is well aware of consensus expressed from the

:24:50.:24:51.

environmental sector, that this might not be an amalgamation of

:24:52.:25:00.

environment and agriculture. It might be an assumption of

:25:01.:25:01.

environment into agriculture. And Mark H Durkan will be attending

:25:02.:25:02.

the climate change conference The Culture Minister also made

:25:03.:25:05.

a statement in the Assembly today. She told Members about her plans to

:25:06.:25:09.

consult on a framework for promoting This this will include proposals for

:25:10.:25:21.

legislation which will be taken forward through the remainder of

:25:22.:25:23.

this assembly mandate and into the new mandate. I have already written

:25:24.:25:29.

to ministerial colleagues in order to seek their support and

:25:30.:25:32.

commitments in relation to the framework. I am announcing today is

:25:33.:25:38.

my intention to engage in pre-consultation through the sign

:25:39.:25:41.

language partnership with some additional membership. The framework

:25:42.:25:46.

needs to be agreed with the partnership and to reflect members'

:25:47.:25:49.

views. I have listened carefully to what the deaf community are saying.

:25:50.:25:56.

Their message is clear, they want legislation to safeguard their

:25:57.:25:58.

rights as a cultural and linguistic minority. They want to be able to

:25:59.:26:04.

access services in the language. I want to support their efforts. It is

:26:05.:26:09.

important therefore that we build on the work so far and take steps to

:26:10.:26:15.

make accessibility and inclusion throughout society the norm for our

:26:16.:26:20.

deaf community. In the statement, the Minister referred to the

:26:21.:26:23.

resources necessary to provide phone every family who wish to take such

:26:24.:26:27.

classes, and the fact those resources are not clear at the

:26:28.:26:30.

moment. Could the Minister please spell out for us what she means in

:26:31.:26:36.

terms of resources? Is this a financial resource or is

:26:37.:26:37.

terms of resources? Is this a having the right people there to

:26:38.:26:40.

teach sign language? At the minute teach sign language? At the minute

:26:41.:26:44.

it is about the financial support within my department to help

:26:45.:26:48.

families access sign language support in classes. They need is

:26:49.:26:54.

increasing, and the rather than perhaps waiting until taking bets,

:26:55.:27:02.

which I will do, I think it is important to bathe in mind that

:27:03.:27:11.

there are many more children and families who need support,

:27:12.:27:13.

particularly within the deaf community.

:27:14.:27:15.

And Professor Rick Wilford is with me again for a final few thoughts.

:27:16.:27:20.

Looking ahead to tomorrow's vote in Westminster on air-strikes in Syria,

:27:21.:27:23.

tonight the DUP has confirmed it will vote with the government.

:27:24.:27:28.

I am not surprised, although two years ago they voted against the

:27:29.:27:42.

proposal to bomb Syria, which was an anti-dash-mac anti-Assad campaign.

:27:43.:27:50.

They may wait and way the argument tomorrow, ten hours of debate. The

:27:51.:27:55.

SDLP will vote against although they are going to put down some

:27:56.:27:58.

amendments, or vote on amendments already put down, but the DUP no

:27:59.:28:05.

surprise will support Cameron's proposition. Closer to home and

:28:06.:28:13.

finally, the Attorney General has said today that in his view same-sex

:28:14.:28:18.

marriage is a matter for Stormont legislators to decide on. Indeed,

:28:19.:28:24.

perhaps because he knows what the outcome is likely to be given past

:28:25.:28:29.

performance, voted on five times. Last occasion that got a majority of

:28:30.:28:34.

one but was defeated by petition, but he is a very proactive Attorney

:28:35.:28:40.

General. I am reminded of Clement Attlee once saying after a period of

:28:41.:28:45.

silence, a period of silence would be very welcome from you. Some may

:28:46.:28:53.

be less vocal and summoned the legal profession would like him to be less

:28:54.:28:57.

vocal, although he was speaking in the course of a court hearing and

:28:58.:29:01.

maybe on that basis. We will leave it there, thank you very much as

:29:02.:29:07.

ever. Join me on Thursday at 10:35pm on BBC One but until then from all

:29:08.:29:09.

of us, goodbye. Do you have views

:29:10.:29:16.

on BBC Radio Ulster,

:29:17.:29:20.

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.


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