02/07/2013 Stormont Today


02/07/2013

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.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 02/07/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Coming up tonight: Should Stormont have a formal opposition? What about

:00:44.:00:50.

more speaking rights? A review on procedures was before the House

:00:50.:00:52.

today. Order, please. Order, please. The

:00:52.:00:58.

member's speaking rights have run out. May be the last sitting of the

:00:58.:01:08.
:01:08.:01:09.

Assembly before the summer break, but the First Minister is sure about

:01:09.:01:16.

the way forward. Northern Ireland of the future will ab a society able to

:01:16.:01:20.

fulfil its real economic potential and lay permanent RAC Foundations

:01:20.:01:30.
:01:30.:01:33.

for continued peace stability and prosperity. The Script has been

:01:33.:01:43.
:01:43.:01:49.

written. Neither words must -- now the words must be translated into

:01:49.:01:52.

action. And Alex Kane joins me to look at

:01:52.:02:02.
:02:02.:02:27.

the events of today and the Parliamentary year gone by. Most of

:02:27.:02:34.

us would agree that Stormont is far from, but can we really expect it to

:02:34.:02:38.

change substantially. In recent weeks we have seen the newest party

:02:38.:02:48.
:02:48.:02:49.

complaining about speaking rights. Today the executive re Executive

:02:49.:02:56.

Review Committee reported on potential changes to the way

:02:56.:03:01.

Stormont operates. First the commentator Alex Kane is with me.

:03:01.:03:04.

What's the importance of the review discussed today? The interest was in

:03:04.:03:10.

the looking at the business of how the Assembly works. It goes to the

:03:10.:03:18.

review 16 years ago now when they wanted to change the mechanics after

:03:18.:03:22.

a number of years seeing how it works out. During that time...

:03:22.:03:32.
:03:32.:03:37.

There's no consensus on most of the key issues nor on the need of having

:03:37.:03:42.

formal opposition Government like you do in Westminster. Even in terms

:03:42.:03:45.

of creating extra space and speaking rights, that hasn't been agreed

:03:45.:03:52.

either. There's no consensus. Sinn Fein have said they're very much

:03:52.:03:58.

against that. They're not only against the formal opposition, but

:03:58.:04:02.

against informal opposition. Even where consensus exists it's

:04:02.:04:12.

informal. At any time the executive party can say no you're not getting

:04:12.:04:22.
:04:22.:04:22.

these rights. We've had this discussion about the possibility of

:04:22.:04:25.

an opposition, we know that John McCallister is bringing forward a

:04:25.:04:29.

Private Members' Bill on that very subject. Are you saying that you

:04:29.:04:36.

can't see it going anywhere? I think that Private Members' Bill is coming

:04:36.:04:41.

out in the next few bill. He's looking for a formal, funded,

:04:41.:04:46.

official opposition. Bearing in mind that the main parties in the

:04:46.:04:52.

executive seem incapable of reaching consensus of any of the key issues,

:04:52.:04:58.

but interestingly enough if you look at Jim McCallister, he managed to

:04:58.:05:04.

get that through. If he can get the public behind him, get the lobbying

:05:04.:05:09.

groups behind him, he may be able to make changes. As it stands at the

:05:09.:05:19.
:05:19.:05:26.

minute, there is no support for opposition. What do you make of the

:05:26.:05:33.

fact that all of the causes for there to be an opposition seem to be

:05:33.:05:40.

coming from the Unionist benches - not all of the Unionist benches but

:05:40.:05:43.

from the Unionist benches? That's not surprising. Right at the

:05:43.:05:53.
:05:53.:05:57.

beginning of the process there was a fear that opposition was going to be

:05:57.:06:02.

a way of squeeze squeezing Nationalists out of the process

:06:02.:06:10.

that. Was never going to happen. Sinn Fein and the SDLP will still be

:06:10.:06:18.

entitled to take the seats in the executive. More from you later.

:06:18.:06:27.

Alex, for now, thank you. All of the issues were considered in

:06:27.:06:31.

detail. Compare sons were inevitably made with other legislatures. The

:06:31.:06:36.

committee remain mindful of our unique circumstances and the fact

:06:36.:06:46.

changes whatsoever during the work in which the committee has

:06:46.:06:51.

undertaken. That's is not the approach of the Ulster Unionist

:06:51.:06:54.

Party. We think institutions must change. The Alliance Party has felt

:06:54.:07:02.

that there are four particular problems with the current system.

:07:02.:07:07.

Namely the institutionalation of sectarian division. The equality of

:07:07.:07:12.

votes with elected MLAs. The inability to adjust to political

:07:12.:07:17.

circumstances and the ability of political majorities to hold the

:07:17.:07:20.

process. We need to have an effective opposition in place

:07:20.:07:26.

because the last thing people want to see is some sort of bureaucratic

:07:26.:07:32.

system here in Stormont where most of the parties comprise 90% of the

:07:32.:07:36.

elected representatives, make up an executive where there is no

:07:36.:07:40.

challenge, no opposition apart from the odd written question about the

:07:40.:07:46.

cost of mint impeerials in the chamber, apart from that, there's no

:07:46.:07:50.

effect effective challenging opposition. I'm delighted that the,

:07:50.:07:55.

that you've come to try and let us get some speaking rights.

:07:55.:08:00.

THE SPEAKER: Order. Order. I want you to keep that campaign going. And

:08:00.:08:09.

keep on championing the cause of NI2 THE SPEAKER: Order please. The

:08:09.:08:12.

member's speaking rights have run out.

:08:12.:08:17.

John McCallister being cut short by the deputy Speaker John Dallat. Mr

:08:17.:08:27.

John McCallister and Sinn Fein's Pat Sheehan with me now. Did the debate

:08:27.:08:32.

this afternoon achieve anything afar as opposition is concerned? I'm glad

:08:32.:08:36.

you're giving me some speaking rights. I was disappointed that the

:08:36.:08:46.

report. I thought it was a real missed opportunity to actually, you

:08:46.:08:47.

know for people and parties that keep talking about opposition to

:08:47.:08:50.

actually more or less put their money where their mouth is. They

:08:50.:08:53.

failed to do that. With the report, yes, there's some difficult issues

:08:53.:08:57.

about designation but the principles of establishing the opposition to

:08:57.:09:00.

scrutinise the government and provide an alternative, I think the

:09:00.:09:05.

report clearly missed that part. main parties aren't enthusiastic.

:09:05.:09:11.

We'll hear why in a moment. Where does this leave your Private

:09:11.:09:14.

Members' Bill. It's dead in the water. I wouldn't be as pessimistic

:09:14.:09:18.

as you. The difference is this was a report that no-one was really forced

:09:18.:09:23.

to take up very hard and change positions. They didn't post

:09:23.:09:30.

themselves. The advantage of a Private Members' Bill will put the

:09:30.:09:32.

chance of tabling amendments, of making changes, of really putting it

:09:32.:09:36.

up to all the parties to say, if this is something you believe in and

:09:36.:09:41.

want to see in the Assembly, then get out and back it. What has Sinn

:09:41.:09:45.

Fein got to fear from the establishment of an opposition?

:09:45.:09:49.

don't have anything to fear at all. Parties are able to go into

:09:49.:09:52.

opposition now if they so wish. They can opt out of the executive, if

:09:52.:09:56.

they don't want to be in it. And provide opposition within the

:09:56.:10:01.

Assembly. The point is it wouldn't be a very effective opposition

:10:01.:10:04.

because they wouldn't be properly funded and they wouldn't have proper

:10:04.:10:08.

speaking rights. You have to remember the arrangements that we

:10:08.:10:12.

have were designed to suit the situation that we have here. The

:10:12.:10:18.

Professor when he was in giving evidence said the arrangements here

:10:18.:10:23.

must be seen as an organ organic whole. If you try to tinker around

:10:23.:10:29.

the edges or pick and mix, it will have a knock-on effect. To give you

:10:29.:10:32.

an example, if 30 MLAs went into opposition, they would be able to

:10:32.:10:36.

sign petitions of concern and block every single piece of legislation

:10:36.:10:40.

coming from the executive. So we be at stand still. That's just an

:10:40.:10:46.

example of how it wouldn't work. If we tinker with one bit it will have

:10:46.:10:50.

an effect somewhere else. The point. This is a very carefully balanced

:10:50.:10:57.

system that we've got in place with lots of checks and balances. If you

:10:57.:11:03.

unsettle it, it will grind to a stand still. The very example Pat

:11:03.:11:07.

used about the positioning, the one party that has abused most of the

:11:07.:11:10.

petition of concern is the biggest party in the Government, namely the

:11:10.:11:15.

DUP. Oppositions aren't there just to oppose everything. They're there

:11:15.:11:18.

to oppose things they don't agree with. If the Government brings

:11:18.:11:21.

something sensible they're not going oppose it for the sake of

:11:21.:11:26.

opposition. Are you happy for the debate to continue? Happy for John

:11:26.:11:32.

McCallister to table his Private Members' Bill and for that to be

:11:32.:11:36.

discussed? Absolutely. But what you have to remember, and this was clear

:11:36.:11:38.

in the evidence given to the committee during its review that we

:11:38.:11:42.

have the strongest system for scrutiny and holding Government to

:11:42.:11:44.

account of any of the political institutions on these islands.

:11:44.:11:49.

very much. The G8 summit may have been two weeks ago, but the benefits

:11:50.:11:53.

of hosting the international event are very much at centre of Northern

:11:53.:11:55.

Ireland's thinking. That's what the First Minister told the Assembly

:11:55.:11:59.

today as he revealed further details of the executive's plans to build a

:11:59.:12:03.

more prosperous society. It's important -- this important

:12:04.:12:06.

initiative contains measures to rebalance the local economy and

:12:06.:12:10.

secure a shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland. The Assembly

:12:10.:12:14.

will be aware that this package was in development offer the last

:12:14.:12:18.

two-and-a-half months and was only finalised just ahead of the G8

:12:18.:12:24.

conference. There have been some criticisms that the significant

:12:24.:12:26.

economic pact which affects the House and the executive was agreed

:12:26.:12:33.

without a statement to the Assembly. The facts are that the pact was

:12:33.:12:43.
:12:43.:12:44.

subject to executive approval and indeed, the executive ratified it at

:12:44.:12:47.

the very next meeting following the G8 last Thursday and today, at the

:12:47.:12:50.

first available opportunity, I'm now in a position to provide members

:12:50.:12:56.

with the details. It is important to note that the measures in building a

:12:56.:13:01.

prosperous and united community are not a substitute for the executive

:13:01.:13:10.

aim in relation to corporation tax. The executive will therefore

:13:10.:13:14.

continue to push for corporation tax powers to help provide the necessary

:13:14.:13:20.

stimulus for economic growth. I believe, like the many hundreds of

:13:20.:13:29.

people who responded positively to the public consultation on this

:13:29.:13:32.

issue, that this measure above all others has the ability to deliver

:13:32.:13:36.

the necessary economic step change. Devolution of this power would allow

:13:36.:13:39.

the executive to meet its shared objective of rebalancing the local

:13:39.:13:46.

economy more quickly than if it was reline on the policy levers

:13:47.:13:56.

currently available alongside those outlined in this package. As members

:13:57.:14:01.

will be aware, the executive faces unique challenges in rebalancing the

:14:01.:14:03.

local economy and addressing disadvantage and continuing

:14:03.:14:06.

divisions. The current 100% assisted area status enables it to provide

:14:06.:14:08.

targeted support to a range of private seconder-led projects

:14:08.:14:11.

through Northern Ireland. For example, selective financial

:14:11.:14:16.

assistance provided but invest Northern Ireland has helped to

:14:16.:14:26.
:14:26.:14:42.

promote over 3,000 new jobs here in the last three months alone. The

:14:42.:14:50.

package also contains measures for increased support for trade and

:14:50.:14:56.

investment and the executive is delighted bit Prime Minister's

:14:56.:15:03.

decision to return to Northern Ireland for the executive's G8

:15:03.:15:13.
:15:13.:15:15.

investment conference in October. The world leaders came to Fermanagh

:15:15.:15:25.
:15:25.:15:35.

several weeks ago. They admired a society that has been transformed.

:15:35.:15:43.

At the G8 Northern Ireland showed the world it is an increasingly

:15:43.:15:53.
:15:53.:16:02.

outward looking society, open for businesses, focussed on improving

:16:02.:16:12.
:16:12.:16:14.

the local economy. The economic and social pact that was unveiled by the

:16:14.:16:24.

Prime Minister in recent days is a potent symbol of the executive's

:16:24.:16:27.

vision. Under its custodianship and direction the Northern Ireland of

:16:27.:16:32.

the future will be a genuinely shared society able to fulfil its

:16:32.:16:34.

real economic potential and lay RAC Foundations for continued peace,

:16:34.:16:40.

stability and prosperity. The Script has been written and the words must

:16:40.:16:47.

be translated into action. I think anyone, even our pessimists in the

:16:47.:16:51.

press recognise that the G8 was successful in Northern Ireland

:16:52.:16:57.

terms. It is always difficult, though we will attempt to indicate

:16:57.:16:59.

by way of the report that will be carried out by the executive, the

:16:59.:17:04.

extent of the advantage to Northern Ireland in the longer term. At this

:17:04.:17:12.

point, we see it not just being beneficial in terms of the

:17:12.:17:17.

reputational enhancement that there is for Northern Ireland where people

:17:17.:17:21.

around the world can see that Northern Ireland was a bright, sunny

:17:21.:17:23.

and peaceful place, the kind of destination that one might want to

:17:23.:17:25.

go for holidays or indeed, to invest. That's good for Northern

:17:25.:17:28.

Ireland. I'm not sure what figure anybody can put on that. I think

:17:28.:17:32.

what is also important is that the Prime Minister committed and

:17:32.:17:37.

encouraged his colleagues at the G8 to support our economic conference

:17:37.:17:39.

in October of this year and that, again, could real aisles very

:17:39.:17:40.

considerable benefits. -- realise very considerable benefits.

:17:40.:17:42.

Planning was back on the agenda today, after last week's controversy

:17:42.:17:47.

over OFM/DFM's plans to create special economic planning zones. The

:17:47.:17:54.

environment minister was back in the driving seat. This afternoon he

:17:54.:17:57.

welcomed a policy aimed at conserving Northern Ireland's

:17:57.:17:58.

natural heritage. Last week members recall the

:17:58.:18:06.

Planning Bill, how could you forget, which focussed on reforming the

:18:06.:18:08.

planning system and also ensuring that economic considerations are

:18:08.:18:12.

embedded in the system in a proper way. But I've always maintained the

:18:12.:18:22.
:18:22.:18:22.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 45 seconds

:18:22.:19:07.

planning system was about striking the appropriate balance between

:19:07.:19:17.
:19:17.:19:46.

Minister when he's given an opportunity to say that my opinion

:19:46.:19:52.

is wrong that the opinion of all those who disagree in terms of the

:19:52.:19:54.

law with the deputy and First Minister in this matter they don't

:19:54.:20:04.

take the opportunity to rebut that either. This morning Edwin Poots

:20:04.:20:08.

claimed he wouldn't be surprised to seat police turning a blind eye to

:20:08.:20:11.

the activities of drug dealers in return for information. By the time

:20:11.:20:15.

he took to his feet in Question Time this afternoon Mr Poots was saying

:20:15.:20:19.

he was assured by the Chief Constable that there are no

:20:19.:20:24.

untouchables. First up, the question about waiting lists. Recent figures

:20:24.:20:27.

announced for waiting times in England have been described as

:20:27.:20:30.

representing a crisis over there, yet they're still significantly

:20:30.:20:34.

better than in Northern Ireland. Does he accept that had he been a

:20:34.:20:37.

minister in England that he would have been out of office by now?

:20:37.:20:42.

Yeah, well, maybe so. We have to wait and see. If you're going to

:20:42.:20:49.

hunt ministers out of office, perhaps in 2008/9, we had 2280

:20:49.:20:54.

people waiting. By the time that minister left office, there were

:20:54.:20:58.

7,379 people waiting for more than 12 hours. If you want to talk about

:20:58.:21:02.

ministers not performing, I think you better look closer to ho.

:21:03.:21:06.

Thankfully last year we had less people waiting for more than 12

:21:06.:21:09.

hours than whenever your own minister left office. Can you give

:21:09.:21:15.

us an update today on the recent incident in the royal A & E where

:21:15.:21:21.

over 100 patients seen by a local doctor have been recalled? What I

:21:21.:21:31.
:21:31.:21:31.

can give you is the information that I have. A doctor was employed, as I

:21:31.:21:36.

understand, I think that the doctor himself was a consultant, he was

:21:36.:21:40.

employed at registrar grade. They had no concerns in terms of any

:21:40.:21:45.

background information on the individual and that they felt it was

:21:45.:21:51.

safe to employ him. It was later discovered that there had been the

:21:51.:21:58.

potential for a couple of cases that hadn't been appropriately dying

:21:58.:22:03.

nosed -- nighing knows and in terms of the reading of X-rays and so

:22:03.:22:07.

forth. There after they decided to recall all of the patients that he

:22:07.:22:15.

had dealt with. Could I ask the minister, given the seriousness of

:22:15.:22:18.

the situation, wouldn't the minister consider the comments he made over

:22:18.:22:22.

the radio this morning in relation to the PSNI, would he consider with

:22:22.:22:27.

drawing that statement or perhaps an apology to the PSNI would be in

:22:27.:22:33.

order? Well, I'm glad to say I've had a consideration with the Chief

:22:34.:22:38.

Constable and the Chief Constable is making it absolutely clear that they

:22:38.:22:44.

will go after anyone who's engaged in drug dealing, that there should

:22:44.:22:47.

be no untouchables. I think that's what the community wants to hear,

:22:47.:22:51.

because whether we like it or whether we don't, there say

:22:51.:22:54.

perception out there amongst many in our community that there are people

:22:54.:22:58.

who are untouchable, that there are people who are known to be trading

:22:58.:23:04.

in drugs and who don't appear to be being arrested for it. Now, let us

:23:04.:23:07.

get the message out to the community that they need to pass the

:23:07.:23:10.

information to the police and the police have expressed a very clear

:23:10.:23:16.

willingness, with me at the highest level this morning, that they will

:23:16.:23:19.

pursue such individuals. If I could press the minister. He said this

:23:19.:23:23.

morning and I quote that he would not be surprised if the police were

:23:23.:23:27.

turning a blind eye to the activity of some drug dealers. Can I ask the

:23:28.:23:33.

minister direct directly and explicitly, does he still hold that

:23:33.:23:37.

view this afternoon? I certainly had instances over the years of dealing

:23:37.:23:41.

with these issues and indeed taking people to the police with

:23:41.:23:44.

information to be acted upon. The Chief Constable has made it very

:23:44.:23:48.

clear to me that there are no untouchables, that they will go

:23:48.:23:53.

after people if they have the information and I that I that we

:23:53.:23:59.

have to take his word on that. It's for the Policing Board to hold the

:23:59.:24:03.

Chief Constable to account. Edwin Poots. The Justice Minister David

:24:03.:24:06.

Ford also faced questions today, asked about the state of the threat

:24:06.:24:10.

from dissident Republicans and first of all, for an update on Northern

:24:10.:24:19.

Ireland's first sex wal a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Antrim.

:24:19.:24:23.

The establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centre is a step forward in

:24:23.:24:27.

report reporting sexual violence and abuse. It will provide victims with

:24:27.:24:31.

a safe, secure and confidential environment. This is a key

:24:31.:24:35.

initiative to tackle sexual violence and abuse and is an excellent

:24:35.:24:37.

example of partnership working with the relevant departments and

:24:37.:24:41.

agencies. Sexual violence is a serious problem in Northern Ireland

:24:41.:24:45.

which affects people from all cultural, social and ethnic

:24:45.:24:50.

backgrounds and across all age groups. Independent sexual violence

:24:50.:24:52.

advisors are intended to be specialist support workers who

:24:52.:24:56.

assist and help victims of assault and abuse in the weeks and months

:24:56.:25:01.

after an assault. In order to secure funding for the service, my

:25:01.:25:06.

department is required to produce a robust business case which will

:25:06.:25:13.

depend on operational data collected over some months. Work has been

:25:13.:25:16.

ongoing to define and develop the roles and the links to the

:25:16.:25:19.

independent domestic violence advisors given the link between

:25:19.:25:25.

domestic and sexual violence. These roles will evolve. It is therefore

:25:25.:25:30.

not possible at this stage to provide a difintive time frame for

:25:31.:25:34.

the appointment. This is dependent on a business case an securing

:25:34.:25:43.

funding. I can certainly give Mr Lynch the assurance that the opening

:25:43.:25:49.

of the building is an important step forward in meeting the needs of

:25:49.:25:58.

those victims of sexual violence. I plef it is a significant step

:25:58.:26:01.

forward. We have to examine the issue of the business case to see

:26:01.:26:08.

exactly how the SARK will develop in the future. I thank the minister for

:26:08.:26:13.

his answer. I find it strange that the centre was opened without the

:26:14.:26:20.

business case having been done. Why was it not worked on before?

:26:20.:26:23.

answer is simple: Because the business case requires operational

:26:23.:26:28.

data which can't come through until it is in operation. I have regular

:26:28.:26:31.

meetings with the Chief Constable on a range of issues concerning

:26:31.:26:34.

security, that includes the level of threat from all terrorist

:26:34.:26:37.

organisations to different groups. In addition, my department regularly

:26:37.:26:42.

keeps under review the level of threat to individuals holding

:26:42.:26:44.

justice-related positions to ensure that personal security measures can

:26:44.:26:48.

be provided and advice issued as required to those individuals within

:26:48.:26:51.

my ministerial remit. Is the minister satisfied that all

:26:51.:26:57.

necessary steps are taken to ensure that the safety of people is not

:26:57.:27:05.

compromised? I think those steps which can be taken in my department

:27:05.:27:12.

are taken. Clearly, there are issues which, as I've highlighted to Mr

:27:12.:27:15.

Campbell, fall to the Northern Ireland office and not to the

:27:15.:27:18.

Department of Justice. Most of those are the issues which are highlighted

:27:18.:27:22.

by the two members at this stage, which specifically falls to our

:27:22.:27:26.

employees around, for example, home protection for prison officers then

:27:26.:27:31.

action has been taken in recent months to do that as best we can.

:27:31.:27:37.

Alex Kane has rejoined me for a few final thoughts. What's your

:27:37.:27:41.

assessment of the Parliamentary term gone by? I think it's actually been

:27:41.:27:50.

very dull. If you take Jim Allister's bill, nothing happened.

:27:50.:27:54.

The Welfare Reform Act has been dumped into next year. Even the

:27:55.:27:57.

Better Together, nothing happening there. We are where we started at

:27:57.:28:01.

the beginning of the year. Didn't affect the legislative process but

:28:01.:28:07.

the flags dispute dominated the political debate. I think it did. It

:28:07.:28:11.

soured relationship. It infected the whole process. There's still a

:28:11.:28:15.

hangover from that. They'll have to get over that. The welfare reforms

:28:15.:28:18.

can't hang about waiting for them. Back at the start of the September.

:28:18.:28:21.

Welfare reform will be on the agenda. Opposition will be on the

:28:22.:28:26.

agenda. Briefly, a change to ministerial questions, where they'll

:28:26.:28:28.

have 15 minutes of unsubmited questions first of all. That could

:28:28.:28:32.

be interesting. That will be brilliant. It will be a real test of

:28:32.:28:35.

the ministers. They'll be able to get some, but it will be interesting

:28:35.:28:40.

to see if they can manage. Very much. That's it for now. That's our

:28:40.:28:44.

last programme of the run, Stormont today is back in September. Join me

:28:44.:28:49.

for The View on Thursday night, 10. 35pm BBC One. It's the last

:28:49.:28:56.

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.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS