04/02/2013 Stormont Today


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 04/02/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello, and welcome to Stormont Today. It's been described as a


British version of the FBI, but will its powers be extended to


Northern Ireland? MLAs clash over the new National Crime Agency.


is happening is a winding back of the clock and the Home Secretary


should be acting to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland to not


get the second rate policing surface. What we do not want to


have is a falls outside a force. And breaking the rules - MLAs get a


telling off from the Speaker. members feel they have to have


electronic devices in the chamber, they should do it in respectful


manner and some members are not doing that. And I'm joined by the


News Letter's political correspondent, Sam McBride.


It's been described as a British FBI, but a proposal to give the new


National Crime Agency jurisdiction in Northern Ireland has prompted a


row at the heart of the Executive. Both main unionist parties and


Alliance support its introduction, but the SDLP and Sinn Fein have


serious concerns. The debate reached the floor of the chamber


this afternoon. We note that they have been a tense


to have aged legislative consent nation through the Executive which


has failed. But to me is very costly to Northern Ireland, very


costly to the fight against that crime and there are serious


international crime. Quite clearly in Northern Ireland there has been


a history of terrorism and criminals often being linked. But


this is not just about terrorism in Northern Ireland. This is much


wider. This is about international crime and criminals. This is about


the drug trafficking, the people trafficking, the smuggling, the


serious organised crime and the paedophiles. That is the time of


crime there we are talking about. This is not a debate about whether


or not they should be a National Crime Agency. The debate is about


whether or not it should be as accountable as the PSNI is today.


In other words, when we have PSNI officers that we hold fully to


account through the policing board and we have potential National


Crime Agency officers, that there should be held to the same standard


of accountability. What is happening is a winding back of the


clock and the Home Secretary should be acting to insure that the people


of Northern Ireland do not get a second-rate policing service


because that is what will happen if this is allowed to stand. Why they


want to position themselves on the side of those who exploit children,


he trafficking in beings in Northern Ireland, it is beyond me


why they would want to put themselves in that position. When


it comes to children, when it comes to a human trafficking, we want to


make sure we have the most competent resources at our disposal


to be able to tackle that particular hideous types of crime.


What we're against is a second police force, there would not be


accountable through the Chief Constable, through the police pawn


or any of the other accountability mechanisms. They will have more


power than the PSNI. They will have the power of secrecy. We have


already had that, we have had the force within the force, what we do


not want is a force outside are forced and the way this is going,


and the fact that the British Home Secretary says that she will expand


that power, poised to that expansive s the I E in the future.


We are not against the NCA, Bob what we are for his pattern. What


will happen under the present legislation is that those


protections and that accountability under the Patten Report will be


under serious threat. He says we're anti- British. There is nothing


anti-British in saying that there is a lack of accountability. It to


meet picture Hitchens, who is a well-known columnist in the Daily


Mail, he says that this legislation, put forward in the House of Commons


and the House of Lords, is in fact anti-British. Why does he say that,


because the concept of the National, single, unitary police service in


Britain is anathema to the British tradition. How can members of Sinn


Fein and the SDLP justify to their constituents writing off the line


and more tolerable to the activities of human traffickers, of


child abusers and tax a Vegas? That is the society that you want for


Northern Ireland. Tomorrow, up we will hear pious words about


internet safety from the same people who want to tie our hands


behind our backs when it comes to fighting those crimes. Many of us


will have watched the ball there -- the movies of the posse chasing


abundance through the American Wild West, and they come to the line in


this and other have to stop, and the going gets away scot-free,


because they have no jurisdiction across the border. The NCA


themselves, and make no apology for saying this, that they will not


subject themselves, that they will not be accountable. If it is not


legislated that they are fully accountable like any other police


constable operating in this jurisdiction, then it is not worth


the paper assets has written on in terms of a protocol. The NCA will


be in a position to assist our crime fighting was fitting within


the police architecture that applies. The director-general not


have the powers of a constable in Northern Ireland and we have local


accountability arrangements, for example the statutory obligation to


attend a policing board once a year. He has agreed to meet the justice


committee, if requested. The day and member of the S T L P


recommends the Daily Mail to me for some to Le Bas, renew will stop


laughing -- the SDLP. All of the points were visible to the


Executive and would have been discussed by the Justice committee.


I do think we need to cut the reality of what has been achieved.


The Justice Minister, David Ford. The motion supporting the


introduction of the NCA in Northern Ireland was subject to a cross-


community vote and fell because of nationalist opposition. With me now


is the political correspondent of the News Letter, Sam McBride. Are a


fascinating debate on the floor of the chamber. Also interesting Sue


who was watching the public gallery. It was common we had Keith Bristow,


the Chief Executive from the National Crime Agency in England.


He was here for a briefing and stayed to watch. It is very unusual


to have senior police officers sitting in the public gallery


watching Stormont debates on a security issue. It shows how


significant this issue is and what implications of. There are concerns


in some quarters that people in Northern Ireland could be exposed


in the NCA does not operate here. How real teasing this concerns are?


The fact is that the NCA is basically set up to tackle ordinary


crime, at the things that every country has, things like drugs,


people trafficking, smuggling of weapons. It is not targeted at


things like the distant republican threat or anything terrorist


related. - Patrick dissident republican. It does seem that if


Northern Ireland is not covered by this, we will have to find some


other way to cover that. It was suggested that perhaps more than on


should go after its own agency there would cut the intelligence


and try to work with international partners. Some of the union is were


very dismissive of that. What about the politics of this? There must


have a say that we made it very clear by him we were signing up.


Others so there must lists and in his to time at this when they


agreed to the devolution of paid for it. One side things they have


got one thing, the other side things they have got something


slightly different and it suits the Government for that remain as a


grey area until something like this blows up. Certainly the


nationalists de facto supported SOCA. But this issue has given them


a platform, I suppose, to oppose its successor. What happens now?


Nobody really knows but there is the possibility that Westminster


should effectively ignored the devolution process and impose it


over the heads of the Executive. New air routes to Canada and


Germany are badly needed to boost tourism and investment, the


Enterprise Minister told the chamber today. First though, Arlene


Foster was asked about how Northern Ireland might tap into a major


tourism initiative in the Republic. What preparation has the minister


undertaken to ensure that Northern Ireland can maximise the potential


tourist gains from The Gathering? have said many times in this House


that The Gathering is something that has been brought to fruition


by the government of the Republic of Ireland. It is not just about


tourism, it is about attracting inward come first but, it is a


whole idea about bringing people back to the Republic for the sheer.


It tourists come to the Republic of Ireland to run this year we are


more than happy to accommodate and in Northern Ireland when they come


to visitors. We will then to come and experience for themselves what


Northern Ireland has to offer. this event, The Gathering,. Any


other series of events in neighbouring countries, would be


intent of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to act a bit of kit


people to see if it is possible when they come to Dublin that they


might visit Northern Ireland? is what we have been asking tourist


island to concentrate on. We you are saying that if there are


Katharine's across the Republic of Ireland that they were will kicks


boots the Northern Herman. If it is a golf Katherine, that they


experience all leak opportunities and so there we market our cells to


gain business from those visitors. The minister said Blatter people


come and one to come of them we would accommodate them. Could I ask


the Minister whether she would encourage local event organisers to


use The Gathering website to promote their events. A course


there are at liberty to promote their own events and on on been to


stop anybody from promoting their events by him mechanism. Can I ask


the minister to detail the work that she is doing to put pressure


on tourism Ireland to promote and chief more flights into Northern


Ireland's airports? This is a matter dear to my heart, the whole


subject of access because at present we any have in power and be


the flight to New up and we do need to have more international flights


and, indeed, more European flights coming into both of the airport. It


is something I have told tourism Ireland I will be asked them about


every month for an update because I think it is something we need to


deliver on. Given that we had by competitive advantage with pair


passengers duty set at zero for those countries. Looking to Europe,


I have a key objective in opening a direct service between Northern


Ireland and a major city in Germany, which you think we need to adjust


in terms of tourism but also for investment purposes, as well. I


have made no secret of the fact that the very much bleeper we need


to have a Canadian connection brought back again, for tourism


reasons, but also from an investment and does this point of


$:/STARTFEED. Questions to the Environment Minister next. Alex


Attwood dealt with several issues, but first he was asked for his Plan


B if electoral boundaries aren't published before the next Local


Government lesss. I don't have a contingency because I've been


advised by the London Government that they'll complete their


processs in good time in order to have an election in June of next


year in the event that the processs are not completed, an issue will


arise, but I'm not working on that basis, the Government's not working


on that basis and I hope nobody else is.


Can the minister give us an assurance that any proposed


assurances that ministers may have to the boundaries -- changes that


the ministers may have to the boundaries, it will be a decision


for the London Government and therefore we can be assured that no


unilateral gerrymandering, such as what's happened with retail, will


happen? I'm tempted Mr Deputy speaker to remind the member that


the reason why there was political uncertainty, doubt and delay in


respect of Local Government ostensibly in the last mandate was


why - because members had issues around what boundaries were. THE


SPEAKER: Can I ask members, please, no dialogue across the chamber. We


have a system here that seems to work well for most people and it


should work for most people. wouldn't necessarily use the word


gerrymandering, but certainly there was a lot of political interest in


the previous mandate and no, the process being taken forward by Mr


McKenzie and the London Government is a process reserved to them under


the devolution settlement. Therefore, there'll be no political


interference, I trust, but obviously the public and political


parties and others can input into that process a consultation. There


is no unilateral action to be taken by me in respect of any matter. I


act loyal to Government policy, planning policy, regional


developing separate jifplt it's others acting out with those issues.


Given the current difficulties around the flags issue, would the


minister anticipate to bring forward legislation within the


Local Government that the flag be flown at every civic centre in


Northern Ireland? The member raises a serious matter. Let's be clear


about it, the issue of flags, emblems and symbols will only be


settled when all parties and political leaders uphold the


principle of parity of consent and esteem. What does that mean? It


means in this part of the world, because of the political order we


are all meant to have embraced, things will look and feel different


than they were before. That is the outworking of respect for


difference. That does not mean, Mr Deputy Speaker, that any one person


or community has lost or won. It's the outworking of the principle


parity of es seem. As Mr Elliott knows, before Christmas, I raised


with a group, that is part of the structures going forward, that that


issue, flags, emblems and symbols, might be something that we'd have


to capture in the work of our PA. If that is necessary, I don't think


we should shirk from it. At this moment, it's not ground that I


think we need to go on to. But if it is ground that we have to go on


to, I think we should. Can I take this opportunity to welcome the


announcement made this morning, minister, on the dereliction,


monies which will be going around the South Down area in particular.


I wondered what your views were to the location in question that it's


not a particular tourist area or they are not down for or due to


host a major event. What would be your views on that? All the bids


assessed came in. One of those bids included events in a particular


area during the course of the year that might have led to the


conclusion that money should be spent. That's why money went to


Derry and Portrush and Portstuart that.'s why money is going to


Fermanagh and Lisburn because it's the European City of sport. It's a


factor but not the only factor. My view, this intervention, whether


there is or is not events in an area, major events as opposed to


the annual run of events, whether or not there is major profile


events, I think this scheme works in terms of stabilising local


trading conditions, maybe encouraging small business


opportunities. As a fund for that purpose, never mind the events, it


seems to be worthwhile. How often do you see your doctor?


Stormont's Health Committee wants it to be mandatory for patients to


have a check up every year even if they are not sick. The chair was


influenced by a visit to reform the health care system in Cuba. She


said Northern Ireland has a lot to learn from the Cuban system.


heart of the Cuban system is the family doctor who is an important


part of the community that they're serving. At any point in time, the


family doctor can provide an overview of the general health of


all of his or her patients and one of the reasons for this level of


knowledge is because they carry out annual health checks. This allows


them to get to know their patients, get to know the history of the


patient and allows them to identify health problems at an early stage.


The committee fully accepts that some parts of the Cuban health


system cannot be directly transferred to ours. However, the


focus on Cuba on prevention, education, intervention and primary


care with a vision which the minister in the department has set


out in transforming your care. The BMA also say that annual health


checks would be a waste of resources needed for sick people.


Again, I believe they're missing the point. We want people to come


into contact with medical professionals before they're sick


so that illness can be prevented and interventions can be made early.


GP annual health checks, as proposed in this motion, certainly


look very good in theory. We all want to promote good health,


prevent hill-health and detect disease at an early stage. However,


I'm not convinced yet that providing annual health checks, as


proposed here today, is the most effective way of achieving the


desired outcomes. Having spoken to a number of gps on this matter,


issues which have continuously been flagged up as potential barriers to


being able to provide satisfactory annual health checks have been the


time involved, funding, space and a workforce levels -- the workforce


levels. It's important we listen to the professionals, including the


British Medical Association, who're dealing with these matters daily.


What the BMA conveniently forgot to mention was that that was based on


studies carried out in 1963, 1965, 1967 and 1969. The most up-to-date


study which was reported on in the report was in 1992 which is 21


years ago. Clearly, diagnostics have moved on by leaps and bounds


in the intervening two decades. Therefore it's mischievous of the


BMA to quote information which is clearly out-of-date and not


relevant to today's arguments. appreciate that this is a committee


motion. I am somewhat sceptical as to what is recommended. What in


theory will be good in practice. The chair mentioned correspondence


we have received from the BMA recently to the committee and while


we may not all agree with what was contained in it, we must listen to


the experts in the field. members sat on the committee when


this was discussed. I'm sympathetic to members who have the best


interests of patients central to their thinking. After all, we have


dental check-ups every six months. However, in weighing up the pros


and cons of the annual GP check-ups and common-sense and intuitive


initiatives, we have to look at evidence to inform policy decisions.


The most recent research on general checks indicates they may not be as


beneficial as some members might believe. The evidence doesn't


indicate the reduction in mobility, the risk of illness or mortality.


The Health Minister Edwin Poots. Mrs Ramsay is with us now. You are


a fan of the Cuban system and the DUP member went with you on that


visit. Would that work in Northern Ireland? I think the vision that


Cuba has is fine for anyone. I know there are some concerns around


people when they talk about wages and things like that and that's


something we need to look at. What I was interested in seeing and we


got the invitation to go to the international health conference,


was that the family doctor, the family are the local medics,


they're at the heart of communities so they are part of the community,


they are not just there to service, they are part of the community.


Have you costed what it would take to have the mandatory annual check-


up with your GP in Northern Ireland? Have you got any ballpark


figures? No, but what I do know is that doctors and GPs in general get


paid per patient that's on their list. So if we are talking about


early prevention, Cuba spend around $400 per patient, we spend around


$4,000 per patient and Cubas system is better than ours. The committee


is saying, get in at an early age and look at it. It fits in exactly


with what transforming your care wants to do. Take everything away


from the care sector and get into local outcomes and earlier for


patients. Are you saying you think it could be done without


necessarily a significant increase in costs?


As I say, my information is that doctors get paid per patient anyway


so, as part of the patient journey, we should be bringing people in for


annual health checks. Some people are sceptical. The Health Minister


didn't look like he was going to be persuaded today and quoted research


that suggests that you are not really comparing like with like and


it wouldn't necessarily work for Northern Ireland. It's an


interesting idea, it's a novel idea, you have had an interesting


experience in Cuba, but in practical terms will anything come


of this? Sfpblgts we have asked the minister to give us a copy of the


research. The research came from the 60s and 70s, pwhu we are saying


transforming care today will have a radical approach to deliver our


service to fit in with the new fit and well strategy, let's get in


there early, let's get in there with prevention and allow


interventions to take place at GP level. Some people might say on a


simple level, if you are sick, you go to the doctor at the moment, if


you don't, you don't waste their time. The key thing is, we don't


want people to be waiting until they are sick. There is evidence to


show a patient might get sick, we are in there at an earlier time


before we go down the route of giving people medication if they go


there before they're sick. Thank you very much.


If you are a regular viewer of Stormont Today you may have spotted


several MLAs using electronic devices while listening to debates.


The speaker put his foot down on this new trend today. I want to


return to a subject that I ruled on some time ago. It's about the use


of electronic devices in this chamber. There is an increase of


use of these within the chamber and my ruling then was very, very clear


that electronic devices should be used responsibly and without


distracting other members or interfering with the business of


the House. I have to say, I've watched around the chamber and


there are more and more members who continue to come into the chamber


and who continually do nothing else but use their electronic devices. I


would ask members just to revisit my ruling at that time where I was


absolutely clear that if members feel they have to use electronic


devices in the chamber, they should do it very much in a respectable


manner. I have to say, some members, some members are not doing that at


this minute in time. The speaker pulling no punches.


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