04/02/2013 Stormont Today


04/02/2013

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.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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News Letter's political correspondent, Sam McBride.

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

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National Crime Agency jurisdiction in Northern Ireland has prompted a

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

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

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serious concerns. The debate reached the floor of the chamber

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this afternoon. We note that they have been a tense

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to have aged legislative consent nation through the Executive which

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

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costly to the fight against that crime and there are serious

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international crime. Quite clearly in Northern Ireland there has been

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a history of terrorism and criminals often being linked. But

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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account through the policing board and we have potential National

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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make sure we have the most competent resources at our disposal

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

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

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accountable through the Chief Constable, through the police pawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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will happen under the present legislation is that those

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protections and that accountability under the Patten Report will be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and more tolerable to the activities of human traffickers, of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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because they have no jurisdiction across the border. The NCA

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

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

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legislated that they are fully accountable like any other police

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constable operating in this jurisdiction, then it is not worth

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

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

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the police architecture that applies. The director-general not

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

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accountability arrangements, for example the statutory obligation to

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

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

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

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

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Executive and would have been discussed by the Justice committee.

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

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The Justice Minister, David Ford. The motion supporting the

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

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

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

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

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

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the Chief Executive from the National Crime Agency in England.

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

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to have senior police officers sitting in the public gallery

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watching Stormont debates on a security issue. It shows how

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

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in some quarters that people in Northern Ireland could be exposed

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

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

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

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

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things like the distant republican threat or anything terrorist

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

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

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

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should go after its own agency there would cut the intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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grey area until something like this blows up. Certainly the

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

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

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Nobody really knows but there is the possibility that Westminster

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should effectively ignored the devolution process and impose it

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

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Germany are badly needed to boost tourism and investment, the

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Enterprise Minister told the chamber today. First though, Arlene

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

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tourism initiative in the Republic. What preparation has the minister

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undertaken to ensure that Northern Ireland can maximise the potential

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

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that The Gathering is something that has been brought to fruition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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other series of events in neighbouring countries, would be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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gain business from those visitors. The minister said Blatter people

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

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the Minister whether she would encourage local event organisers to

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use The Gathering website to promote their events. A course

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

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

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

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on tourism Ireland to promote and chief more flights into Northern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to have a Canadian connection brought back again, for tourism

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

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:15:00.:15:08.

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

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

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

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

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advised by the London Government that they'll complete their

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

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

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

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on that basis and I hope nobody else is.

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Can the minister give us an assurance that any proposed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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respect of Local Government ostensibly in the last mandate was

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:16:28.:16:31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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interference, I trust, but obviously the public and political

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

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

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act loyal to Government policy, planning policy, regional

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

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Given the current difficulties around the flags issue, would the

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minister anticipate to bring forward legislation within the

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

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

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

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settled when all parties and political leaders uphold the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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announcement made this morning, minister, on the dereliction,

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

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

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

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:19:34.:19:37.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:20:15.:20:19.

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

:20:19.:20:21.

trading conditions, maybe encouraging small business

:20:22.:20:27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:20:58.:21:01.

family doctor can provide an overview of the general health of

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

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

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

:21:16.:21:19.

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

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The committee fully accepts that some parts of the Cuban health

:21:24.:21:29.

system cannot be directly transferred to ours. However, the

:21:29.:21:34.

focus on Cuba on prevention, education, intervention and primary

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

:21:37.:21:42.

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

:21:42.:21:45.

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

:21:45.:21:50.

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

:21:50.:21:54.

into contact with medical professionals before they're sick

:21:54.:22:00.

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

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

:22:05.:22:11.

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

:22:11.:22:14.

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

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

:22:18.:22:23.

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

:22:23.:22:28.

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

:22:29.:22:34.

issues which have continuously been flagged up as potential barriers to

:22:34.:22:38.

being able to provide satisfactory annual health checks have been the

:22:38.:22:44.

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

:22:44.:22:48.

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

:22:48.:22:52.

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

:22:52.:22:56.

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

:22:56.:23:05.

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

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

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

:23:16.:23:20.

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

:23:20.:23:23.

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

:23:23.:23:29.

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

:23:29.:23:35.

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

:23:35.:23:38.

theory will be good in practice. The chair mentioned correspondence

:23:38.:23:43.

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

:23:43.:23:49.

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

:23:49.:23:52.

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

:23:53.:23:58.

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

:23:58.:24:05.

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

:24:05.:24:10.

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

:24:10.:24:18.

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

:24:18.:24:27.

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

:24:27.:24:33.

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

:24:33.:24:38.

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

:24:38.:24:45.

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

:24:45.:24:54.

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

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

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

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

:25:13.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:20.

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

:25:20.:25:23.

got the invitation to go to the international health conference,

:25:23.:25:28.

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

:25:28.:25:30.

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

:25:30.:25:34.

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

:25:34.:25:39.

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

:25:39.:25:42.

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

:25:42.:25:47.

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

:25:48.:25:54.

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

:25:54.:26:01.

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

:26:01.:26:08.

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

:26:08.:26:14.

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

:26:14.:26:18.

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

:26:18.:26:23.

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

:26:23.:26:26.

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

:26:26.:26:29.

necessarily a significant increase in costs?

:26:29.:26:33.

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

:26:33.:26:38.

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

:26:38.:26:41.

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

:26:41.:26:46.

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

:26:46.:26:51.

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

:26:51.:26:55.

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

:26:55.:26:58.

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

:26:58.:27:01.

experience in Cuba, but in practical terms will anything come

:27:01.:27:06.

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

:27:07.:27:15.

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

:27:15.:27:18.

transforming care today will have a radical approach to deliver our

:27:18.:27:23.

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

:27:23.:27:28.

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

:27:28.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:36.

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

:27:36.:27:41.

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

:27:41.:27:48.

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

:27:48.:27:52.

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

:27:52.:27:58.

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

:27:58.:28:00.

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

:28:00.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:10.

several MLAs using electronic devices while listening to debates.

:28:11.:28:15.

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

:28:15.:28:22.

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

:28:22.:28:27.

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

:28:27.:28:31.

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

:28:31.:28:37.

that electronic devices should be used responsibly and without

:28:37.:28:41.

distracting other members or interfering with the business of

:28:41.:28:46.

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

:28:46.:28:50.

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

:28:50.:28:55.

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

:28:55.:29:01.

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

:29:01.:29:05.

absolutely clear that if members feel they have to use electronic

:29:05.:29:09.

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

:29:09.:29:14.

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

:29:14.:29:18.

this minute in time. The speaker pulling no punches.

:29:19.:29:22.

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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