07/03/2016 Stormont Today


07/03/2016

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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Security matters force their way back onto the Assembly's agenda

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as MLAs condemn last week's attempt to kill a prison officer in East

:00:33.:00:35.

And Members consider a new and potentially unpopular

:00:36.:00:38.

option in the battle against obesity.

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So, on the programme tonight: Following recent terrorist activity,

:00:42.:00:43.

It was a despicable murder attempt and thankfully it did not succeed

:00:44.:00:59.

but as the Secretary of State has said we have to be lucky all of the

:01:00.:01:04.

time, the bad people only half to be lucky once.

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as the Assembly considers a sugar tax.

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60% of the adult population is overweight or obese.

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And joining me with his thoughts on today's business is our

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Political Correspondent, Chris Page.

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Stormont may be on the verge of being dissolved, with election

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and referendum campaigns on the horizon - but today the House

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MLAs from across the chamber condemned the dissident Republican

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attack on a prison officer in East Belfast last week.

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Several speakers even referred to members of their family who had

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The Matter of the Day was brought by the Ulster Unionist Andy Allen,

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who explained that he knows all too well what the prison officer

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I myself was at the receiving end of an bomb blast. Let me say to the

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prison officer there is light at the end of that tunnel. I am living

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proof. We will not allow these people to take as back to the past.

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The impact that it has on people's families, the sacrifices that

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thousands of families have made over the past number of decades, checking

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under your car, not able to drive on certain roads, having to avoid

:02:45.:02:49.

certain areas in Northern Ireland. That was normal to me. When I look

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back it was far from normal. We need to send a clear message to those who

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launched this attack. They have little or no support within the

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community. There is no place for this type of attack. We have to send

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a clear message that this Assembly and all the particle parties,

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whatever disputes or issues that needs to be resolved, they will be

:03:16.:03:21.

done by peaceful and democratic means. The people who carried out

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this attack did so with a mix of insanity and vanity and are

:03:26.:03:35.

deploying a failed strategy. People of my generation and generations to

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come wants to move on. They are fed up with this nonsense. These people

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who think they can drag us back to the past while at the same time

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talking about the future. I met the officer concerned if months ago. He

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is an officer who has a certificate number of years service. He is

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playing a key part in the prison service. He is also somebody active

:03:58.:04:09.

in the community. He is the kind of citizen that this society needs. He

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is the kind of person who is a benefit to the public service as

:04:14.:04:19.

well as to the wider community. He had no reason to be attacked. It is

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often forgotten that prison officers continue to be on the front line

:04:27.:04:34.

because there continues to be a concerted deliberate driven campaign

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to try and retake control of the prisons. And it is modelled upon and

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build upon the template of the past. I was the daughter of a prison

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officer. We had full splits in our lives. It was a real threat. That

:04:57.:05:18.

was normality for my family. That was 15 years ago. That is sad to

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think that in 2016 we are still faced with that type of threat.

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Claire Sugden, not alone in having a very personal reaction to last

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And both that terrorist attack and the arms find near Larne came up

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during the final Question Time of the mandate for the First

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Arlene Foster called on the public to be vigilant and pass any

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information they might have on to the police.

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She also expressed concern over the suggestion that the Easter 1916

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anniversary could be a motivation for more attacks.

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Does the First Minister accept that it is a badge of dishonour and shame

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on her administration and these institutions that the definition of

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victim continues to include victim makers? Can she tell as a

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consequence of that definition... The member will resume his seat.

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Resume your seat. I would expect ministers to

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remember, one question at a time. Zero prisoners groups have had

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victim 's funding. That is the first thing to say. The second thing to

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say is that it was my party that tried to change the definition of

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the victim. It is this party that wants to do that. There are others

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in this House that do not want to see that happen. We will continue to

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try and bring forward legislation in the next mandates to deal with that

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matter but we need others to join with us to do that. That is the

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reality. The victims definition was set before devolution. That is

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something that is not tall to people and we have to deal with that

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reality. I am not dealing with fantasy politics. I want to take

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this opportunity, when he has made reference to European victims day,

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to say how much I condemn the attack on the prison officer last weekend.

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It was a despicable murder attempt and thankfully it did not succeed.

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But as the Secretary of State has said we have to be lucky all of the

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time, the bad people only have two be lucky once. I call upon,

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particularly given the activities in Larne at the weekend, I call upon

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the public to be vigilant. I member of the public who brought the arms

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cache to the attention of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and we

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must make sure that the entire public gives their support to the

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Police Service of Northern Ireland oscillatory can bring these people

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to justice and make sure that Northern Ireland continues on a

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positive and productive journey to the future. What Ash... Will the

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First Minister give that actions by the security forces will be taken to

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thwart receptivity? We were all very concerned to hear the assessment

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from the assistants Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer do it in and around the

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southern and Republicans and the fact that they were going to use

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Easter 1916 as an excuse to perpetrate violence and mayhem. I

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absolutely believe that we as politicians need to give strong

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leadership. We need to say it is not acceptable and reject it. We have to

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support the Police Service of Northern Ireland so that they can

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bring these people to justice. That is why although the find as Larne

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was disturbing the fact that we could find it as I could thing.

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Security issues work to the forefront. Yes, a 52-year-old prison

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officer injured when a bomb exploded and in vehicle he was driving. For

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all the talk about MLAs disagreeing, this is an issue where they are at

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one. Nobody in the chamber would dissent from what was said today.

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Nobody would refuse to condemn it. It is significant that on the first

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day that there was a first Assembly session after that attack the first

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item was that debate in which Assembly members were given an

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opportunity to express their views on what happened.

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It was interesting to see one MLA speaking as the victim of a similar

:10:18.:10:20.

blast and to speaking as the children of prison officers stopped

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that right. The Independent MLA is the daughter

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of a prison officer. Another MLA is the son of a prison officer. A

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reminder that so many MLAs have been affected directly by the Troubles.

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Then we heard about the MLA affected by another conflict. And he was so

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badly injured by a blast that he is a wheelchair user.

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A Health Bill which proposes to ban smoking in cars carrying children

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has been making its way through the House -

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but it also calls for a study to be carried out by the department

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investigating the possibility of introducing a levy

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Diet is linked to diabetes and cancer. We are aware of the health

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risks associated with high levels of sustained sugar intake. The average

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intake amongst school-aged children and teenagers is almost three times

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higher than the new 5% maximum recommended level and around twice

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the maximum recommended level in adults. In terms of people being

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overweight and obese, 60% of the adults published as obese or

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overweight. 28% of children and young big are overweight or obese.

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GP costs. Descriptions, costs are 92 million per year. There is a clear

:12:13.:12:18.

area of concern in relation to strain on the service. It is

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important to reflect that sugary soft drink 's are of particular

:12:23.:12:28.

concern. But it does need to be part of a broader strategy. This

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Amendment was recognition of that. This is not the panacea to all of

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our issues but it is a positive public health initiative. Obesity is

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the epidemic of the 21st-century. The STL P believes that this chamber

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should do all within its powers to prevent it from a cunning in the

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first place. With regard to the amendments there are a number of

:12:53.:13:08.

issues. A number of questions for the Minister. Will this be an

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academic piece of literature? In his remarks he referred to a robust

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study. When does a robust study not become a consultation? The Minister

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and the officials have decided a public consultation is not

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necessary. That is disappointing. Given how little value many

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executive departments actually give to consultations the outcome will be

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little changed. At this stage rather than only have a consultation for

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the sake of consultation I will give the park and the benefit of the

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doubt with this study exercise. It is my hope that this report, aside

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from being expert led and ambitious in its thinking, will still test

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public opinion on the introduction of a levy. It is taking the time to

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examine the issue properly that is at the heart of the issue before us.

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Beth the results are positive my Department or the Assembly could

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then move towards a consultation on what specifically to do in respect

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of this issue of a levy or a tax on sugar sweetened jinx.

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Road safety took centre stage at today's questions

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The Road Traffic Amendment Bill was completed in January

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Mark H Durkan was keen to outline the need for the legislation.

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In terms of drink-driving, the bill makes provision for two new lower

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drink-drive limit and also increases speed limits have been stopped and

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tested by the police. A consultation paper is due to be issued this

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month, this will contain proposals to introduce a set of five statutory

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rules that are needed to bring the new drink-driving meshes into

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operation. I am compliment that with the continued support of my brief

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safety partners, the new drink-driving regime will be

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invented for the end of 2016. In relation to graduated driving

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licensing, the obligation is to make sure the drivers are skilled over

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time in lower risk environments. The bill provides for a minimum six

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months learning period and introduction of training to be

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evidenced by a logbook. It removes the current 45 mph restriction for

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learner drivers and also introduce a passenger restriction for new young

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drivers for the first six months after they have passed their test.

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Right away, we have been in contact with the approved driving

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instructors, they are going to be talking to people about this from

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the very first driving lesson, it will also be public information to

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support's is as important parents know this before their children out

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driving and the responsibility that children have in terms of what

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passengers making curry and when. I also launched two new campaigns

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later this month, the first addressing mobile phone use when

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driving and the second, young driver distraction, particularly when

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carrying passengers. The Minister may be aware where other corner of a

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road which has been the scene of five territories of young in recent

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years. That corner was removed from the scheme years ago, will you see

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this scheme expedited? I thank the member for that question. That truly

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is a frightening and shocking statistic and certainly as an

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elected representative, never mind is Minister for responsibility of

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road safety, I will work with you and everyone to address what is

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clearly an issue at that precise location. On the record take in this

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chamber before, speaking of concern that I have had about I suppose the

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restructuring of the Government departments and where I foresee

:17:13.:17:17.

potential problems in that growth but there are also opportunities

:17:18.:17:25.

which will actually subsume the road safety element so you have people

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within the same department who are responsible for brief safety and

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those who are responsible for the road network. Can I ask the Minister

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to outline what actions the department has taken to take action

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against defective headlight switch may decrease accidents on rural

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roads? Of the department does have responsibility for brief safety and

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it does have response rate to ensure the roadworthiness of vehicles which

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is the cause and factor in many collisions Honorius through the MOT,

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we do check the headlights on vehicles, that is one of the most

:18:10.:18:13.

important aspects of the tests add any found to be faulty ball be

:18:14.:18:17.

There's plenty of last minute legislation making a final dash

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through the Assembly and today it was the turn of the Education

:18:23.:18:25.

It's reached Further Consideration Stage,

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and John O'Dowd was keen to point out the important work that's been

:18:28.:18:30.

This bill recognises outmost where schools already treat this issue

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very seriously, believing in schools remains a problem. There are

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edited... The consistency of which all schools stick to address the

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problem. The framework which it will provide will give all schools

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Beatles and management and information they require to monitor

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their own performance, identify issues at an early stage. The duties

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that are introduce reflect this practice, endorses those system and

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practices that they already have in place. We always hear that

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schooldays are the best days of our lives and we want all our children

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to be happy at school. Because it is within that environment that our

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children but the mac achieve their potential with no fear of bullying.

:19:25.:19:28.

If there is billing, we want to deal with that. -- bullying. During the

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consideration stage of this bill, the end this's assembly agreed...

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With the amendments, that have been made since, the bill has been made

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better. In terms of BTM edits today, the community has not taken any form

:19:52.:19:55.

of view, the Minister has indicated that either they aren't of technical

:19:56.:20:01.

nature or largely don't alter the bill's content. I suppose from that

:20:02.:20:06.

point of view, members will want to view the contributions to decide

:20:07.:20:12.

accordingly. A brief description of the incidents should be included in

:20:13.:20:15.

the guidelines that the Minister and his team will draw up afterwards and

:20:16.:20:22.

they certainly when ever is someone draws or drill down into any

:20:23.:20:26.

information of the incident, they will be able to understand what has

:20:27.:20:29.

happened from the beginning to the end. I think on the face of it we do

:20:30.:20:34.

need to include the method. It is like in including an additional

:20:35.:20:38.

column of analysis and you can see physical, verbal, cyber bullying

:20:39.:20:43.

throughout that and in my mind, it makes for better and analysis. I'd

:20:44.:20:48.

like to thank all of those who have contributed to today's debate and

:20:49.:20:53.

the positive engagement in such a timely manner. The Dell is a

:20:54.:20:58.

positive step forward to improve schools abilities to tackle the

:20:59.:21:02.

problems as rigorously and effectively as they can. To ensure

:21:03.:21:08.

more children are protected from the damage that bullying can cause.

:21:09.:21:10.

John O'Dowd striking a positive note on plans to tackle bullying.

:21:11.:21:13.

The South Belfast MP, Alasdair McDonnell, has walked out

:21:14.:21:15.

of a Parliamentary committee meeting, taking exception

:21:16.:21:17.

to a contribution from the Labour MP, Kate Hoey.

:21:18.:21:19.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was at Stormont hearing

:21:20.:21:21.

evidence about how a UK exit from the European Union could affect

:21:22.:21:24.

First though, Lady Sylvia Hermon asked the DUP MP, Gavin Robinson,

:21:25.:21:29.

what impact a vote to leave could have on the border

:21:30.:21:31.

The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland already have border

:21:32.:21:44.

arrangements of cooperation. We both look after one another and were

:21:45.:21:50.

quite closely out of what is the unified European Union border

:21:51.:21:55.

process, that is the first thing to say. I think this is demonstrated by

:21:56.:22:00.

the evidence that we have that they are scared of us leaving because

:22:01.:22:04.

they will lose their big friend in Europe. You don't expect there to be

:22:05.:22:10.

any change along the border to while policing arrangements? I say this,

:22:11.:22:19.

it's not that I foresee any change our party takes it pretty ill with

:22:20.:22:25.

the fear concerns around border operations, border post, like when

:22:26.:22:29.

they've had a common travel area before the European Union and they

:22:30.:22:35.

take it pretty ill for those who suggest that Northern Ireland will

:22:36.:22:39.

descend back into violence should we not benefit from a continued

:22:40.:22:42.

relationship with the European Union. I think that touches to a

:22:43.:22:47.

base level in politics other level are concerned and fear that is not

:22:48.:22:51.

suitable and nor is it of a credit to anyone who should raise it. I'm

:22:52.:22:59.

not suggesting that you were... The three levels of relationship that

:23:00.:23:04.

when trying within the good Friday agreement, relationships within

:23:05.:23:06.

Ireland, relationships between Northern Ireland and the south and

:23:07.:23:12.

the relations at an east-west basis, that was the brainchild of John Hume

:23:13.:23:15.

who took his inspiration from the European Union and who understood...

:23:16.:23:20.

You might laugh but that is what happened. I'm laughing at John Hume,

:23:21.:23:31.

did a good job. Order, order. You have to control that member. Order,

:23:32.:23:38.

order. That is not acceptable. That is the second time today. I think

:23:39.:23:45.

John Hume played an amazing part in that, my point was in terms of the

:23:46.:23:50.

EU relationship. The EU understood and if you look at the peace lilies

:23:51.:23:55.

I've come here, that was the result of a direct understanding of relish

:23:56.:24:01.

chip. Because of people like John Hume, and other people, all those

:24:02.:24:12.

people who contributed that but the context, the political context of

:24:13.:24:15.

that has been within the European Union. Of course the McCanns were

:24:16.:24:20.

very helpful who brought the Americans on board. Within the

:24:21.:24:26.

European Union, to nation states, the British Government and the Irish

:24:27.:24:33.

Government and I think it is quite obvious.

:24:34.:24:33.

The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, and Chris Page is here

:24:34.:24:36.

And all expected ten of events when Alasdair McDonnell walked out of

:24:37.:24:48.

that meeting. Up until that point, it looks like a fairly routine

:24:49.:24:54.

committee hearing. All part of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee,

:24:55.:24:58.

the enquiry into the that the debate of the European Union for Northern

:24:59.:25:02.

Ireland. They are holding most of the debate in the house is up

:25:03.:25:07.

Parliament in London but they are here at the moment. Alasdair

:25:08.:25:09.

McDonnell took exception to something that Kate Perry said, the

:25:10.:25:14.

origins of the peace process and left. Kate Hoey clarified that she

:25:15.:25:18.

had been laughing and then the committee continued to question the

:25:19.:25:25.

witness. Do we know anything more that was behind Alasdair McDonnell's

:25:26.:25:29.

decision to walk out? He referred that is being the second time,

:25:30.:25:33.

whether it was the second time that Kate Hoey had annoyed or irritated

:25:34.:25:39.

him? Judging what he had said on the way out he did feel that previously

:25:40.:25:42.

in that committee hearing Kate Hoey had said something that he didn't

:25:43.:25:47.

like. He said to the community chairman, Laurence Robertson, that

:25:48.:25:50.

he should control that member, that member being Kate Hoey. He said what

:25:51.:25:58.

she had said was not acceptable so clearly Alasdair McDonnell was

:25:59.:26:05.

upset, Kate Hoey didn't feel she had done anything wrong. Let's talk

:26:06.:26:13.

about Jim Wells. He got the DUP nomination in self-doubt after much

:26:14.:26:16.

speculative about whether he would or would not. What you surprise?

:26:17.:26:21.

There had been discussion about whether Jim Wells would come back as

:26:22.:26:25.

the DUP candidate in self-doubt after what happened to him last

:26:26.:26:26.

year. -- herself down. He maintained all the way through

:26:27.:26:39.

but he doesn't feel he has done anything particularly wrong, he was

:26:40.:26:43.

looking to get back into the assembly after the May elections, he

:26:44.:26:47.

wants to standard again, he now houses which, the DUP have announced

:26:48.:26:51.

today all 44 of their election candidates and he is one of them.

:26:52.:26:54.

The other question would be what the DUP with doings East Belfast, Sammy

:26:55.:27:04.

Douglas is running there again. We now know the answer, it is Joanne

:27:05.:27:10.

bunting, she was a counsellor, she was on the Council for 11 years, the

:27:11.:27:19.

DUP regard her as a very good pick. In fact, the partly with third --

:27:20.:27:30.

would feel they are gearing up very well for the selection also in about

:27:31.:27:34.

two months' time and it has all become clear. The speakers are

:27:35.:27:39.

holding a women in politics bentonite. Some pretty strong words

:27:40.:27:46.

tonight, he said the unrepresented sheen women in assembly is

:27:47.:27:51.

indefensible. He is calling on the next assembly to try and approve

:27:52.:27:54.

that. He is stepping down in the next couple of weeks.

:27:55.:27:58.

Join me again at the same time tomorrow night -

:27:59.:28:03.

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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