07/11/2011 Stormont Today


07/11/2011

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Transcript


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Welcome to the programme. The global superstars of pop have gone

:00:27.:00:32.

home after the European Music Awards, but there is so plenty of

:00:32.:00:38.

stock quality here. The St -- the leader of the SDLP tells us how you

:00:38.:00:45.

plans to make his party a power should -- powerhouse. I will link

:00:45.:00:51.

up with all interests in Stormont, in Dublin, in Westminster, and

:00:51.:00:57.

reassert the clout of the SDLP. During questions, at the Enterprise

:00:58.:01:03.

Minister gets upset by gas. We sit in a darkroom with a blanket over

:01:04.:01:12.

our heads and hope it all goes away. Has MTV exposure made any

:01:12.:01:16.

difference to Northern Ireland? Alan Clark, head of the tourist

:01:16.:01:21.

board, joins me. Either you cannot get enough of it, or you are sick

:01:21.:01:27.

to death hearing about it. Either way, the MTV awards left an

:01:27.:01:32.

impression on Belfast. Has Belfast left an impression of any of the

:01:32.:01:36.

stars they came here. It is beautiful. It is one of the

:01:36.:01:41.

country's you always want to go to, but you think you might want to go

:01:41.:01:47.

to the beach. I am glad that I came here. I love the accents! It is

:01:47.:01:51.

beautiful people -- it is beautiful. People have been really nice.

:01:51.:02:01.
:02:01.:02:03.

Alan Clark, did we make a mark? in a really differ of -- big way.

:02:03.:02:10.

We had a really big weekend. I thought we had enormous support,

:02:10.:02:15.

and every bedroom was filled in Belfast. More than anything else,

:02:15.:02:25.
:02:25.:02:28.

it began a change in perception of Belfast. Did you have a thing to do

:02:28.:02:38.
:02:38.:02:40.

with that? It takes Belfast into a new league. I think Belfast

:02:40.:02:50.
:02:50.:02:51.

delivered in a different way. The NTV people on Saturday night said

:02:51.:02:57.

that they had never seen another scare like it. I guess the spirit

:02:58.:03:07.

but they felt in Belfast was so good. We were starved of the bigger

:03:07.:03:17.
:03:17.:03:18.

events before. Exactly, but it is about forward thinking. But we

:03:18.:03:23.

delivered on it in a big way. We had Belfast Music Week, and a book

:03:23.:03:27.

sell -- worked so well. I think everyone was ready for it when they

:03:27.:03:37.
:03:37.:03:40.

came. The winner helped as well! deserves some praise. People came

:03:40.:03:48.

into Belfast who didn't have any of the tickets for the event. They

:03:48.:03:54.

had... One of the most surprising things was the shortage of voices

:03:54.:04:00.

of dissent. Very few people saying negative things about it. Exactly.

:04:00.:04:06.

There were people in the business community and voluntary sector, and

:04:06.:04:13.

the entertainment side. Us in tourism see our link with the arts,

:04:13.:04:17.

culture and heritage sectors. It reflects Belfast being a young,

:04:17.:04:23.

vibrant and bowled City. It takes the City forward, and it will bring

:04:23.:04:28.

a wider role in tourism, changing perceptions. This weekend marked

:04:28.:04:34.

the beginning of that. Stay with us. Plenty more to come. The Enterprise

:04:34.:04:38.

Minister had plenty more to say about the awards during question

:04:38.:04:43.

time. First, the Environment Minister, Alex Attwood. He was

:04:43.:04:49.

asked about the cost of running a national park here. Yes, there will

:04:49.:04:54.

be costs around national park designation, because they would be

:04:54.:05:00.

a retired -- a requirement for national park management groups to

:05:00.:05:06.

take forward the management. There will be costs. Look at the benefits.

:05:06.:05:12.

You would have better protection of the Environment and the national

:05:12.:05:21.

heritage of any area so designated. At a time when the economic

:05:21.:05:26.

difficulties people face, it would bring economic growth in those

:05:26.:05:32.

areas, and it would protect local interests. It would lead to a

:05:32.:05:37.

situation, in my view, that farmers that farm in a national park would

:05:37.:05:42.

actually have premium produce, simply because they came from a

:05:42.:05:49.

national park. So yes, there would be costs upfront, but you would be

:05:49.:05:53.

creating a national park, and that would be a cost. But there will be

:05:53.:05:57.

many other benefits in terms of the Environment, in terms of jobs, in

:05:57.:06:06.

terms of a premium product coming out of the area. I believe strongly

:06:06.:06:13.

that on the balance sheet, if that's what it comes down to, it is

:06:13.:06:20.

very heavily loaded in favour of it. A world away from Stormont to the

:06:20.:06:25.

glamourous world of showbiz. 1 MLA thinks that we may have missed a

:06:25.:06:35.
:06:35.:06:40.

trick. Many American tourists carried a picture of Andrew Jackson

:06:40.:06:45.

want their dollar bills. The home of Andrew Jackson was closed. We

:06:45.:06:55.
:06:55.:06:57.

need to be doing more with councils. Can he give any ideas that we can...

:06:57.:07:03.

Can I say to you, in terms of the many visitors they came, I don't

:07:03.:07:09.

think anyone was disappointed. On the contrary, I thought there was a

:07:09.:07:12.

tremendous opportunity for Belfast and the whole of Northern Ireland

:07:12.:07:20.

to sell themselves to the world. I think they did it very well. I

:07:20.:07:26.

would like to thank everyone involved, Belfast City Council, and

:07:26.:07:28.

particularly the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who are thought

:07:28.:07:38.
:07:38.:07:41.

From rocking to cracking. A controversial way to getting

:07:41.:07:49.

natural gas. As to the many earthquake, it was felt by one

:07:49.:07:54.

person. There were very few people who felt the earthquake, and I do

:07:54.:08:03.

want to say to him that the select committee in Westminster have had

:08:03.:08:09.

an investigation into shale gas and the process, and a moratorium in

:08:09.:08:19.

regards to the process, which people are asking me about, the

:08:19.:08:27.

same people asking me to find solutions to rising electricity and

:08:27.:08:33.

gas prices. The two do not sit together. It is time that people

:08:33.:08:38.

realised that they have to join the dots in terms of energy policy.

:08:38.:08:43.

Sometimes, they are members in this House to do not join the dots. It

:08:43.:08:49.

is hugely frustrating, I have to say. Can I ask the Minister, firm

:08:49.:08:55.

and that is a tremendous destinations for tourism. What does

:08:55.:09:01.

she perceive as an effect on the industry? Should it go ahead in for

:09:01.:09:06.

a manager? That would be addressed in terms of any environmental in

:09:06.:09:16.

that -- impact. I would -- is the Green party's suggestion that we do

:09:16.:09:22.

not look for alternative supplies? We just sit in a darkroom with a

:09:22.:09:26.

blanket over our heads, and hope they did all goes away? Turned the

:09:27.:09:34.

lights off! Yes, indeed! It is absolutely amazing that people come

:09:34.:09:39.

to this chamber and do not look at what is there and available to the

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not -- the people of Northern Ireland. People... It is

:09:45.:09:52.

unbelievable. I look at supply solutions for Northern Ireland.

:09:52.:09:56.

Looking at ways to bring an alternative supply of energy to the

:09:56.:10:02.

people of Northern Ireland, and instead, the alternative from the

:10:02.:10:10.

Green Party is to sit in a darkened room with a blanket over their head.

:10:10.:10:18.

The new SDLP leader said that the current MLAs would stay in place.

:10:18.:10:23.

There will be no changes until January, and I will only be

:10:23.:10:31.

reshuffling in the context where I see it as helping the party up it.

:10:31.:10:39.

That is not a serious contender -- contender until January. Until

:10:39.:10:49.

January at least? And probably longer. What do you see as the

:10:49.:10:53.

SDLP's role in the executive? would hope that we would have more

:10:53.:10:57.

success. There are meetings from time to time with the First

:10:57.:11:05.

Minister, from a DUP perspective, with the deputy first minister with

:11:05.:11:09.

a Sinn Fein perspective. I would hope to open up more meetings.

:11:09.:11:18.

Whether there is any success with that or not, the proof of the

:11:18.:11:24.

pudding will be in the eating. are looking for more cordial

:11:24.:11:30.

relations? I am looking for a more constructive relationship. White

:11:30.:11:35.

and in Westminster regularly, and what there are wide gaps between

:11:35.:11:40.

the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, they are still able

:11:40.:11:46.

to co-operate in matters of local interests. The problems here are

:11:46.:11:52.

that the barriers are too high. In some ways, do not so work with Sinn

:11:52.:12:01.

Fein? Yes, we need to be on their side, but we need to maintain

:12:01.:12:07.

civilised discussions. I am a keen observer of how that happens in

:12:07.:12:13.

Westminster, and people challenging on issues that are of importance

:12:13.:12:18.

and at the same time, you can sit and have a cuppa tea with each

:12:18.:12:22.

other in the canteen or in the tea room or whatever. That is not

:12:22.:12:29.

happening here. That has to open up here. Personal trusts and

:12:29.:12:35.

friendships need to run cross-party. He said on Saturday when you become

:12:35.:12:40.

leader of the party that the fightback starts straightaway.

:12:40.:12:47.

fightback started this morning. I am on the road. Others with my

:12:47.:12:55.

assembly colleagues. The big issue for me is that it is on the ground,

:12:55.:13:00.

and I will be with the Northern Ireland Select Committee in Dublin

:13:00.:13:04.

over the next couple of the days. I will be meeting the Prime Minister

:13:04.:13:09.

there and the minister for foreign affairs, and and I will be working,

:13:09.:13:16.

and a lot of these things, yes, a lot of them are opportunistic as

:13:16.:13:22.

much to as planned, and I will try to link with all interests in

:13:22.:13:28.

Stormont, in Dublin and in Westminster. I will reassert the

:13:28.:13:34.

clout of the SDLP, and reassert that in a way that brings back

:13:34.:13:38.

maximum advantage to those who are out there without jobs or depending

:13:38.:13:47.

The Health Minister has told the Assembly there was no cover-up into

:13:47.:13:49.

allegations of abuse at Foster Green and Lissue Hospitals. Edwin

:13:49.:13:52.

Poots said his department will co- operate fully with the historical

:13:52.:13:55.

abuse inquiry which has been set up by the First and Deputy First

:13:55.:14:02.

Minister. I am determined that in my department that this behaviour

:14:02.:14:06.

was and remains unacceptable, and all complaints will be dealt with

:14:06.:14:09.

seriously. I want to know what happened, I will demand answers

:14:09.:14:14.

about who was involved to ensure that this kind of there is

:14:14.:14:20.

identified quickly and addressed urgently. That is why I

:14:20.:14:23.

congratulate Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister in the

:14:23.:14:26.

courageous steps they took to establish an independent historical

:14:26.:14:31.

abuse inquiry in Northern Ireland, the scope of which makes it clear

:14:31.:14:37.

that institutions like Foster Green are within its remit. My departure

:14:37.:14:42.

will co-operate with the inquiry team and all information gathered,

:14:42.:14:46.

or recorded in two historic abuse, or individuals, or within

:14:46.:14:50.

institutions by the Health and Social Care bought, or trust, or by

:14:50.:14:54.

my department will be shed. I have also committed to working closely

:14:54.:14:58.

with executive colleagues to ensure support so are in place for those

:14:58.:15:02.

who suffered as a result of the abuse and can now come forward to

:15:02.:15:09.

engage with the historic abuse inquiry. I can declare that there

:15:09.:15:13.

will never be, nor has there previously been any form of cover

:15:13.:15:19.

up within the Department, though some individuals who may have been

:15:19.:15:25.

involved with abuse will have tried to cover their tracks. He gave an

:15:25.:15:29.

interview in May to October but to the BBC in which he suggested but

:15:29.:15:32.

some of the people who had been abused might have forgotten about

:15:32.:15:35.

it, and therefore, his department might not have needed to provide

:15:35.:15:38.

them with support. Will the Minister apologise for that remark

:15:38.:15:41.

and clarify exactly what the Department's best practice is in

:15:41.:15:51.
:15:51.:15:59.

The member may, or may not be aware but I have a brother who was in at

:15:59.:16:04.

the hospital and this has been an issue which has caused me great

:16:04.:16:08.

vexation because we have our own concerns about war went on and that

:16:08.:16:17.

facility. I visited it over 1000 times in my lifetime, I know many

:16:17.:16:22.

of the young people are worried that facility. I know their

:16:22.:16:26.

capacity issues and many of them would not be capable of remembering

:16:26.:16:31.

what went on given their mental capacity issues. There was the

:16:31.:16:38.

context of the response to the BBC. But it makes me very certain as to

:16:38.:16:45.

what my attitude is on this issue. It is clear - we must ensure the

:16:45.:16:50.

maximum protection of children who were in our care, or adults in our

:16:50.:16:55.

care, these people deserve it and it is the least we can do as a

:16:55.:17:00.

society, therefore, I want to ensure that is the case.

:17:00.:17:03.

Enterprise Minister wasn't at last night's MTV awards but the Culture

:17:03.:17:09.

Minister was and she's with us now. How was it? It was brilliant, an

:17:09.:17:15.

experience of a lifetime. Belfast was buzzing all week. Yesterday and

:17:15.:17:22.

last night Belfast outshone itself, it was brilliant. The for anybody

:17:22.:17:27.

who is a bit cynical about it, how do you assess that we get the �10

:17:27.:17:32.

million back for the �1 million that it cost us? We will always

:17:32.:17:41.

live with cynics on the results and benefits of all this. You needed to

:17:41.:17:46.

be there to feel the atmosphere, even in the city centre yesterday.

:17:46.:17:49.

Belfast was buzzing, shops were full, people were down to see what

:17:49.:17:56.

was happening. Last night and even this week Belfast will capitalise

:17:56.:18:06.
:18:06.:18:07.

on what happened yesterday for a long time. Alan Clark, is there any

:18:07.:18:11.

sense of it being Belfast centric and if you live somewhere else,

:18:11.:18:16.

what is in it for us? That was shown by how much public transport

:18:16.:18:24.

was put on to come into Belfast. We got a really exciting range of

:18:24.:18:28.

event taking place next year on the north coast, Belfast and Derry, so

:18:28.:18:32.

it is the start of a story, but next year will be even more

:18:32.:18:37.

exciting. MCB gave us a great start but over the next couple of years

:18:38.:18:43.

all of Northern Ireland will benefit. City of culture for 2013

:18:43.:18:50.

coming up, too. I was in Derry when the bridge opened and the bus was

:18:50.:18:55.

palpable. What we witnessed last night is the start of an experience

:18:55.:19:00.

for Derry, the City of Culture. It will be great, local as well as

:19:00.:19:04.

international acts as well. It is all to work for and look forward to.

:19:04.:19:14.
:19:14.:19:16.

It is a good news story. Let's be There was a sense from a lot of the

:19:16.:19:19.

visit is that we heard from after the event that they did not realise

:19:19.:19:23.

Belfast was so pretty. Not even that, they did not realise we could

:19:23.:19:29.

do it, and we did, and we did well. We have left a legacy. I think MTV

:19:29.:19:36.

could not be but impressed with how Belfast reacted. Thank you for

:19:36.:19:42.

joining us. The murder of the solicitor Pat Finucane has lingered

:19:42.:19:45.

in the public consciousness for more than 20 years. It's often been

:19:45.:19:48.

in the headlines and most recently the government's refusal to hold a

:19:48.:19:51.

public inquiry despite conceding there was collusion put it back on

:19:51.:19:54.

the front pages. Today MLAs got to have their say with a motion

:19:54.:20:02.

proposed by the SDLP in a debate where tensions ran high at times.

:20:02.:20:10.

The current British Government has rejected a public inquiry and has

:20:10.:20:19.

now opted for an independent review, no doubt by a distinguished lawyer,

:20:19.:20:24.

to conduct an independent review to produce a full public account of

:20:24.:20:30.

any state involvement in the murder. I am sure that Sir Desmond is an

:20:30.:20:35.

honourable man, and is an independent-minded jurist, but his

:20:35.:20:42.

review will simply be Corry number two. It is no substitute for a full

:20:43.:20:48.

independent judicial inquiry into this notorious murder. People seem

:20:48.:20:55.

to talk about collusion as if it all happens in republican cases.

:20:55.:21:02.

And it didn't. When collusion was used by the British Government and

:21:02.:21:06.

the state forces it was used across the board. Therefore, I would argue

:21:06.:21:13.

they should not be afraid of the truth coming out of and I had to

:21:13.:21:19.

say, we are being approached as a party by some people on the

:21:19.:21:25.

Unionist side because Unionism will not take up their cases. There are

:21:26.:21:32.

9256 when a stay was, the 1 million pages, 16,000 exhibits, one of the

:21:32.:21:37.

largest police investigations in UK history. Mr McGuinness also mention

:21:37.:21:41.

the purse has been asked to look into this, a distinguished QC with

:21:41.:21:47.

the UN, a man of absolute integrity and the purpose put forward by the

:21:47.:21:51.

Prime Minister on this is to bring the truth out, that is a commitment.

:21:51.:21:55.

Many people have said to me in the past we took too long to reach

:21:55.:22:01.

these conclusions. He does not do any of us any good to spend a lot

:22:01.:22:07.

of money to discover what we already know. It is clear there are

:22:07.:22:12.

many concerns about what appears to be a partial interest in a small

:22:12.:22:15.

number of victims in the Troubles, yet that is not what this motion is

:22:15.:22:25.
:22:25.:22:25.

about. It highlight on the basis of what was agreed at Weston Park the

:22:26.:22:31.

particular concerns of the family. This has to recognise the concerns

:22:31.:22:36.

which were expressed by that family in the light of promises made,

:22:36.:22:45.

whilst also recognising the Commons that have also been made as we look

:22:45.:22:49.

at the needs of all victims and this society as a whole. But that

:22:49.:22:53.

does not alter the fact that a promise was made to the Finnegan

:22:53.:22:57.

family, and that is fundamentally where they have every right to feel

:22:57.:23:04.

they were treated badly by the current government. The name was

:23:04.:23:07.

very well known within the period of the Troubles, in fact, during

:23:07.:23:15.

the period there was a famous family member who wanted to be

:23:15.:23:19.

extradited from the Republic of Ireland, there was a famous case.

:23:19.:23:29.
:23:29.:23:53.

But transpired to be the brother of Our last members to keep on the

:23:53.:23:58.

point of debate when speaking. -- I would ask members. Not surprising

:23:58.:24:04.

members do not like it when things are not going their own way. Let's

:24:04.:24:14.
:24:14.:24:18.

I accept the condemned -- condemnation of the death of

:24:18.:24:20.

Patrick Finucane, but he is suggesting he was perhaps engaged

:24:20.:24:29.

in something else and it was very clear at the inquest into the death

:24:29.:24:33.

that the investigation said there was no evidence to suggest he was

:24:33.:24:41.

involved in any paramilitary organisation, in particular the IRA.

:24:41.:24:46.

It is accepted by almost every objective observer that he was

:24:46.:24:50.

simply a lawyer carrying out his work on behalf of clients, albeit

:24:50.:24:55.

that some of them, or many of them were connected with the IRA, or

:24:55.:25:05.
:25:05.:25:10.

I accept the member makes the case for Patrick Finucane and his family,

:25:10.:25:15.

none the less, if he is accepting that information was done at that

:25:15.:25:19.

time, is excepting all the information and will bring it --

:25:19.:25:24.

and clearly he is not. That motion will be voted on tomorrow after

:25:24.:25:27.

what's known as a petition of concern was lodged with the

:25:27.:25:29.

speaker's office. It will need cross-community support to be

:25:29.:25:34.

endorsed so that's not likely to go through. The past was the focus of

:25:34.:25:37.

debate, there were legal developments have a different kind

:25:37.:25:46.

outside as our political editor explained. Outside we have a new

:25:46.:25:51.

Director of Public Prosecutions. is interesting that if you went on

:25:51.:25:54.

what you saw in the chamber you might think in terms of the legal

:25:54.:25:58.

and political worlds nothing had changed because of that controversy

:25:58.:26:04.

was a reminder of Commons back in 1989 by Douglas Hogg when he said

:26:04.:26:10.

some lawyers were overly sympathetic to the IRA and those

:26:10.:26:15.

comments came before the murder of Pat Finucane. So we had a repeat of

:26:15.:26:19.

arguments that have done over the years. Outside the chamber we had

:26:19.:26:26.

the appointment of Mary McGrory, a well-known defence lawyer whose

:26:26.:26:31.

father back in the 1980s was being targeted by loyalists. It is a sign

:26:31.:26:35.

of how much things are changing that a defence lawyer could now

:26:35.:26:39.

have moved over and will be the public face of the Prosecution

:26:39.:26:44.

Service in Northern Ireland. Change at the SDLP as well, a pretty

:26:44.:26:50.

inauspicious start for the new leader. Yes, it was a bad one for

:26:50.:26:53.

Alastair Macdonald. All the energy being generated by the SDLP

:26:53.:26:57.

leadership election, the triumph Alastair Macdonald had of getting

:26:57.:27:01.

his leadership he had lost previously, followed by the

:27:01.:27:06.

disaster when he had an autocue malfunction in his first formal

:27:06.:27:11.

speech as leader and everything went quiet. He spent much of the

:27:11.:27:16.

time asking for the likes to be turned out. Could somebody turn-off

:27:16.:27:24.

those like supplies. I am blinded. -- turn off those might so please.

:27:24.:27:29.

There was a sombre mood around after that. Today Alastair

:27:29.:27:32.

Macdonald was trying to put this behind him, saying it was a

:27:32.:27:38.

technical glitch -- Alasdair McDonnell. There is no doubt it is

:27:38.:27:43.

not the start he would have wanted. A new job for the SDLP leader, but

:27:43.:27:48.

back to the old job for Martin McGuinness? He and the first

:27:48.:27:53.

minister have been in London attending a dinner organised by

:27:53.:27:56.

invest in Northern Ireland, meeting with people from the banking

:27:56.:28:02.

sectors. I am told Martin McGuinness was meeting Ed Miliband

:28:02.:28:06.

and the shadow spokesman of Northern Ireland, so he has been

:28:06.:28:11.

doing that, but the two men will be around and about Stormont tomorrow

:28:11.:28:14.

with the first public engagement since he mounted his unsuccessful

:28:14.:28:24.
:28:24.:28:30.

It makes your job easy. It adds up to her becoming more mainstream in

:28:30.:28:33.

the economy. We believe tourism could play a wider role. If people

:28:33.:28:37.

feel good about where they live and work there are more likely to

:28:37.:28:42.

attract people here. Tourism can play a wider role than it has in

:28:42.:28:46.

the past and I guess with MTV this weekend shows the potential for

:28:46.:28:54.

that. Thank you. That's it from Stormont for this evening. We're

:28:54.:28:57.

back tomorrow with highlights from questions to the health minister

:28:57.:29:00.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills 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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