07/11/2011 Stormont Today


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Minister had plenty more to say about the awards during question


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


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


be costs around national park designation, because they would be


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


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


You would have better protection of the Environment and the national


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


difficulties people face, it would bring economic growth in those


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


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


actually have premium produce, simply because they came from a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


trick. Many American tourists carried a picture of Andrew Jackson


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


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


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


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


tremendous opportunity for Belfast and the whole of Northern Ireland


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


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


particularly the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who are thought


From rocking to cracking. A controversial way to getting


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


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


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


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


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


same people asking me to find solutions to rising electricity and


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


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


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


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


and that is a tremendous destinations for tourism. What does


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


unbelievable. I look at supply solutions for Northern Ireland.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Westminster, and people challenging on issues that are of importance


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


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


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


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


leader of the party that the fightback starts straightaway.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


allegations of abuse at Foster Green and Lissue Hospitals. Edwin


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


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


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


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


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


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


identified quickly and addressed urgently. That is why I


congratulate Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister in the


courageous steps they took to establish an independent historical


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


them with support. Will the Minister apologise for that remark


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


public inquiry despite conceding there was collusion put it back on


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


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


The current British Government has rejected a public inquiry and has


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


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


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


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


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


independent judicial inquiry into this notorious murder. People seem


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


largest police investigations in UK history. Mr McGuinness also mention


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


I accept the condemned -- condemnation of the death of


Patrick Finucane, but he is suggesting he was perhaps engaged


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


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


involved in any paramilitary organisation, in particular the IRA.


It is accepted by almost every objective observer that he was


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


debate, there were legal developments have a different kind


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


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


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


and political worlds nothing had changed because of that controversy


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


some lawyers were overly sympathetic to the IRA and those


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Alastair Macdonald. All the energy being generated by the SDLP


leadership election, the triumph Alastair Macdonald had of getting


his leadership he had lost previously, followed by the


disaster when he had an autocue malfunction in his first formal


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


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


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


There was a sombre mood around after that. Today Alastair


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


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


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


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


minister have been in London attending a dinner organised by


invest in Northern Ireland, meeting with people from the banking


sectors. I am told Martin McGuinness was meeting Ed Miliband


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


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


with the first public engagement since he mounted his unsuccessful


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


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


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


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


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


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


back tomorrow with highlights from questions to the health minister


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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