11/11/2013 Stormont Today


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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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Hello


They haven't gone away, you know. That was the message from the Ulster


Unionist Ross Hussey as he condemned the attempted murder of a former


police officer on Friday morning. The man discovered a bomb under his


car as he was about to take his daughter to school.


Myself and many members of this house have just returned from a


service of commemoration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in


service to their Queen and country. But for the vigilance of a former


officer, we could be remembering him here today as well. But if we look


at the history of the car bomb and those who planted under car booby


traps, we can see a direct link. We can see a direct link to the


provisional IRA. And those that planted this bomb, in my opinion,


have a directly to that organisation. Someone once said,


they have not gone away, you know. I think it is quite clear they have


not gone away and they are still here. And those who skulk around in


the darkness, those who have evil in their hearts, they want to drag us


back to those days when it was common to turn on your news bulletin


and listen to incidents about bullets and bombs and murder and


mayhem. But society is not going back there. There is no rhyme or


reason, there is no logic that can start over an attack and in this


case we have a man who has retired, who is trying to get on with his


life, and people would perhaps still try and put out some sort of reason


for this attack. There is no reason. This type of vicious attack has no


place in our society going forward. This act of violence has little or


nothing to do with any sort of meaningful politics or, dare I say


it, republicanism. This attack was a couple of streets away from my own


home. I came across the incident haven't done the school run myself.


To target someone in this way in a built-up area with no consideration


for wealth could have been injured is beyond contempt.


Judith Cochrane of the Alliance Party adding her voice to the


condemnation of Friday's attempted bomb attack. And joining me now is


the commentator Alex Kane. Some pretty strong words from Ross Hussey


and other Unionists in the chamber. It is interesting what he is saying.


Is he saying the provisional IRA are involved? In which case, it is the


provisional is linked to Sinn Fein. If it is the former, it raises very


serious questions about the Ulster Unionists party and whether they


should be sharing power with Sinn Fein. But he left that incredibly


vague. What are you saying? He did not make the distinction. If he is


saying the Provisionals have not gone away, it does ask huge


questions. Is it part of a wider operation? And if he does believe


that, what does it say about Ulster Unionists staying in power with Sinn


Fein? I think it is a strange irony now that on one hand you have Ross


Hussey saying it is the Provisionals who have not gone away but others


saying they have gone away. But yet again, when they should be


concentrating on the fact a police officer, a former police officer,


his life could have been in danger, that yet again it became another


peculiar type of point-scoring exercise. The Environment Minister


appeared to rule out any national parks in Northern Ireland, certainly


in the near future. That was a big issue of his predecessor Alex


Attwood. Is this him stabbing his personal mark on the portfolio? This


is the second time in a week. It was the planning Bill last week. I think


he is saying, I make decision and I am not going to fritter around in


the background. I think it is a stamp of authority and it is


welcome. What does it mean to you, not scrapping it, just shelving it?


I think it is dead. He may not even be the Minister. We will speak to


you a bit later in the programme. Thank you very much.


The Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has shelved a bill that would


bring national parks to Northern Ireland. The decision came to light


during Question Time today when planning was also on the agenda.


The longest outstanding planning response is for application S 2007


13720 which is for a mixed-use development. This consultation was


issued on January 21, 2009 following an initial consultation with public


health. I suspect that there are many other examples of three or four


years delay for a response to consultations and this is actually


coming up the planning system. The first minister believes there should


be a requirement by other consul tees to respond within a specified


time, otherwise it is assumed they have no comment to make. Thank you,


Mr Speaker. As the previous Minister for the environment was only too


aware how this works and how, in sadly, too many cases it does not


work properly and it does not work fast enough. It is something I am


looking very hard and very seriously at as we move towards moving the


planning powers towards councils. It is something I will be aiming to


pursue. National parks take this is a globally recognised brand and as a


result is a key draw in attracting tourists and boosting the local


economy. Furthermore, national parks also have a role in protecting and


enhancing natural heritage. However, I am also aware of opposition to


national parks in Northern Ireland and the concerns of Landover is --


landowners over what designation might mean to them. Given the level


of this opposition, I don't believe now is the correct time to proceed


with national parks. Can he take it from someone who represents the area


that there is widespread opposition to the creation of a national park.


As one individual has described it, it is necessary, expensive and


dictatorial. Will his department now work with the farming union in a way


that is beneficial rather than something that would have been to


the detriment. In my opinion, the result the opposition to national


parks has been so strong and so by Severus is largely due to fear and


fear of the unknown. My department will happily engage with the farming


community but I think it is important we do so on the basis of


building partnership working on the ground, not just the farming


community but also with those in support of national parks and to


recognise the value they can have two an area. It is important that


this partnership approach is taken and that maybe, just maybe, sometime


in the future, people's opposition might reduce. That is why I am not


scrapping the national parks built but I am shelving it. Mark H Durkan


explaining his decision not to proceed with plans to develop


national parks here. The Enterprise Minister also faced


questions today and she was asked how her department can help save the


Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry. But first, Arlene Foster answered a


question about the impact of potential loyalist flag protests in


Belfast over Christmas. I think we have got to recognise


that protests of any nature in the city centre will have an impact on


trade, particularly if it is in and around the peak shopping times and


therefore I will renew my call which I made the last time I was on my


feet in this house during question time that there needs to be dialogue


between those planning any protests and the people who are most rapidly


affected. Can I thank the Minister for that reply. I am well aware of


the previous comments on that but in light of that, can I ask her whether


she has managed to have any contact with the protest organisers, more


particularly the retailers themselves to discuss the matter? I


have been speaking to the retailers throughout the original protest


time. He will realise it was my department who took the lead in the


Belfast campaign which was hugely successful and very much appreciated


by not only the traders but the restaurant owners and bar owners in


Belfast. In relation to the difficulties in the local economy,


can the Minister advisers the much promised peace dividend, is that of


the table from the British government? No, I think the member


is aware of the economic pact which we are seeing developed and just


last week I attended a seminar in London with the Secretary of State,


jointly hosted by both of us, and at that event we hosted 16 regions and


countries from around the world where we see opportunities and that


was carried out in Lancaster house in London so I don't accept that the


much vaunted, to use his words, peace dividend has gone. I think our


national government are very much alongside us in trying to sell


Northern Ireland is a good place to do business. If I called back to you


the words of the Prime Minister from October when he said that Northern


Ireland was a spectacular place to do business, I think those are very


strong words from the Prime Minister. I had a very good meeting


with Jim Shannon Empey on October 23 when I confirmed that the Northern


Ireland tourist board has provided over 1.8 million since 1991 -- Jim


Shannon Empey. While there is currently no financial support


available to help explore both the tourist board and invest Northern


Ireland are available to work with the Council on marketing activity


and business planning to increase the commission 30 of the project.


Ness Requiring executive support? Well as I indicated to the previous


question, I await any proposals in relation to the issue, I


particularly await to see the commerciality of the proposals and


the sustainability for the future. Any of us want to make sure that


Exploris gets the stay of execution lifted but we want to see it lifted


not to come back on another day, we want to make sure that any saving of


Exploris will make sure that it lasts into the future. Therefore,


there is a need for it for it to be commercial and not non-ing the


status quo. The important thing here is that if we are able to help and


assist Exploris we will do so in a way that will make it commercially


viable and sustainable into the future, so it does not have to keep


relying on public funds into the longer term.


The culture arts and leisure men stir has welcome add report looking


at gaps in child protection in safeguarding across the sector.


Bringing the motion to the chamber the DUP's Michelle McIlveen who


chaired the committee said members hope highlighting best practise will


bridge provement Protection and safeguarding standards the KPS have


helped establish have taken considerable effort to achieve.


These standards represent best practise which can be used to


identify gaps and remedy them in other sector, the committee was


conscious in this investigation of the individuals and groups which are


privately and outside the system. Particularly self-employed persons.


They are not part of the regulation process, and the commit -- committee


believes efforts must be made to reach out to them. In has been a


valuable exercise and the committee was impressed by the work many


organisations have been involved in, to ensure they are fulfilling


responsibilities. A notable aspect has been an


involving back down drop to that work which continued to inform the


committee on the importance of developing policy in this area. It


illustrated the serious and complex nature of safeguarding children and


vulnerable people. That backdrop, Mr Speaker has been the revelations of


instances of abuse by celebrity, which was visited on young


vulnerable people over many decade, most notable of which was the Savile


case. Sum examples had the effect of clarifying and emphasising the


absolute requirement for establishing best practise in all


case, where people are involved in work or leisure, that brings them


into contact with children or any vulnerable person. The investigation


identified some arm length bodies do have child protection policies and


procedures. Others have policies in place, many groups and Private


Tutors do not have policies in place.


It has been identified that many group or private tutors have


received no advice or guidance on how to effectively deal with child


protection. 36 I want to raise a concern from a constituent of mine,


who is a volunteer with a sports club.


While he fully acknowledges the importance of knowledge for


volunteer, and he himself has completed all the necessary training


courses, he is concerned that some organisations, including some sports


governing bodies, are refusing to recognise the generic keeping


children safe course. As a BB officer and a member of the


Carrickfergus drugs advisory group I had to go through two different sets


is of assessment, just adds many others have to, and it does seem to


be bureaucratic, having been cleared, that even perhaps within


weeks you would have to submit another fresh application, when the


same criteria is assessed, and assessment of someone's suitability


is determined, particularly if you look at self-employed persons who


maybe working in this arts sector, they may have to go through


clearance with each individual group they may be working with. I do


believe this is one of the most significant reports coming through,


I believe that the proebbing theion of children and young people --


protection of children and individuals who are vulnerable is


something we can't do enough of, and rather than just using words, I am


really excited about the potential that we collectively across the


executive can close gap, implement where possible the committee report,


perhaps even strengthen where possible recommendation but I will


be bringing this back in early January with a detailed response.


The Culture Minister accepting the recommendation of a report from her


committee on child protection. Now there were 4,000 reasons for one


piece of Assembly business today. The MLAs were quick out the starting


gate to pay tribute to one of Northern Ireland's finest sportsmen


coy and his latest remarkable achievement. -- Tony McCoy. He has


been 20 years at the top, 18 years consecutively champion jockey. He


has won and many of you will know this the Grand National. The Gold


Cup. Scottish Grand National Irish Grand National, Galloway Plate. He


is a phenomenon. He has brought great honour area, we have heard


where other sports people have been honoured but I think Tony McCoy is a


fairly modest quiet gentle man, unassuming. He represents all that


is positive and solid about our people. I think across the piece,


Tony McCoy represents how people can overcome adversity, how people can


succeed, it does require hard work, it does require diligence, it does


require iron will and I think that he represents all of that. His place


in the Irish and international sporting history was assured long


ago, and his achievement continue to be an inspiration for us all. The


SDLP are backing the call by our councillor Thomas Burns for a stat


stew of Tony McCoy to be erected, that would stand proudly, reflecting


the horse racing history, this local hero has made. I like others before


me wish to congratulate the achievement of AP McCoy, and


particularly on his fantastic record for horse racing, he has, Mr


Speaker, been a tremendous sportsman and ambassador for Northern Ireland


and he joins with the host of other sporting icons that have come from.


The alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy: He wasn't the only MLA to highlight


sporting prowess. Danny Kinahan wants to see a sporting Hall of Fame


set up and he is with me now. The idea of some kind of sporting


haul of -- Hall of Fame or museum has been in the mix for a while. Do


you think it is gaining traction? I don't, that is why I raised it


today. I want the see one, we need to have the will, we need to get the


department's concerned to set a team up who look at how can you do it,


how can we make something that pays for itself, and best of all sells


what is the best of Northern Ireland.


You say that you don't think it is gaining traction at this stage, but


there are some pretty high profile backers of the plan. You wonder why


it hasn't happened? Everything is sitting here, we had the Olympics


last year and we were meant to on the back of that. You have Mary


preerts, Lord Glentoran, there are so many people who have been star f


you have the modern technology, surely we can make something that is


great fun and works. Mary Peters is a big supporter. Phenomenally big


supporter, there are a lot more behind her, if any of us look at our


dreams of who our is parting heroes are, there are so many there,


whether it is the film, the kit or the equipment, there is just so many


question -- much we can do and the rest of the world would flock here


to see it. That is the interesting thing. There is a very large list of


names, that would have international appeal and then there is a larger


list of names that would have appeal to people in this part of the world.


Do you think it would be enough in itself to bring people from outside


Northern Ireland to see a haul of First Minister like that I do. If


you think of Rory McIlroy and our golfers and the Americans coming


here to see the Titanic, you have to sit down and work out how you market


it, and our our tourists from within Northern Ireland will help it pay.


You mention Titanic, do you see two things being some kind of parallel


attraction or would you look at other possible sites like Maze Long


Kesh, is that the kind of thing you would like to see dropped The


Titanic centre is the obvious one. Let us have a building that works


it, transport is easy and let us get it near the airports and make it


work. You raised the question today with the Enterprise Minister, she


didn't support your idea but she didn't rule it out either I spoke to


her after and she said it Hazard to work commercially. The Titanic


centre was condemned a bit but it has worked well. Let us get a team


to look at it, to make it work, rather than got not sure it is work.


Government would have to take lead. This would cost money, you are


talking of tens of millions of ? think so. But you think you have to


speculate to accumulate, is that the thing? You have to take the risk to


get there. If you put the right people in charge they will find way


of making money. What happens next? It is been on the table for a long


time and hasn't gained traction, how do you convert that into movement?


Go back to Arlene and see if we can have a team, let us get Mary Peters


and the other team working with it, and fine a way of doing it. OK. Keep


us in touch with development. Thank you very much for coming in. The


British Medical Association has said there is a need for the Health


Service to prioritise patient from Northern Ireland. Dr Tom Black was


giving evidence to the health committee on the implementation of


the EU cross border health directive to. He said general practise is


under considerable pressure. We recognise we have a duty of care


to deal with immediately necessary and emergency situations for


patients who aren't our usual patients.


We see this as continuing. However, as GPs for the population


in Northern Ireland, we feel that we need to prioritise the needs of our


present population, the 1.91 million patients under our care, and


prioritise their care and immediately necessary emergency care


within that. . We need to accommodate too, the EU


directive. But we would see ourselves as restricting any


services to essential service and using cost as a hurdle to limit


demand in that respect. When we looked at the directive, it


wasn't very clear in relation to things like... Services where, we


talked about directive talked about visitors being able to access things


like essential medical service, it wasn't clear what that meant. We


felt given the unique situation that we have here, in the north in


relation to our land border, there was a need to look at the directive,


certainly, and I don't think anybody suggests it is not worthwhile do


that, but I think there are very genuine practical workings out of


this, I would be interested in your views, the definition of essential


medical service, how it is defined and practically how it is


administered? Essential medical services, and it a long definition,


but it is those who are sick or perceive themselves to be unwell.


Additional services which is what we hope to exclude is things like


smear, maternity service, things that are more routine, that to


achieve quality of care, you would need continuity of care. So there is


no point in me doing your smear, I should know what the last one was


and I should make sure I do your next one. So additional services


would be those extra service, childhood vaccination, you shouldn't


bring your child to me to to be vaccinated if I am not your previous


doctor. I need to make sure you get your full continuity of care. I have


got 7,000 patients in my practise with four doctors and we are snowed


under, the last thing I need is to look after other people's patients.


So that is, I would say the proposals from the department as


continuing that situation. -- see. If they are sick on the day in Derry


I will see them. If they want a treen appointment see your doctor.


Now, Alex Kane has rejoined me. There is some sad news which is


breaking, the form former slpt MP for South Down Eddie McGrady has


died. You had encountered him a lot down the year, what your memories of


him I encountered him when Iised to work with Enoch Powell, so I bumped


into him a few times during election periods. I have to say, people say


you are just saying this now, after he died but he was one of the


NICest, a gentle man, a truly gentle man, didn't bear grudge, we would


chat about things were going, at ease all the time. And a very reex


leaked likeable guy. The key was he fought that seat over and over and


over again. Never expecting to it but finally did. He won it, as you


say, fourth attempt in 1987. Interesting his party leader said,


not a sectarian bone in his body, he was popular way beyond the slpt Yes,


place like Newcastle when he would walk along the front. People would


come up to him. I never heard anyone say any nasty about him. OK. We


leave it there. Thank you have much. That is it for tonight. Join me for


another Stormont Today at the same time. Thank you for watching. GB.


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.