11/11/2013 Stormont Today


11/11/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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service of commemoration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in

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

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

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

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

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

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have a directly to that organisation. Someone once said,

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

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

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

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

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and listen to incidents about bullets and bombs and murder and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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for wealth could have been injured is beyond contempt.

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Judith Cochrane of the Alliance Party adding her voice to the

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

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

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

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

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

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serious questions about the Ulster Unionists party and whether they

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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peculiar type of point-scoring exercise. The Environment Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The longest outstanding planning response is for application S 2007

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

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

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

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years delay for a response to consultations and this is actually

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that is beneficial rather than something that would have been to

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

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

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

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

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building partnership working on the ground, not just the farming

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

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

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

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

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

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explaining his decision not to proceed with plans to develop

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national parks here. The Enterprise Minister also faced

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

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

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question about the impact of potential loyalist flag protests in

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Belfast over Christmas. I think we have got to recognise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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particularly the retailers themselves to discuss the matter? I

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have been speaking to the retailers throughout the original protest

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

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Belfast campaign which was hugely successful and very much appreciated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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countries from around the world where we see opportunities and that

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

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

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national government are very much alongside us in trying to sell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shannon Empey. While there is currently no financial support

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available to help explore both the tourist board and invest Northern

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Ireland are available to work with the Council on marketing activity

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

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

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

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particularly await to see the commerciality of the proposals and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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relying on public funds into the longer term.

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

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at gaps in child protection in safeguarding across the sector.

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

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chaired the committee said members hope highlighting best practise will

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bridge provement Protection and safeguarding standards the KPS have

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helped establish have taken considerable effort to achieve.

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These standards represent best practise which can be used to

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

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conscious in this investigation of the individuals and groups which are

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

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

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

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valuable exercise and the committee was impressed by the work many

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organisations have been involved in, to ensure they are fulfilling

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responsibilities. A notable aspect has been an

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

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

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illustrated the serious and complex nature of safeguarding children and

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

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instances of abuse by celebrity, which was visited on young

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

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

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absolute requirement for establishing best practise in all

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

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into contact with children or any vulnerable person. The investigation

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identified some arm length bodies do have child protection policies and

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

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Tutors do not have policies in place.

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It has been identified that many group or private tutors have

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

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

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who is a volunteer with a sports club.

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While he fully acknowledges the importance of knowledge for

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volunteer, and he himself has completed all the necessary training

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

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governing bodies, are refusing to recognise the generic keeping

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

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

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

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be bureaucratic, having been cleared, that even perhaps within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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protection of children and individuals who are vulnerable is

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

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really excited about the potential that we collectively across the

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

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perhaps even strengthen where possible recommendation but I will

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

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The Culture Minister accepting the recommendation of a report from her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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in the Irish and international sporting history was assured long

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

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

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

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

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me wish to congratulate the achievement of AP McCoy, and

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

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Speaker, been a tremendous sportsman and ambassador for Northern Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what is the best of Northern Ireland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:22:12.:22:16.

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

:22:17.:22:21.

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

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

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

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

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

:22:41.:22:46.

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

:22:47.:22:51.

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

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

:22:56.:23:02.

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

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

:23:08.:23:11.

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

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

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

:23:19.:23:23.

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

:23:24.:23:26.

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

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

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

:23:37.:23:42.

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

:23:43.:23:46.

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

:23:47.:23:52.

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

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

:23:56.:23:59.

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

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giving evidence to the health committee on the implementation of

:24:03.:24:06.

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

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

:24:11.:24:15.

to deal with immediately necessary and emergency situations for

:24:16.:24:20.

patients who aren't our usual patients.

:24:21.:24:25.

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

:24:26.:24:30.

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

:24:31.:24:35.

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

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prioritise their care and immediately necessary emergency care

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

:24:43.:24:50.

directive. But we would see ourselves as restricting any

:24:51.:24:54.

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

:24:55.:24:58.

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

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

:25:06.:25:11.

talked about directive talked about visitors being able to access things

:25:12.:25:15.

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

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

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

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

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

:25:37.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:45.

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

:25:46.:25:49.

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

:25:50.:25:56.

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

:25:57.:26:00.

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

:26:01.:26:05.

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

:26:06.:26:11.

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

:26:12.:26:16.

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

:26:17.:26:22.

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

:26:23.:26:26.

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

:26:27.:26:32.

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

:26:33.:26:39.

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

:26:40.:26:44.

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

:26:45.:26:50.

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

:26:51.:26:57.

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

:26:58.:27:00.

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

:27:01.:27:06.

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

:27:07.:27:11.

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

:27:12.:27:18.

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

:27:19.:27:21.

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

:27:22.:27:27.

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

:27:28.:27:31.

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

:27:32.:27:35.

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

:27:36.:27:41.

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

:27:42.:27:47.

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

:27:48.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:27:59.

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

:28:00.:28:07.

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

:28:08.:28:13.

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

:28:14.:28:18.

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

:28:19.:28:22.

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

:28:23.:28:26.

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

:28:27.:28:37.

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

:28:38.:28:39.

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.