13/06/2011 Stormont Today


13/06/2011

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


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. We'll be talking money, or rather

:00:29.:00:35.

the lack of it. The bills are piling up and there is plenty of

:00:35.:00:39.

anxiety facing the Minister and students over tuition fees cool.

:00:39.:00:44.

This MLA have the answer? Before he would ever consider going to the

:00:44.:00:47.

executive that the department of employment and Learning itself

:00:47.:00:51.

should also be operating efficiently and that this shortfall

:00:51.:00:57.

in funding is meant internally and by the colleges and universities

:00:57.:01:01.

themselves And it was back to the Budget for the finance Minister but

:01:01.:01:07.

have been back to basics? I think in one case a minus was put in

:01:07.:01:11.

instead of a plus and therefore you got a different outcome in terms of

:01:11.:01:21.
:01:21.:01:21.

the amount of cash the Department of Agriculture bid for.

:01:21.:01:25.

Exam stress is just one of the problems facing our students just

:01:25.:01:28.

now. There is also the gruelling question of tuition fees and the

:01:28.:01:33.

prospect of a potential hike. Some �1,200. For now it is a weight game

:01:33.:01:37.

while the Minister makes up his mind. In the meantime I'm joined by

:01:37.:01:43.

the outgoing President of Queen's Student union. Welcome to the

:01:43.:01:48.

programme. Good evening. Do you have any debts yourself? I do

:01:48.:01:54.

indeed. I left university two years ago with a tuition fee debt of

:01:54.:01:59.

�20,000. That included my student future, as well as the course costs

:01:59.:02:04.

and the student living allowance as well. How much stress is this

:02:04.:02:08.

causing students on campus, this notion of a hike? Indeed it is

:02:08.:02:12.

causing students stress because of the uncertain future with tuition

:02:12.:02:17.

fees in Northern Ireland, as well as the exams and course materials

:02:17.:02:21.

they've got to be concerned about. But for the families and electorate

:02:21.:02:23.

of Northern Ireland they were promised under the last Government

:02:23.:02:28.

a response in July. We still don't have a proposal of a date on the

:02:28.:02:32.

table for this tuition fee arrangements moving into 2012.

:02:32.:02:36.

it is a few more months you will have to wait. Stay with us, Gareth,

:02:36.:02:40.

because we'll come back to that. At the start of business this

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morning members paid tribute to the former Irish Minister for finance,

:02:45.:02:52.

Brian Lenihan, who died last week aged 52. He fought a brave battle

:02:52.:02:58.

against pan country attic cancer. On behalf of the SDLP and at a

:02:58.:03:05.

personal level I wish to extend our sincere sympathy with Brian

:03:05.:03:09.

Lenihan's wife, Patricia, on this sad and untimely death of a person

:03:09.:03:16.

who had yet so much to safer. To his entire family circle and to his

:03:16.:03:20.

party, Fianna Fail, for whom he dedicated so much and gave so many

:03:21.:03:28.

of his time. To his many friends, friends whom he had both cross-

:03:28.:03:35.

party and indeed outside politics. I sympathise. A true politician and

:03:35.:03:45.
:03:45.:03:46.

a gentleman. He bore a great burieden of course

:03:46.:03:56.
:03:56.:03:56.

during the great -- burden of course because of the state of the

:03:57.:04:00.

economy and the Irish Republic and at the same time because of the ill

:04:00.:04:04.

health he suffered. And yet in all of dealings I had with him he

:04:04.:04:08.

always had that bouncy optimism, both in terms of his own health and

:04:08.:04:13.

things were getting better and he was recovering, and also in terms

:04:13.:04:18.

of what could be done for the economy in the Irish Republic.

:04:18.:04:25.

think he will be a huge loss. Apart from being a first class politician.

:04:25.:04:31.

He was a very decent human being. He was very affable. He was good

:04:31.:04:37.

natured. He was very kind hearted, and he was always willing to

:04:37.:04:42.

thereon the debates and discussions that were taking place. I think he

:04:42.:04:46.

will be sorely missed, and I think all of us who worked with him in

:04:46.:04:51.

the past will remember him as someone who made a contribution, a

:04:51.:04:55.

positive contribution to life in this island. When he first made the

:04:55.:05:05.
:05:05.:05:06.

public announcement of his illness in late 2009 he won admirers from

:05:06.:05:12.

all sides of the Dail, while battling a personal struggle for

:05:12.:05:16.

his survival. On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I would like

:05:16.:05:22.

to convey my sympathies to his wife, children and the family circle.

:05:22.:05:29.

speaks volumes that he was there to do the best conceivable job for his

:05:29.:05:33.

constituents, for his party, for the people of Ireland and, as

:05:33.:05:41.

others have said, for recognition of the responsibility. He will be

:05:41.:05:46.

sadly missed, because political life could do with many more people

:05:46.:05:50.

like Brian Lenihan to carry that sense of obligation, that sense of

:05:50.:05:53.

commitment, alongside that sons of good humour and partnership and

:05:54.:05:58.

willingness to relate to other people. I wish to express the

:05:58.:06:02.

condolences of myself and the Green Party to Brian Lenihan's family.

:06:02.:06:07.

Cancer has taken from us talented politician but perhaps more

:06:07.:06:12.

importantly at the young age of 52 a son, a husband, and a father.

:06:12.:06:17.

Economy Minister Arlene foster was answering questions this afternoon,

:06:17.:06:22.

but first off it it was new Minister who has joined his party

:06:22.:06:27.

leader at the executive table. The alliance member for North Down is

:06:27.:06:30.

now in charge of the department of employment and Learning and his

:06:30.:06:37.

Question Time was about one thing: tuition fees. At present in

:06:37.:06:41.

Northern Ireland universities have to find savings of �28 million over

:06:41.:06:46.

the next two years. That amounts to a 12% cut in terms of the public

:06:46.:06:51.

support that we give to those universities. Already that comes at

:06:51.:06:54.

a time when the levels of investment in universities in the

:06:54.:06:59.

rest of the UK are increasing. We do have a very strong record in

:06:59.:07:02.

Northern Ireland of having two world class facilities and it is

:07:02.:07:06.

important that we maintain that and do not fall behind what's happening

:07:07.:07:13.

in theest of the UK. If the �40 -- in the rest of the UK. If the �40

:07:13.:07:18.

million gap has to be passed on the universities that would have

:07:18.:07:22.

catastrophic consequences for them and would entail a reduction in the

:07:22.:07:26.

number of students and the closure of a number of departments. It

:07:26.:07:29.

would be difficult for us to sustain an argument that we had

:07:29.:07:32.

world class facilities. We are trying to give out a message that

:07:33.:07:39.

Northern Ireland is open for wis. - open for business. What they will

:07:39.:07:44.

be looking for is a guarantee that we will have highly skilled

:07:44.:07:48.

workforce and that includes highly skilled graduates through our two

:07:48.:07:52.

universities. Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker, does

:07:52.:07:55.

the Minister not agree the onus should be on the universities and

:07:55.:08:00.

the colleges to ensure that they are operating a streamlined

:08:00.:08:02.

management structure where it is efficient and also before he would

:08:03.:08:05.

ever consider going to the executive that the department of

:08:05.:08:09.

employment and Learning itself should also be operating

:08:09.:08:14.

efficiently, and this shortfall in funding is met internally and by

:08:14.:08:18.

the colleges and universities themselves? I agree with the thrust

:08:18.:08:22.

of what the member is saying. Efficiencies are important in terms

:08:22.:08:27.

of my own department I am wholly committed to that. I know both the

:08:27.:08:31.

universities are equally committed to finding efficiencies themselves.

:08:31.:08:35.

It is important to put down a marker that universities aren't

:08:35.:08:39.

there simply to act ads companies trying to drive out costs to the

:08:39.:08:42.

lowest common denominator. They are there to make an investment in

:08:42.:08:47.

terms of the future of the society as a whole. There is this notion

:08:47.:08:51.

out there as well that both universities are sitting on some

:08:51.:08:55.

pile of reserves that we can tap into to address. This now, I've

:08:55.:09:00.

asked my officials to drill down and test those argument fully and

:09:00.:09:04.

spoken to both Vice Chancellors, who are prepared to co-operate with

:09:04.:09:08.

my department examining those types of arguments. Both universities at

:09:08.:09:12.

the moment do have reserves but these are committed to capital

:09:12.:09:17.

investment. A lot of that is contractually committed as well. It

:09:17.:09:20.

is important that members are aware that when talking about the use of

:09:20.:09:25.

reserves to plug a gap this, �40 million issue is a recurring cost

:09:25.:09:30.

throughout every year. You can only dip into rerves once. Then they

:09:30.:09:40.

were exhausted -- reserves once. Then they are exhausted.

:09:40.:09:45.

Then it was on to enterprise, trade and investment. When asked about

:09:45.:09:49.

inward investment, the Minister was pleased to have good news to report.

:09:50.:09:54.

In relation to the current market, obviously it remains quite volatile.

:09:54.:09:58.

However, the pipeline of new projects remains good, particularly

:09:58.:10:06.

I have to say in the financial services, ICT and software sectors.

:10:06.:10:11.

Invest Northern Ireland are encouraged by the level of interest

:10:11.:10:14.

in Northern Ireland. That's something we'll continue to work on.

:10:14.:10:19.

In fact the potential Northern Ireland office's new business is

:10:19.:10:24.

out of this world. Cyber connectivity is important to us.

:10:24.:10:31.

That's why Project Kelvin linking us to America was such a key

:10:31.:10:35.

investment force. We now have quicker connectivity between New

:10:35.:10:38.

York and Northern Ireland than New York has with San Francisco. That's

:10:38.:10:42.

something we should be proud of. Aligned with that when we get

:10:42.:10:46.

people to connect into Northern Ireland we must have the

:10:46.:10:48.

connectivity within Northern Ireland. That's what the member is

:10:49.:10:53.

referring to. But it was back to Earth with a bang with this MLA

:10:54.:10:59.

crying foul on the lack of funding for the Milk Cup football

:10:59.:11:02.

tournament. Very tox press disappointment that you have no

:11:02.:11:07.

good news for the Milk Cup. With Minister for oversight with the

:11:07.:11:11.

tourist board did you agree with their decision, which seems to

:11:11.:11:15.

beggar belief that Northern Ireland Milk Cup could only score half the

:11:15.:11:20.

marks available on branding as a Northern Ireland venture? If you

:11:20.:11:25.

don't agree, what steps will you take to make sure that the great

:11:25.:11:30.

wrong done against Northern Ireland Milk Cup is righted? I thank the

:11:30.:11:36.

member for his question. One key factor in why the Milk Cup and the

:11:36.:11:41.

Foil Cup didn't score highly is because they are primarily sporting

:11:41.:11:44.

events. Notwithstanding the fact they do bring a number of tourists

:11:44.:11:50.

to Northern Ireland and the greater north-west. Because of that and

:11:50.:11:53.

because my good friend and colleague Gregory Campbell has been

:11:53.:12:00.

lobbying me in relation to this issue, I have asked my officials to

:12:00.:12:03.

discuss alternative funding arrangements with the department of

:12:03.:12:07.

culture, arts and leisure, and Sport Northern Ireland. But I do

:12:07.:12:11.

need to say that the long-term sustainability of both events has

:12:11.:12:16.

to be considered. That's key noint all of this. Certainly we'll look

:12:16.:12:20.

to be positive and find a solution in relation to this year but in the

:12:20.:12:25.

long term public funds cannot be permanently guaranteed for specific

:12:25.:12:29.

events. Therefore we need to look to a plan in relation to the medium

:12:29.:12:33.

to longer term. In relation to this year I've asked officials to have a

:12:33.:12:36.

look at this matter. If you want to see more from

:12:36.:12:40.

Question Time or indeed anything else that's been going on in the

:12:40.:12:50.
:12:50.:12:52.

chamber or committee, go on-line to The finance Minister took up quite

:12:52.:12:56.

a bit of Assembly time today. He had to ensure he had the legal

:12:56.:13:00.

right to spend all that lovely money, and once the budget was

:13:00.:13:05.

mentioned it opened up a raft of complaints, but as usual Sammy

:13:05.:13:10.

Wilson had his answers ready. When I caught up with him to talk about

:13:10.:13:19.

future plans it was mistakes of the Some people make mistakes in their

:13:19.:13:26.

accounts or bills came in after, in relation to single farm payments

:13:26.:13:30.

and finds from the European Union. And it came in after the money had

:13:30.:13:38.

been agreed. That's what is called XS accounts, and, in some cases,

:13:38.:13:41.

because mistakes were made, we asked to to make sure that doesn't

:13:41.:13:45.

happen again. Other cases were because they couldn't have foreseen

:13:45.:13:49.

the money at the specific time the money was given to them. What

:13:49.:13:59.
:13:59.:13:59.

mistakes were made? In one case, a- was put on instead of a+. Therefore,

:13:59.:14:04.

we got a different amount the agriculture department bid for.

:14:04.:14:09.

Someone else had a bill as a result of EU fines, and therefore had to

:14:09.:14:12.

make money available for that and there was a mistake in the

:14:12.:14:18.

teachers' pension scheme, �3 million. Fortunately, we had an

:14:18.:14:20.

underspending, and therefore we were able to facilitate the

:14:21.:14:25.

mistakes but, really, it shouldn't happen. And I hope systems have

:14:25.:14:29.

been put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again. What about

:14:29.:14:33.

the issue of you revisiting the Budget? It was pushed through late

:14:33.:14:39.

in the last term. Do you need to revisit it? No, the budget was

:14:39.:14:43.

agreed, I believe, and it was the right Budget. It hit all right

:14:43.:14:50.

priorities. The economy, providing money for the health service, and

:14:50.:14:54.

helping the disadvantaged. But I always said that the Budget would

:14:54.:15:00.

be a living document because we do have, over the next four years,

:15:00.:15:04.

opportunities to look for new revenue streams. We couldn't have

:15:04.:15:08.

realised immediately or in new ones which will come on board, but we

:15:08.:15:11.

are good opportunities with political decisions being made to

:15:11.:15:17.

baps make some savings on the cost of government, for example, and

:15:18.:15:22.

also savings coming through mean we will have more money to allocate.

:15:22.:15:25.

Over a four-year period, there will be additional money hopefully

:15:26.:15:29.

available and the pressures departments are finding and we will

:15:29.:15:35.

build up provide money for them. �40 million, a hole in the budget

:15:35.:15:38.

of the employment and learning department. If you don't increased

:15:39.:15:43.

tuition fees, your party promised it wouldn't do that, so is the

:15:43.:15:47.

minister going to get the money to ensure he doesn't have to push

:15:47.:15:51.

tuition fees up? The first of all, I don't want to pre-empt the

:15:51.:15:55.

consultation. It will be completed in a few years' time. It will be up

:15:55.:16:00.

to the minister to decide what he wants to do in relation to that,

:16:00.:16:04.

and he will then bring it to the executive. People say they don't

:16:04.:16:08.

want to see an increase in tuition fees. If that's the case, they

:16:08.:16:14.

simply can't leave him to find the money. I think he will be at this

:16:14.:16:18.

stage saying, it that the decision of the Assembly and the executive,

:16:18.:16:22.

where is the money coming from? I accept, if that happens, it will be

:16:22.:16:28.

a pressure, and we will have to facilitate it. Students are facing

:16:28.:16:32.

exam pressure this week and they would like to know they went up to

:16:32.:16:36.

get an extra �1,500 next year, so why won't you give them a broad

:16:36.:16:41.

hint, they won't have to pay more money? First of all, they won't,

:16:41.:16:45.

because any decisions will not apply until next year anyway.

:16:45.:16:50.

That's the first thing. Secondly, I can't pre-empt what all of the

:16:50.:16:55.

parties on the executive are going to do. We are only one party out of

:16:55.:17:04.

five. We have said that, as far as we are concerned, fees should not

:17:04.:17:10.

increase, but we will wait to see what recommendation the minister

:17:10.:17:14.

brings forward and the executive will decide. I don't think anybody

:17:14.:17:21.

on the executive would appreciate the second-guessing what the

:17:21.:17:25.

Assembly will decide on this matter. If it comes to the crunch, and you

:17:25.:17:31.

have the money, tuition fees will stay down? As far as the budget is

:17:31.:17:38.

concerned, no decision was made on tuition fees, there was a

:17:38.:17:41.

consultation document which went out, and one of the options and

:17:41.:17:47.

that was, fees would go up to I think it was �4,500. I can't

:17:47.:17:51.

remember the exact amount of money. Until that was decided, no money

:17:51.:17:57.

went into the budget for it. The minister made it quite clear, there

:17:57.:18:03.

is no money in his Budget at present for the freezing of tuition

:18:03.:18:07.

fees and the executive and the Assembly makes that decision. Until

:18:07.:18:11.

then, we will have to decide where the money comes from. Sandy Wilson

:18:11.:18:15.

wasn't giving too much away their the tuition fee hikes are not

:18:15.:18:22.

popular at Stormont and the post them is the chairman of the

:18:22.:18:25.

Department of Employment Committee, who joins us now. Have you any

:18:25.:18:29.

insight into what the minister might do on this issue? We have had

:18:29.:18:32.

some discussions with them and he did say that the political reality

:18:32.:18:36.

is that given that the DP and Sinn Fein are allocated that they will

:18:36.:18:40.

be no increase, that probably the way it's going to go, but it will

:18:40.:18:43.

leave a huge black hole in the finances of both universities and

:18:43.:18:48.

colleges. �40 million is what the minister these to ensure there is

:18:48.:18:51.

no hikes, but that money will have to come from another department, so

:18:51.:19:00.

what do you sacrifice for it? said to Sammy Wilson today, the

:19:00.:19:04.

first mistake gave a commitment that money would have to be found.

:19:04.:19:07.

-- the First Minister gave a commitment. If we don't find the

:19:07.:19:13.

money, you risk the reputation of our universities, and that could

:19:13.:19:18.

affect research funding and all sorts of things, so we have to be

:19:18.:19:22.

prepared not to sacrifice the future of young people. Gareth,

:19:22.:19:26.

this lot of speculation in the press so that students have it too

:19:26.:19:30.

easy, they spend their loans on things like drinking in the pub and

:19:30.:19:39.

taxis. What do you say to those critics? When we see first hand,

:19:39.:19:44.

students and a serious financial difficulty currently. There's

:19:44.:19:49.

15,000 undergraduates in Belfast, and the commercial debt owned by

:19:49.:19:55.

them is estimated at �100 million. Indeed, the total debt of graduates

:19:55.:20:00.

from our institutions within Northern Ireland is �1.3 billion of

:20:00.:20:04.

government sponsored money, so there is a major issue here. The

:20:04.:20:08.

week before the election, he made a statement saying we all agree on

:20:08.:20:11.

the importance of keeping fees at the current levels and we are

:20:11.:20:15.

committed to that so I would ask him before he takes any look at any

:20:15.:20:19.

proposals on the table, what has changed between now and then? He is

:20:19.:20:24.

in office and I would ask him to remain true to oneself and not into

:20:24.:20:27.

a modern liberal Democrat here in Northern Ireland. The consultation

:20:28.:20:35.

closed on Friday but a department needs time to sift through them.

:20:35.:20:38.

What I have asked for because it's very important, is forced to have a

:20:39.:20:42.

debate in the Assembly and that will take place in the last week of

:20:42.:20:45.

the Assembly. The consultation will be before the committee the week

:20:45.:20:49.

before that. If you were betting on this issue, would you say it's very

:20:49.:20:54.

unlikely tuition fees would go up? Yes, that's what I think but what

:20:54.:20:57.

is now emerging, and you heard it in the Budget debate today, the

:20:57.:21:01.

money will have to be found from somewhere. It's not just for �2

:21:01.:21:06.

million, but �28 million of efficiency is. We are facing a sick

:21:06.:21:09.

of it and redundancies in the university sector and the prospect

:21:09.:21:14.

of closing one of the campuses of one of the universities. Gentlemen,

:21:14.:21:18.

we have to leave it there but thank you very much. Time for a look at

:21:18.:21:24.

some of the committees. Little by Earsham from the general public,

:21:24.:21:27.

but there are an essential part of the Government here. Especially if

:21:27.:21:31.

they do their job properly. Keeping an eye on their ministers, so we

:21:31.:21:35.

start with the Health Committee and the new minister who was quizzed

:21:35.:21:40.

about security breaches on the side of the old Beaver Park Hospital.

:21:40.:21:48.

This is a matter for the Belfast Trust. Why, six or seven years

:21:48.:21:55.

after his it no longer being used, we are selling the building? It has

:21:55.:22:04.

had a 22.7 acres identified. It could have been used for

:22:04.:22:10.

development of homes for people. This is beyond me. I think it

:22:10.:22:14.

demonstrates poor management that we still own a property,

:22:14.:22:20.

particularly after coming out of the boom we just had. One can only

:22:20.:22:23.

imagine what that land in south Belfast would have been worth in

:22:23.:22:28.

2007, so instead of sitting on a problem we should have had, money

:22:28.:22:32.

could have come back into the estate. Obviously, that's not the

:22:32.:22:38.

case. Whatever we sell it at now, will be after reduced value to what

:22:38.:22:42.

it would have been sold in the later period. In terms of security

:22:42.:22:46.

breaches, first of all I deplore the security breaches which have

:22:46.:22:54.

taken place. I don't think the individuals involved, taking other

:22:54.:22:58.

people's information and posting it on the internet, and selling of

:22:58.:23:03.

information, are behaving in any way acceptable. But I also have

:23:03.:23:07.

concerns that the breaches took place in the first instances. It's

:23:07.:23:12.

hard to see not a sight of that size. And I understand that, at

:23:12.:23:15.

this moment in time, the Belfast Trust are reducing the security on

:23:15.:23:23.

the site, how best to manage the situation now. But I think that it

:23:23.:23:27.

is a situation but we should never have been in in the first instance.

:23:27.:23:31.

Obviously, what you're saying in relation to disabled people, they

:23:31.:23:36.

won't be discriminated against in the new regime, the new regulations,

:23:36.:23:42.

but according to the report, they are being discriminated against so

:23:42.:23:48.

what are you doing about that as a department? It was quite clear that

:23:48.:23:53.

private operators said they would have to bring in a six-seater

:23:53.:23:59.

minibus and that would be an extra cost for everybody. It didn't

:23:59.:24:01.

matter whether they had a disability or not. There was a

:24:01.:24:07.

charge for that. The disabled person didn't ask for a six-seater.

:24:07.:24:13.

They asked for a taxi. At the minute, there's no way to get an

:24:13.:24:17.

individual taxi driver behaving in that way and they shouldn't be.

:24:17.:24:20.

It's a matter of general law. You cannot just go where the person

:24:20.:24:23.

simply because they have a disability. At the present time

:24:23.:24:27.

with enforcement officers, unless he's committing a specific taxi-

:24:27.:24:33.

driver offence, his cars not roadworthy etc, I don't think

:24:33.:24:36.

there's a lot enforcement officers can do it against bad. There could

:24:37.:24:42.

be a complaint to the quality commission and that taxi driver

:24:42.:24:46.

could go into trouble. Would tax the operating licensing, it brings

:24:46.:24:50.

in a regime which operators are to be responsible for their drivers.

:24:50.:24:55.

There have to operate the business properly, reasonably, lawfully. If

:24:55.:24:59.

they allow drivers to do that sort of thing, we will stand down hard

:24:59.:25:04.

on the operator, and say, you have to bring your drivers in line. And,

:25:04.:25:09.

if you don't, you will lose your licence. Now for the latest in

:25:09.:25:14.

gossip and concerns involving our MPs. I caught up with Mark

:25:14.:25:20.

Devenport. He detected some discontent over the DUP and Sinn

:25:20.:25:24.

Fein plans to create a new post, principal Deputy Speaker. I asked

:25:24.:25:29.

him what all the fuss was about? This is about the DUP trying to

:25:29.:25:33.

keep good way promise which Ian Paisley made to Sinn Fein last time

:25:33.:25:38.

around when the Speaker got his job ante so that the UUP would support

:25:38.:25:43.

a nationalist Speaker, Sinn Fein speaker, in the future. Willie Hay

:25:43.:25:48.

is now back in the job, but the compromise has been but they said

:25:48.:25:51.

this job would rotate halfway through this is humbly and we're

:25:51.:25:56.

expecting the current deputy to get it but as part of that deal, Sinn

:25:56.:26:01.

Fein is requiring Francie Molloy gets enhanced status so her

:26:01.:26:04.

enhanced if -- the new job has caused annoyance to the other

:26:04.:26:09.

deputy speakers. Why is no one happy? They think there's no need

:26:09.:26:14.

for this new job. Francie Molloy is a person likely to get it above the

:26:15.:26:20.

other deputy speakers. So what they are saying that, instead of as

:26:20.:26:24.

being a job simply kept for Sinn Fein, it should be rotated amongst

:26:24.:26:27.

the parties. I don't think they will get that through but it is

:26:27.:26:31.

sick of the Kent the Ulster Unionists had joined with Alastair

:26:31.:26:35.

in pushing this motion and amendment tomorrow. Away from here

:26:35.:26:40.

today, the British and Irish parliamentarians were addressed by

:26:40.:26:49.

the to shock. Yes, he was picking up from the Queen's visit saying

:26:49.:26:53.

that now there has been a healing of old wounds between Britain and

:26:53.:26:57.

Ireland and they can move on in their relationship, be on the

:26:57.:27:00.

presuppose says, trying to confront the global financial crisis

:27:00.:27:10.
:27:10.:27:13.

together. -- beyond the peace process. But he did talk about his

:27:13.:27:17.

being significant, the termination of the Irish Republic, to hang on

:27:17.:27:21.

to its low corporation tax rate, which is something people here are

:27:21.:27:24.

advocating we should match, although there was controversy

:27:24.:27:28.

between the politicians about that over the weekend.

:27:28.:27:33.

Well, corporation tax is a big issue but so student fees. Do you

:27:33.:27:36.

think kick-starting the Northern Ireland economy shouldn't just

:27:36.:27:40.

focus on corporation tax but a package of measures is required,

:27:40.:27:45.

something to help students perhaps? I think last year and the last

:27:45.:27:49.

programme for government, we saw investing in a knowledge-based

:27:49.:27:54.

economy for the future of Northern Ireland about important ribbon Ford.

:27:54.:27:56.

We do one thing Northern Ireland exporting talents elsewhere, going

:27:56.:28:02.

to Europe, Australia, America, and bringing their talents away. Some

:28:02.:28:05.

people may go away and then come back and invest them back into

:28:05.:28:10.

Northern Ireland and that's what we need. We need more investment

:28:10.:28:13.

within the future of the generations in Northern Ireland. We

:28:13.:28:18.

don't want people to mortgage their future away with crippling debt and

:28:18.:28:27.

a tuition fees. What advice do you have for the ministers including

:28:27.:28:31.

the student minister? Invest in the future of Northern Ireland and take

:28:31.:28:36.

stock of what is important. For Trade and Investment and business,

:28:36.:28:40.

enterprise, and education, not only primary, secondary but higher

:28:40.:28:45.

education. And also a question of whether education should be

:28:45.:28:51.

monitored by one department. Very briefly, you're leaving your job at

:28:51.:28:56.

Queen's now and you're not attended by a going into Assembly politics?

:28:56.:29:01.

Not at the minute. This is an example of the concerns out there.

:29:01.:29:05.

I'm going to do a postgraduate in England, so currently, an

:29:05.:29:09.

undergraduate degree is not enough for students to get a degree so

:29:09.:29:12.

they have to go elsewhere to get a postgraduate degree so I would last

:29:13.:29:17.

Assembly to take that into account as well. The we wish you luck on

:29:17.:29:21.

that, Gareth. That is all from Stormont Today. We are back

:29:21.:29:25.

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