13/11/2012 Stormont Today


13/11/2012

A 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. Coming up on the programme: The

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Culture Minister is under pressure again over the ongoing stand-off

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with Sandy Row Boxing Club. club receiving any funding must be

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affiliated. That is what has said yesterday. That is what I said this

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morning. If you've had a tough day at the

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office, don't worry, apparently you're not alone. Korea pathways

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change. -- career pathways change. And the success of our athletes

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this summer is in the spotlight with cross-party backing for young

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Paralympians hoping to make it in their chosen sport.

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A recent inspection of schools in Northern Ireland found there's a

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problem with poor leadership. Well, today, in a DUP motion, MLAs

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discussed those findings and called for the Education Minister, John

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O'Dowd, to introduce more stringent measures to increase confidence in

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the management of schools. It was quite alarming to see such a report

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come out. It does highlight a number of serious issues within the

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education system. What the report does not do this criticise the

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overall achievements of those attending the school or the

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teaching quality within the school itself. But it does go on to

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criticise how those schools are actually governed. While I see some

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issues out there, I would never have dreamt that they were as large

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as it is in this report. It is not up to me to say it if it is right

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or wrong, that is what the inspectors are finding. Personally,

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I have a lot of sympathy for teachers. It is a job I have always

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admitted to openly that I could not do. I would not have the patience

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to teach in a classroom. I have future admiration for all of those

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teachers out there who not only teach but in some cases actually

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have to manage and run their particular schools. What we need in

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our schools is effective motivated management that is not afraid to

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challenge. And take the appropriate steps were necessary. If a school

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leader has the commitment, drive and energy to deliver the ethos of

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the school, this will have a positive effect on others. I

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believe this report has highlighted many good examples of where

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improvements have been made in the sector and it does have to be

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welcomed. In answer to the question we hear that out of the 59 on the

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ground inspected schools, 38 have no classroom experience, 38 out of

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59. We need to make sure there are more teachers involved and to cut

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some system that includes teachers -- look at some system. Those who

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continue to deliver at the chalk face are school staff not just

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teachers but all of the staff who have to create is stimulating

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learning environment. Despite in some cases poor classroom

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conditions, having to cope with half-baked ideas bike computer-

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based assessment -- like computer- based assessment and increase

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bureaucracy. We all recognise the challenges facing a syndicate colt

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economic times -- facing us in difficult economic times. Last week,

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if you said school leaders play a vital role. You are right. The

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classroom leader, the Department leader, the school leader. It

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starts and ends in the classroom. This is where school leaders are

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born. You have do have the ability to ignite the minds of your

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audience. The vast majority of our schools are doing well or improving.

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The vast majority of our people in leadership positions are doing well

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and improving. Why then do we her still questions around leadership

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in some schools and why do we still have poor teaching? You cannot

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blame that entirely upon the Minister of the day or the

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Department of Education. I do have a responsibility and I take the

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responsibility very seriously and I have every policy and proposal I

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bring for it is targeted at improving education. But members

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are going to have to accept that every now and again occasionally it

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arises that the fault lies with the individual in the classroom, the

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individual in the principal's office, the individuals around the

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governing tables and they have to be held to account. She asks, who

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holds the Minister to account? That is your job. It is your job to hold

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me to account along with the 170 MLAs, the Education Committee, the

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media and ultimately the electric. I am held to account and regularly

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so. -- the electorate. We're interest in our education system

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our young people. -- we can trust. We allow them to show their futures.

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Thankfully, the vast majority of our teachers and school leaders

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provide them with the chance in life.

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John O'Dowd. It was a busy day for Mr O'Dowd because it was also the

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Minister's turn to take questions. But following a playground row with

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the SDLP, he discussed the Education and Skills Authority, so-

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called STEM subjects and even a possible career change. Can the

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Minister confirm the new arrangements will have no impact on

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the day-to-day autonomy of schools? They will not have any day today in

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terms of employment practice in schools... They will be the

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employing but 34 or staff. Boards of governors will manage the

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school's and take the employment decisions. It will bring better

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workforce planning. But there will be no loss of autonomy for our

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schools. I would like to ask the Minister how he sees exactly this

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new yardstick for measuring social disadvantage and will it in his

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opinion, changes to the benefit system, lead to less children being

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eligible for free school meals? do not want to see less

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schoolchildren eligible and my department is working with the sub-

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committee set up to examine the possible implications of the

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welfare reform bill. We are examining the proposals. I have on

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the record said I want to protect the family is currently on free

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school meals and ensure that they remain eligible under any future

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definition of welfare reform. However, you will be aware that the

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previous Education spokesperson spoken against free school meals so

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I'm not sure now whether the SDLP position has changed... You are now

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in support? I seem to have upset him. Order. Order. It was so fat on

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numerous occasions, the previous SDLP education spokesperson... If

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the member would let me finish. I am only repeating what he has told

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me. In numerous debates and Miss Turner, the previous SDLP

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spokesperson Stubbs and criticised the social cause in the pre-school

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setting -- in numerous debates in this chamber. Would he looked up

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some comprehensive way of speaking to the teachers and hearing whether

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they work? The previous system worked well and maybe we we should

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be looking at changing the legislation. I devoted the energies

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of the Department to resolving the problems currently. I think that we

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need to look at computer-based assessments and how they fit in

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with the other programmes. If we need to change or review the

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legislation, let us do that. I do not want to dismiss computer-based

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assessment, the principle of it, how it is done, what its objectives

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are, I am open to persuasion on and discussions with parents, teachers

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and schools. It is important we move away from a courier service

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which is not about Korea pass. It is up to the individuals' to decide

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what path they follow but can the Minister give the House any

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guidance on specific strategies he has in place to try to encourage

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young people to follow a course in the STEM subject? It is quite

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difficult for young people to decide their career path way. There

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are matters such change. I am sure there have been many Korea pathways

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in this house. Every time there is question-time, I think about

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changing my career. There has been a greater focus placed on the STEM

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subject. Careers advice around a STEM subtext is vitally important.

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I have been meeting with providers of STEM employment and talking to

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them about how they can enhance the STEM subtext at an early age. I

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want pupils to think outside of the traditional academic careers,

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whether it's the law, medicine, whatever it maybe, teaching, think

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outside of that and look at the STEMs as a good career. There is

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more work to be done and we have to learn from the employers and I

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think the STEM subtext... It is difficult to bridge it economy will

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look like but I think any student with a number of STEM subjects

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under their belt is equipping themselves well. I am very sad to

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hear that the minister is thinking about a career change. I would be

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quite happy for him to stay in post as long as he does not play as much

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party politics as he is this afternoon.

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The SDLP's Conall McDevitt. The subject of sectarianism in boxing

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was on the agenda again today at Culture, Arts and Leisure Question

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Time. First though, the Minister, Caral ni Chuilin was asked about

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support for young footballers who want to play professionally across

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the water. Responsibility for supporting young footballers who

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wished to progress to professional football in Britain West in the

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first instance with individual football clubs and the governing

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body of sport. We support centres of excellence. The development of

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coaches and partnership with the Sports Institute and a Pala network

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aimed at more effective identification of talented players

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-- a network end that more effective identification. I thank

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the Minister for her response. Would she encourage and develop

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professional football in Northern Ireland to the extent that the

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cream of our young crop are encouraged to play football for

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longer here in Northern Ireland before being snapped up by the

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bigger clubs in England to no benefit to Northern Ireland? I have

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sympathy for the member's point. Recently, if I could use my own

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constituency as an example, we lost a player but Swansea gained out of

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his expertise. Beating have not felt that loss. Given the result

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recently! -- the team. When you invest in young players, we hope

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they say. But we should not look to keep people here for the sake of

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keeping them here. It is up to the Northern Ireland sport and the

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clubs and the department to try to make it attractive. But if they

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wish to move elsewhere, we should support their development. Would

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the Minister agree with me that the recent successes of the Northern

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Ireland Women's Under 17 and under 19 teams in qualifying for the

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elite sector in Europe is something that this House should be proud of

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and which she also joined me in wishing our national team for the

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best as we take on Azerbaijan Well, his definition and mine are

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different but I wish them all the best. I wish them all the best and

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I agree it's important, particularly when talking about

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young women in sport that every sport is helps. Encouraging and

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nurturing and assisting the talent of sports people here. In an

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interview, the minister said Nelson did nothing in relation to the

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concerns raised by the boxing club but in a letter to the committee,

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the minister was detailing the work the minister did undertake. Will

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the Minister retract the statement? Well, if I have it wrong, I will

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retract. The mend his free to have a copy of the transcript. The

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question from Noel Thompson was accusing the Department of

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institutional sectarianism from the club in boxing. My question was

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what had other ministers, including Nelson McCausland done? I assume

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you have a copy of it. If I am wrong I'll put it on the record and

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apologise to the minister and do it in writing. I think what she is

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saying it's her colleague Nelson McCausland has done something, my

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question was Campbell and the other ministers who for some reason for

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10 years when the allegation was made allegedly did nothing.

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needs to look at the records in terms of my time as minister but I

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want to ask her about the money under the boxing strategy and a

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statement to this House yesterday which indicated a sandy road boxing

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club would be eligible for funding because it had been affiliated in

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the past three years. She appears to be saying something different to

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date and something difference morning Post It Could you please

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explain to us what she means? club affiliated in the last three

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years can put in an expression of interest in. Any club receiving any

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funding must be affiliated upon receipt of funding, that's the case.

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That's what I said yes sir, this morning and today. In relation to

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your own performance, you will be aware that it is not a case

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ministers... If I am on the record and I am wrong, the minister's name

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was not on the list of people who stood up and try to do something

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about it, as minister for sport at the time. The DCAL Minister, Caral

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ni Chuilin. The many achievements of athletes from Northern Ireland

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were the focus of discussion in the chamber both this morning and later

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this afternoon. First, the Green Party brought forward a public

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petition calling on the Sports Minister to develop a new strategy

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to help athletes fulfil their potential. Athletics is the Blue

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Ribbon sport of the Olympics and it's an increase in sport receiving

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support from all sections of society. Those behind the petition

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believe insufficient support is provided by central and local

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government. No strategic plan exists to develop and promote the

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sport and the facilities which are available in Northern Ireland are

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inadequate to meet the needs of the next generation of athletes. I

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believe Northern Ireland has an ideal opportunity to capitalise on

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this year's Olympic legacy to inspire a generation. Sport makes a

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valuable contribution to society in terms of the enjoyment of the

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participants and viewers but also in terms of the lifelong health

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benefits it offers young people. The petitioners would like the

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Nacewa to explore the possibility of a dedicated indoor training

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facility at the current site -- the minister. It's a timely petition

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given the debate on the legacy of the Paralympics but also given

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yesterday's announcement the executive may find itself with

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unspent capital in the near future. Well, as Steven Agnew mentioned

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there, the achievements of our Paralympian athletes was the topic

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of discussion this afternoon. Sinn Fein MLAs called on the Sports

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Minister to secure the support of other authorities to increase

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sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. The challenge

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moving ahead is to create a genuine a legacy I greatly increasing the

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scale of sports provision across Northern Ireland given people with

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disabilities and opportunity to meet an active and healthy

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lifestyles through sport without fear or of any government

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department interfering. We are lucky to have teachers who gladly

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give up their own time to train and mental athletes but unfortunately

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so many schools have stopped because of lack of funding. To take

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a pupil to Dublin to compete costs �400. We need to be concerned.

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committee was disappointed at a lack of bespoke programmes in local

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government and the governing bodies. The committee wrote to the minister

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and departments to ascertain what more can be done individually and

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collectively to continue to build on the success of the Paralympics

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for a disabled athletes. Disability sport partnership approach with two

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councils and four District Councils has led to the delivery of many

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successful projects. Including participation projects giving 6,000

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people with disability the opportunity to lead a full and

:20:14.:20:19.

active lifestyle through sport. These projects are not offered or

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delivered by other councils and that's why the committee intends to

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host an informal meeting with disability sport and a sub-group to

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discuss the issues in more detail. The Paralympics have raced respect

:20:34.:20:39.

for sporting ability of disabled people are celebrating what

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disabled people can do in their chosen fields. Despite a great

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Paralympic, the reality is the majority of people with

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disabilities in Northern Ireland simply don't get the opportunity to

:20:55.:21:05.

participate in sport. If the legacy is to enable young people with

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disability to look up to a sports person, it gives them the

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encouragement to take part and the self-confidence to become involved

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and in a sporting activity in they would not have become involved in.

:21:18.:21:22.

Just to give them the confidence to participate in a sporting activity

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which is usually seen to be applicable to the able-bodied

:21:27.:21:31.

professionals rather than someone with a disability and if that's the

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legacy, I think we have achieved something in this place. I would

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like to talk a bit about Lawrence McGivern. A Paralympic swimmer from

:21:42.:21:48.

County Down. He came to find his extraordinary talents in the

:21:48.:21:58.

swimming pool through the support of the Newry Council. He has gone

:21:58.:22:04.

on to inspire other young athletes with disabilities and there are

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councils around Northern Ireland he deserves some credit, Mr Speaker,

:22:10.:22:17.

Newry is one of them. The participation in the swimming

:22:17.:22:22.

championships rose dramatically in the aftermath of Lawrence and

:22:22.:22:27.

Bethany's performances. One thing I will always remember when leaving

:22:27.:22:32.

the ceremony of the Olympic Games, going to the airport with the

:22:32.:22:37.

billboards being posted saying thank you for the warm-up, lads and

:22:37.:22:41.

that summed up the spirit and anticipation we help Paralympic

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Games. I do believe we are in a time when we are looking to see

:22:49.:22:56.

about what the ratepayers can get for their money. In an elegant way

:22:56.:23:01.

he spoke about equality and rights and I am 100% behind that. It is

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not either/or. Everyone should have access and there has been an

:23:08.:23:16.

imbalance around access for people with disabilities and arts. Caral

:23:16.:23:19.

ni Chuilin. Now, earlier in the programme we saw the Green Party

:23:19.:23:22.

MLA, Steven Agnew, present a public petition to the Assembly about

:23:22.:23:25.

provision for athletics. But what's the potential influence of such

:23:25.:23:29.

petitions? Well, at the moment, the Alliance Party says they too often

:23:29.:23:33.

get lost in the system. The party's sent a letter to the Speaker to

:23:33.:23:36.

review the current petition process - and to tell us more, Trevor Lunn

:23:36.:23:44.

from the party joins me now. Why it you want the issue reviewed?

:23:44.:23:48.

think public petitions have the potential to be important in terms

:23:48.:23:52.

of input into parliamentary business. It's a good way for the

:23:52.:23:58.

public to raise issues. If several thousand people signed a petition

:23:58.:24:02.

it is meaningful, at the moment they are delivered to the Assembly,

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a single member gets three minutes to talk about it. It is hand to the

:24:07.:24:10.

Speaker, it is passed to the minister and that's as far as it

:24:10.:24:17.

goes. And you think there are models that are used in other

:24:18.:24:20.

legislature's on these islands there would be better for Northern

:24:20.:24:24.

Ireland? We give the Scottish and Welsh assemblies are looking at the

:24:25.:24:31.

situation. The one we like the look of his Westminster where they have

:24:31.:24:37.

adopted a series of the petitions. If 100,000 people signed the

:24:37.:24:41.

petition and if it's a sensible subject, it has to be discussed at

:24:41.:24:48.

some time. The threshold would be a lot lower than 100,000. A couple of

:24:48.:24:53.

1000. And then you could be debating things the public are

:24:53.:24:58.

interested in but MLAs are not. Did we elected to decide things like

:24:58.:25:03.

that for us? If several members of the public think something is

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important, it should be relevant to us. At the moment, we decide what

:25:08.:25:18.
:25:18.:25:18.

to discuss. Some petitions were relevant. We eventually get debates

:25:18.:25:22.

about it but I would lead to the public being able to set the agenda.

:25:23.:25:29.

You have written -- your colleague has written to the Speaker. Will it

:25:29.:25:34.

be progressed? There's been an acknowledgement issue. If it is

:25:34.:25:37.

progressed it has to go to the Committee on procedures because

:25:37.:25:42.

they govern the standing orders of the Assembly. We will hear more in

:25:42.:25:48.

due course. I need to ask you about these leaflets circulating in

:25:48.:25:51.

Belfast criticising your party's alleged position on flying the

:25:51.:25:57.

Union flag on a city hall. You are not happy. The Ulster Unionists

:25:57.:26:03.

were responsible. What are you annoyed about? If any party was to

:26:03.:26:07.

circulate a leaflet giving their own views about things they can do

:26:07.:26:11.

so. When they say it is from our party and our colours, and a phone

:26:11.:26:17.

number, invited you to contact us, making out it has come from the

:26:17.:26:23.

Alliance Party Dunne it is done in the style, it says tell the

:26:23.:26:28.

Alliance Party what you think. Why do it in the style of the Alliance

:26:28.:26:33.

Party? It's an arresting image. is disgraceful politics. We are

:26:33.:26:37.

very angry about it. I am thoroughly disappointed with the

:26:37.:26:42.

two parties and lack of integrity and honesty. They are unrepentant.

:26:42.:26:47.

We will see where it goes from here. An apology would be nice but I

:26:47.:26:50.

don't think we were getting. Trevor Lunn, thank you. We all love to

:26:50.:26:54.

talk about the weather - and so it seems do our politicians. Last week

:26:54.:26:57.

the Environment Committee was given an update from the Met Office on

:26:57.:27:00.

future predictions for Northern Ireland, as we can now hear in our

:27:00.:27:08.

weekly look at committee business. You have seen this before. It is

:27:08.:27:13.

the famous curve showing the change in global average temperatures,

:27:13.:27:16.

temperature measurements from around the world and we take the

:27:16.:27:22.

average in a sophisticated way. Through time, up to the present day

:27:22.:27:32.
:27:32.:27:33.

the green points is 2011. 0 is because we bass line Dipti pre-

:27:33.:27:40.

industrial measurements. You can see a warming of 0.8 degrees. There

:27:40.:27:46.

are lots of wiggles, global climate has changed and there is this

:27:46.:27:54.

overall warming. And this information about Northern Ireland,

:27:54.:28:00.

increased average temperatures on the 30 average, increasing rainfall,

:28:00.:28:04.

the increased rainfall is straightforward to understand, the

:28:04.:28:09.

atmosphere warms and it can hold more water so were the events bring

:28:09.:28:14.

more water. It is that strip for. The headline must just a hot and

:28:14.:28:19.

dry summers and warmer and wetter winters. A we still haven't got the

:28:19.:28:26.

climate change act. How urgent to think we should implement this and

:28:26.:28:34.

should be also include targets? Irrespective of all we do in future,

:28:34.:28:38.

as the emissions continue, so of course the changes will get larger

:28:38.:28:42.

as projections suggest. Professor Stephen Belcher from the Met Office.

:28:42.:28:45.

If you're interested, by the way, it's going to be a wet night for

:28:45.:28:48.

most of us! And that's it from Stormont Today for this week, but

:28:48.:28:52.

A 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.


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