14/06/2011 Stormont Today


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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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today, where we will look at the impact of


cuts, and whether a back lash from public sector workers is on the way.


Stay with us if you have a story to tell on your efforts to build peace


here. And, fedup with delay at Stormont, here's a promise from a


politician. When you go into power, you do not lie you become captive


of delay. I can assure the member that if there is any reason to be


concerned about delay, that should be brought to my attention. It will


not be the measure against which I will proceed. And, a shark arrived


at Stormont today, well, what's one more in a sea of politicians, the


critics might say. Protesters came to Stormont to demand new laws to


protect our marine life. The bask shark needs protection. Along with


the sponges, fish, seals, seabirds, all the Flora and florn ya needs


protected. Story waters in the chamber ber as members clash over


the new deputy principal speaker. When the budget shrinks, it's not


long before the workers feel the pinch. �4 billion is being cut from


the Stormont finances this term. The Prime Minister himself told us


last week that we need to start growing the private sector, and


there is increasing pressure to cut back on jobs, services an pensions.


The trade union NIPSA, is fighting back. To discuss these issues I'm


joined by NIPSA general secretary, Brian Campfield. You are welcome to


the programme. You are about to ballot your members for strike


action, is it going to be a Winter of Discontent? Well, we're, the


trade union members and the public service workers generally are in


the same position as the community at large facing the onslaught of


these austerity measures forced upon Northern Ireland by the Lib


Dem,/Conservative coalition. We are witnessing an attack on pension, on


pay and on jobs, jobs thousands of jobs, in fact, have been lost


across the health services and civil service. We - what we want to


do is stand up and make it clear, not only to our Assembly, to the


Northern Ireland Executive and the Westminster government we are not


prepared to accept it and will take a stand. We will ballot or our


members in September with a view to taking industrial action in October.


We're not doing this alone, we are working along with our sister trade


union yos yons, not only in Northern Ireland, but across the UK


generally. We will come back to that later, thank you. We have had


a run of new ministers stepping up to the dispatch box for questions.


Earlier it was the turn of Alex Attwood, who is now in charge of


the Department of the Environment. How green is he? Where does he


stand on recycling and the fiery issue of incineration. That said, I


do want to see, over the course of my time during this office,


opportunities for waste management and for recycling exploited more


and more. It is a fact that Wyles Belfast, for example, has a


recycling rate of 30% of domestic, comparable cities in Cardiff have


recycling of 40%. If we go down the road of reorganisational government


how we push the new councils in the run down about reorganisation about


how they can, in terms of recycle and reuse, up their game, maximise


the opportunities so that could mitigate against incineration.


Incineration is not merely merely burning. You can have waste energy


opportunities that makes the incinerator option more attractive.


And, staying with a burning issue. The TUV leader wants to know about


the proposal to build a chicken waste incinerator. Would ideology


play a part? Could I thank the member and could I also welcome the


member to the Assembly. Could I confirm I do have ideological


positions, I'm not afraid of having ideological positions, maybe in the


course of the next few months we could have conversations one way or


the another about my ideological positions they may prevail over


yours. My experience, as an SDLP politician has always been to


travel more in hope than expectation, and I can assure the


House that when it comes to talking to the minister that would be the


basis on which I would have the conversation. I don't fall into


traps around delay. I try to demonstrate when I was DSD Minister


that there was a difference, which, in my view, ministers didn't fully


appreciate between going into government and go into power. When


you go into power you do not allow yourself to become captive of delay.


I can assure the member, if there is any reason to be concerned about


delay, that should be brought to my attention. It will not be the


measure against which I will proceed. Then road safety, in


particular drink drieg driving. Wyles we still continue to scope


those out within the Department, some of the examples would be


further measures to deter drink- driving. Have we come to a point in


time where, not only should we reduce the limits of alcohol in a


person's blood, leading to prosecution, but are we come to the


point in time where, for certain designated drivers, let's say our


drivers, that there would be a requirement for effectively a nil


reading of alcohol in the blood, in terms of potential prosecution? Nil


meaning, not necessarily being no reading, because there may be


reasons, such as taking of medicine that is could give rise to partial


traces of alcohol in a person's blood. It does seem to me that


reducing the alcohol level in someone's blood, leading to


prosecution, is one example of an area we should explore. Finance


questions. The economy minister standing in for her colleague Sammy


Wilson attending the funeral of Mr Lenihan in Dublin. She had this


update on a scheme to help small businesses. Large retailers are


generally better placed to cope with the economic downturn than


small businesses. These measures need to be introduced as soon as


possible and with Executive support the Finance Minister will seek


assembly approval to have them in place by next April. They would


apply for three years through to the end of the budget period.


Consultation will begin on the way forward, and the Finance Minister


hopes final decisions can be reached in the autumn. She got a


chance to remind members while she believed a reduction in corporation


corporation tax would be a good thing nor Northern Ireland and news


of an extension to the consultation period? I believe the lowering of


co-operation tax would be of huge benefit to us in Northern Ireland


in a number of ways. It would bring in more foreign direct investment.


It would bring many more jobs into the economy and my economic


advisory group have indicated up to as many 4dm 500 new jobs every year.


It would increase our productivity levels so that the productivity gap


would close between yourselves and the rest of the United Kingdom,


something which we have set as a target as far back as 2007, at the


start of devolution. I think that convergance between living


standards for people here in flirl, regardless of where they live,


regardless of what they do for a living, would be something that


everybody would feel right across Northern Ireland. So, that


convergance of living standards, I think, for me, is the key part of


gaining Corporation tax and the lowering of corporation tax in


Northern Ireland the consultation still continues, as I understand it,


from my own Department, that consultation date may have been


extended to July 1st. It will give businesses and everybody else the


opportunity to engage in that consultation with treasury. After


that consultation is closed there is much work to do in relation to


the detail of how that, hopefully, will happen here in Northern


Ireland. She may have been standing in for him, was she singing from


the same hymn sheet as the Finance Minister. I think I detect a slight


difference in emphasis regarding the enthusiasm for corporation tax


between the deputy minister and the Finance k minister. Be that as it


THE SPEAKER: Could I have a question, please. In her view, what


measures can be introduced to ensure that Northern Ireland is not


subject to a rash of practice known as, "brass plating" where by


companies seek to gain advantage from the lower corporation tax


without the accompanying economic activity? I did lava little, I have


to say, Mr Deputy Speaker, when I read the Belfast Telegraph today


saying that the Firs Minister was a nice cop, the Finance Minister was


an assy cop Iowa nicer cop. The Finance Minister is charged with


the public finances of Northern Ireland. Therefore, he will, of


course, be concerned about the cost of corporation tax. As Economy


Minister my job is to build the economy for Northern Ireland and to


try and close the productivity gap between yourselves and the United


Kingdom. That is my primary aim. Having looked at the independent


evidence that corporation tax would bring about benefits fofr -- for us


here in Northern Ireland that we would not otherwise achieve.


everyone is convinced. Some critics say it's too big a risk because we


will lose �300 million a year in treasury funding with no guarantee


of job creation and investment. NIPSA general secretary is one of


those critics. Aren't you swimming against the tide. Experts say it


will great 4,000 to 5,000 jobs for years to come? A lot of these


experts are economist who work for the banking system. They are


articulating the pro-business position on this, which is there


should be a reduction in corporation tax. More recently the


debate has become a bit more balanced because, up until now, it


has been one sided. It has been more propaganda than debate. More


recently, as you know, Lady Sylvia Herman came out against the


reduction in corporation tax. It is a strange situation where you have


a Lord And Lady of the realm taking a progressive position than those


of the SDLP or any other political parties. Stormont received an SOS


message today, save our seas. Around 100 school children brought


a giant wicker shark to the steps along with a 4,000 strong petition.


The protest was organised by the Northern Ireland Marine Task Force.


It wants new laws to protect marine life, arguing Northern Ireland is


lagging behind other UK regions. So is the Minister responsible, Alex


Attwood, will to legislate. I caught up with him and the shark


earlier. The boys and girls are right, we need a Marine Bill and we


need it now. Even yesterday afternoon I sat down with all the


progressive organisations in the North to scope out what a Marine


Bill should look out in order to ensure when I table legislation, as


I plan to in the near future, it covers all that we need to do in


order to ensure that what the boys and girls want, that our seas and


shores and marine and coastal land is all protected and developed


And many reen and coastal land, is developed and protected. This idea


has been floated about your department for some time and


nothing's been done. It may have been floating about for a while but


I'm going to launch it soon. Will it be as big and bold a marine bill


as I can make it. While I have a draft version of the Bill already,


yesterday I sat down with a lot of the progressive environmentalists


in the North to see how we can build upon the draft to make it


what the boys and girls want - a bill to serve their needs and


future generations going forward. That's measure of this Bill. If I


fail that measure I think people will say so. How big and bold is


it? What does it mean? Well, what it means will we have marine


conservation zones so that when we develop our shoreline and our


marine and seabed we are doing it in a way that is responsible, so


that in future generations we have and retain the asset of the


beautiful seas around the coastline in the north of Ireland. Are we


going to have mechanisms to make sure that there is all the power of


government to stop those abusing the power of our seas? Do we


develop in a way that's environmentally friendly but at the


same time uses our marine for all the good environmental purposes


going forward? Those are the standards I shall be judged by.


That's what the generation behind me want. They want the biggest and


boldest bill possibly to ensure the beautiful asset of the marine is


protected but utilised going forward. Does it mean cleaner


beachs? Cleaner beachs a strategy already in place. That's why only a


couple of weeks ago I was awarding a blue flag and other standards for


the cleanliness and fitness of our beaches around Northern Ireland.


That's part of the coastal strategy. The marine bill will go further


than that again. While they may be conduct jobs in the Civil Service,


there is still room for a new, upgraded post in Stormont. The DUP


and Sinn Fein has agreed that one of the speakers will be elevated to


a new Principal Speaker's job. But other parties are crying foul here


is a taste of rather hot and heavy debate on the issue. We are all


aware of the background though these motions. That an 16th May


2011 this Assembly passed a motion for the creation of the roll of


Principal Deputy Speaker and conducted the committee to start


the necessary order. This may sound a simple instruction, but the


committee felt that in order to arrive at a product that could


stand over consideration needed to be given to a broad series of


related issues. Things like what the title of Principal Deputy


Speaker might mean in practice and how practical issues needed to be


achieved. The outworkings of these considerations are the three


motions you see on the paper. not believe that a proposed case


has been made for this appointment on the grounds of need. I believe


we need to have it spelt out, where exactly we are falling short in the


last mandate, which may disappointment necessary. How did


this supposed shortfall show up? What was the shortcomings which


drove and led to this proposal? Thank you Mr Speaker and for the


opportunity to speak Toon issue today, although I imagine members


of the public following this debate may wonder why the Assembly is not


discussing more important matters. On reflection of the proposals


today, I see no compelling identification of the problem, or


indeed a solution to the problem. That we were seeking to re divine


equality in this amendment. It has gone from being that we all come


here and we share the burden of port in an equal way. It's gone


from that to being that Sinn Fein and the DUP are more equal than


others. And so we have a hierarchy of equality. Therefore, a new


inequality in this House. I don't see how notice the interests of


this House or any party, particularly a party which


campaigned so vehemently on the basic principle of equality, to


introduce such a code to this House. That's the impact of these changes,


Mr Speaker. They were a serious impacts. They send a negative


signal to the outside world. There really is very little to discuss.


The Assembly has already decided to create the position of the


Principal Deputy Speaker. What we are talking about today is the


process and how that appointment will operate. But the role has been


created. That decision has been taken. I realisation that some


members don't like that decision, but however the democratic


institution that decided to take that decision. Those who respect


democracy will respect the will of this House. I thank the member for


giving way and I appreciate we've already debated this motion. But as


I said during the first - we've yet to be told why this change is


necessary. Out of respect for democracy, out of respect for this


House, and out of respect to this voting public, could the member


please take the opportunity to explain why this is necessary?


We've yet to hear this argument.. The will of this House has deemed


that it is necessary. A minority in this House don't want the position,


but a majority of this House do. have no need established. We have


no function for the post we are going to establish. We've no


argument made, little wonder there is such embarrassment in this House


today during this debate on these main benches and on these main


benches... THE SPEAKER: Order! the two main benches. No-one


occupying any of those bench has the capacity, there is nothing


there to give, the capacity to tell us why we need a Principal Deputy


Speaker. Your party, the TUV and the Ulster Unionists, joined forces


to oppose though motion but you are not opposed to the principle of a


Principal Deputy Speaker, because you wanted the parties to rotate


this position? No, we made it plain we were opposed to the idea of


having a Principal Deputy Speaker, but when you are in a situation


where you are trying to fight your corner, you have to produce


amendments. We produced a very reasoned and reasonable amendment,


which was let's rotate this position around the three Deputy


Speakers that presently exist. Yand did we do that? Because it is


consistent with the Good Friday Agreement, consistent with an


Assembly that's committed to partnership and to power sharing.


This was of course the creation of a hierarchy within the team of


Deputy Speakers. There's a hierarchy within the executive.


There's a first and Deputy First Minister. Why not have a speaker


with a Principal Deputy Speaker? There are two dominant parties here


and why shouldn't they share the post? You were right it was a


pretty shabby deal between the two parties, the DUP... I didn't say


that, so don't put words in my mouth. I'm sure any reasonable


person out there would agree it's a shabby deal. If you take the First


and Deputy First Minister, that's co-equal position, and Sinn Fein


keep arguing that it is a co-equal position. So why do they insist on


creating a hierarchy within the team of Deputy Speakers? It is a


title, so what's the big deal? Aren't you just jealous that Sinn


Fein are going to get it? there's a more serious point to


this - the side deals which the DUP and Sinn Fein are entering into Tam


person with the integrity of the Assembly, the integrity of the Good


Friday Agreement. What they are trying to do is create an exclusive


club within the Assembly, where the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists and


everybody else is excluded. So if your party was offered the post you


would turn it down? What we are saying is let's have a civilised


way of sharing power and positions within this Assembly. And by and


large they are shared out in a proper and equitable manner. But on


this occasion the DUP and Sinn Fein have decided to create a hierarchy,


and that's what we are against. you see this post becoming more


powerful in the months ahead? course, and not just the months


ahead. We've got three years until the changeover between the present


speakers, Willie Hay, and the Sinn Fein Principal Deputy Speaker.


During that time they'll retro fit new functions and powers on to this


position so as to create an even more powerful position than already


is envisaged. And they will do that by way of amendment of the law at


Westminster, because they can't do that now at the moment, because


their powers are restricted. We'll have to see who is right on this,


thank you. Martin McGuinness likes to say we


have to most successful peace process in the world, and with


Peter Robinson he Lancashired an on-line directory to allow people


involved in peace building their tell their stories. I spoke to


Frances Morton about the initiative. It is an exciting and ambitious


project. The first strand is to collect 100 heritage interviews. We


plan to build an archive of those, with key people involved in peace


and reconciliation. We are going back as far as living memory will


allow. That's people who experienced the peace process and


contributed to it, as far back as the '60s to the present day.


Secondly, a community aspect will involve engagement with local


communities to develop their oral history skills. We are planning to


undertake an oral history training programme. That will equip people


in the local communities to go out and collect other people's stories


who experienced the peace process and lived through it. Who are you


looking for then? We are looking for people all over Northern


Ireland, the border area, the Republic of Ireland, and Britain as


well, just to come forward and tell us their storys and experiences.


it their experiences of the Troubles or their experiences of


trying to build peace? It's the experience of trying to build peace


and how the process has filtered down at a local level to them. They


might have different stories, different encounters. Really just


what they feel is important. Everyone's story is important in


addition to those of the politicians and those working at a


higher level. So you want to go back, say, so the peace people, to


the civil rights activists? Yes, we want to encourage people from a


whole range of backgrounds, different sectors, community and


voluntary groups, education - anyone who really feels they have a


story to tell and share with us. We want to do that initially through


the website that we'll be launching today. We will have information on


their and addresses for people to get in touch with us. It might be


people from the further education sector or higher education. What


will happen top this archive? Is it going to go global or is it for


local academics? The archive of the heritage interviews will be


accessible of a period of time for the public to use generally. We


envisage that it will be a valuable resource for future citizens to


look back and remember, especially people who perhaps didn't live


through the conflict, who've never, who've only experienced peace now.


They can learn what it was like before. We have an on-line


directory of interviews. It is an extensive repository of social


worker views that have taken place -- reproz triof interviews that


have taken place. They will be available for people to access on-


line. How should people get in touch with you? They can log on to


our website: We want to hear from anyone who has


information they think is suitable for us to look at.


It wasn't a day for the indoors, so instead of a chat this cafe recess


Mark Devenport and I headed for the tr as. Our political editor has


been meeting the Col om ban ambassador. I didn't get Ferrero


Rocher but I did meet the ambassador. Colombia has had major


problems with guerrilla groups. A while ago they had a peace process


with the FARC group, but that fell apart. They are working possibly to


reinvigorate that. That's one of the things the Colombian ambassador


told me he was here to find out about. It is true that the


Colombian case is quite different from the situation that you have


livered in this country, but there are some very good lessons and some


experiences that can be applied to my country, hopefully in the future


we'll be as successful as you have been in dealing with a peace


process. At Stormont you met all the parties, including Irish


republicans. On the news here most people when you say Colombia they


might think of the three Irish republicans accused of trying to


help FARC guerrillas. It's a turn around if you are now looking for


lessons on peace from those politicians here? That's right. The


idea to export from Northern Ireland to Colombia good ideas


on,000 build and keep a peace process going on, and not to have


the sad and negative stories of the past. It seems you are going to be


very gck the Colombian embassy in London from now on. What about Jim


Allister. He's having trouble getting answers to his questions.


He was complaining earlier about the delay as he saw it in getting


written answers. He got one today which he didn't like. He was asking


about the legal advice sought by First Minister Peter Robinson in


connection with the Spotlight programme, and the affair of his


wife Iris and the businessman. The explanation as I understand it is


that advice which was given by a barrister was commissioned by the


Finance Minister, so he will probably have to rephrase his


question, which was about how much the advice cost and whether it will


ever be published. That's all from Stormont for now. Thanks to Brian


camp field for joining us. We're back on Monday here on BBC Two at


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.