14/06/2011 Stormont Today


14/06/2011

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, where we will look at the impact of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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trade union members and the public service workers generally are in

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

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these austerity measures forced upon Northern Ireland by the Lib

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

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

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

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

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Northern Ireland Executive and the Westminster government we are not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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opportunities for waste management and for recycling exploited more

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

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

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

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

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

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the opportunities so that could mitigate against incineration.

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

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opportunities that makes the incinerator option more attractive.

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

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the proposal to build a chicken waste incinerator. Would ideology

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

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

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

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

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the another about my ideological positions they may prevail over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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appreciate between going into government and go into power. When

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

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

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

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

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particular drink drieg driving. Wyles we still continue to scope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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questions. The economy minister standing in for her colleague Sammy

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

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

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generally better placed to cope with the economic downturn than

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

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possible and with Executive support the Finance Minister will seek

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

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

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

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

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chance to remind members while she believed a reduction in corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It would increase our productivity levels so that the productivity gap

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

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

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start of devolution. I think that convergance between living

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

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

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everybody would feel right across Northern Ireland. So, that

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

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gaining Corporation tax and the lowering of corporation tax in

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

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from my own Department, that consultation date may have been

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

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opportunity to engage in that consultation with treasury. After

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

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

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

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

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difference in emphasis regarding the enthusiasm for corporation tax

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

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

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measures can be introduced to ensure that Northern Ireland is not

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

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companies seek to gain advantage from the lower corporation tax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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try and close the productivity gap between yourselves and the United

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

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

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here in Northern Ireland that we would not otherwise achieve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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should be a reduction in corporation tax. More recently the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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progressive organisations in the North to scope out what a Marine

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

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

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

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shores and marine and coastal land is all protected and developed

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

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has been floated about your department for some time and

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

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

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

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yesterday I sat down with a lot of the progressive environmentalists

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

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

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

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

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

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conservation zones so that when we develop our shoreline and our

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

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

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

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

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

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

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same time uses our marine for all the good environmental purposes

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

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

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

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protected but utilised going forward. Does it mean cleaner

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

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

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the cleanliness and fitness of our beaches around Northern Ireland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Principal Deputy Speaker and conducted the committee to start

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

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

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

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related issues. Things like what the title of Principal Deputy

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

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achieved. The outworkings of these considerations are the three

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

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

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

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last mandate, which may disappointment necessary. How did

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this supposed shortfall show up? What was the shortcomings which

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

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opportunity to speak Toon issue today, although I imagine members

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

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discussing more important matters. On reflection of the proposals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this House or any party, particularly a party which

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campaigned so vehemently on the basic principle of equality, to

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

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

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

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The Assembly has already decided to create the position of the

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

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

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

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

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institution that decided to take that decision. Those who respect

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

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

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

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

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

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please take the opportunity to explain why this is necessary?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Principal Deputy Speaker, because you wanted the parties to rotate

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

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

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

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amendments. We produced a very reasoned and reasonable amendment,

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

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

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consistent with the Good Friday Agreement, consistent with an

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

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

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

:20:52.:20:57.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:21:31.:21:35.

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

:21:35.:21:39.

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

:21:39.:21:43.

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

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

:21:48.:21:53.

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

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

:21:58.:22:05.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:22:57.:23:01.

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

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

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

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thank you. Martin McGuinness likes to say we

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

:23:16.:23:20.

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

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

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

:23:31.:23:36.

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

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

:23:41.:23:45.

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

:23:45.:23:49.

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

:23:49.:23:53.

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

:23:53.:23:56.

Secondly, a community aspect will involve engagement with local

:23:56.:24:01.

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

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undertake an oral history training programme. That will equip people

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

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

:24:13.:24:16.

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

:24:16.:24:20.

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

:24:20.:24:25.

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

:24:25.:24:29.

it their experiences of the Troubles or their experiences of

:24:29.:24:33.

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

:24:33.:24:37.

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

:24:38.:24:42.

might have different stories, different encounters. Really just

:24:42.:24:46.

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

:24:46.:24:50.

addition to those of the politicians and those working at a

:24:50.:24:55.

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

:24:55.:25:00.

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

:25:00.:25:06.

whole range of backgrounds, different sectors, community and

:25:06.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:17.

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

:25:17.:25:22.

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

:25:22.:25:26.

people from the further education sector or higher education. What

:25:26.:25:31.

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

:25:31.:25:35.

local academics? The archive of the heritage interviews will be

:25:35.:25:39.

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

:25:39.:25:43.

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

:25:43.:25:48.

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

:25:48.:25:52.

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

:25:52.:25:57.

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

:25:57.:26:03.

directory of interviews. It is an extensive repository of social

:26:03.:26:11.

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

:26:11.:26:16.

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

:26:17.:26:20.

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

:26:20.:26:30.
:26:30.:26:38.

our website: We want to hear from anyone who has

:26:38.:26:44.

information they think is suitable for us to look at.

:26:44.:26:50.

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

:26:50.:26:55.

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

:26:55.:27:02.

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

:27:02.:27:09.

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

:27:09.:27:13.

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

:27:13.:27:19.

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

:27:19.:27:22.

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

:27:23.:27:27.

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

:27:27.:27:29.

Colombian case is quite different from the situation that you have

:27:29.:27:34.

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

:27:34.:27:38.

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

:27:38.:27:44.

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

:27:44.:27:48.

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

:27:48.:27:52.

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

:27:52.:27:56.

might think of the three Irish republicans accused of trying to

:27:56.:28:01.

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

:28:01.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:09.

idea to export from Northern Ireland to Colombia good ideas

:28:09.:28:15.

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

:28:15.:28:20.

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

:28:20.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:29.

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

:28:29.:28:35.

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

:28:35.:28:42.

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

:28:42.:28:46.

about the legal advice sought by First Minister Peter Robinson in

:28:46.:28:55.

connection with the Spotlight programme, and the affair of his

:28:55.:29:00.

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

:29:00.:29:04.

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

:29:04.:29:07.

Finance Minister, so he will probably have to rephrase his

:29:07.:29:11.

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

:29:11.:29:15.

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

:29:15.:29:20.

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

:29:20.:29:26.

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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