15/10/2012 Stormont Today


15/10/2012

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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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Coming up in the next 30 minutes:

:00:27.:00:29.

The controversy surrounding the opening of Northern Ireland's first

:00:30.:00:33.

private abortion clinic. The Health Minister warns that the law on

:00:33.:00:39.

abortion isn't toothless. If some people that they can get away with

:00:39.:00:44.

not observing it, they may find that the law is not a paper tagger,

:00:44.:00:48.

but one with a lot of teeth. I would caution any physician who

:00:48.:00:52.

would seek to challenge the law. Plus, getting on his red and white

:00:52.:00:57.

jumper - one MLA reveals his struggles with the Education Bill.

:00:57.:01:03.

This bill is a sort of where's wally for every politician. We have

:01:03.:01:06.

to search through it from top to bottom, from word to word to try

:01:06.:01:09.

and understand what it means. Ulster Bank chiefs are summoned

:01:09.:01:17.

back to face MLAs. It's true that the incident was a major disaster.

:01:17.:01:24.

There's no doubt about that from the bank's perspective.

:01:24.:01:26.

The imminent opening of a private abortion clinic in Belfast this

:01:26.:01:30.

week was the subject of an urgent oral question by the TUV MLA Jim

:01:30.:01:34.

Allister. Mr Allister asked the Health Minister, Edwin Poots, if

:01:34.:01:37.

the Marie Stopes clinic will be monitored to ensure what he called

:01:37.:01:45.

"strict compliance with the law on abortion". First and foremost, all

:01:45.:01:47.

health and social care organisations must comply with the

:01:47.:01:52.

law in Northern Ireland. The current framework, the health and

:01:52.:01:55.

personal Social Services quality improvement and regulation Northern

:01:55.:02:02.

Ireland order 2003 is an didation - - additional safe guard which is

:02:02.:02:08.

Aprillyable. Dlrb applicable. I have asked whether the current

:02:08.:02:13.

regulations apply to this establishment and if not to require

:02:14.:02:22.

amendment. Is it not the case that the current RQIA monitoring

:02:22.:02:27.

arrangements by virtue of the manner in which they're constituted

:02:27.:02:34.

and the powers given would ensure only that the unborn or killed in

:02:34.:02:39.

hygienic conditions and would not address the wider concerns of how

:02:39.:02:44.

many abortions will be conducted in this clinic, on what basis they

:02:44.:02:49.

will be conducted, will the basis be verified and transparent? And

:02:49.:02:54.

how it will be seen that all of those matters are in entirely

:02:54.:03:00.

within the law in Northern Ireland on abortion? As the minister on

:03:00.:03:03.

this issue will he give assurance that those are the matters at the

:03:03.:03:09.

end of that exercise will be addressed? The member will recall

:03:09.:03:14.

that in August I confirmed that officials were developing a data

:03:14.:03:17.

collection system to collect robust statistics on terminations taking

:03:17.:03:22.

place in Northern Ireland. It is my intention that all terminations

:03:22.:03:26.

taking place will be recorded by this system. So work is still

:03:26.:03:33.

ongoing on this matter. Can the minister outline to this House in a

:03:33.:03:39.

time frame for the publication of the guidance on the issue and if he

:03:39.:03:49.
:03:49.:03:50.

can detail the rationalal of the delaying guidelines? Unfortunately

:03:50.:03:55.

I can't. The truth is that the guidelines have been produced twice

:03:55.:04:01.

and they have been take ton court twice and the judicial reviews have

:04:01.:04:04.

been upheld twice, once by those who were supporting abortion and

:04:04.:04:11.

once by those opposed to abortion. There is, it is a huge legal

:04:11.:04:17.

minefield. If individuals Carrie out terminations of pregnancy,

:04:17.:04:22.

which are outside of the legislation, then they are breaking

:04:22.:04:26.

the criminal law and in breaking the criminal law, they are subject

:04:26.:04:31.

to a sentence of up to life imprisonment. To that extent, I

:04:31.:04:37.

think those who are engaging in the clinic would be well advised to

:04:37.:04:41.

observe the law and I know that some journalists might be it's a

:04:41.:04:45.

paper tagger, but that's because it has been largely observed. If some

:04:45.:04:49.

people think they can get away with not observing it, they may find

:04:49.:04:54.

that the law is not a paper tagger, but one with a lot of teeth. I

:04:54.:04:58.

would caution any physician who would seek to challenge the law.

:04:58.:05:01.

Given the fact that this organisation has come to Northern

:05:01.:05:08.

Ireland quite quietly and quickly, does the minister, could he explain

:05:08.:05:13.

why if his department knew why guidance and clarification was not

:05:13.:05:17.

issued, as soon as the minister and the department was aware of this

:05:17.:05:21.

group coming to Northern Ireland? The clinic itself may have been

:05:21.:05:25.

capable to be regulated, it depended on the nature of the work

:05:25.:05:30.

and indeed of those who were carrying it out and could only be

:05:30.:05:33.

properly assessed whenever we actually got to this point. Which

:05:34.:05:37.

is somewhat unfortunate. What we will seek to ensure that in

:05:37.:05:42.

Northern Ireland the law is not broken and we have made very clear

:05:42.:05:45.

how the law stands in Northern Ireland on abortion. Could I ask

:05:45.:05:49.

the minister whether or not he agrees with the current law that

:05:49.:05:52.

exists in Northern Ireland? And if so, given that there are documented

:05:53.:06:00.

cases of women being unable to access services on the NHS, due to

:06:00.:06:04.

the lack of guidelines, for doctors, does he not agree then that there's

:06:05.:06:09.

nothing to fear about the clinic and indeed, does he welcome it in

:06:09.:06:15.

that it will ensthaur women are able to access Health Services that

:06:15.:06:21.

they're entitled to under the existing law? Well, over the course

:06:21.:06:28.

of the last 45 years, since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed in

:06:28.:06:33.

England, Scotland and Wales there's been 6.4 million abortions, over

:06:33.:06:38.

10% of the existing population in GB. If we were to equate that in

:06:38.:06:43.

Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8 million, it would equate to

:06:43.:06:46.

around 200,000 abortions. Regrettibly I understand there has

:06:46.:06:50.

been up to 50,000 women who have travelled to England for abortions.

:06:50.:06:55.

But the figure left between that is 150,000 people who are alive in

:06:55.:07:00.

Northern Ireland, who may not, Mr Deputy Speaker, have been alive.

:07:00.:07:05.

I'd expect around half of those are women. Whenever you talk about

:07:05.:07:10.

choice, they're living a life where they have the choice to marry, to

:07:10.:07:14.

have children, the choice of what work they do, the choice of what

:07:14.:07:18.

education they do. Had they been aborted, they wouldn't have any

:07:18.:07:22.

choice in life. The Health Minister, Edwin Poots. The abolition of the

:07:22.:07:24.

education boards and their replacement with a single Education

:07:24.:07:27.

and Skills Authority is the key element of the Education Bill,

:07:27.:07:29.

which was voted through overwhelmingly on its second stage

:07:29.:07:35.

on the floor of the house this evening. The bill is supported by

:07:35.:07:38.

both Sinn Fein and the DUP, with the Ulster Unionists the only one

:07:38.:07:45.

of the main parties opposing it. This day has been a long time

:07:45.:07:50.

coming. The need for reform was recognised as far back as 2002. In

:07:51.:07:54.

my view, education is too important to wait any longer and the bill

:07:54.:07:58.

sets out the overall aim of education to contribute to the

:07:58.:08:01.

spiritual, cultural, social, intellectual and physical

:08:02.:08:04.

development of children and young people and of the community at

:08:04.:08:11.

large. The board system is ageing. The model is no longer fit for

:08:11.:08:14.

purpose. We as elected representatives in this House have

:08:14.:08:18.

an opportunity to replace it with a model to meet the needs of our

:08:18.:08:21.

communities, children and young people and our economy. We must

:08:22.:08:27.

seize that opportunity. I think it would only be right and proper that

:08:27.:08:32.

we place on record our appreciation and thanks to those who threw many

:08:32.:08:37.

difficult and challenging years in education, in our education and

:08:37.:08:42.

library boards have provided a service to our educational family.

:08:42.:08:46.

It has not been easy. They have gone through a multiplicity of

:08:46.:08:53.

changes. They've had various direct rule ministers and initiatives. Of

:08:53.:09:02.

course, I think it would be fair to say that we need to remember where

:09:02.:09:10.

ESA comes from. I'm glad that ESA didn't have its creation in the

:09:10.:09:16.

normal political structures, but ESA had its Genesis in the

:09:16.:09:19.

Department of Education. Given the past record of Sinn Fein, we must

:09:19.:09:24.

treat this bill with healthy mistrust. Given that the last

:09:24.:09:29.

Education Minister seemed to list ton no-one, and that the department

:09:29.:09:33.

often seems to be of that mind too, the Ulster Unionist Party are

:09:33.:09:39.

opposing the legislation. This bill is a sort of where's Wally for

:09:39.:09:42.

every politician. Swre to search through it from top to botd om,

:09:42.:09:47.

from word to word, to try and understand what it means and why

:09:47.:09:51.

it's been written in such a way. Hidden in every clause, sentence

:09:51.:09:56.

and schedule could be a Wally of hidden Sinn Fein chicanery. There

:09:56.:10:02.

is a case for change. The ESA journey has been a long one. No-one

:10:02.:10:05.

will argue with the review of public administration which was

:10:05.:10:09.

launched in 2002, with the aim to deliver modernisation and reform

:10:09.:10:15.

across the public sector. RPA suggested the need for a new single

:10:15.:10:18.

education and skills authority. It seems to make sense when you

:10:19.:10:22.

compare Northern Ireland with say authorities like Birmingham. Just

:10:22.:10:27.

one cautionary note, Northern Ireland is not Birmingham. It took

:10:27.:10:32.

years to get the executive, to get it to the executive and the sharp

:10:32.:10:37.

contrast it flew through the executive. It would lead one to

:10:37.:10:41.

speculate whether some sort of a deal was done. The SDLP's Sean

:10:41.:10:43.

Rogers. Our Political Correspondent, Gareth Gordon, is with me now.

:10:43.:10:47.

Gareth, let's stay with education, first of all. This debate over ESA

:10:47.:10:52.

has been around for a long time. very long time indeed. In fact the

:10:52.:10:57.

idea of one single authority to replace the five education and

:10:57.:11:02.

library boards was first mooted around ten years ago. It was due to

:11:02.:11:06.

become law in January 2010. It became one of the prime examples

:11:06.:11:11.

used by Stormont's many critics to flag up what they would say was the

:11:11.:11:14.

executive's failings. Some months ago we were told the parties had

:11:14.:11:21.

reached agreement, just last month the legislation was passed by the

:11:21.:11:25.

executive. Today, it had its second reading in the House. That's why

:11:25.:11:31.

MLAs were debating it. It passed comfortably by 77 votes to 15. The

:11:31.:11:37.

Ulster Unionist Party opposed it. It was a pretty convincing result.

:11:37.:11:40.

So does this mean the Education Bill in its present form is

:11:40.:11:43.

effectively over the line? Well, if it was over the line, there would

:11:43.:11:46.

be no point in committees. Now it goes to the committee stage. It

:11:46.:11:49.

will face scrutiny there. There are some people think the whole thing

:11:49.:11:53.

is much too big, it's a bureaucratsic monster which will be

:11:53.:11:56.

beyond the control of politicians. The Education Minister denied that

:11:56.:12:01.

very strongly today. The DUP had big concerns, certainly they had

:12:01.:12:04.

big concerns about a lack of safe guards for the control sector

:12:04.:12:09.

within the legislation. They feel that has largely been dealt with by

:12:09.:12:15.

the establishment with something called the control schools control

:12:15.:12:20.

body. They're unhappy with special clauses for the Irish language. The

:12:20.:12:23.

fact there are fewer points of contention is illustrated that the

:12:23.:12:26.

debate was due to go on for an hour-and-a-half more than it did go

:12:26.:12:31.

on. The Health Minister, Edwin Poots, certainly made his views on

:12:31.:12:34.

the opening of a Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast crystal clear

:12:34.:12:44.
:12:44.:12:45.

There was a lot of emotion today. We didn't hear anything new. Edwin

:12:45.:12:50.

Poots warned the law is not a paper tagger and the clinic would be well

:12:50.:12:54.

advised to observe the law. They say they will fully observe the law

:12:54.:12:59.

as it is anyway. People here will be watching to see what happens. It

:12:59.:13:04.

opens later this week. This is far from over. Thank you.

:13:05.:13:07.

The first-ever housing strategy produced for Northern Ireland was

:13:07.:13:10.

launched by the Social Development Minister. Nelson McCausland told

:13:10.:13:12.

the Assembly there will be a fundamental review of how social

:13:12.:13:21.

housing is allocated. The strategy articulates for the first time what

:13:21.:13:26.

we see as Government's three main roles in relation to housing and

:13:26.:13:31.

these are, firstly, to help create the right conditions for a stable

:13:31.:13:36.

and sustainable housing market that supports economic growth and

:13:36.:13:41.

prosperity. Secondly, to provide support for individuals and

:13:41.:13:45.

families to access housing, particularly the most vulnerable in

:13:45.:13:49.

society. Thirdly, to set minimum standards for the quality of new

:13:49.:13:55.

and existing homes and for how rented housing is managed. The

:13:55.:14:00.

strategy sets out how a plan to fulfil these roles under five

:14:00.:14:06.

themes. These are: Ensuring access to decent, affordable, sustainable

:14:06.:14:12.

homes across all tenures. Secondly, meeting housing needs and

:14:12.:14:17.

supporting the most vulnerable. Thirdly, housing and welfare reform.

:14:18.:14:22.

Fourthly, driving regeneration and sustaining communities through

:14:22.:14:28.

housing. Fifthly, getting the structures right. The economic

:14:28.:14:31.

context in which I am launching this strategy is clearly a

:14:31.:14:36.

challenging one. The Northern Ireland Housing Market is emerging

:14:36.:14:40.

from a turbulent period. There are hopeful signs that the market is

:14:40.:14:45.

beginning to stabilise with prices now at more sustainable levels. I'm

:14:45.:14:50.

keen to do more to help create the right conditions for longer term

:14:50.:14:54.

market stability. Addressing the supply issue won't be easy. I'm

:14:54.:14:59.

keen to work with the private sector and others to identify and

:14:59.:15:03.

develop viable solutions and today I am announcing my intention to

:15:03.:15:08.

establish a housing supply forum for this purpose. I'm also keen to

:15:08.:15:13.

maximise the number of new social homes we can bring forward within

:15:13.:15:18.

the budgets available. Building new social homes will help us both meet

:15:18.:15:23.

housing need and have a significant positive impact on the construction

:15:23.:15:27.

industry and the multiplier effect on the economy in general. My

:15:27.:15:32.

strategy contains proposals to make more effective use of existing

:15:32.:15:36.

social housing stock. Undertake a fundamental review of how we

:15:36.:15:41.

allocate social housing, improve the way we support people to live

:15:41.:15:45.

independently and do more to prevent homelessness. Does the

:15:45.:15:49.

Minister have any intention of seeking additional funding from the

:15:49.:15:53.

Executive to enable the construction of more, much-needed

:15:53.:15:57.

social homes than currently planned and budgeted for? The priority for

:15:57.:16:02.

me at the moment is to make sure that the money that has already

:16:02.:16:06.

been allocated to the Housing Executive is used and we do not end

:16:06.:16:09.

up in a situation where there is an underspend. That is a

:16:09.:16:13.

responsibility that we are putting clearly to the Housing Executive

:16:13.:16:18.

and to the Housing Association. There is money in the Budget. I

:16:18.:16:21.

want to be sure that all of it is spent.

:16:21.:16:23.

The Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland.

:16:23.:16:26.

The First Minister, Peter Robinson, provided an update on what the

:16:26.:16:28.

Executive is doing to try to resolve the contentious issue of

:16:28.:16:31.

parades. First though, Junior Minister Jonathan Bell was asked

:16:32.:16:34.

about funding for a programme promoting development in ethnic

:16:34.:16:44.
:16:44.:16:45.

minority communities. I am pleased to be able to advise the member

:16:45.:16:51.

that an extension to the current minority ethnic fund will commence

:16:51.:16:58.

with immediate effect and run until 31st March 2013. The information

:16:58.:17:02.

was conveyed to the minority ethnic sector last week. The extension

:17:02.:17:07.

will allow for engagement and consultation around the development

:17:07.:17:12.

of a racial equality strategy and how it relates to a longer term

:17:12.:17:20.

fund. Officials will be meeting to discuss the fund and the strategy

:17:20.:17:29.

itself. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thank you to the Minister for

:17:29.:17:35.

conveying this very good news. Unfortunately, this fund really has

:17:35.:17:41.

been granted on a six-monthly basis in the last year-and-a-half. I

:17:41.:17:46.

would like to hear an assurance from the Junior Minister that from

:17:46.:17:52.

next April that this fund will continue but will continue on a

:17:52.:17:57.

much-longer basis in order to provide that continuity and that

:17:57.:18:07.

certainty for the sector? We are still working with the sector on

:18:07.:18:12.

the racial equality strategy and what they specifically want out of

:18:12.:18:17.

the fund because we want the strategy and the funding to be

:18:17.:18:21.

interconnected so they can develop both what the ethnic minority are

:18:22.:18:25.

reflecting they need and the support requirements they have.

:18:25.:18:31.

Thank you very much, indeed, Mr Speaker. Can I welcome the Junior

:18:31.:18:35.

Minister's news. Unfortunately, minority ethnic communities still

:18:35.:18:45.
:18:45.:18:45.

remain the target of vile racism by certain in our sections. Will he

:18:45.:18:49.

add his voice to all the other people in the community who are

:18:49.:18:53.

asking for any information out there to be passed on to the

:18:53.:18:58.

police? I fully talk about any form of criminal behaviour to do with

:18:58.:19:04.

racism, whether it is homophobia, racism, attacks on people's homes,

:19:04.:19:09.

attacks on people's property, attacks on people's ethnic heritage

:19:09.:19:16.

and life, that goes without saying. There has been a discussion at

:19:16.:19:20.

Executive level on the issue of parades and associated protests. At

:19:20.:19:25.

the last meeting of Party Leaders we discussed the best approach to

:19:25.:19:29.

establishing the views of all the stakeholders. Suggestions will be

:19:29.:19:34.

brought to a further meeting on the best process to advance the issue.

:19:34.:19:38.

The right to assembly, the right to express cultural identity, the

:19:38.:19:46.

right to protest and the rights of those living and in proximity to

:19:46.:19:54.

parades are the right to protest. The Deputy First Minister and I

:19:54.:19:58.

have met with various participants on both sides of the argument and

:19:58.:20:03.

we remain committed to facilitating discussions in any way that is

:20:03.:20:07.

helpful. We have indicated our determination to agree a process on

:20:07.:20:11.

taking this complex issue forward before the year ends.

:20:11.:20:15.

Thank you very much. I thank the First Minister for his statement.

:20:15.:20:21.

Will he also give a commitment the OFMDFM will consult with all

:20:21.:20:25.

parties that any alternative brought forward for the Parades

:20:25.:20:29.

Commission is not that that was worked out coming from the

:20:29.:20:33.

Hillsborough Agreement? Well, I would have thought that we were

:20:33.:20:37.

consulting with all parties when we talked to Party Leaders unless the

:20:37.:20:42.

member is saying Party Leaders aren't representative of the party

:20:42.:20:49.

that they lead? So I hope we have met that. Of course, the parties

:20:49.:20:53.

are all represented on the Executive as well. There is no

:20:53.:20:59.

intention on the part either of the Executive or of the Party Leaders

:20:59.:21:03.

to stifle discussion and debate. We want it to be as wide as possible.

:21:03.:21:07.

We want to encourage people to take part and that is why we are looking

:21:08.:21:12.

at what the processes will be so that people can feed into those

:21:12.:21:15.

processes. The First Minister, Peter Robinson.

:21:15.:21:17.

The Agriculture Minister was also facing questions at the dispatch

:21:17.:21:20.

box today. Here's Michelle O'Neill outlining why she has opted to

:21:20.:21:27.

maintain the Agricultural Wages Board. The Agricultural Wages Board

:21:27.:21:32.

structure is a valuable forum and importantly is used as a benchmark

:21:32.:21:38.

for the wider agri-food industry. I launched a public consultation on

:21:38.:21:43.

the review of the board structure. I gave careful consideration to the

:21:44.:21:47.

responses received. I believe the decision I have now reached is in

:21:47.:21:56.

the best interest of agricultural workers here. It will now continue

:21:56.:22:01.

to protect the rights of low-paid agricultural workers by ensuring

:22:01.:22:04.

enforceable employment conditions which can only have a positive

:22:04.:22:07.

impact on the sustainability of the rural economy. Can the Minister

:22:08.:22:11.

tell the House how much the Agricultural Wages Board has cost

:22:11.:22:20.

the taxpayer? I can advise the member the cost of maintaining the

:22:20.:22:28.

Agricultural Wages Board has been somewhere in between �20,500 and

:22:28.:22:37.

�26,500. It's helping us to retain skilled individuals who want to

:22:37.:22:40.

work in the industry and helping us to attract people into the industry.

:22:41.:22:45.

The reality is the agri-food sector is continuing to do well. We have

:22:45.:22:48.

to continue to make sure we have the people who are available to

:22:48.:22:52.

work in that industry and this is a way to protect those workers. I

:22:52.:22:59.

appreciate that managing slurry can be challenging. However, since the

:22:59.:23:02.

closed period was introduced farmers have worked hard to protect

:23:03.:23:06.

water quality. There has been significant investment in new

:23:06.:23:09.

slurry storage tanks and slurry is being used more efficiently.

:23:09.:23:16.

Farmers have been investing in advanced slurry-spread machines.

:23:16.:23:19.

These machines provide more flexibility in the slurry-spreading

:23:19.:23:23.

process and deliver a range of productive and environmental

:23:23.:23:30.

benefits. The scheme has provided �2 million for over 200 of these

:23:30.:23:33.

advanced red machines. Water quality in our rivers is improving

:23:33.:23:42.

and it is important farmers keep up the good work. Can I ask if she has

:23:42.:23:46.

any discussions - has had any discussions with the Health and

:23:46.:23:50.

Safety Executive associated with farmers not being able to spread

:23:50.:23:56.

slurry on to their fields? There's ongoing work with the farming

:23:56.:24:01.

community in terms of preparing for the closed period and for the

:24:01.:24:06.

difficulties they might find themselves in. DOE are the

:24:06.:24:10.

enforcers so we have to continue to work with them. I haven't met HSE

:24:10.:24:13.

on this issue. But anybody who is involved in this area of work

:24:13.:24:17.

regularly engage with each other because it has to happen.

:24:17.:24:19.

The Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill.

:24:19.:24:21.

The Enterprise and Finance Committees held a joint meeting

:24:21.:24:24.

last week. They were being briefed by the Ulster Bank regarding the

:24:24.:24:26.

compensation scheme following its systems failure earlier this year,

:24:26.:24:33.

as we can hear now in our weekly look at committee business. All our

:24:34.:24:37.

customers are being returned to the financial position they would have

:24:37.:24:44.

been in had the incident not occurred. We have provided redress

:24:44.:24:48.

of over �18 million to nearly 300,000 customers in Northern

:24:48.:24:56.

Ireland. What happened over summer was unprecedented in the RBS Group.

:24:56.:25:00.

The level of service our customers experienced during this period was

:25:00.:25:05.

unacceptable and it caused widespread frustration and

:25:05.:25:12.

inconvenience. It's true that the incident was a major disaster. It's

:25:12.:25:17.

also clear that we had issues with regard to the contingency plan

:25:17.:25:22.

relating to our systems operating as they should have. The last

:25:22.:25:30.

meeting was on 5th July. And one of the issues was raised then, was the

:25:30.:25:34.

issue of compensation. That particular session was watched

:25:34.:25:38.

intently by both members of the public and the media. What we were

:25:38.:25:45.

told then was in regard to compensation - you said we will get

:25:45.:25:50.

something finalised in the next two or three days so that is the end of

:25:50.:25:56.

this week or early next week. We left that meeting and the media and

:25:56.:25:59.

the public were under the impression that within a few days

:25:59.:26:05.

we would have a compensation scheme in place. So one week passed, two

:26:06.:26:10.

weeks passed, three weeks passed, four weeks - eight weeks passed

:26:10.:26:15.

before something was eventually published on 31st August. I think

:26:15.:26:20.

that is scandalous because there was obviously a lot of difficult

:26:20.:26:27.

questions at that time that were given by members. We felt extremely

:26:27.:26:32.

misled by those comments in July and August. When I came before you

:26:32.:26:37.

in July it was our intention to launch the redress programme

:26:37.:26:41.

reasonably quickly. And we thought we could. But then as we got into

:26:41.:26:45.

the complexity, we decided to go into a more broad consultation

:26:45.:26:48.

process. You shouldn't have given that commitment if you had an

:26:48.:26:51.

understanding of the situation which most of us did at that time,

:26:51.:26:56.

you should have been honest and said, "We don't know when a redress

:26:56.:27:04.

scheme will be put in place." I got the impression at that time on 5th

:27:04.:27:09.

July there was already a habit from Ulster Bank of giving the

:27:09.:27:12.

impression to ourselves and the media that something would be in

:27:12.:27:17.

place next week, or the following week, so we were being thrown a

:27:17.:27:23.

line. I think that is unacceptable. I understand your views. As I was

:27:23.:27:29.

saying, we decided to go into a wide consultation process, which we

:27:29.:27:39.

did. We met with quite a number of bodies. We took feedback. That took

:27:39.:27:43.

us a number of weeks. When the programme was ready, we launched it.

:27:43.:27:49.

As I said, since that date, from what we are seeing so far, it's

:27:49.:27:57.

gone reasonably well. Why would it be that the FSB, a significant

:27:57.:28:03.

organisation, make the words, make the comment, "the general

:28:03.:28:09.

perception of the compensation element is that it is derisory"?

:28:09.:28:14.

believe the reason that term come up and come out in the first day we

:28:14.:28:20.

announced it is because the focus went straight to the �20. We have

:28:20.:28:28.

said already that �18 million has been given to 300,000 customers.

:28:28.:28:31.

That's �60 per customer. Stephen Cruise of the Ulster Bank

:28:31.:28:34.

ending that look at the joint meeting last week of the Enterprise

:28:34.:28:38.

and Finance Committees. Gareth Gordon is with me once again.

:28:38.:28:42.

What is likely to catch our attention tomorrow? Mark, our

:28:43.:28:50.

health correspondent has uncovered some shocking management practices

:28:50.:28:53.

going on at Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Fire Service,

:28:53.:28:57.

including today the fact that a number of unapproved bonuses were

:28:57.:29:01.

paid to senior officers. The Health Minister will make a statement on

:29:01.:29:07.

the issue in the Assembly tomorrow and that MLAs will get a chance to

:29:07.:29:17.
:29:17.:29:25.

comment. There's also a debate up here on the... They are calling on

:29:25.:29:30.

anyone with information to give up on this harrowing chapter of our

:29:30.:29:34.

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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