16/01/2017 Stormont Today


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called a fresh Assembly election - on the day the Secretary of State


just eight months after the last one.


It was a day of huge significance for the devolution


project - because if talks anticipated to take place


after the new 90 seat chamber is elected fail, Stormont could find


itself stored away in political mothballs for quite some time.


So, coming up tonight...MLAs find out how long they've got


to prove their worth to the electorate...


I propose that a draft order in Council be brought forward shortly


that set an election date of Thursday second March stop.


The suspended DUP MLA Jonathan Bell makes accusations about senior party


This party has suspended me for telling the truth when I gave the


First Minister, Deputy First Minister and the German body or the


information, people are sitting beside them and sitting behind them


of much more serious offences. So 300 days after we last went


to the polls, we'll get the chance Following the refusal of Sinn Fein


to nominate someone to the post of Deputy First Minister


following the resignation of Martin McGuinness seven days ago,


the Secretary of State has called I propose that a draft order in


Council be brought forward shortly to set down election date of


Thursday the 2nd of March. And to dissolve the assembly from the 26th


of January, meaning that its last sitting day would be the 25th. No


one should underestimate the challenge faced to the political


institutions here in Northern Ireland, and what is at stake. While


it is inevitable that debate during an election period will be intense,


I would strongly encourage the political parties to conduct this


election with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and


re-establishing a partnership government at the earliest


opportunity after that poll. This is essential to the operation of


devolved government, and this means that all must remain open to


dialogue. The government continues to span thermally -- I stand firmly


behind the government and its successors, and our responsibilities


to safeguard stability here in Northern Ireland. We will continue


to do all that we can to find a way forward to secure the continuation


of devolved government. James Brokenshire speaking


at Stormont Castle earlier this evening.


So how did we get to that point? Sinn Fein repeatedly said


it wouldn't nominate and today, when given the opportunity,


the party formally I am nominating Arlene Foster to be


the First Minister. It's her rightful position. That alone


because the DUP says it but because 202,000 people in the country said


it. And we as a DUP, Democratic Unionist Party, we will decide who


the leader of our party is. Not someone else sitting in this


chamber. We don't dictate to others who should be their leader, and no


one is going to dictate to us today who the leader of our party, which


transpires to be the leader of the union is here in Northern Ireland.


Mr Speaker, I very readily and with some degree of pleasure nominate


Arlene Foster to be the First Minister. Sinn Fein will only be


part of institutions which work and deliver for all in our community.


There can be no return to the staters go. If something is broken,


you stop and you fix it. That is the Sinn Fein approach. Today, Sinn Fein


will not renominate for the position of Deputy First Minister. Sinn Fein


has honoured all agreements, we have striven to make these institutions


work. Martin McGuinness has acted at all times with integrity, with


dignity, and with respect to stop he has taken personal and political


risks to build a process of reconciliation. If we are to return


to this chamber, then there must be real, meaningful change. There must


be respect and equality for all sections of society. These


institutions must operate to the highest standards, with no place for


arrogance or malpractice. It is now over to the people to have their


say. Michelle O'Neill confirming that


Sinn Fein would not nominate anyone to the position of


Deputy First Minister. And let's hear from


the commentator, Alex Kane. We now have a date for


an election - March 2nd... Yesterday, and I think it is strange


because all the way through I didn't think it would come to this. No


Grimmy you didn't you were wrong! You don't have deep rub it in. I


think we would be ruthlessly good at keeping our problem is tight and


internal, solving the problem of Northern Ireland. But she didn't,


she wrapped it up all the way through. I'd thought Sinn Fein


wouldn't call her bluff but they did and we are now in an election we


don't need. Monday and Tuesday -


and RHI is likely to be It hasn't gone away, and it was 40


days a old. DUP broke that story, a very senior DUP story told me that


it wasn't going to be interesting. 40 days later it is still debated,


and in the next few days more worryingly it will be there all the


way to the election for the DUP. You didn't think it


would come to this. You weren't alone in that. They


assumed that at the end of the Labour parties would come together


and hammer out a deal and get over the obstacle and move onto the next


issue. Arlene Foster's already


said it's going to be A lots of people frankly agree with


her. I think the interesting thing about this election campaign, we


didn't see it coming, but it came from eight background where Sinn


Fein were saying they were getting on very well, David Gordon being


appointed, various articles saying they had been doing well, Sinn Fein


providing government and suddenly they go from campaigning from RHI,


no personal issue, no equality, Unionists just don't want to open


any doors for republicans, they don't want to respect us... Again


that came from nowhere, and that very moment it became clear that all


the stuff we had heard about how good this relationship was was at


best a lie, and once you get to do that storage, you are in a terrible


mess. It is an interesting situation, and you have been here


for much of the day and have been talking to various people in both


parties. Talking to people thrive at Lee within the DUP and Sinn Fein I


think what is striking is that they don't seem to be hearing what the


other side is saying, they don't seem to be taking on board at all


any of the concerns of any of the other parties, is that what you are


getting as well? That is what I'm getting, and there are now two


battles being fought. I think it is before the election mode was


started, put up barriers, and Sinn Fein decided there was no gesture of


goodwill. Barriers began to go up quietly, and now it has got to the


stage where they aren't listening to each other, not listening to anyone


else not the public, and they have stopped listening. We'll have to


listen to the voters on March two. Alex, thank you, and we'll hear


more from you later. It was supposed to be the chance


for the Economy Minister to show how he would stop the huge financial


losses of the Renewable Instead, as news of the Secretary


of State's decision to call an election broke,


the debate changed rapidly. And that led to more


extraordinary allegations from the suspended DUP MLA,


Jonathan Bell, who continued his Simon Hamilton outlined his plans


to the Assembly, but before they could be voted on,


the Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, called for the debate


to be suspended for a week... The proposal today are the first


steps towards reducing the burden on the Northern Ireland budget of an


estimated ?490 million. I'm determined to take steps which will


effectively reduce the overspend in future years to zero. This is not


the occasion or the place to rehearse or gone to a conclusion on


the wise or wherefores of what went wrong. That, Mr Deputy Speaker, will


be the work of the PAC and an independent enquiry. My priority


immediately is to bear down on the costs of the scheme for the 2017,


2018 financial year. Costs for that year are projected to be around ?50


million. Mr Speaker, while the original policy intentions of the


scheme may have been laudable, it has been blighted by significant


failings in its design, oversight and control. There have been many


allegations of potential abuse which cast a shadow over legitimate uses


of renewable heat installations, and I do recognise that some legitimate


users will see a substantial reduction in their payments but that


reflects the fact that the scheme was much more generous than was


originally intended for stop earlier today we saw the DUP sadly trying to


defend the indefensible, they went low. As the woman said when they go


low, we go high. I want to go high today by referring to the disrespect


which was shown to the public, the lack of respect to the public purse,


the dereliction of duty, and the shameful way in which this entire


debacle has been handled. The part here who designed this disastrous


scheme are we are led to believe helped design a good litigation but


it looks bad for everybody else and leaves us with a choice between the


?85,000 per day lead indefinitely, if this case falls and we don't have


another opportunity to fix it, versus the potential cost of legal


challenges as well as all the cost of the very belated investigations,


and this scenario, I think you will understand, people are a bit


reluctant to just this view of those who designed the flawed scheme,


designing the fix. Why delay? Very simple. It it as no cost to the


public purse will stop the 85,000 a day that we are burning off because


of the overspend continues even if these regulations are agreed today


or next week, until at least the 1st of April. That's over ?6 billion.


That ?6 million. There will be no cost to the public present wait for


a week. Doing nothing is not an option. To delay for one week is a


reasonable request and I do believe will give us time for some of that


extra scrutiny that the previous speaker has mentioned. I would like


it in the record that I spoke for the first time in the fashion that I


did because journalists were able to conclusively prove to me that they


had contacted the press offices of the delicate Unionist party a day


after day after day and were being fed back misinformation that


Jonathan Bell was unavailable. Mr Speaker, I also want a very major


concern bed into the record of this house that instruction went out from


DUP special advisers John Robinson, currently special adviser to the


economy minister, and Andrew Crawford, the current special


adviser to Michelle Michael Butler Michelle McLean. ... Under no


adviser to Michelle Michael Butler circumstances allow Jonathan Bell to


be called. This is a quote. These matter need to be deeply


investigated. Can I just asked Mr Bell... We are moving outside of the


scope of the RHI. When we're talking about an adjournment for a week,


these matters can be investigated in this week alongside the very first


piece of information given to me in a ministerial office. By the DUP


party officer appointed special adviser to the terms that you will


not be allowed to reduce the tariff is the bag on the scheme because


Timothy Johnston, special adviser to the then First Minister, and John


Robinson, the current at that time director of communications to the


DUP, and now the special adviser to the economy minister, had such


extensive interest in the poultry industry, Minister, this is not


being allowed on the agenda. I have the information to murder Mr


Speaker, I have kept the records in many, many formats will stop this


party has suspended me for telling the truth while I gave the First


Minister and the deputy leader and the chairman of the partly all the


information. People that are sitting behind and beside them of much more


serious offences. In response, the DUP dismissed


Mr Bell's allegations The party said Timothy Johnston has


no interests whatsoever in the poultry industry and does not


benefit or have any family members who applied to,


or benefit from, RHI. It also said John Robinson has


no personal interest His family home farm has chicken


houses which are not Andrew Crawford told the BBC last


month that his brother is the director of a company


which successfully applied to the RHI scheme, but he said


he 'never sought to keep the RHI scheme open at the original


higher tariff against The ability of the Executive


to mitigate against the Bedroom Tax before any dissolution was batted


back and forth between the Finance and Communities Ministers


over the last week. Mairtin O'Muilleior argued that no


fresh legislation was needed. Paul Givan disagreed,


and earlier today brought his Members are able to see from the


draft set of regulations that the general provisions in the budget act


would not give my department the powers necessary to make decisions


in the different scenarios set out in the regulations. So, Mr Speaker,


that nails everything that the finance minister has been doing what


he is engaged in a Twitter battle the public can see who the twit is


as he has went along, making it up, on social media in respect to how


this is being issued. In two and a half years, Sinn Fein cost the


public purse ?174 million in penalties from the Treasury. Money


that was lost in public services into a half years, and what do we do


whenever these issues were raised? We worked through them, despite the


reckless activities Sinn Fein, that cost ?171 million.


I am clearly stating we support the regulation be for us. No one needs


to explain to me the impact this will have. I have liaisons dealt


with many constituents who have highlighted their concerns and fears


so whilst the rest of us have no fear of going through the


electorate, the DUP in Sinn Fein will continue to politic with some


of the most vulnerable in society. Had Sinn Fein not stood firm to


ensure the most vulnerable were protected and to ensure they were


protected properly, irrespective of legislation from Westminster, then


we collectively we been in a much different position. We stood by our


convictions and to the best of our ability we got a deal to protect


those most vulnerable. In relation to fines, the people and claimants


we all talk about, not 1p came out of their pockets. Yes it came out of


the block grant but why? Because people were waxing lyrical about the


need to ensure our blog rant was protected and they failed to look


over and other shoulder. -- block grant. The ministers stated that


there was very little to nothing he could do to bring forward the


mitigation meant -- measures to protect the most vulnerable. He


stated categorically that was the truth. Why do I believe he did it?


Because he wanted to put pressure on his partners in government and


prevent them calling an election. The deadline was the 20th of


February and we knew this needed done since we were elected last May


so there was every opportunity for due process and scrutiny to take


place but it seems that everything MS please has to be subject to a


last-minute rush, back of the envelope calculations and perhaps we


would not be sitting you today is that culture were to end.


Another contentious issue on the order paper


today was the position of Robin Newton as Speaker.


He was the subject of a lot of criticism before Christmas


when he called on Arlene Foster to make a statement


as First Minster, when the Deputy First Minister had


The motion was brought by Sinn Fein, but for the second time today things


So we come to date to debate confidence in the speaker, which is


a normal motion given the circumstances we found ourselves


then before Christmas and the behaviour that led to the first


Minister making a statement when she had not the authority to do so. We


find ourselves hamstrung by a petition of concern. The DUP have


deployed petitions of concern over 80 times in this Assembly. ET to


pose as a party on their own. The irony is petitions were built into


the Good Friday Agreement to protect the rights of minorities and protect


citizens from being trampled by larger parties. The DUP as the


largest party had used it 82 times without support from other MLAs. On


a number of occasions they have used it to protect their own members from


censure with them this Assembly. They do so again on this occasion.


He may find this amusing but they do it again. The DUP have yet to learn


that that is public outcry not just regarding the scheme, the speaker's


handling of some of these issues but the DUP refusal to recognise the


damage they are doing to public confidence in these institutions


which they continued to do when they deploy that petition of concern. The


use of petitions to protect their own members is a corruption of what


petition of concerns were intended to do. I will finish what I am


saying. It is a corruption of these institutions and something that the


DUP would do well to look to. We are now to have a debate in this


institution and relation to confidence in the speaker with the


outcome already decided. The outcome has been frustrated regardless of


every other MLA, expressing their lack of confidence, that outcome


will be overturned by the use of a petition of concern, used in a


corrupt fashion to protect their own by the DUP. On those grounds, I will


not agree with this motion. I do not believe there is any purpose in


keeping people year for debate in which the outcome is predetermined.


The corruption of this institution in the eyes of the public has to


stop. We should get a different the DUP return tear on the other side


the election. Conor Murphy. We did have some regular


business today and amongst it was Question Time for the Finance


Minister. It's likely to be the last time


for quite some time that Mairtin O Muilleoir faces


the Assembly, and it was no surprise that the ongoing problems


at Stormont dominated exchanges. The minister is good at running


around and telling other ministers what they should be doing but I


would put it to you, your number one duty is to produce a budget. We are


facing a situation where there will be no budget. This will have a


profound impact for example on the Department of Health. I am asking


you what other contingencies in place to prevent a detrimental


impact on public services? It is a great pity that my colleagues and


the other side of the chamber did not consider this before Christmas


when they became subsumed in covering up RHI and refuse to allow


the public the investigation they were entitled to. It is a pity the


DUP did not consider the institutions given their attacks on


the Irish language and Irish identity. It is a great pity that


before Christmas when I met the DUP ministers and discuss their budget,


what happened? It was not my party who had a former minister on his


knees in a TV studio praying to tell the truth. It was the DUP who became


consumed with RHI and discussions since then have not resigned. So the


blame for where we are this day and the fact that credibility is drained


from these institutions does not lie with any other party in this


Assembly but my colleagues opposite. Could the minister give an


assessment on what he thinks the economic impact will be to Northern


Ireland on the antics and catastrophic mess the DUP, Sinn Fein


government have done -- provided during this last mandate? There must


be an election coming and I hope and trust that all those who have spoken


today do very well in that election. When we go to the doors, the people


will ask one pertinent question, they will seed did you stand for


equality? Did you stand against the disrespect shown to our ethnic


minorities and the LG BT community and to the disrespect shown to the


Irish language community? Did you stand up for tolerance, and mutual


respect? When that question is asked, I am convinced that we will


be able to answer positively to the public and the public will respond


So, three hours before the election was officially called it seemed


there was talk of little else in the chamber -


and Emma Little Pengelly continued on the attack


as the Health Minister, Michelle O'Neill, rose


What representations did you make to the Deputy first Minister bed rather


than resign when he did, he should wait and a lower budget to be put


down an order for your department and all the people who need to use


health services get their help and support they need when they needed


it? Mark McGuinness said the right thing, he was no longer prepared to


lead his party and a government who are not interested in equality and


mutual respect. Our position is clear. I want to be at my desk to


drive forward health care but I will not be in a government where the DUP


are not interested in equality. We cannot be in government but the


party only clear that certain people in certain sections of society, not


good enough. Supplementary. I think sadly we have heard and Minister for


health reading of a Sinn Fein election cue card rather than caring


about the many thousands of people who will be impacted by the lack of


budget. The health department will be starting this financial year


without a budget and planning and that will impact on those most in


need. The responsibility lies with you is Minister of this department,


you cannot duck those responsibilities to ensure there was


a budget in place. What contingencies have you put in place


to insure public services in health are not impacted detrimentally?


There is a crisis of confidence in these institutions. People do not


trust the DUP so I absolutely think Mark McGuinness took the right


decision and it is now up to the public to have their estate. --


Mairtin O Muilleoir McGuinness. Our track record speaks for itself. In


terms of putting equality at the core of our department. We would


only be in this Executive and returned to these institutions if


there is equality embedded in the call of these institutions.


Michelle O'Neill - and Alex Kane is here for a final word.


As far as Sinn Fein's motion of no confidence in the Speaker,


Robin Newton, is concerned - you couldn't have made it up.


You couldn't have made it up. I think even they realise that and


decided there is no point going through with this. It could not


succeed? It could not and it was an abuse of the house. You cannot have


a serious debate about complaints against the speaker because we have


protected them. It took away the nonsense that the speaker was


neutral. It was the DUP concern. Sinn Fein said we're not going to


indulge out in this. A couple of days of debate in the chamber ahead


of us. But we know now if we come back after the 2nd of March that.


But we know now if we come back after the 2nd of March that.


There will be wholesale change in terms of the make-up


of the chamber no matter what happens - and already we know


that Cat Seeley and Catriona Ruane won't be coming back.


It is interesting in the case of Cat Seeley because she is one of the


younger ones and she is only in there. If then some sort of message.


She has a full-time teaching job. She has chosen that auction. She has


given up the political career so she will not come back and abandon a


teaching career. It is sad to say ago, she was one of the better


younger ones. In terms of the five into six, better off. You can maybe


bank 40 or 50 as certainties. It will be very chaotic but it will be


fascinating to nerds like us. You cannot be sure very much. It will be


great for those of us who like to put bet on. We look forward to it.


Thank you very much as ever. The Assembly is sitting tomorrow


and we'll have a Stormont Today So for now, from everyone


in the team - good night! The View holds politicians to


account and we ask the questions that our audiences


want answers to. We reflect what's happening in the


political world but I think we also set the agenda in the interviews


that we conduct on the programme. I always assume that an interviewee


is telling the truth but the question is,


is that necessarily the whole truth? One of the key things about The View


is Commentators Corner. A great breadth of knowledge and


a context to the political conversation that's


just taken place.


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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