17/04/2012 Stormont Today


17/04/2012

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello, and welcome to Stormont Today. And it's been a day of

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meditation and confrontation, salmon fishing and even Eminem up

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here on the hill - all of human life. Don't say we don't bring you

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variety. Plus, are a handful of fishermen endangering salmon stocks

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in our rivers? Those same assurances haven't come from them,

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so they haven't given us proper assurances they're getting their

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licences and anyone salmon fishing won't be prosecuted.

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And relax. A Zen master urges MLAs to connect with their spiritual

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side as he leads a meditation walk from Parliament buildings. And

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keeping me calm throughout the programme, Jim Haughey of the

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Ulster Anglers' Federation. Crisis in the level of salmon

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stocks is a topic that's come up more and more frequently here at

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Stormont of late. If more isn't done to preserve the fish, then we

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could face fines from the EU. With me now to explain is Jim Haughey of

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the Ulster Anglers' Federation. Jim, you're very welcome to the

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programme. Stocks are dangerously low. How concerned is your

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organisation about the way this is being handled? We're extremely

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disappointed how this has been handled. The Ulster Anglers'

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Federation have been lobbying about salmon stocks for many, many years,

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decades in fact. During the course of those decades of lobbying we

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have had some successes along the way. We - Michael instituted - in

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2003. The Ulster Anglers' Federation we bought out our first

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net in 2001. We have been at it a long time, but recently we have

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become more and more concerned about salmon stocks. Some of our

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rivers have protection under European legislation, and some of

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those stocks have reduced very significantly. One particular river,

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the River Donny Gall, the stock has fallen greatly. It gets protection

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under European legislation. There was immediate action to take the

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nets off after the fin stock reduced, but Decal did not, and we

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lobbied them for quite awhile to take the same action. Decal chose

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not to. We couldn't believe it, but they didn't do it. Eventually we

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had to lodge an objection with the Environment Director, and that

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forced the issue. We're going to talk about the salmon nets. There

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are six currently. Four have licences, provided they don't fish

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this year. How receptive is the Minister to your concerns, do you

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think? We asked for a meeting with the

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Minister in the autumn on the issue, and he is too busy to see us, and

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we were not able to get an audience with the Minister. Since then we

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have been lobbying at a distance. There was a very significant

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lobbying exercise by the anglers at Stormont, a lot of letters written

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to Decal, an open debate at Stormonts a very significant

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lobbying exercise. That coincided with our objection at Brussels

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coming to fruition, so the situation is now that Decal can't

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issue licences or - if salmon netsmen are going to net because

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they'd be in breach of the Habitats Directive. We'll hear the Culture

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Minister answer issues on this in a moment, but first, agriculture and

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the ongoing plans to relocate the department's headquarters from

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Dundonald. My department has continued to consult with staff in

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relation to the relocation of headquarters. A subcommittee of

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departmental and staff representatives has been set up

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specifically to consult on all issues relating to the relocation.

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The first meeting related to that took place in January of this year.

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Staff and the department have been kept informed with regular monthly

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updates in the magazine. It's my intention that all staff in Dard

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will continue to be kept informed of progress and are completely

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engaged throughout the whole programme. The previous Minister

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gave a commitment to engage with him following the process. I too

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stand over that commitment and reaffirm that position. Today the

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reengagement has been meaningful. I intend to ensure that continues.

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Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I thank the Minister and I

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am familiar with the argument made by the department the new

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headquarters would help ensure wealth across our economy but

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surely taking the �26 million and adding it to existing schemes to

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tackle rural poverty could do this in a better way without creating

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staff uncertainty for those currently working in Dundonald

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House which is in east Belfast. The member is being very parochial.

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I absolutely stand over the need to bring high value public sector jobs

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in our rural economy. I think the benefits speak for themselves in

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terms of stimulating the rural economy, in terms of the potential

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job creation, the increased local spend, and as I said, I will

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continue to consult with staff, and I have received some positive

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feedback from staff in terms of the mood, but I think it's important

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they're kept informed as we move along the entire process.

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Never one to miss a trick, Barry MacElduff can turn any issue into a

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constituency issue, but all politics is local as they say.

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I ask the Minister if it's her intention to invest further funds

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into rural broadband provision rather than handing the money back?

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Can money be invested in rural broadband? The Minister will know

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of my interest for securing rural broadband for counties in my

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constituency. I know he campaigns very strongly for those rural areas.

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He's a strong advocate for the rural community.

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LAUGHTER But yes, it is my contention to

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invest in rural broad band. It has been a priority of mine over a year.

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I will continue to do that. I have announced �5 million under this

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current phase will be invested, and we're going to work with a

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programme on that. But it has to be about targeting the areas that are

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under two megabite lanes because they're the areas most effected.Ue

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there is no point putting the money into broadband if we can't be sure

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it's targeted to rural areas. Angling and salmon stocks falls

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within the agriculture department's remit. So here is the Agriculture

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Minister. Discussions between the department and the netsmen provides

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them with an opportunity to confirm their readiness to conserve salmon

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as I called for earlier in January of this year to date - the six

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netsmen have provided the department - satisfactorily not to

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fish for salmon and have been issued their licences. Discussions

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have been ongoing with the two remaining netsmen for the 2012

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season. I thank the Minister for Her answer, but could she indicate

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to us what will happen if no great such agreement is made? They start

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fishing, and we potentially reach EU fines - what action can she make

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in such situations and will she ensure us we can't get the

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situation where people are granted licences which could potentially

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lead to infraction proceedings? Well, the four netsmen who have

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received their licences have given assurances to the department and it

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was on the basis of those assurances that the licences were

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awarded. Those same assurances haven't came from the two remains

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netsmen, so they haven't given us proper ashuciouss they're not

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getting their licences. Anyone found fishing for salmon will be

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prosecuted. The department will make sure we'll do everything we

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can to address and honour the EU Habitats Directive. It's very, very

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important. That's why we brought this proposal forward in January.

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So Titanic has been and gone. Now bring on the Ulf Ryberg covenants,

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the next centenary on the horizon. We'll jointly bring forward a

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programme based on the principles of an education focus for

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reflection, inclusivety, tolerance, respect, responsibility and

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interdependence, work on developing this programme has begun, but

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organisations supported by my department have already been

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planned, a diverse range of activities. The core theme of the

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covenant was the preservation of our cherished position of equal

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citizenship in the United Kingdom, something the Minister is in office

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to destroy, so rather than peddle the fiction that nonetheless this

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Minister will supposedly celebrate the covenant, could I ask her for

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aassurance that she and her party will not sully this centenary by

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imposing herself in some false spectacle of support? Um, well, on

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that, Jim, Alastair, I believe in the Irish Proclamation which

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charges the children of all of the nation equally, and I recently

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attended the event in Dublin, didn't impose himself, didn't sit

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on anybody's knee, didn't become a nuisance. I attended the event in

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Dublin where Peter Robinson delivered a lecture which referred

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to the Ulster covenant. I did so willingly and did so in a

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respectful way. Other members of this House were at that event. If

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anybody has been silly and imposed themselves, it has been yourself.

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It's the largest lake in these islands and Sinn Fein wants to have

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Lough Neagh - currently owned by the Earl of Shaftesbury - returned

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to public ownership. A motion calling on the Agriculture and

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Culture Ministers to convene a working group to consider the

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proposal, was passed in the Chamber this morning.

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The reality of the situation is you cannot drag a post down into Lough

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Neagh without actually paying a fee for it. If a council wants to

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develop, if anyone wants to develop anything around Lough Neagh, you

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have to pay a fee to the Shaftsbury chaff. If the Dard or any other

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person or development want to extract the sound from the Lough

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Neagh, again, you have to pay for that. I understand the arguments

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he's put forward. I think they're exploring in a working group, and I

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don't think anybody would have a difficulty with this, looking at a

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working group with better management. You would have to

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discuss those issues within that context. There does have to be an

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issue raised about if we pursued the line that the member wants us

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to go down in purchasing Lough Neagh that comes at a cost. Given

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there was no money paid for the loch by the Shaftsbury or their

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predecessors in 1641, perhaps they may be magnanimous enough to give

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it back to the Irish. I am concerned hidden behind this motion

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is the taking away of property rights as stealth towards a united

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Ireland and is driven by Marxist and Communist philosophies. If you

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add both those together - now, they're just hints at the back, but

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they're very much, I feel, driving what is here, and Mrs Kelly hinted

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at it already in what she said that there could be something hidden

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behind this. I don't feel that this is purely about better management

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of the loch although that is what we'd all like to see today. If it

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can be done in a voluntary way, I'd be happy enough to do so. I mean, I

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know that Mr Malloy spends his every working hour trying to run

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Northern Ireland into a united Northern Ireland but I don't think,

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to be fair to him that by bringing Lough Neagh into public ownership

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we'll actually take a united Northern Ireland one step further

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because you're bringing in the public ownership of an integral

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part of the United Kingdom and a Northern Ireland Executive which is

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born of the four devolved administrations within the United

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Kingdom, so it's certainly not the rocky road to a united Ireland or a

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rocky river to a loch to a united Ireland. The motion was passed.

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There is going to be a working group examining its future. What do

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you think of bringing it into public ownership? Our priority is

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the fish stocks on Lough Neagh. We have been quite worried about the

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fish stocks recently. There seems to be a large element of illegal

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fishing going on at the moment. We have been lobbying Decal about that

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and the results are under way at the moment of the fish stocks. Fish

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stocks are our main point of interest, and it's hard to see how

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public ownership of the loch can affect that as the fishing rights

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in the loch are owned by the Lough Neagh Fishing Rights Cooperative.

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We don't know whether this includes nationalisation of the current

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rights owned by the Lough Neagh Fishing Rights Cooperative. At the

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moment it's going to be examined, and there are many questions

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that'll have to be addressed. not clear the type of ownership

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that's coming, but we'll see what's happening in the months ahead.

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Thank you. MLAs were urged to enter a new zone

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today and connect with their spiritual side. The Vietnamese

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master of Mindfulness led a meditation walk from Parliament

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buildings down the Prince of Wales Avenue. Earlier, the 85-year-old

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Buddist, told a packed Senate chamber of the importance of

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focusing on the present and not dwelling on the past. Sounds

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familiar! The SDLP's Conall The way you came to encounter those

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men who played an important part in our history, in the United States,

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why youen countered them because Vietnam was descending into war and

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how you felt it was your duty to advocate in the United States, at

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that time in the mid-1960s, against a war, to let democracy and

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dialogue ring. To let peaceful interaction come through. But

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enough of the history, what I would really like to do is ask you all in

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joining me in welcoming him and asking thoim share with us some

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reflections and some thoughts that will hopefully inspire us and guide

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us. I would like to share some of our experiences with you today. We

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need to speak to help us take care of our body, our feelings and our

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perceptions, emotions so that we can respond with clarity and

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compassion and lovingness. When we breathe in mindfully, when we focus

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our attention on our in breathe and out breathe -- in Brett and out

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Brett we can release the past and ab our future and come in touch

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with our body again and become freer in one in breath and out

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breath made in mindfulness. When I bring my mind back to my body by

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breathing in mindfully, suddenly I find a new possibilities arise and

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I think I feel that I have more freedom. There are many ways to

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respond to the same challenge. Today your visit, you visit a very

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transformed society, as well as one without doubt that is still

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transforming. It was not that long ago that when political opponents

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that here in this Chamber now sit around the table, talking and

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engaging with one another, could not enter into the one room

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together. Yet, all of the major political parties now are involved

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in a very powerful power-sharing executive. So, I know that it has

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been a difficult journey and road for some. Perhaps, you know, some

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of us would call it different things and describe it very

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differently to each other, but for many of us it has involved

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mindfulness. MLAs have been calling for greater support for what's

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known as "kinship carers". These are people who take care of

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children or young people into their homes when they can no longer be

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looked after by their parents and are often relatives or family

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friends. It won support from across the chamber. Here's the motion's

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proposer Michelle McIlveen. It's very obvious that so many kinship

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carers have respond out of instincts to a child in their own

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family who has become vulnerable and who needs the adults around

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them to act out of love and protection. It's imperative in this

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debate, and in all our discussions, that the best interests of the

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child are central. Any decision that is are made must fully reflect

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and take this into account and on every occasion the individual

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child's wellbeing is paramount for all those concerned. As with so

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many things, care provision cannot be one-size-fits-all. It's also

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important that I put on-the-record that each child requires an

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individual care decision and that we have available a variety of

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packages of care that can be tailored to a child's needs. This

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means that there can be no hierarchy of care. Care must be

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developed to ensure each child does indeed matter. While I support the

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many kinship kaifrers who responded to the needs of children in their

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families, it's important to say that the decisions made in relation

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to care for children ensure their safety and put the interests of the

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children first. The issue around kinship care can be confusing. Not

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all children living in kinship care arrangements will be looked after

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children. It's in the appropriate they would be. Many families will

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make their own arrangements for children in times of crisis. In

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many of our constituents we find families where, because of death,

:19:20.:19:23.

illness, physical or mental or another family crisis or tragedy,

:19:23.:19:28.

such as a parent in prison, it has meant children have gone to live

:19:28.:19:32.

with a close family relative. This may be for a short period of time,

:19:32.:19:37.

for some, and for others it will become their permanent arrangement.

:19:37.:19:40.

It's important that the role of families in coming together to

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support and protect children within them is valued and supported. The

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state should not undermine this, but, at the same time, ensure that

:19:48.:19:52.

families are not left to cope alone or become so over burdened that

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children are then put at risk. politicians are often accused of

:19:57.:20:03.

being out of touch. Surely not our Culture Minister with her well

:20:03.:20:09.

documented love of music. Caral Ni Chuilin often tweets about the

:20:09.:20:14.

tunes she's listening to. Today she admitted that rap music might not

:20:14.:20:21.

be on her playlist. I confess I had to think who Eminem was. I'm

:20:21.:20:29.

showing my age. I was thinking it was M & M's I was thinking

:20:29.:20:35.

chocolate or peanut. I know who he is. The minister siemed seemed to

:20:35.:20:40.

sympathise with those who were upsthaet acts such as Eminem won't

:20:40.:20:45.

be able to appear at some North Down music events. That's because

:20:45.:20:50.

local councillors have blocked any act that's not fit for mainstream

:20:50.:20:56.

broadcast. Joining me to discuss the issue is the MLA for North Down,

:20:56.:20:58.

Steven Agnew. You share her concerns? I don't think it's for

:20:58.:21:01.

councillors to decide what particularly young people should

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listen to. I see it as a form of censorship.' restriction of freedom

:21:06.:21:12.

of expression. If we look back, people protested against The

:21:12.:21:20.

Beatles and protested against Elvis Presley. With respect, they didn't

:21:20.:21:25.

have explicit lyrics that weren't fit for broadcast. There were

:21:25.:21:32.

attempts to ban Elvis from the waist down? That was as big an

:21:32.:21:37.

issue then as Eminem. I'm not a big fan. It's not the role role of

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councils to decide. It's great North Down has been successful in

:21:43.:21:50.

bringing big acts to Bangor. I would applaud the council offices

:21:50.:21:53.

who put in that hard work. We are putting that hard work in danger.

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We may not be able to get future acts when they see a council that

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is trying to meddle in the acts who can and cannot perform at Ward Park.

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Councils are objecting to the anti- social behaviour that comes with

:22:09.:22:12.

concerts like. This one councillor suggesting there were complaints,

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50 over the last year's concert? need to address the issues of anti-

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social behaviour. We recently had an Orange March in North Down there

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was anti-social behaviour in and around that. Any major event that

:22:28.:22:31.

draws people into the town we need to work with police and other

:22:31.:22:35.

organisations to ensure that the minimum impact on residents. That

:22:35.:22:40.

is key, ultimately, you know residents have to be happy with any

:22:40.:22:46.

event that does take place. By in large, the people of Bangor have

:22:46.:22:50.

supported the concerts held in Ward Park. It's good the council have a

:22:50.:22:55.

policy on such concerts. The attempts by CllrS to say what is

:22:55.:22:59.

appropriate and what is not that is overstepping the remit of the

:22:59.:23:04.

council. Does it have the last word on it or will it be reversed? The

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minister talked about going to the Arts Council? I will meet with

:23:10.:23:14.

council officers involved in this. I would appeal to the councillors

:23:14.:23:21.

to change their tune on this issue. And, equally, you know, if the Arts

:23:21.:23:24.

Council have a role I will seek a meeting with them as well. We will

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have to wait and see what happens. Thank you very much. That Zen

:23:28.:23:31.

master we heard from earlier visited Stormont just as the new

:23:31.:23:35.

Ulster Unionist leader seeks inner peace for his party. Mike Nesbitt

:23:35.:23:39.

has been busy soothing nerves. Jim Nicholson has accused colleagues of

:23:39.:23:44.

briefing against him and trying to ease him out of his job as MEP. I

:23:44.:23:49.

caught up with our political editor who had all the details.

:23:49.:23:53.

Nicholson made it clear, on the Sunday Politics that he wanted to

:23:53.:23:57.

run again in Europe. What happened over the course of the weekend was

:23:57.:24:04.

that one of the Sunday papers, the Sunday Life said they may want to

:24:04.:24:09.

replace him with Tom Elliot or Joanne Dobson. In the Newsletter

:24:09.:24:13.

today and in conversations with the BBC Mr Nicholson made it clear he

:24:13.:24:20.

is unhappy, as he sees it, about "faceless gutless people", as he

:24:20.:24:25.

calls them. He will take them on in public and take them out. Senior

:24:25.:24:30.

Ulster Unionist sources reacting to that saying they are happy that Mr

:24:30.:24:33.

Nicholson's experience he wants to run again. The two named members of

:24:34.:24:37.

the Parliament say they would support him and don't intend to

:24:37.:24:47.
:24:47.:24:48.

stand against him. Everyone seems to to -- have kissed and made up?

:24:48.:24:54.

Now, a case of MLAs behaving badly. We had a debate on Accident &

:24:54.:24:58.

Emergency services in the chamber last month. The Health Minister

:24:58.:25:08.
:25:08.:25:12.

referred to comments by Alliance's Kieran McCarthy about, "a village

:25:12.:25:17.

idiot". He ruled they were out of order. The minister has indicated

:25:17.:25:23.

that he was prepared to come and apologise to the member. However,

:25:23.:25:31.

the member, Mr McCarthy, was unwilling to attend to receive and

:25:31.:25:38.

accept the apology. Order, order. Standing orders are clear. The

:25:38.:25:43.

speaker's ruling is final. Speaker thinks the matter should

:25:43.:25:46.

end there. Alliance wasn't happy. They thought, given that the

:25:46.:25:50.

original insult had been delivered in public, in the chamber, any

:25:50.:25:54.

apology also should have been delivered in public, in the chamber.

:25:54.:26:01.

This is what Mr McCarthy's colleague had to say. The speaker

:26:01.:26:04.

said to Mr McCarthy that the minister would make his apology to

:26:04.:26:09.

Mr McCarthy in the Speaker's office. Mr McCarthy indicated that was

:26:09.:26:15.

unacceptable. The insult was made in the Assembly and any apology by

:26:15.:26:21.

the Minister should be made in the same place. Lord More owe unveiled

:26:21.:26:25.

legislation of his own? There has been criticism about them not

:26:25.:26:31.

bringing forward legislation. We see small sessions were we are

:26:31.:26:36.

debating motions not processing laws. Lord More owe will bring

:26:36.:26:41.

forward a law dealing with human trafficking. He says his Bill if

:26:41.:26:44.

implemented will bring in European directives that should make things

:26:44.:26:50.

safer for the victims of what he refers to as, "a modern form of

:26:50.:26:57.

slavery". They say if you want to get ahead, get a had. MLAs were

:26:57.:27:01.

sporting their finest Easter bonnets today. We sent a hatless

:27:01.:27:06.

Gareth Gordon along to find out why. It was easy. When I suggested it

:27:06.:27:11.

they were willing to get on board and support Action for Brain Injury

:27:11.:27:19.

Week. One of the events we are haig is to wear your hat, a fundraising

:27:19.:27:24.

day. We are urging schools, organisations and colleges to wear

:27:24.:27:29.

their hat. Wear colourful hat to work or schooled and donate �1 to

:27:29.:27:37.

Headway. It suits you? It's like Panama hat. The man from Del Monte

:27:37.:27:43.

says yes. It's sometimes good for a Minister to say, yes. You were

:27:43.:27:49.

claiming that Steven Agnew had joined the DUP? He was in a red

:27:49.:27:55.

beret. One last word from you about anglers concerns that are putting

:27:55.:28:01.

jobs before other considerations? The current proposal from

:28:01.:28:06.

government is to prioritise job creation. From past IDB exercises

:28:06.:28:11.

claims about job creation often don't materialise in the event.

:28:11.:28:14.

Also, the interpretations of whether one job, a claim for

:28:14.:28:20.

creation of one job is going to give prioritisation over absolutely

:28:20.:28:25.

everything else. There are issues surrounding this. There is an issue

:28:25.:28:30.

giving prior tidesation -- prioritisation may be illegal.

:28:31.:28:35.

There are other European directives that have to be observed. We are

:28:35.:28:41.

concerned about it. We may be in for another long battle between the

:28:41.:28:45.

anglers' and the minister. Thank you very much. That is it from

:28:45.:28:54.

Stormont today. If you can't get enough of politics join us at the

:28:54.:28:58.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills 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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