17/06/2014 Stormont Today


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.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 17/06/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



The chamber gets to vote on whether Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly


The question is the motion standing being agreed. As many as are of the


opinion, say "aye". To the contrary, "no".


Temperatures rise in the chamber as the Culture Minister takes


We're condemning young people for a life going through the criminal


justice system because you are belligerent, you aren't for budging


and you won't acknowledge the situation.


And I'm joined by our political reporter


Stephen Walker to cast his expert eye over the day's proceedings.


The first item of business today - should Gerry Kelly get a five-day


suspension after he broke the law by jumping on a Land Rover last year as


The police gave the Sinn Fein member an informed warning over


Not good enough, said unionists parties who insisted


But with Sinn Fein and the SDLP united, the move to suspend


Gerry Kelly - as recommended by the Assembly's Standards and


A petition of concern, signed by Sinn Fein and some members


of the SDLP, was lodged against the motion meaning it had to have


Order. Member's order. The first item of the day is that we vote on


the... Order, members. On the complaints against Mr Jerry Kelly.


The vote will be on a cross community basis. The question is


that the motion stand in the name of the chairperson of the committee. As


many as are of the opinion, say "aye". To the contrary, "no". Clear


the lobbies. The question will be put in three minutes. Ayes to the


right, noes to the left. 93 members voted, at of which 53 voted yes, 47


Unionists voted, of which 49 voted yes, 100%. Seven others voted, of


which seven voted yes, 100%. The motion is negative. The voters


negative. Let us move on. Order! Order!


The Speaker firmly called the House to order after the vote.


And I'm joined now in the studio by my colleague Stephen Walker who was


No surprise what happened today. No great surprise. We had the big


debate yesterday and it got quite stormy at times on a number of


occasions. The Speaker had to intervene and warned people about


their language and behaviour. Yesterday was quite stormy. Today


was the practical end of business, the vote, and it went 56 for the


motion and 37 against the motion so no great surprises and, obviously,


we had this petition of concern which meant we knew which way the


vote was going to go. That is yet another user that petition, which is


still quite a controversial device. It is. What is interesting about


this latest vote today is the fact that Sinn Fein and the SDLP have


criticised the use of the petition of concern in the past. They


criticise the DUP and Unionists of using it but here we have an example


of Sinn Fein and the SDLP using it because they felt that Gerry Kelly


have been given a proper hearing. It throws into focus the whole system


of a petition of concern, which is there to ensure there is cross


community support. I think people when they look at it and ask whether


it is being used properly, how many times it has been used, the big


question will be whether parties are abusing it. Away from the chamber,


there is the controversial issues about the parading of flags. What


are you hearing? We know very little in terms of what is happening about


the talks. All we know is that Peter Robinson said he hoped the talks


would begin before the end of the month. He said there would be at


least two batches of three days. We don't know when that is supposed to


happen. It's possible that it could happen next week. But clearly, as we


move towards the 12th, it's going to be parading. Unionists have made it


quite clear that they won't be discussing the past until Lady


Hallet's review is complete. Parading is going to be a key issue


in the coming weeks. It is because we're less than a month away from


the 12th of July, the whole issue hasn't been resolved and there is


big pressure to try and get it resolved. Thank you very much.


Back in the chamber, the Culture Minister faced question


time today and she was asked about how much funding was made available


The DUP's Trevor Clarke asked Caral Ni Chuilin to provide more


Given that there is clear evidence that there is a need and demand for


more funding to this, unlike looking at question six, what assurances can


the Minister give that more funding will go towards arts festivals given


the large amount of people who have become involved in it? Well, the


member should be corrected. The Irish language is flourishing, which


I'm sure the member and his friends are happy to know. In relation to


funding for festivals, ensuring that funding for festivals... Obviously,


the demand is there. It's up to the groups to lobby their local councils


because my contribution to local councils for festival funding has


been matched by the council. If the members aren't doing their jobs


locally, there's not much I can do. Can the Minister confirm funding for


Belfast Orangefest was ordered through the community festivals


fund? As I said, community funding is provided which district councils


match. Any community group may be eligible to apply. Orange cultural


groups can and do receive funding from local councils. Belfast city


council has advised that Belfast Orangefest has not made any


application to the fund although it is aware of the programme and is


included in the circular lists. Belfast City Councillor did make an


award to Orangefest in 2011-12 and the fund was never claimed. This


money has been well spent so far and deserving of appropriate increases


and, if she had the ability, would she make a bit fall those


appropriate increases? I agree with him in terms of festival funding.


It's very important, particularly in relation to cultural celebration. In


regard to how we feel about each cultural celebration, it is a very


important one. I agree that the fund needs to be increased so that people


celebrating festivals all over can access it and it's something I'm


happy to look at in the future. But certainly for this summer and a near


me really, I think the level of funding will remain. -- in the


immediate period. She will be aware that for almost a full year now,


certain organisations have wanted to celebrate their cuts in a peaceful


and respect for manner by returning on their parade from last year's


12th of July celebrations. -- celebrate their culture. I wonder if


she would agree with me that it is very damaging to our tourism product


to send out a message that the celebration of culture in Northern


Ireland is conditional. I'm not really sure that spending ?1 million


on a particular avenue is the best way to promote cultural stop I'm


sure you would and I think that is an indictment on people who are not


in agreement with you. What we need to do is resolve that issue. I'm


very disappointed that because we as adults can't get our act together,


we are condemning young people for a life going through the criminal


justice system because you are belligerent, you are begrudging and


you won't acknowledge and recognise equality across-the-board. I don't


think it has anything at all to do with culture and I only wish you


asked a question that would actually promote what we have here to offer


instead of using an example which sections or one side of the


community off against another. The Culture Minister calling for


better questions from her colleagues Education very much dominated


the agenda at Stormont today and the first item to be debated


was the finding of a report by the education committee into how schools


in Northern Ireland are inspected. The committee brought


before the House a series of recommendations as to how the


entire process of can be improved. Inspection is clearly a good thing.


However, it is also equally clear that simply and repeatedly


inspecting our schools will not, of itself, make them any better.


Imagine if a teacher of a child who is underachieving in their school


simply tells the child repeatedly that their attainment is inadequate


or unsatisfactory. That will not, on its own, make the child any smarter


or make their performance any better. The child needs to be


helped. The child needs to be properly supported. As it is with


children, Mr deputy speaker, so it is with schools. Who will fund any


such independent body? Who will appoint members to such bodies? Who


hold these people to account? These are questions that need to be


answered long before we can agree on the government state is going


forward of any future body. It is surely more logical to research and


evaluate the range of governance options as we move forward and defer


any consideration in respect of statutory independence until such


work is completed. For this reason I cannot support the motion here today


that calls upon the Minister to implement all the recommendations


contained in the report. I would address this debate purely from a


schools perspective. From the outside I would have to say that


Mayans periods of inspections, both as a teacher and inspector what,


were positive. -- my experience of inspections. But I have met many


where it was a different story. We need to learn lessons from this


report. Lesson one - it is not the inspectors that deliver school


improvement but the leaders and teachers in our schools and I pay


credit to them for their dedication, and hard work. As I bring my remarks


to a close, I once again praised the efforts of the staff of the


committee for their hard work. I believe they've come up with a


radical report which suggests reforms which, if implemented, will


make a real difference to our schools and our pupils. Teachers and


school principals must no longer see inspections as threats but rather


opportunities for improvement in the education of our children. This will


mean a change in mindset which I believe will, and must, come sooner


rather than later. I would urge assembly support for this report and


urge the Minister to act upon his recommendations for the sake of


every single pupil in Northern Ireland. The independence of the


Inspectorate keeps coming up. I support the recommendation that it


should be independent of the department. I wish somebody would


explain to me - and perhaps the Minister will have a go at this - as


to what is the rationale for the Inspectorate being part of the


department? It cries out to me that this should be an independent body.


As far as the renaming is concerned, at least it would put a different


emphasis on the thing and perhaps draw a line under the past. I think


there is one flaw that runs throughout the report, which is this


- the report's authors have concentrated on the adult in the


classroom, rather than the child. And throughout the report, there are


references made, understandably, to concerns raised by school


principals, by teachers and their representatives of how inspections


are carried out and what impact inspections have, particularly an


inspection that registers a school is not performing as well as it


should be. What impact that has on the morale of staff. Nowhere in the


report does it comment, or is it registered, what the impact of bad


education is upon the people. And that's what we're all here to


serve. The second big education story of the day was integrated


education. The Alliance party brought a motion to the chamber


calling on the Minister to place it at the heart of education planning.


Welcome to the programme. Why are you not satisfied that the current


level of funding? It is not so much the funding, it is the attitude of


the department. This is a long-term problem. At the moment, all we have


62 integrated schools out of a total of about 1200 schools. That is after


40 years. The Department has had an obligation to facilitate the system.


They have not much of a job. Critics say there is scope within the


existing system. Why should the integrated sector be promoted above


the others? The debate arose out of the judgement on the judicial


review. It has been reemphasised the duty to promote integrated


education. People think that shared education and shared classrooms and


so on are really the same thing, a step towards the same goal, but it


is not really. The purpose of shared education is to share classes, it is


an economic thing initially. To try and provide the full curriculum. If


it leads to greater integration, greater sharing, people getting to


know each other over a period, that is fine, but it really is not a


substitute for a proper integrated school. It is a school where the


board is committed to the ethos of integration and where Protestant and


Catholic children are educated together. The difficulty is that


this motion failed. There was not much support in the chamber for it.


Actually, there was a lot of support for integrated education. It was


said that there was support. But then the motion was opposed because


they claimed it was divisive. I could not follow that. Even the


DUP... Although we lost the vote, it was not a full turnout, but three


parties supported the motion. The minister welcomed the debate but he


said his role was to plan education for the benefit of all children.


What more should he be doing? It is his job to facilitate all sectors


and there was a certain amount of debate today about the position of


faith schools. We have no problem with faith schools. They operate


very well in this country and they produce great results. It is a


question of parental choice. If parents want an integrated system


and they do declare that in large numbers every time there is a poll,


Catholic parents the same as Protestant parents, we are not


trying to force them out of the system. If they want to exercise


their right to go to a faith school, that is fine. Or a controlled


school. Thank you very much. It has got sun, sea and sand but ministers


want to relax -- were not there to relax when they travel to Guernsey


last week. The summit focused on issues such as air travel and the


negative effects of air passenger duty. The report prompted many


questions from a semi-members. This discussion reflected the island


nature of all the administrations and recognise that interdependence


on ensuring and promoting the flow of people, goods and services among


each other and further afield. The council acknowledged that the


promotion of effective transport links between membered


administration can be beneficial and to the strengthening of positive and


practical relationships amongst the people of these islands. In this


context, we and the other devolved administrations once more drew the


attention of the United Kingdom government to the negative effects


of air passenger duty on the economic and social development of


our regions. Given the support of the other regions within the UK,


does the First Minister believe that more concessions are possible in


relation to air passenger duty? Certainly, I would not describe it


as a gang up, but the three devolved administrations all argued the same


case, in terms of air passenger duty. As members will be aware, the


Northern Ireland in this nation was successful, the only part of the


United Kingdom to be successful, in having its own level for long haul


flights. And we as an executive moved back to zero. That was in


support of the travel industry, in terms of long haul flights. However,


we are a peripheral part of the United Kingdom, people, if they want


to get to the capital of the United Kingdom, have to travel by air or


sea to get there. That means we are at a disadvantage to many other


parts of the United Kingdom, in cost terms. The same can be said of


course of Scotland. We are pressing on that issue. There were changes


announced by the Chancellor on passenger duty but they were simply


consolidating three of the types of duty relating to long haul flights


into one... They do not affect Northern Ireland. However, we


continue to press on the basis of our economic pact with the


government. It is one of the issues being considered. But I do warn the


assembly that if we were to be successful, the European Union would


require us to have a reduction to take account of that. It is easy


enough to get to Majorca from here but you cannot get to Dusseldorf,


Paris, Brussels. Is there any discussion around that? Part of the


discussion is about identifying whether maybe new routes... And


whether there is a demand. Indeed, one of the aspects of the work being


carried out by the minister leading the work stream on this area is


getting reliable data as to the movements of the people and of


goods, so those are the kind of factors and then obviously, there is


a decision to be taken as to whether there is sufficient clearance tell


to warrant an air route or a sea passage. Also to determine whether


that is the case. Most of these are commercially driven. The First


Minister on the prospects for new air routes from Northern Ireland to


the rest of Europe. The agriculture minister also took her turn at the


dispatch box for Question Time. She answered questions about the


relocation of the headquarters to Ballykelly but there was no escaping


questions on the farm payments. The Minister cannot be ignorant of the


direct consequences for the farming community if we move immediately to


a one region flat rate distribution. Her own departmental figures


demonstrate that. Apart from the platitudes about seeking an


agreement, what actual steps has she taken to seek consensus on this


matter? In relation to the decisions, we have taken in of


decisions to date, however there are still key decisions to be taken. I


do not think it is ideal that we go to the words flat rate immediately.


I have listened very carefully to the views of everyone concerned. I


am interested in a balanced approach. We are talking about


serious amounts of money, taxpayers' money. It should be


distributed fairly. The process is ongoing and IM involved in that


process. As you will be aware, I remain committed to relocating my


departmental headquarters to Ballykelly. We have kept staff fully


up-to-date with developments. My permanent secretary has recently


written to all staff in the Department to keep them informed.


Further updates will be given as required. Could we have an estimate


of the number of Steph that are unable or unprepared to move to the


north-west question mark staff. The member will be aware, I do not have


the exact figures, when we did the initial staff survey, we did them in


phases. I think it was only natural but the -- that the outcome of the


staff being based there for 50 years, the majority of the staff


live in the surrounding area and would want to stay. That is totally


acceptable. That is of course what they want. We then looked at the


wider staff. That was a bigger pool of people. And that was the case


whenever we came to the staff surveys for the wider civil service.


I am confident there will be opportunities in terms of transfer


across the civil service but also there will be enough staff to


actually staff a new headquarters in Ballykelly. The last time I was in


Ballykelly, it was for gross insubordination at a checkpoint. But


that in no way has deterred my endeavours to go back there. Can the


Minister outlined the progression which will lead to this swanky new


headquarters and all the 800 jobs she has promised because I do not


want to be a doubting Thomas but the minister really needs to put flesh


on the bones and a short as this is for real? Well, I can absolutely


assure you it is for real. Mike commit went is for real. I think you


can see that. You can also see that we are moving very quickly. I think


that speaks for itself and I have a commitment to make sure that we


decentralise. Stephen Walker is back for me this evening with a few final


thoughts. Before we go, that issue, it is not going away. No, it is not.


This week we will have more evidence from the Northern Ireland affairs


committee, they are meeting tomorrow. We had a lot of evidence


from them last week. We had Peter Robinson and David Ford. Today, we


have had a development from the chair of the Northern Ireland


affairs committee. He has written to Gerry Kelly because he will not


appear before the committee. Lawrence Robinson has written to


Gerry Kelly to try and encourage him to take part in the proceedings. He


thinks he should come forward and give evidence and he questions why


Sinn Fein are prepared to give evidence to the review and are not


prepared to appear before his committee. He also says that other


Sinn Fein members in the past have given evidence to the Northern


Ireland affairs committee. He is trying to encourage Gerry Kelly to


come forward. In the meantime, more evidence at Westminster tomorrow.


Yes, tomorrow we will hear evidence from the former Secretary of State,


Peter Hain. Also from relatives of those who were killed in the Hyde


Park bombing. Essentially, this story is coming full circle because


that is where the story started with the bombing at Hyde Park. More


evidence from Peter Hain tomorrow and then in the weeks ahead, there


will be more evidence from high-profile political figures. We


are still expecting that report by the end of this month? We are still


expecting the report, the bubbly by the end of the month. Last week in


the House of Commons, the Secretary of State said whilst it was expected


at the end of June, it seems likely the date might slip. It might be


early July. But certainly, we should be getting it in the next three or


four weeks. What about the weather? A hot topic today. Yes, the hottest


day of the year. Even the shop at Stormont ran out of ice cream is. In


the chamber itself, the speaker was urged to relax the dress code. Would


you be minded to relax the regulations on the wearing of


jackets as the chamber is very warm? Members are feeling the heat. I am


extremely happy to allow members to remove their jackets. We were not


able to relax as you were not able to relax your dress code. And you


missed out on an ice lolly. We had one brought in just for you. You are


very kind. That is the closest I will get to a scoop at Stormont.


Thank you very much. That is all for today. You can tune in for the


sending politics this weekend. In the meantime, good night.


..as Antrim take on Donegal in the semi-final


The spectacular summer of sport continues on BBC Sport NI...


..tie and it's hanging, but this time it's over.


..as Antrim take on Donegal in the semi-final


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.

Download Subtitles