20/01/2014 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.

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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Coming up in the programme: The


findings of the Smithwick Tribunal are debated, but nationalists want a


similar inquiry to take place north of the border.


There is one inquiry which has not been undertaken and remains to be


undertaken, and is part of a commitment by the British


Government. That is in relation to this man's murder.


Remarks made by Martin McGuinness lead to some tough questions in the


chamber. Can we expect... And I'm joined by our political


reporter Stephen Walker to look at the ramifications of that explosive


Ian Paisley interview. In December the Smithwick Tribunal


concluded there had been coalition between the Gardai and the IRA in


the murder of two of the highest ranking RUC officers killed in the


Troubles. Today the Assembly got its chance to


Troubles. Today the Assembly got its station. The DUP brought the motion.


The Smithwick Tribunal took eight years to complete its work,


gathering extensive information and setting for 132 days of public


hearings and it took evidence from 198 witnesses, 22 of which appeared


more than on one occasion. In his report he says, the fact that the


preparations commenced so late in the morning tens to make it more


likely that information came from Dundalk Garda -- Gardai station. It


is indicated that there was coalition. I am satisfied that they


are required positive identification that Harry Breen in particular had


arrived at and Gardai station. I am satisfied that the evidence points


to the fact that there was someone within the Gardai station assisting


the IRA. This inquiry arose out of the Weston Park agreement. Which was


in 2001. And at that conference, it was agreed between the British and


Irish governments and among the parties that there should be a


number of enquiries into events of a contentious and controversial nature


involving coalition on the part of the security forces and


paramilitaries including the provisional IRA. But there is one


inquiry which has not been undertaken, and remains to be


undertaken, and is part of our commitment by the British


Government. That is in relation to the murder of Pat Finucane. The


thing that -- the Smithwick Tribunal does -- is not on the same scale or


form of the coalition that happened within the British state forces.


Against the Catholic nationalist community. In the main in


institutionalised, and it was coordinated coalition. It led to the


deaths of hundreds of citizens. Including the Dublin Monaghan


bombings and the notorious gang who were involved over -- in over 100


killings. He referred to Smethwick is open and honest, trans. He


continued, out of respect for the families we should risk -- recall


the human aspect of this atrocity. We should always remember the last


these families endured. There were over 3,500 souls lost during the


Troubles. Where allegations of coalition are concerned, we have


always thought that the state there is a responsibility. We have to ask


questions of ourselves. I would ask some of the members opposite to


think long and hard over past and any role they played in the murder


or injury of any of the citizens of this province. The judge's report


highlighted coalition between as yet unidentified members of the Gardai


and members of the provisional IRA. Contrary to the outrageous views of


the few, the vast majority of us are horrified by the report was my


conclusions. The Alliance party welcomes the speedy response of the


Irish Government in offering an absolute and unqualified apology. My


duty as Minister of judgement in 2014 is to insure that we learn the


lessons of the past, and put into place the necessary structures at


this stage. -- Minister of justice. That is why since the publication of


the report, I have had face-to-face discussions with the Minister for


Justice and equality in addition to a number of telephone calls.


The Justice Minister David Ford. Joining me now is our political


reporter Stephen Walker. What's your assessment of


reporter Stephen Walker. Tribunal were debated in


reporter Stephen Walker. many ways this began as a narrow


debate, then it widened out into a whole series of issues. These are


issues that were very -- we are very familiar with. The main motion


obviously centred on the Smithwick Tribunal, looking at the two murders


of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan. What we heard today was very


familiar, the DUP accused the Gardai commissioner of being in denial and


suggested Sinn Fein had tried to sabotage the efforts of the


tribunal. Gregory Campbell raised the issue of the several inquiry


which looked into the events of Bloody Sunday. Then this debate went


into other areas, Sinn Fein raised the issue of Pat Finucane. By and


large it was conducted in pretty good heart, but as I say we have


heard the arguments about the past many times, often you felt slightly


watching this debate that people were kind of on autopilot on some


occasions. But it was done with good grace. What happened to the main


motion? The main motion was a DUP motion which called for those


responsible for the deaths of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan to be brought


to justice, and they called for just -- discussions between Irish police


north and south on the Minister of Justice. There was an SDLP amendment


but that failed. He was supposed to be answering


questions on the latest North South Ministerial Council meeting, but


instead Martin McGuinness came under fire from unionists in the chamber.


The Deputy First Minister was asked about the St Andrews Agreement


review and his recent comments about the Orange Order. Seven years on,


what is the product of this -- of the St Andrews agreement review, and


what is the level of agreement concerning it? And is the Deputy


first Minister fed up with that as well? And if so, can we expect the


mask slip, as it did last well? And if so, can we expect the


that question I should answer, but certainly in terms of the St Andrews


agreement review we did have a useful discussion at the meeting,


and we are pleased to note that work is under way to implement the


discussion taken at the meeting which we attended in November, for


Ministers to consider the priorities, in their respective


areas and for a report on that consideration to be considered at


the next institutional, so without pre-empting these discussions there


are areas which we could explore which would deliver mutual benefits


to both jurisdictions. So I look forward to consider a report and


what Ministers see as their priorities once they have had these


discussions. In regard to the second aspect of the question, that does


not relate to the institution... Just on the St Andrew 's review, the


-- discussions, does he accept that there will be a need to build on the


changes that were agreed at St Andrews, in order that if Ministers


go off like the Agriculture Minister did before Christmas, and take a


decision, that that decision has to be overturned whether at the


executive or at the courts of law? The member is as clear about the


outcome of the St Andrew 's negotiations and the legislation


that flowed from that, obviously in relation to the issue that he has


raised, it did not actually come up at the institutional meeting of the


North-South ministerial -- North South Ministerial Council that the


first Minister and I attended. It is a subject of controversy. The


Minister for agricultural spoke about this last week, and I will


leave the last word on that with her department and with herself.


The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness.


The Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster also faced


questions in the House. She pledged to support the construction company


Mivan, which recently announced the loss of almost 100 jobs - but first


Mivan, which recently announced the the Rugby World Cup. This coming


together between ourselves and the relevant Ministers in the Republic


of island is a realisation that neither of us would be able to host


the World Cup on our own. And I think in that instance we should


work together for mutual benefit in Northern Ireland, the Republic of


Ireland, I think this is a good working relationship. We will have a


further meeting on Wednesday of this week, to develop the plans further,


and I think the call will be launched, not imminently but in May


of 2016, but we want to be ready and make sure that we have all of the


work in place, because we really do believe that given our shared


history and heritage in relation to rugby foot tall, but we can really


put on an excellent event. -- football. Right across Northern


Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, for everyone here, but also to bring


in numerous amounts of tourists into Northern Ireland, so for us I think


I see great benefit. I thank the Minister for her answers. Maybe the


Minister wants to send a delegation of malaise to the next Rugby World


Cup. I am sure some of us would be willing to go. -- MLAs. She made


some positive comments of the G8's role in securing this bid, but come


as the Minister whether her department or the Department of


sport in the South has considered any kind of personal support to the


IRA for help in securing this bid? We are working very closely with


both branches. But, yes, part of the meeting on Wednesday is to look at


what practical measures we have to take to make sure we are ready. I


will take comments on take to make sure we are ready. I


are well set to welcome this tournament to the island in 2023 and


we will give them all the support they ask for. Obviously, within


budget. The Minister will be aware of job losses in recent days. What


plans does the Department have? It was disappointing news on Friday. I


understand most of the job losses announced on Friday were in relation


to work outside of Northern Ireland, contracts being delivered outside


Northern Ireland. I have spoken to the admin and financial director of


the company. They are working hard to find a solution. We will support


them in any way we can. I have made that very clear.


Arlene Foster pledging support for Mivan. The Employment and Learning


Minister was also on his feet today. The expansion of the Magee campus,


youth unemployment and the future of the Senior Common Room at the


University of Ulster's Coleraine campus were all up for discussion.


The University of Ulster is currently undertaking a 1.5 million


review of its estate. Demolition of the South buildings and construction


of a new state-of-the-art teaching and learning block to replace the


academic provision previously housed in the South buildings. The


University will continue to provide common room facilities. . Can the


Minister inform us what direction the department has had with the


University or protesters during this parade? It was a matter for the


University to address and resolve. Universities are at an 's body is.


University to address and resolve. government, that support runs in the


policy direction. It is not the job of government to micromanage how


universities conduct their affairs. A number of us got behind the


employment scheme. Can he report on how successful it has been not just


in numbers of people coming through but in getting to the heart of


working-class estate? I thank the member for his question. The youth


employment scheme has been successful in its own right. If we


also make comparisons with our performance in Northern Ireland


relative to similar schemes in Great Britain, across a number of


different indicators, we are performing better. This is a


reflection of the advantages of devolution. We have not copied


something that is delivered in Great Britain and rolled it out. We have


listened to the voices of young people and the business community


and found our own particular solution. We have achieved better


outcomes. The members -- the member is also right to talk about


outreach. Our advisers will stir those who are not employed to the


youth employment scheme. There are other schemes out there so to work


with those who are more disengaged or are facing barriers. The strategy


for those is so important. We will look at the youth programme over the


coming months to refresh the strategy and to make sure we are on


the right level in engaging people. Does the Minister agree with me that


an expanded college is essential to developing the economy? If we are to


make developing the economy? If we are to


at the same time as we have to make further reductions in terms of


allocations to the sector. As a adequate, we follow as the quality


of education. The Employment and Learning


Minister, Stephen Farry. An Ulster Unionist motion expressing concern


that a disagreement between two Executive Ministers was brought


before the High Court has failed to win support. At the end of last year


the Finance Minister took legal action over how the Agriculture


Minister planned to distribute European funding. Robin Swann


brought the motion to the floor and he's with me now.


Your party colleague Jo-Anne Dobson in proposing the motion said the


court case was an embarrassment. Is that why you brought it? To attempt


to further embarrass the DUP and Sinn Fein? Not in the slightest. You


correctly explained that the agriculture Minster made a


statement. That decision was taken by the Minister without consultation


to the agriculture committee. The DUP took the steps to the High Court


to have that addressed. We think it is the first place -- first time it


has been taken to public domain. This response ability of the


Minister to consult with the Assembly and with the agriculture


committee before making these decisions. Do you agree with what


the party that by having to take it to court? We believe they have two


sort this out around the executive table. Both ministers had come down


to the stage with the Agriculture Minister said she had sent the big


ears. By the Finance Minister was said to have not received the


papers. The members of this House and the general public can make out


their minds as to who was right. and the general public can make out


resolve the issue with Michelle O'Neill. He dissolved to court


action and court action backed him at. The agriculture NASA said she


tried to convert with the Finance Minister but he did not respond. We


have to sort this out. It cannot be up to the courts and the judiciary


to make decisions as to how much we are transferring. It is up to


members of the committees and the executive. The motion fell pretty


emphatically, you must be disappointed? We brought a motion


that was critical of the Finance Minister and the Agriculture


Minister. Many others supported what we were trying to do but when it


came down to the motion, they failed to support the motion. Sinn Fein is


able to support the Alliance Party amendment. But they failed to


support the amended motion because it was critical of their minister.


It is a marker for your party to lay down. You are saying your party


would not take legal action if it could not agree around the table?


These things have to be sorted out at the executive table. We cannot


have parties making the transfer like a political foot. We have seen


this too many times. Our ministers have two act responsibly. --


responsibly. The have two act responsibly. --


Northern Ireland Human have two act responsibly. --


guidelines on abortion would fail to comply with the European Convention


on Human Rights. John Corey was giving evidence to the OFMDFM


committee last week. Mr Corey also briefed MLAs on the Commission's


submission to Richard Haass. As recorded in the statement last


summer, this commission characterised completion of a number


of substantive papers and the parade and protest and symbols, dealing


with the past of Northern Ireland and a separate paper on the human


rights culture in post-conflict societies. The eternity of human


rights was at the heart of these submissions. The commission


submitted this at the start of the consultation process and we shared


with all the political parties as well. It would be remiss of me not


to add here that the commission also advised the doctor that it will


write for Northern Ireland is justifiable and would have benefit


for the issues that he was addressing. I would reiterate here


because for all parties to give priority to progressing the process


that would result in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.


Unfortunately, on a less positive aspect, the commission is reporting


on a number of areas where outstanding matters remain to be


addressed despite his having been raised in the commission statement.


That is no single legislative instrument to consolidate and


clarified existing protections in Northern Ireland. This means this


jurisdiction lags behind other parts of the UK in terms of equality in


law. If I can move on to another difficult issue we recognise and


that is an termination of pregnancy. difficult issue we recognise and


consulted on draft guidelines on this matter and the commission


advised that the draft if implemented would fail to comply


with the European commission on human rights. The Commissioner has


advised that an with human rights laws and standards requires


termination should be made available in Northern Ireland in cases of


rape, incest and serious formation -- Mal formation of the foetus. It


remains a concern. It is an fortunate that during 2015 this


commission had to engage its legal powers to ensure the law governing


the rights of the adoptive parent was compliant with human rights. The


judicial review was necessary with regards to the eligibility of blood


donations. It was further noted that the exclusion of Northern Ireland


from the provisions of same-sex marriage Bill for all aspects we


consider and not in keeping with human rights requirements.


John Corey from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission appearing


before the OFMDFM Committee. Now, before we go we turn to tonight's


documentary on Ian Paisley which has just been broadcast on BBC One. Our


Political Reporter, Stephen Walker, is back with me. Your overall


thoughts on what was broadcast tonight? I think this was political


dynamite, the kind of soul baring we hardly get on television. We are


used to politicians attacking politicians in other cities --


parties but not a former party leader making direct criticisms of


former colleagues. Strong words directed towards Peter Robinson?


That is a whole catalogue of things that Lord Bannside said. You


referred to him as that Lord Bannside said. You


Paisley also accused the DUP are politically as fascinating her


husband. She had strong words for a survey which was convicted about him


during his last days as First Minister. She said she wanted to ram


it down the throat of his adviser. It was also said that someone had


said they wanted him gone. Fairly direct words in the documentary. The


DUP has rejected this version of events? They have. There was a very


strong test release that was issued last night via e-mail was they have


questioned his recollection of and say his comments are to be


regretted. Peter Robinson said he faithfully served Doctor Paisley


over many decades and rather than written inside for insult, he said


let me bless him with the blessing of my silence. How does this affect


Lord Bannside's legacy? Ian Paisley was known as the man who said


everything there was a political initiative, he would say no. Then he


finally said yes and he went into the power-sharing executive with


Sinn Fein. This documentary tells us, it gives us a glimpse of the


first days. Will this damage the DUP? They have been through tough


times before. The party will say and Peter Robinson they have had good


election results. Stephen, thank you. That's it for


tonight. We're back at the same time tomorrow night. 11.20pm on BBC Two.


For now, though, goodbye.


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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