20/01/2014 Stormont Today


20/01/2014

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

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

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similar inquiry to take place north of the border.

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

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undertaken, and is part of a commitment by the British

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

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

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

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reporter Stephen Walker to look at the ramifications of that explosive

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Ian Paisley interview. In December the Smithwick Tribunal

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

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

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Troubles. Today the Assembly got its chance to

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

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The Smithwick Tribunal took eight years to complete its work,

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gathering extensive information and setting for 132 days of public

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

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

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

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

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

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are required positive identification that Harry Breen in particular had

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

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

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

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

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Irish governments and among the parties that there should be a

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number of enquiries into events of a contentious and controversial nature

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involving coalition on the part of the security forces and

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paramilitaries including the provisional IRA. But there is one

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inquiry which has not been undertaken, and remains to be

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undertaken, and is part of our commitment by the British

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

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

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

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Against the Catholic nationalist community. In the main in

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

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deaths of hundreds of citizens. Including the Dublin Monaghan

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

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

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

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

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

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Troubles. Where allegations of coalition are concerned, we have

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

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

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

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

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highlighted coalition between as yet unidentified members of the Gardai

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

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

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conclusions. The Alliance party welcomes the speedy response of the

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Irish Government in offering an absolute and unqualified apology. My

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

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

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

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

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

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

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reporter Stephen Walker. What's your assessment of

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reporter Stephen Walker. Tribunal were debated in

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reporter Stephen Walker. many ways this began as a narrow

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

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

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

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

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

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suggested Sinn Fein had tried to sabotage the efforts of the

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tribunal. Gregory Campbell raised the issue of the several inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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but that failed. He was supposed to be answering

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questions on the latest North South Ministerial Council meeting, but

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

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The Deputy First Minister was asked about the St Andrews Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ministers to consider the priorities, in their respective

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

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

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are areas which we could explore which would deliver mutual benefits

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

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what Ministers see as their priorities once they have had these

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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outcome of the St Andrew 's negotiations and the legislation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness.

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The Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster also faced

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

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

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

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together between ourselves and the relevant Ministers in the Republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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as the Minister whether her department or the Department of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to work outside of Northern Ireland, contracts being delivered outside

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

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

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

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Arlene Foster pledging support for Mivan. The Employment and Learning

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

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

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

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The University of Ulster is currently undertaking a 1.5 million

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

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

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academic provision previously housed in the South buildings. The

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

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Minister inform us what direction the department has had with the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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also make comparisons with our performance in Northern Ireland

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

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different indicators, we are performing better. This is a

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reflection of the advantages of devolution. We have not copied

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

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listened to the voices of young people and the business community

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and found our own particular solution. We have achieved better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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make developing the economy? If we are to

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

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

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of education. The Employment and Learning

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Minister, Stephen Farry. An Ulster Unionist motion expressing concern

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that a disagreement between two Executive Ministers was brought

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

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the Finance Minister took legal action over how the Agriculture

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Minister planned to distribute European funding. Robin Swann

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

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

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

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

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correctly explained that the agriculture Minster made a

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statement. That decision was taken by the Minister without consultation

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

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

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

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Minister to consult with the Assembly and with the agriculture

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committee before making these decisions. Do you agree with what

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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emphatically, you must be disappointed? We brought a motion

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that was critical of the Finance Minister and the Agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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responsibly. The have two act responsibly. --

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Northern Ireland Human have two act responsibly. --

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guidelines on abortion would fail to comply with the European Convention

:22:09.:22:11.

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

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

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submission to Richard Haass. As recorded in the statement last

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summer, this commission characterised completion of a number

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

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

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

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rights was at the heart of these submissions. The commission

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

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

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

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write for Northern Ireland is justifiable and would have benefit

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

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because for all parties to give priority to progressing the process

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

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

:23:30.:23:38.

on a number of areas where outstanding matters remain to be

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addressed despite his having been raised in the commission statement.

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That is no single legislative instrument to consolidate and

:23:52.:23:58.

clarified existing protections in Northern Ireland. This means this

:23:59.:24:03.

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

:24:04.:24:10.

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

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

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consulted on draft guidelines on this matter and the commission

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advised that the draft if implemented would fail to comply

:24:29.:24:34.

with the European commission on human rights. The Commissioner has

:24:35.:24:39.

advised that an with human rights laws and standards requires

:24:40.:24:47.

termination should be made available in Northern Ireland in cases of

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

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

:25:03.:25:05.

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

:25:06.:25:17.

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

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judicial review was necessary with regards to the eligibility of blood

:25:27.:25:29.

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

:25:30.:25:32.

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

:25:33.:25:38.

consider and not in keeping with human rights requirements.

:25:39.:25:41.

John Corey from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission appearing

:25:42.:25:43.

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

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

:25:48.:25:50.

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

:25:51.:25:55.

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

:25:56.:26:04.

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

:26:05.:26:09.

used to politicians attacking politicians in other cities --

:26:10.:26:16.

parties but not a former party leader making direct criticisms of

:26:17.:26:22.

former colleagues. Strong words directed towards Peter Robinson?

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

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referred to him as that Lord Bannside said. You

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Paisley also accused the DUP are politically as fascinating her

:26:45.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:56.

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

:26:57.:27:06.

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

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

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

:27:21.:27:27.

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

:27:28.:27:31.

questioned his recollection of and say his comments are to be

:27:32.:27:38.

regretted. Peter Robinson said he faithfully served Doctor Paisley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:28:18.:28:28.

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

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

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

:28:34.:28:35.

For now, though, goodbye.

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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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