21/02/2012 Stormont Today


21/02/2012

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


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Welcome to Stormont Today. We often criticise our MLAs fought lack of

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progress on real issues. Today they stepped up to the mark and called

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for action on how we deal with organ donation. It is inappropriate

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to assume that you have consent to remove organs. At the same time, I

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am very clear that if something happens to me, I want to give

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others the opportunity to live. it was a very personal issue for

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one MLA. When I looked up and saw Mark up in the gallery, I saw, -- I

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thought, don't cry. I have been nothing forward to this for so long.

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Perish the thought of criticising the Executive in a TV studio.

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most productive dialogue and debate is that that takes place not in

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front of the television cameras but behind the scenes. What difference

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will this actually make? We are totally on behalf of the Ulster

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Wildlife Trust and also the Marine Task Force. We are really pleased

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that the minister is finally bringing the bill for it in order

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to get it to move forward. What difference will it make in real

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terms? What will be protected that cannot be protected without

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The chance to have marine planning to take part so all industries can

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work together to have a way to move forward and have a vision for the

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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Stay with us. Plenty more to talk about. Do we need a CCTV in our

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slaughter houses? What is the Department of Agriculture Dearing

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to get bored -- better of broadband connections? All of the answers

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from a Agriculture Minister in a moment.

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First, the first and deputy first ministers try to encourage

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investment this year by jetting off to foreign shores. Before that,

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progress to report on the C S I strategy, the one that is meant to

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improve committee relations. parties must play their part. This

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is a very important strategy for our Executive. We must focus on the

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work ahead to finalise the strategy soon. I thank the First Minister

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for his response. I would like to acknowledge the good work that is

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being done. In relation to the culture of language, can the Deputy

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First Minister tell us how having two a separate language strategies

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instead of one fully comprehensive strategy can contribute to the

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promotion of a C S I to which we can all support? I think they

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member will be well aware that the reason for that has historical

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roots in agreements that were made previously. That is as far back as

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1998. There is an opportunity in the course of the discussions that

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are taking place at the moment between the five political parties

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to air or of the issues. I would be fairly confident that the way in

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which these five parties are working, I understand there will be

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a five -- a further meeting later this afternoon, and I hope that

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will produce a successful conclusion to many of these

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difficult issues that I think many people thought would be beyond us

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in terms of resolution. I work on the basis that these things can be

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resolved that we can reach agreement. Hopefully it can be an

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agreement that all parties can sign up to. Any particular issue in

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relation to language that is of a concern to the member, I would

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advise them to raise that through the alliance representative. While

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the finish line might be in sight, another member wanted to know what

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was causing the delay. I think the decision we have made to bring

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together all of the parties given that some of the parties were at

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odds at was the initial decision and sensible. It is clear in the

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course of those discussions that there are a number of issues that

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create difficulties and problems. Flags are one of them as an example.

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I think what we have to do is recognise now back to the body has

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been in existence since September last year. It is continuing with

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its work. The vibes that are coming out are encouraging. I would hope

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that we will see a successful outcome sooner rather than later. I

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know also that there's a temptation that members jump into television

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studios to debate these particular issues. I have always found as

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someone who has been involved why negotiations for 20 years that the

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most productive dialogue and debate is that which takes place not in

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front of the television cameras but behind the scenes. Then there was

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news of a whistle-stop Investment off. Next month we will travel to

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the United States and Canada to continue to promote our economic

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strategies at the highest levels of the Obama administration. We plan

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to meet the Canadian Prime Minister to build on our strong historical

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cultural and economic links. We also planned to travel to the

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economic power houses of India and the Emirates do meet existing and

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potential investors and build trade links insuring local firms have all

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possible assistant and development for export markets. The SDLP wanted

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to know when corporation tax would be devolved? If all of the parties

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in the house are in agreement to bring about a reduction in council

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tax and I think that during the cause of our visits to the United

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States it is clear from speaking to potential investors that if we were

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to have the devolution powers transferred to us, that would have

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a huge impact on attracting foreign investment. It is a key priority.

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It is a work-in-progress. There are meetings taking place. Officials

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are consistent -- consistently working with the Treasury and

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others to ensure that we have a decision some time this year.

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agriculture and farmers are high take these days and need broadband

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connection. To underline my connection -- commitment, I have

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announced a project in order to target rural areas and the areas

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that we would deem hot spots in terms of only being able to get

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under two megabytes of lines. We have started to get a process to

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get more businesses including farmers to connect to broadband but

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this will only work if they can access broadband. The DUP wanted to

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know if the minister had plans to introduce compulsory CCTV in

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slaughter houses. Some already have CCTV installed. There are a further

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two plants that have CCTV in place. There are five remaining plants

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which are smaller. I know that I did meet with Animal Aid

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campaigners last year when she discussed the implementation of

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CCTV in slaughterhouses. I made the point that I would consider it and

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keep it under review if I felt it was necessary. I know other

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legislators are looking at the issue. They do not have any plans

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in the south to bring in compulsory CCTV. I know that in Britain there

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have been a number of highly publicised cases but I think you

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have to that at it in a different context because we are very local

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here. We have a vet in every slaughterhouse. At this stage, I'm

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not convinced of the need for CCTV. Anglers may be banned from catching

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wild look -- wild Atlantic salmon in an attempt to address the

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declining fish stocks. The Culture Minister was responding to an

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Ulster Unionist demand for an action plan for the endangered fish.

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After consider rock -- after a consideration of the available data,

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it has been concluded that eight continued commercial exploitation

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of wild Atlantic salmon is currently unobtainable. Authorising

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such exploitation would be inconsistent with the Department's

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applications under the habitats directive. This could lead to

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significant fines being imposed by the European Union. If this finds

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were levied, they would have a real lamplight not just on our fisheries

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but on wider public services. -- if these fines were levied they would

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have a real impact. Salmon stocks need to be sustainable for the sake

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of salmon and to avoid cuts in our public services. I have called on

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stakeholders to support their voluntary conservation measure for

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2012. We have asked for voluntary cessation this year. To help us

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prepare gaps in legislation -- repair gaps in legislation, we need

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to take this forward. It may also include not catching salmon at all.

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We need to be clear beyond this what we are intending to do. We

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will make a decision within the next few days. A decision is

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imminent. The minister said a lot but not quite enough to know

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exactly what is going to happen. Taking her. About asking fishermen

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not to look catch the salmon on a voluntary basis. Is that going far

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enough? It really does depend if the fishermen take that up. The

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problem is, those salmon are protected because they do not just

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come from Northern Irish waters, they come from Irish waters as well

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where they are protected in an area similar to a locked under the

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Special Area of Conservation. That means that we could be facing fines

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as the minister said. She needs to think about the fact that you need

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to take the precautionary never and -- measure and you need to protect

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the salmon. I am speaking to the Ulster angling group and they have

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said that for a catch and release they have a 97% rate of the salmon

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surviving and going back out to sea when they catch and release.

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anglers are saying it is not the licensed anger is doing what they

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should not be doing? There will be some anglers who were taking the

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salmon. However, if they make it mandatory, that means that there

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will only be catch and release and that will have benefits for

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Northern Ireland's tourism and hopefully it will include not

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just... It will be part of the future strategic plan. How can you

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believe something like that given the vast stretch of water? This is

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part of the problem. It is not just a matter for the Department of

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Culture and leisure. It is wider than that. As the minister

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mentioned, the Department of Justice may have to get involved.

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This is one of those factors that is why as part that is why as part

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of the marine pass false there is a marine... This was streamline his

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actions. Lots more still to be sorted. Thank you very much. Could

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reddest in to be an organ donor soon be a thing of the past? --

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could registering. After a lengthy debate, members agreed a review was

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We are duty bound to explore the number of organ transplant people

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in Northern Ireland. Organ donation is stressed to be a UK service. Co-

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ordination between locally based doctors and co-ordinators across

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the UK. I would urge further Coe ordination and co-operation with

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Dublin government on this issue, also. I commend the Minister on his

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attitude and actions with regard to north/south co-operation on

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healthcare issues. The well shall government are currently

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undertaking an approach based on a soft optout system, which sees the

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removal and use of organs and tissues as permissible unless the

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deceased has made their objection to this clear during their lifetime.

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Presumed consent. Now is the time for Northern Ireland to take a

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similar investigative approach to such options. I would be all in

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favour of organ donation. I'm not in that position where a loved one

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of my has just died. I think when we need look at the opt in and opt

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out issue we need to look at the education and how we encourage

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people at such a vulnerable time in their lives that being involved in

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organ donation gives the gift of life or, indeed, the gift gift of a

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better life for others out there. We should, of course, encourage

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those who wish to do so to carry a done ar card. As other members have

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said, encourage them to talk to their loved ones so they know what

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those individual's wishes are in the event of death. I would

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encourage the minister to examine how to encourage more people to get

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on the donor register. Also to investigate whether or not the

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system at present is efficient enough in ensuring we get a

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translation from potential organ donations to be brought to the

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transplant stage. I do, however, have a number of concerns about

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moving towards a model of presumed consent and wish to focus my

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remarks on those today. My colleague, Mr Dunne, had said it's

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about a competing argument about whether or not it's a gift. I

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listened to the moving speech from Mrs Dobson about the gift of life

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and whether it's a duty. A system of opt-out raises questions about

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the power and role of the state over the individual. One would have

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thought some members would have cherished the principles of the

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Magna Carter and limitations of the state over the individual and more

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resistance to moving towards the position where the state assumes

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ownership of a person's organs. Presumed consent is not actual

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consent. I think that is very important that we take note of that

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today. We heard the issue about not taking something that doesn't

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belong to you. I believe that that is right. It's ain propiate to

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assume you have con stopbt remove organs from someone's body. At the

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same time, I'm very clear that, if something happens to me, I want to

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give others the opportunity to live. Joining us now James We wills

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Deputy Chair of the Health Economy. We talked about organ donation in

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Northern Ireland over the past number of years. Does this take any

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further forward? It does because we've now sounded out the views on

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Assembly members on possible changes. Today was an excellent

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debate. The whips weren't involved today. People had a free vote and

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could speak as they wanted to. It was interesting to see the

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diversity of opinion. It's clear we need more organ donors we are

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committed to taking steps to ensure it's happening. In terms of opting-

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out or having a new system there were dissenting voices on your side

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of the House today? There was the. The opting-out we are looking for,

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you want to opt-out you have to register. Your family have the

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final say. That is a safeguard. Whether that has been introduced in

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Spain there has been a dramatic increase in the number of organs.

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There are still, for instance, last year, 17 people who died in

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Northern Ireland because there were no organs available. That is a

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tragedy. That has to be avoided if at all possible. A big figure

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mention in the chamber this afternoon, 2 people in Northern

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Ireland currently waiting on some form of transplant? Sadly, people

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are dying every week in Northern Ireland who have organs that could

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be used to save the lives of those people. They can't be used because

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there is no consent. That is the issue we are trying it get around.

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One MLA spoke from personal experience on organ donation today,

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Jo-Anne Dobson's son Mark was 15 when had a kidney transplant.

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found it emotion. When I saw Mark in the gallery I thought, "don't

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cry now". It's a debate I have been looking forward to for so long. One

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I enjoyed taking part in. Mark, tell us about what happened to you

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then when you were 13, is that right? I had... I went into renal

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figure at 13 and my kidney transplant at 15. If somebody told

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me three years ago that I'd of been up and leading a healthy lifestyle

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because of somebody Coe donating me a kidney, I would never of believed.

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It the ultimate gift to think that I'm able to lead healthy lifestyle

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now. Before you were given the transplant, how did it impact your

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life? What were you able to do and what weren't you able to do?

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would have been able to go to school and all, I wouldn't have

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much energy or anything. I would of fallen asleep easy. I wouldn't have

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been able to do much fitness or walking or stuff like that. What

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was it like. Your mum spoke about waiting for the transplant, waiting

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for getting a kidney. What was that like for you? It was very emotional.

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I remember my mum coming into me at 5.30 am saying, "we've got a call

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from the hospital. You have to be down by 8.00 am to get the kidney".

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My operation didn't take place until midnight because all the

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airports were closed and all. There was doubt the kidney would get

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there. I remembered coming up to into theatre and waking up and was

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a couple of hours later on my phone to my granny and she couldn't

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believe I was already speaking. Amazing for a familiar family to go

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through something like this. What was it like from your point of view

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as mum? Your life is on hold when you are dealing with renal failure

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and living with it every day. Normal family life is out of the

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window. When you get that call, as Mark said, in the middle of the

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night, nothing prepares you for that call that a suitable kidney

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can be found. As Mark said we travelled down. We waited, to the

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children's hospital, we waited 12 hours on the kidney. It was held up

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with the snow in the UK. A surreal experience. We thank every day the

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person that we will never know or meet for giving Mark the ultimate

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gift. A happy illustration of what can happen. Not everyone is so

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lucky? That was the highlight of the debate, Jo-Anne Dobson's

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contribution. We heard testimonys from other constituents who are on

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that list and who didn't get the phone call. Of course, we heard of

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examples who died whilst waiting on the list. That was very sad. Why do

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you think the Minister hasn't gone further? The Minister today wanted

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to take soundings as to people's views, MLAs views on it. Then he

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will make a decision. There are many things we can do already

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without going to the opt-out clause. We haven't done those. We need to

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improve our present delivery. If that works we may need oment-out

:22:06.:22:11.

with tpwroing demand we may have to move that that situation eventually.

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What could we do now? 40% of those with kidney donor cards, when they

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passe way their relatives do not give permission for the organ to be

:22:21.:22:24.

removed. In other parts of the world that is a much lower figure.

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We have to identify why is that happening. Why do people pull back

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at that stage? Would better training of staff help us to ensure

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that we maximise organs available at that stage. It's difficult

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because the opt-out could surely give rise to more court cases as

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well because people could then say, step in at that stage and relatives

:22:43.:22:48.

say, no, I don't want this to happen? If the relatives on opt-out

:22:48.:22:52.

could stop it happening. There is unlikely to be a court case. The

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experience in 22 countries have indicated that opt-out works. It

:22:56.:23:00.

increases the numbers of people available for kidney or other organ

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transplants. It's important that you advertise there is an opt-tout

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give those who have a conscious about it, which is a small number

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of people, a chance to register. If they register there is no chance of

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their organ being taken for any purpose. The agriculture Minister

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is to announce a major investment to tackle rural poverty tomorrow.

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16 million will be spent helping farmers, young people and older

:23:25.:23:28.

people. I caught up with Michelle O'Neill and asked her to explain

:23:28.:23:32.

what difference she hopes the money will make. Looking at areas of

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people who live in rural communities who are left

:23:35.:23:39.

disadvantaged as a result of that. People who are living in fuel

:23:39.:23:43.

poverty. People who are isolated and aren't able to access maybe

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transport or health checks and all that type of thing that, I suppose,

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goes part and parcel of living in a rural community. Some of the

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initiatives that I will be launching tomorrow include a rural

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challenge fund. It's, basically, like a small grants programme, for

:23:59.:24:02.

worthy projects out there in the rural communities that work with

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the local people. They are new initiatives that people are very

:24:08.:24:12.

keen and very interested in, particularly around a bore well

:24:12.:24:16.

scheme. People who can't get access to mains water. There is a project

:24:16.:24:21.

I will take forward with the Department of Regional Development,

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they get access to a well for their own water which currently they

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don't. People will find it strange that people don't have access to

:24:30.:24:33.

mains water. Is there a sense that people in rural communities have

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been harder hit by the recession than those in cities? People in

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rural communities are isolated by geography, where they live. Yes, I

:24:41.:24:44.

think, in terms of cutbacks, sometimes the rural services can be

:24:44.:24:48.

the services that are impacted upon. Some of the other good examples

:24:48.:24:52.

that I'd like to share with you are around working with young people.

:24:52.:24:55.

Our rural communities have lots of young people going to Australia,

:24:55.:25:00.

America, all different places for work. We find that the future of

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those rural communities is, obviously, in jeopardy. We are

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trying to work with young people. One of the project is a young

:25:09.:25:12.

employability programmes. Helping them to develop core skills and

:25:13.:25:17.

working with businesses that will help them build up confidence again.

:25:17.:25:20.

Achieve their core skill recognition and hopefully, in turn,

:25:20.:25:23.

help them to get into work if they are lucky enough to find work in

:25:23.:25:27.

their local area. That has been in the headlines here and across the

:25:27.:25:30.

water over the past couple of days, is that something different from

:25:30.:25:34.

steps to work? Is it something that will give people a chance to get

:25:34.:25:37.

experience, but still earn some money? The key to all of these

:25:37.:25:40.

project is that it's working with other departments and other

:25:40.:25:45.

agencies. In terms of the youth and employability it's working with

:25:45.:25:47.

local industry and businesses. Maybe they are involved with

:25:47.:25:50.

talking to young people saying, this is what we are looking for

:25:50.:25:54.

when we are trying to recruit young people, and helping them in

:25:54.:25:56.

conjunction junction with our department in developing core

:25:56.:26:00.

skills that they need. It's a werty project and something that we hope

:26:00.:26:05.

to attract a number of young people to get on board. Consultation on

:26:05.:26:09.

prot gram for government ends tomorrow. Sinn Fein's Willie Clarke

:26:09.:26:16.

announced today he is stepping down from his Assembly seat. It's not a

:26:16.:26:21.

total surprise. He told the Politics Show last June that he

:26:21.:26:25.

intended to give up one of those jobs. He indicated at the time it

:26:25.:26:31.

would probably the council post. This morge morning, Sinn Fein did

:26:31.:26:34.

confirm he would be stepping down around Easter. Some people would

:26:34.:26:39.

say it's odd to want the council or the glamour of Stormont, there is

:26:39.:26:44.

less money in councils. This is what he said. Anyone in Sinn Fein

:26:44.:26:53.

is not involved in it with money. That is clear with our policy.

:26:53.:26:55.

Being involved in community initiatives, that is why I got

:26:55.:27:00.

involved in politics. That is why I want to remain in local government.

:27:00.:27:04.

His successor could be in place by next month. Any idea who it might

:27:04.:27:08.

be? Sinn Fein say they have to have a selection convention. There is

:27:08.:27:13.

speculation that one possible would be Naomi Bailey. She is a Queen's

:27:13.:27:17.

University graduate and she stood in the election alongside Willie

:27:17.:27:23.

Clarke last year. She may be the ideal candidate. We will see who

:27:23.:27:28.

else comes forward. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday but it's arn an important

:27:28.:27:34.

day for the draft programme for government? It ends tomorrow at

:27:34.:27:37.

5.00pm. If you have strong views on the promises made on that programme

:27:37.:27:41.

for government you can e-mail or get your views in by tomorrow.

:27:41.:27:47.

final thought from you, Jade. What is happening with Strangford Lough?

:27:47.:27:52.

As far as Strangford Lough is going, that has been one ever our key

:27:52.:27:55.

drives with the Ulster Wildlife Trust at the moment. We are

:27:55.:27:58.

awaiting Europe's decision on what steps the department of agriculture

:27:58.:28:05.

and the Department of Environment should take next to avoid a massive

:28:05.:28:08.

fine. I'm hoping both departments will work together to sort this out

:28:08.:28:13.

rather than it being a talking shop, that we get action to take this

:28:14.:28:19.

forward and protect the jewel in our crown. There has been talk of a

:28:19.:28:25.

lack of communication between the two departments? It's similar to

:28:25.:28:29.

the Anglican complaint. Departments need to work together in order to

:28:29.:28:33.

solve these big issues which are really important for Northern

:28:33.:28:37.

Ireland's marine future. What about the Marine Bill then, when are you

:28:37.:28:42.

hoping to see that come into force? Well, I have been told it can take

:28:42.:28:46.

up to a year to come into force. I think before I rush to say that we

:28:46.:28:50.

want it right now, I would like to see a copy of the Bill in order to

:28:50.:28:53.

see this it is fit for purpose. That it will protect our

:28:53.:28:55.

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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