21/05/2013 Stormont Today


21/05/2013

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 next 30 minutes:

:00:26.:00:30.

You can go your own way was the message from Michael Gove on

:00:30.:00:34.

A-levels today. That wasn't the only education story making headlines.

:00:34.:00:37.

The member has said that the department failed to listen to

:00:37.:00:42.

schools. Well, that's partially true. It's partially true across a

:00:42.:00:48.

number of delivery agencies within this and as minister for, in charge

:00:48.:00:51.

of the department I have to take a certain amount of responsibility for

:00:51.:00:54.

that. As the Shared Future document is debated Peter Robinson comes

:00:54.:01:01.

under fire. It is unfortunate, Mr Speaker, that the hiss tarks of the

:01:01.:01:05.

First Minister last week did sour the tone of a potentially

:01:05.:01:09.

constructive engagement around a Shared Future document. I'm joined

:01:09.:01:16.

by the former school principal Michelle Marken.

:01:16.:01:21.

The cost of training teachers is almost 40% higher here than it is in

:01:21.:01:25.

England. That's according to the Minister for Employment and

:01:25.:01:27.

Learning, Stephen Farry. Today he delivered a statement to the

:01:27.:01:34.

Assembly that raised questions about the future of St Mary's and

:01:34.:01:37.

Stranmillis teacher training colleges. I outlined my concerns

:01:37.:01:41.

that the system for training teachers in Northern Ireland was not

:01:41.:01:44.

sustainable. To best achieve longer term improvements, it is important

:01:45.:01:48.

that Northern Ireland has a system of teacher education that is both

:01:49.:01:52.

financially stable and is sufficiently flexible to address the

:01:52.:01:56.

needs of an increasingly shared society. Therefore I announce aid

:01:56.:01:59.

two-stage study of the teacher education infrastructure in Northern

:01:59.:02:05.

Ireland. The research completed in stage One Show that's Stranmillis

:02:05.:02:11.

and St Mary's are the only establishments in the UK which

:02:11.:02:20.

receive additional funding. The cost of this in 2011/12 was 2. 16

:02:20.:02:26.

million. In the 2011/12 year the cost of training a teacher in the

:02:26.:02:31.

colleges in Northern Ireland was almost 40% higher than in the

:02:31.:02:34.

comparative English institutions cited in the reports. We are

:02:34.:02:39.

spending more to train the teacher for what can be best described as an

:02:39.:02:43.

uncertain employment market than to train an engineer. Under the current

:02:43.:02:48.

system the cost 23,500 to train a teacher arguably we are training too

:02:48.:02:52.

many and 21,000 to train an engineer and arguably we are training too

:02:52.:02:56.

few. The second stage of the study of the teacher education

:02:56.:02:59.

infrastructure in Northern Ireland will set out options for a more

:02:59.:03:03.

shared and integrated system for the delivery and funding of teacher

:03:03.:03:10.

education. Everything should be on the table. Matters for greater

:03:10.:03:13.

collaboration to be considered could include services, facilities and in

:03:13.:03:16.

particular, joint teaching. Institutionally alternative to the

:03:16.:03:20.

current arrangements may include models such as some or all

:03:20.:03:25.

institutions coming together through some type of confed rated

:03:25.:03:35.

arrangement, through to a fully train training system with one or

:03:35.:03:40.

more campuses. The colleges viable as long as student numbers are

:03:40.:03:45.

maintained? Like other institutions, they require supportive government

:03:45.:03:53.

policy for them to develop so St Mary's and Stranmillis become not

:03:53.:03:56.

viable if the minister makes them unviable. Do you propose to take

:03:56.:04:00.

such action in the face of opposition to it? I thank the member

:04:00.:04:06.

for his questions. I'm not proposing to do anything at this stage. We are

:04:06.:04:12.

undertaking the second stage of this review with the objective of placing

:04:12.:04:20.

the system on a sustainable basis. Minister, the Dell committee visited

:04:21.:04:25.

St Mary's college and were impressed with the vibrancy, commitment and

:04:25.:04:28.

the college was very much at the heart of the community in. Terms of

:04:28.:04:32.

the talk in the Assembly about diversity and ethos and how does the

:04:32.:04:40.

minister square that with, in terms of sustainability and quality? What

:04:40.:04:44.

about diversity? The other thing that came out of the discussion is

:04:44.:04:48.

that people were telling us that they are definitely not going away.

:04:48.:04:53.

I would pose the question back. We don't have to respect and

:04:53.:04:57.

acknowledge diversity through the fragmentation of our teacher

:04:57.:05:02.

education system. We want to promote sharing in both respects, but

:05:02.:05:08.

sharing isn't about some hop odge nighed society where we treat

:05:08.:05:15.

everyone the same. Under that umbrella we have to respect sharing

:05:15.:05:19.

and with respect training that we embrace that range of diversity.

:05:19.:05:25.

That can't be -- can be done in a range of formats. Tong that is the

:05:25.:05:28.

former school principal, Michelle Marken. Thank you for joining us on

:05:28.:05:33.

the programme. What's your reaction first of all to those figures quoted

:05:33.:05:39.

bit minister about the cost of training teachers here? I'd like to

:05:39.:05:42.

unpick those figures a little more. You do know that in the last number

:05:42.:05:49.

of years there's been a liberal arts degree put into both Stranmillis and

:05:49.:05:52.

St Mary's. Students can graduate and then go on and do a teacher

:05:52.:05:57.

qualification. I understand that is where the extra funding comes in to

:05:57.:06:00.

support that liberal arts degree. In the examination that the minister

:06:00.:06:04.

has decided he's going to conduct, the second level examination, I hope

:06:04.:06:08.

they will look at where that comes into the equation about cost. I

:06:08.:06:12.

would argue there's value for money here. Probably very good value for

:06:12.:06:16.

money in the quality of young teachers who come out of the

:06:16.:06:20.

establishments. The problem that he was highlighting is that we're

:06:20.:06:24.

training too many teachers and it costs more to train them than we're

:06:24.:06:27.

training engineers and we need more engineers. This is true. I think

:06:27.:06:32.

it's right that there should be an examination of costs. It should be a

:06:32.:06:35.

five-institution examination not just focussed on two university

:06:35.:06:40.

colleges. I think we have to argue for well educated young people

:06:40.:06:43.

coming out, but also to keep the costs down. There are more ways than

:06:44.:06:47.

one to do that. I would argue that the minister is doing it the right

:06:47.:06:52.

way. He's looking for the best advice and guidance on it. Were you

:06:52.:06:59.

surprised to hear that it costs �23 this afternoon,000 to -- �23,500 to

:06:59.:07:04.

train a teacher? No, if you consider the number of contact hours, for

:07:04.:07:09.

example, that a young person has when in university versus contact

:07:09.:07:15.

hours when in teacher training, it's vastly increased. You may send your

:07:15.:07:22.

young son to university and he may have ten, 12 contact hours a week.

:07:22.:07:26.

But they will have more hands-on experience. What about the

:07:26.:07:29.

unsustainable costs of running the two colleges side by side, do you

:07:29.:07:32.

accept there's a point there? do. That has to be honestly

:07:32.:07:40.

examined. I know that St Mary's University values highly what it

:07:40.:07:43.

delivers to young people and to students. I think maybe that can be

:07:43.:07:46.

replicated, perhaps there is a way forward where there is shared

:07:46.:07:53.

education on one side, where there's a guaranteed, you know, support of

:07:53.:07:57.

teaching, training teachers for Catholic schools. Final thought on

:07:57.:08:00.

this apparent parting of the ways with England on A-levels. Should we

:08:00.:08:04.

be concerned about that? I think we have to keep a cool head. I think

:08:05.:08:09.

the minister actually is keeping a cool head. Parity is what we always

:08:09.:08:14.

aimed for. When we put in GCSEs and A-levels in the 1980s, we worked

:08:14.:08:17.

closely with the universities. We worked closely with our colleagues

:08:17.:08:23.

in England to do that. We made sure that we moderated across the system.

:08:23.:08:28.

If we lose that status, I'm not sure how we will ensure standards are

:08:28.:08:32.

there. We'll have to do. It south of Ireland does it. Scotland does it.

:08:32.:08:37.

We can do it too. I don't think we should panic on it. Thank you.

:08:37.:08:41.

From university level to primary schools and John O'Dowd was next in

:08:41.:08:45.

the spotlight, following technical details encountered by schools last

:08:45.:08:49.

Autumn, the Education Minister commissioned a review of

:08:49.:08:53.

computer-base add associatements. Today he brought that review to the

:08:53.:08:57.

Assembly -- computer-based assessments. It presented

:08:58.:09:00.

significant challenges. These challenges were faced by schools and

:09:01.:09:04.

significant number of them reported difficulties in the operations of

:09:04.:09:08.

the new assessment. If the department makes it a legal

:09:08.:09:12.

requirement for schools to use the assessment this places a requirement

:09:12.:09:16.

on my department to ensure it works. Clearly, this was not always the

:09:16.:09:21.

case last year. A policy that was intended to help and support

:09:21.:09:26.

teachers had, in many cases, the opposite effect. Of most concern

:09:26.:09:30.

were the experiences relayed to me directly by teachers about the

:09:30.:09:35.

pressures they felt in administering the assessments and in some cases

:09:35.:09:38.

the distress felt by pupils when they faced technical difficulties.

:09:38.:09:44.

This is clearly not good enough. That is why I have instigated

:09:44.:09:54.

reviews of the implementations of the nukeracy -- implementations of

:09:54.:09:57.

the numeracy and literacy assessment. User experience was

:09:58.:10:01.

often reported as poor and there were real issues for teachers in

:10:01.:10:05.

terms of the ease of set up and compatibility with hardware. In

:10:05.:10:08.

recognition of the concerns expressed by schools, I have decided

:10:08.:10:14.

the department will not specify the literacy and numeracy assessment for

:10:14.:10:18.

monitoring use in the forth coming term. There will be no legislative

:10:18.:10:24.

requirement on schools to assess pupils for diagnostic purposes using

:10:24.:10:28.

CBA or other assessments. I think the most striking aspect of this

:10:28.:10:34.

debacle isn't just the technical failures or the �900,000 spent in

:10:34.:10:38.

the first year of public money. It wasn't just the time and energy

:10:38.:10:42.

schools have wasted in trying to make these tests work. It isn't even

:10:42.:10:45.

the stress and anxiety these tests have caused many of our primary

:10:45.:10:52.

schools. I suggest that the key to the mystery is that the department

:10:52.:10:59.

and the minister's abject failure in listening to schools and we could

:10:59.:11:06.

say- so what? However we are in a very serious situation. Will the

:11:06.:11:12.

minister, today, give this house an explanation as to why it took him so

:11:12.:11:19.

long to press the delete button on computer-based assessment?

:11:19.:11:22.

member has said the department failed to listen to schools. That's

:11:22.:11:27.

partially true. But it's partially true across a number of delivery

:11:27.:11:32.

agencies within this and as minister in charge of the department I have

:11:32.:11:36.

to take a certain amount of responsibility for that. But I can

:11:36.:11:41.

assure you now that no-one was in -- within my department, no-one in the

:11:41.:11:47.

delivery agencies involved in this are under illusions about who they

:11:47.:11:50.

should be listening to. They should listen to the schools and learn from

:11:50.:11:54.

the experiences. The next programme of work rolled out in regards to

:11:54.:11:57.

this will be based on the experiences of schools in the first

:11:57.:12:05.

place. I welcome the U-turn on mandatory computer assessments.

:12:05.:12:14.

Account minister tell us how much this debacle has cost and will cost?

:12:14.:12:19.

The system set up including procurement and all the issues, to

:12:19.:12:24.

set it up was around �900,000. Next year the costs are somewhere in the

:12:24.:12:28.

region of �300,000 to run the system. I would have preferred to

:12:28.:12:34.

see the system running properly all, all schools using it etc. However we

:12:34.:12:39.

are involved in contractual obligations with the providers. If

:12:39.:12:43.

we moved away from those obligation as head of the end of the contract,

:12:43.:12:46.

I am advised there may be significant further cost.

:12:46.:12:52.

Education was very much a theme at Stormont today. The leader of the

:12:52.:12:56.

Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt, joined in. During a debate on a

:12:56.:13:01.

shared future he read extracts on a teaching aid used to teach students

:13:01.:13:07.

during the hunger strikes in 1981. Discuss how the pupils would have

:13:07.:13:12.

felt in their shoes. Discuss whether they would have made the same

:13:12.:13:17.

decisions as the hunger strikers. Teachers could explore texts about

:13:17.:13:24.

Northern Ireland or about other situations, for example, Nazi

:13:24.:13:28.

Germany, South Africa, during apartheid, a clear link between

:13:28.:13:34.

Northern Ireland and Nazi Germany and South Africa under apartheid.

:13:34.:13:38.

Explore other sources, cow read of the factual writings from the time

:13:38.:13:42.

of the hunger strikes. Now I thought maybe at this point they would

:13:42.:13:50.

suggest a journalist of some repute, or perhaps an historian of the

:13:50.:14:00.
:14:00.:14:01.

stature of Paul Lord Bute. The first individual they recommend? For

:14:01.:14:08.

factual descriptions, Danny Morrison, the chief prop beganedist

:14:08.:14:14.

of the -- propegand ist of the Republican movement. Mike Nesbitt

:14:14.:14:18.

during the debate on the Shared Future document. Following that

:14:18.:14:22.

debate a DUP supported amendment to the Alliance Motion was passed. It

:14:22.:14:26.

backed the station by the first and deputy first ministers on building a

:14:26.:14:29.

united community in Northern Ireland. Here's a sample of the

:14:29.:14:34.

debate. Despite reports of progress and some level of agreement from the

:14:34.:14:39.

office of First Minister and deputy First Minister, a failure to find

:14:39.:14:44.

compromise on contested issues at a political level has left many

:14:44.:14:47.

disillusioned and disengaged. We have to set out a vision and a plan

:14:47.:14:54.

to tackle all unsettled issues that remain. Patterns of segregation,

:14:54.:14:56.

intimidation and fear that all continue to have a serious impact on

:14:56.:15:01.

our economy and the quality of life of people across Northern Ireland.

:15:01.:15:05.

Perhaps I could begin by explaining why we're unable to support the

:15:05.:15:09.

motion, as brought forward by the members of the Alliance Party. It's

:15:09.:15:15.

very simple. There is no mention in the motion of the lack of prior

:15:15.:15:21.

consultation between FM and DFM and their executive colleagues, which, I

:15:21.:15:26.

find, almost inexplicable given a few short days ago their party

:15:26.:15:34.

leader was jumping on my colleague Danny Kennedy's band wagon on BBC

:15:34.:15:38.

television to make much of the fact there had been no consultation with

:15:38.:15:42.

executive colleagues. Yet a few days later, they seemed to have moved

:15:42.:15:52.

from the tribe of -- tribe to the so whatters. We will never shirk our

:15:52.:15:55.

responsibilities in terms of scrutinising projects like this and

:15:55.:15:58.

asking what sometimes might be viewed as tough questions. But

:15:58.:16:02.

they're asked to try and ensure that we get the best possible Government

:16:02.:16:08.

and the best possible chance to build a Shared Future for all our

:16:08.:16:17.

people because God knows we need it. It is unfortunate, Mr Speaker, that

:16:17.:16:27.
:16:27.:16:29.

the hi -- hysterics soured the tone over the Shared Future document. It

:16:29.:16:35.

did confirm one thing: Peter Robinson seems to be stuck in an old

:16:35.:16:39.

testament world when people out there are desperately crying out for

:16:39.:16:45.

something new. I hear the party basically saying- we weren't

:16:45.:16:50.

included in the discussions. I heard them saying this announcement was

:16:50.:16:52.

made without consultation with themselves or consultation with

:16:52.:16:57.

anybody else. Well, that party has had a week to be able to say

:16:57.:17:02.

actually, we don't like the Shared Future details because it doesn't go

:17:02.:17:07.

far enough or whatever the criticism might be. Maybe some of the

:17:07.:17:10.

criticism is justified. They need to put options on the table. It's not

:17:10.:17:14.

enough, I want to make it clear from our party's point of view, it is

:17:14.:17:22.

simply not good enough for the SDLp to come here and say they're here to

:17:22.:17:26.

ask tough questions. We're all here to ask tough questions. What a

:17:26.:17:33.

remarkable impact a pending visit of President Obama can have that

:17:33.:17:39.

suddenly, whatever it takes to please in terms of social

:17:40.:17:46.

engineering is possible. Be it housing, be it education, be

:17:46.:17:53.

whatever is on the shopping list and the instruction list of the visiting

:17:53.:17:58.

president. Can I begin by welcoming the statement last week and it's not

:17:58.:18:03.

surprising that all of the naysayers have had their go around so just to

:18:03.:18:09.

put Mr Swan's mind at rest from the very start, we will not be with

:18:09.:18:15.

drawing our amendment and we will be putting it to the vote. Just let

:18:15.:18:21.

me... Just let me be clear about that so that you know right from the

:18:21.:18:28.

very start, and I see the chair of the OFM doing his usual act, one or

:18:28.:18:34.

two headline grabbing things, producing some document today, but

:18:34.:18:39.

that's typical of the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. So nobody

:18:39.:18:44.

will be surprised about that. Spratt. The Justice Minister has

:18:44.:18:48.

told the Assembly he expects work on the long awaited police and fire

:18:48.:18:55.

college near cooks down to start in October. -- Cookstown. He revealed

:18:55.:19:00.

details for the G8 summit and the future for the historical inquiries

:19:00.:19:05.

team. Comments were provided back to the

:19:05.:19:08.

programme team for its consideration. If these points are

:19:08.:19:14.

adequately addressed and both departments are satisfied that the

:19:14.:19:20.

college represents value for money it will be submitted for approval.

:19:20.:19:24.

The reality is we are looking at a relatively short slippage in the

:19:25.:19:28.

time to complete the work. The delay is currently being looked at in a

:19:28.:19:31.

period of something like four months with an expectation that

:19:31.:19:35.

construction can begin by the month of October. So given the very

:19:35.:19:38.

significant cost change, I believe that's hay fairly reasonable

:19:38.:19:45.

position to be in and I'm optimistic that can be adhered to. PSNI and

:19:45.:19:53.

plans for security for the G8 are at an advanced state. It has been

:19:53.:20:01.

decided that some 4700 PSNI officer and 3600 officers under mutual aid

:20:01.:20:04.

arrangements will be deployed. All the officers will be under the

:20:04.:20:07.

direction and operational command of the Chief Constable throughout in.

:20:07.:20:12.

Addition, 600 private security personnel will be contracted to work

:20:12.:20:16.

on security-related duties during the summit. I'm confident there will

:20:16.:20:20.

be sufficient human resources in place to ensure a successful summit

:20:20.:20:24.

and any protests would be well policed. Other areas within my

:20:24.:20:32.

department are developing plans to deal with any arrests. In the -- I'm

:20:32.:20:37.

confident there will be sufficient human resources in place to deal

:20:37.:20:43.

with any evengeuality. Can I ask the minister what assurances can he give

:20:43.:20:51.

to former members of the royal Royal Ulster Constabulary who hold a

:20:51.:21:01.
:21:01.:21:10.

except -- sceptical view over all of this happening. If former members of

:21:10.:21:16.

the RUC or PSNI hold that view of the HET I'm not sure that anything I

:21:16.:21:19.

say will counteract that feeling that they have. Certainly what I

:21:19.:21:22.

have seen of the HET in particular in terms of looking through the

:21:22.:21:26.

business case for the extension of its work has shown that it is

:21:26.:21:30.

robustly carrying out its duties. Wonder if the minister would take

:21:31.:21:36.

the opportunity to assure the House that the HET has the necessary

:21:36.:21:41.

funding to be able to complete its programmed work and that its

:21:41.:21:45.

operational independence will not be jeopardised in any way by means of

:21:45.:21:52.

the way it is funded? I thank him for that point. The business case

:21:52.:21:57.

for the extension of HET funding was approved by my department last

:21:57.:22:04.

month, subject to further conditions being met. That will then result in

:22:04.:22:08.

a potential extension of �13 million to its existing budget aloe

:22:08.:22:13.

indication. The secondary -- allegation. The secondary intention

:22:13.:22:21.

is that the case load will be completed bit end of March 2015 on a

:22:21.:22:26.

completion rate of 30 cases per month. David Ford. It's been some

:22:26.:22:29.

time coming but the Marine Bill passed through its final stage at

:22:29.:22:32.

the Assembly today. The bill is designed to coordinate the

:22:32.:22:37.

protection of Northern Ireland's coastline and the wildlife that

:22:37.:22:41.

lives there. Is that enough? I'm joined by Marguerite Tarzia from the

:22:41.:22:46.

Marine Task Force. Good evening. First of all, remind us what the

:22:46.:22:51.

Marine Task Force is. It's a coalition of ten environmental

:22:51.:22:54.

organisations and we've been campaigning on marine issues for

:22:54.:22:59.

quite a while. It's a ten-year campaign, specifically related to

:22:59.:23:03.

mat reen bill. We are very -- the Marine Bill. We are very pleased to

:23:04.:23:08.

see it here again. The legislation go far enough? There are some

:23:08.:23:12.

disappointments with it. Before we go through the disappointing sides I

:23:12.:23:15.

think the Marine Task Force is thrilled that we have this

:23:15.:23:19.

legislation in place because it is a new legal framework for managing our

:23:20.:23:23.

seas, for conservation and marine planning. In terms of the things

:23:23.:23:27.

that we would like to have seen in it, there are some things that we

:23:27.:23:36.

think are missing, moat -- most note yaebl a marine organisation, and we

:23:36.:23:40.

campaigned that it would help the governance for marine matters in

:23:40.:23:43.

Northern Ireland. The matters are distributed across five departments

:23:43.:23:46.

in Northern Ireland. That's a lot of departments to make coordinated

:23:46.:23:50.

decisions on marine issues. So we think that a marine management

:23:50.:23:54.

organisation would really help. campaigned strongly for the agency,

:23:54.:23:58.

it's not there. You say you're disappointed. Is that going to make

:23:58.:24:01.

a huge difference? You've said that's the downside, there are plus

:24:01.:24:07.

points as well. Are the plus points outweighed bit negative dimension of

:24:07.:24:10.

net getting the management agency? think that's going to be an issue

:24:11.:24:14.

which will be ongoing. Obviously with the Marine Bill, now it's

:24:14.:24:18.

becoming an act, there are going to be important decisions to be made in

:24:18.:24:24.

terms of the marine kon conservation zones and mat reen planning, which

:24:24.:24:31.

is cross sectors. Will need a lot of buy-in from people. I think issues

:24:31.:24:34.

will arise throughout the implementation of this bill that

:24:34.:24:41.

will make it evident that marine governance needs to be resolved.

:24:41.:24:45.

an example of what will be better with the new legislation. It gives

:24:45.:24:50.

us the opportunity to designation marine kon conservation zones. Up

:24:50.:24:55.

till now we only have European marine sites and areas of special

:24:55.:25:00.

scientific interest. Also sites designated for wetlands. We haven't

:25:01.:25:05.

got that many protected areas, even though the European sites are

:25:05.:25:11.

important. The conservation zones will let us designate sites for

:25:11.:25:14.

protection for a range of different species that are representative of

:25:14.:25:18.

the UK marine area. That's good for the species that live in our coastal

:25:18.:25:23.

waters? Yes, very good for the species. We can cover more species,

:25:23.:25:28.

more habitats and protect more. Marguerite Tarzia, thanks very much

:25:28.:25:32.

indeed for joining us. Now, into the West was very much the

:25:32.:25:35.

theme for questions to the Regional Development Minister this afternoon

:25:35.:25:40.

with the A 5 and roads even a possible railway line in Fermanagh

:25:40.:25:45.

on the agenda. First up was the troubled bridge at Narrow Water.

:25:45.:25:50.

There's been no delay in the part of my department. Every effort has been

:25:50.:25:57.

made to progress these necessary orders. Understand of -- information

:25:57.:26:02.

was only finalised on April 10, 2013. I should say that in Northern

:26:02.:26:12.
:26:12.:26:12.

Ireland the construction of a bridge over waters quite rightly requires

:26:12.:26:18.

legislation. Loudge County Council only requires consent of the

:26:18.:26:28.
:26:28.:26:32.

minister. We met the QPA yesterday in relation to the delay in the A5

:26:32.:26:35.

and they're concerned about the delay. They're concerned about the

:26:35.:26:41.

moratorium on the roads, which is 11 days, I think it's ten or 11 days

:26:41.:26:47.

prior to the G8. A decision that the previous Minister of Justice told us

:26:48.:26:55.

half an hour ago that you took. the issue that he raises on G8

:26:55.:27:01.

moratorium, he will know, as a constituency representative for the

:27:01.:27:06.

area of countery Fermanagh and indeed as a member of this House and

:27:06.:27:11.

deputy chair of the regional development committee, that G8 is a

:27:11.:27:16.

very significant and important event for all of Northern Ireland and I'm

:27:16.:27:21.

very pleased to offer my department's support to the PSNI in

:27:21.:27:26.

managing arrangements for the summit. So at the request of the

:27:26.:27:35.

PSNI, DRD has agreed to reprogramme planned works on key routes during

:27:35.:27:39.

the G8. The department has brought forward a considerable amount of

:27:39.:27:45.

resurfacing work to improve the road network in the run up to the G8. My

:27:45.:27:49.

colleague Mr Elliott was telling me some of the locals in Fermanagh

:27:49.:27:57.

instead of calling it the A 4 road now call it the G8 road. Is there

:27:57.:28:02.

any further evaluation or assessment into developing a rail network into

:28:02.:28:07.

the west of Northern Ireland? grateful to the member for his

:28:07.:28:13.

question and indeed, he will know that we have recently been holding a

:28:13.:28:16.

consultation exercise on the future of railways all over Northern

:28:16.:28:23.

Ireland. We've had very interesting feed back. Even in my own area,

:28:23.:28:28.

significant feed back on the possibility of a reopening the old

:28:28.:28:38.
:28:38.:28:38.

lines. Indeed, the line that he mentions mentioned, there are issues

:28:38.:28:43.

of infrastructure and cost. We would have to look carefully before we

:28:43.:28:49.

would embark on even a serious study. The Regional Development

:28:50.:28:53.

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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