21/06/2011 Stormont Today


21/06/2011

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Martina Purdy is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Here at Parliament Buildings, MLAs

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have never had it so good, but the bon homie among old enemies isn't

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being felt on the ground just streets away. MLAs were dismayed

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about the violence that erupted at the Short Strand interface. There

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is one community with two sections down there this morning, which is

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broken. In the frontline of that riot, in the buffer zone, were a

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row of pensioners cottages. David Ford, the Justice Minister, is

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fighting the lawyers, who will win this battle of wits? So, there's no

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compromise in terms of changing the rates. There is no way David Ford

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with the stroke of a pen could give solicitors an barrister what is

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they want. This time last night we were discussing the glory of Rory

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McIlroy's win at the US Open. That's now been overshadowed by the

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shame of violence in East Belfast. Extra police were drafted into the

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Short Strand area tonight and after the most serious rioting in years,

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which included shots being fired last night. The UVF has been blamed

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for orchestrating events. This morning, members were quick to

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condemn the rioting. For me the sight of homes wrecked, on both

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sides of the Newtownards Road in the Short Strand and people lying

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injured in hospital this morning, for me it's a sad reminder of how

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fragile the peace is in East Belfast. Could I say this morning

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we want to convey our thoughts and prayers to those people liing in

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hospital this morning. I was down there last night, after I had been

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in the Assembly until 9.30pm. I was late there last night. I went to

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some of those homes in Duke Street and Newtownards Road that had been

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attacked. I was down there this morning, in Strand Walk houses were

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attacked this morning. Both communities suffered. For me, I

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suppose, it reminds me of a proverb which talk abouts hope defered

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maketh the heart sick. I felt all our hopes for, let's get this peace

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embedded into the local communities, that our our hopes had been placed

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on hold in many ways. There is one community with two sections down

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there this morning which is broken, hurt and damaged. There is

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resentment. There is a silent cry for help. There is a belief that

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no-one cares. Or that no-one can do anything to change or prevent a

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course of events. It was a reminder of everything we have worked so

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hard to try and put behind us. We must accept it, as a collective

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failure. I do not think that it is good enough to try and reduce the

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issues at the heart of what is still happening in some communities

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to the responsibility of a few. It is the responsibility of us all.

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use this platform this morning to ask those involved, with the

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senseless violence we saw last night, to stop. It was organised

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and orchestrated violence we saw is unjustifiably. It's

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unrepresentative. It's destroying the cross community peace-building

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and community development work that has happened in the area. And, it's

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completely wrong that people in this area should be living in fear

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and terror at the hands of a small minority at the moment. I also

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caught up with Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey on the issue. He has been

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meeting police in recent weeks about his own concerns. Well, I

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think, it's been quite clear, throughout the day, that what

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happened last night was the UVF inspired attack on the Short Strand

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community. We have been given a variety of reasons for that.

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Whether it's disenchantment within that organisation or that

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particular bit of the community. Other attacks in the area in recent

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times, what is clear, there is no justification for what was a UVF-

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led attack in that community last night. I think people are very,

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very sorely disappointed that, despite the great work that has

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gone on there in the last couple of years, in the interface level, that

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we had a return to the bad old days. There was violence from a

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nationalist side. Who is behind that? We know clearly, the PSNI

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will confirm this and other organisations, people do

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acknowledge that the UVF inspired that attack last night. It was an

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attack on the community in the Short Strand last night. That went

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on for a number of hours. It resulted for the most part the

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loyalisted -- loyalists and the PSNI. You need to be clear that

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that violence was wrong and the defence of the area was a matter

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for the police? Well, what I'm saying is that nobody left the

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Short Strand last night to go out and attack a another district. That

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is very clear. You are condemning the violence from both side?

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condemning the violence that took place in that area last night. That

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is not a question of one side is as bad as another. There has been

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anti-social behaviour in that area. There has been sectarian

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squirmishing in that side much I condemn people from the loyalist

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and national and republican side who have been working together, it

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canly over the past two years, who reduced a serious interface area

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down to a periodic antisocial type rioting on a small scale. Albeit,

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that those incidents do affect homes on both sides of that

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community. All of which I condemn much my party, throughout the past

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year, has been given names of individuals from the Short Strand

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to the PSNI, people who have been attacking Protestant homes and who

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have been involved in persistent anti-social behaviour. We have been

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working with the PSNI with representatives of the loyalist

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community to bring that interface to a greater sense of normality to

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the residents on both sides. What happened last night was a UVF

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attack on that community. There can be no rational nor justification

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for that. What can be done about it? Is it a matter solely for the

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police, is Sinn Fein willing to engage in dialogue to ensure it

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doesn't happen again? We need to move from last night, obviously,

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from today onwards to make sure there is no repeat of this. Clearly,

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community relations in that area have been set back, I think,

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considerably. All stops now have to be - make sure - we need to make

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sure there is nothing left unturned there to make sure we don't have a

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repeat of last night. I think the Lord Mayor, who is a Short Strand

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representative, hosted a meeting in the city council today with all of

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the o other parties, senior officers of the council, they

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agreed on a certain course of action, which includes bringing

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together the people who work at interface level to refocus their

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minds and make sure community res can be repaired and make sure there

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is no repeat of this. We had meetings with the PSNI today. We

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met other parties within the last hour half. A lot of work has gone

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on today to make sure communities can be settled. That communities

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can be protected from this type of behaviour again. Do you think the

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absence of the PUP from Stormont, has that destabilised loyalism?

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There is no question or doubt in my mind shall I said this repeatedly,

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if you look at working-class unionist and Protestant areas, a

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lot of those communities will complain of being abandoned by the

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mainstream political parties in those communities. And, I mean, I

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myself, have had a positive experience in areas where I've been

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able to work with communities in there, whether it be on housing and

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making representations on their behalf. I hear from those people

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they have felt abandoned by the mainstream parties. All that being

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said, it's not either a justification to go and attack the

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Catholic district in the social services because you feel alienated

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from the main traem stream political parties or government. I

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recognise there are people in unionist working-class communities

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who have been ill served by the political process for a long number

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of years. That has to stop. That one of the calls today, both in the

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Assembly here this morning and in our meetings with the OFM and DFM

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this afternoon much I want to see political unionism engaging with

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those people. To aidentify if they do have grievances, what they are

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those grievances. They need to be given support. I want to make it

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clear, Wyles all that has to be done, there is no justification for

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attacking the community because you are aggrieved at something else.

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David Ford was facing questions today and on a topic very close to

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some members' hearts, the ongoing dispute with lawyers over legal aid.

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During the session he made it clear the new fees were now in force and

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he was not for turning. In a moment, I will get reaction from the Head

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of the Bar Council, Adrian Colton. Here is Simon Hamilton on his feet.

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Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Can I thank the Minister for his spobs

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response. -- response. In trying to seek an alternative way forward,

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cot Minister tell us, has he considered the idea of maybe

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instigating something like a US- style public defenders office? If

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in examining that if he considered how easy that might be to do?

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I think Mr Hamilton for that question. The answer is, yes, I am

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at the moment considering all options to ensure defendants have

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access to justice. It is my hope, it has been my effort, to date, to

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ensure that defendants obtain solicitors and barristers under the

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usual arrangements prepared to work at the new legally enforced rates

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of remuneration. I could seek to invite solicitors and barristers

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from outside Northern Ireland to make themselves available to take

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on that crown court work on the same basis that applies. We have

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had interested indicated without seeking it from some firms of

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solicitors in England and Wales, who are keen to work here. Another

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option would be for the legal services commission to arrange for

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legal advice and representation to be provided directly to

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unrepresented defendants. Mr Hamilton referred to a US-style

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public defender system. That might create concerns about the quality

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of justice. It is something which already operates successfully in

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England and Wales, in part. The legislation is already in place,

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under the As access to Justice Northern Ireland Order for the

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legal services commission to directly engage, should they so

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wish to do it, and should that be necessary to ensure access for

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justicies for defendants. It's unhelpful for the Minister to adopt

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an uncompromising approach in relation to this problem. I think

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it is better that the Minister reopens discussions with both the

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Law Society, and, indeed, the Bar Council, to see if there is some

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basis of reaching a compromise, as Mr McNarry pointed out, on the

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basis of their proposals which were, in fact, verified - Question.

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being within budget. The Deputy Speaker, I fear he hasn't

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appreciated the point which I tried to make. The new regulations are in

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force. This Assembly Assembly has accepted the new rates of

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remuneration. To suggest I'm uncompromising is completely out

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with the mark. The simple position is, proposals were put forward by

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the Department, accepted by the Committee, not rejected by the

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Assembly, therefore, have the force of law. There is no compromise that

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can be made about those rates. The compromise is, that I have offered

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an early review, when we see how the current arrangements work, when

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we see if there are particular anomalies, I have engaged with the

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Law Society and the Bar Council, I have offered them that. I asked my

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officials to engage in detail with them. That is the compromise. The

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compromise is not somehow to suggest that I should accept a

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proposal which game from the two professional bodies which was

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uncosted, could not be costed, and would have significantly exceeded

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the budget available for legal aid, with the result there would have

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been costs pressures being met by other aspects of the public

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expenditure in Northern Ireland, which I believe deserve equal

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priority. I suspect there are a few members of this House who would

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wish to see us shifting funds from the budget from health and social

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services into the funding of legal aid when Northern Ireland will

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still have the most generous system in western Europe. Well, the

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Justice Minister show nos sign of backing down over legal aid

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payments to barristers and solicitors. While eight local firms

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are willing to work the new fees, the majority in the professor are

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refusing cases. Leaving more than 250 defendants without

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representation. Adrian Colton, Chairman of the bar council is with

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me to defend his stance. What is the problem here? You heard the

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Minister say, the most generous system in western Europe? I don't

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accept. That we asked him to produce the figures from which that

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assertion is based. The answer is a references to per Capita depargs

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with England and Wales. We asked for, what would be more relevant

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comparison would be with the north- east of England or some of the

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regions in England which would be comparable with Northern Ireland.

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The real problem is this, we do not want to end up with a system in the

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crown court that we have in England and Wales. That is what this

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dispute is about. It's about whether we can create a system of

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justice in which the public will have confidence? Does the Minister

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know what is happening in England and Wales? First and second year

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barristers are being sent out, on the morning of serious criminal

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trials to represent people much we Your council's own comparisons show

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that Northern Ireland are sometimes cheaper than England and Wales but

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sometimes your figures are disingenuous. A don't accept that.

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The reason we picked her up -- but that Fagin in the public domain was

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to show... Critics it say she wanted more for every case and your

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:15:19.:15:19.

proposal for example theft under �30,000,... It is your own proposal.

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While I am looking for more money? We want a system that will come

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within budget and it must be remembered that we have never ever

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challenged the Budget that is available. What we are asked to do

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was to come up with proposals that would come within that budget.

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Tweeted that. We demonstrated that we could do that but despite that,

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the Minister is insisting on making further cuts and that is what...

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That is the kernel of the dispute. The issue is whether the public has

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confidence. Ferrar those working to work the system. One solicitor who

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was willing to accept the fees has since decided not to. His pressure

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being applied? His solicitor would not be a colleague of mine. But

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this is interesting because what I feared would come to pass has come

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to pass. The very first case that was dealt with under the new

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proposals was... The lawyer in question had not even read the

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quotas. There you have it. They you have the proof of what I want could

:16:24.:16:34.
:16:34.:16:34.

happen if this system has left us they it its. The Minister is not

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depriving anyone of a fair trial, he is simply depriving the legal

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profession of faith of more money. The money is not there to enrich

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lawyers. The money that has provided to legal aid is for the

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benefit of members of the public and for victims. The greatest

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service become paid to victims of crime is to ensure we have a

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properly resourced Criminal Justice System, the prosecution a properly

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resourced and the defences properly resourced.

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Is there a budding Patrick Kavanagh as dormant? He is a member who was

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more tours of than Churchill,... Maybe not quite so talented but

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some members did enter the competition and I caught up with

:17:23.:17:33.
:17:33.:17:35.

the winners in the long gallery. poem is entitled... It is a

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reference to where I am from and I've made the journey from their

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two here, in front of the Stormont parliament buildings. It was a

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phrase that was used in a newspaper I'll -- article because it told a

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bit about my journey. Are you are delighted because he won a prize?

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I've not had that confirmed yet. There is a rumour going about but I

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have not had it confirmed. I hope I have. I noticed you managed in your

:18:13.:18:23.
:18:23.:18:25.

poem to include a certain word. poem includes certain phrases.

:18:25.:18:35.
:18:35.:18:44.

There are many rural references. I love all of the rural places in

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County Tyrone and I have given expression to them in a poem.

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you consider giving up your assembly job and pursue poetry

:18:53.:18:56.

full-time? Why couldn't I do the two things? They could be a

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wonderful synchronisation of politics and poetry through my good

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self. Thank you very much. Years ago, one of the first art

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exhibitions I came to one-eyed come home was by Basil Blackshaw. He had

:19:14.:19:19.

edged it out with a paint brush, broad colour. A thought I would

:19:20.:19:26.

have a go myself. This was just an effort and my children said, I

:19:26.:19:31.

could do better than that. People always say that about greyed out.

:19:31.:19:41.
:19:41.:19:43.

wish. What were you do with a painting? I will hang it on my wall

:19:43.:19:46.

upstairs. It was great fun trying to see if I could do it because

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I've never painted. Most of my family are involved in the art

:19:49.:19:53.

world. It is good to do. It's a very cheerful painting. But I love

:19:53.:19:59.

colour, I'll have fun. By run an art gallery as well. I've always

:19:59.:20:09.
:20:09.:20:12.

looked for, in that as well. A of course I should say the poet one...

:20:12.:20:17.

Adrian, any opinion on this? Should they stick to their day-job? I am

:20:17.:20:22.

not surprised that there were no one, it was a beautiful painting.

:20:22.:20:27.

As for Barry's poetry, I don't think other poets have anything to

:20:27.:20:33.

fear. I am told that there has been a bid for the poor trade. Danny

:20:33.:20:40.

Kennedy was also fielding questions. He was asked by Sinn Fein about

:20:40.:20:44.

though rail link between Belfast and Londonderry. The original plan

:20:44.:20:47.

for the Colraine it to Londonderry track relay project would have

:20:47.:20:51.

resulted in the completion of their budget by 2013. This was to

:20:51.:20:56.

coincide with the introduction to service of all 20 new trains. The

:20:56.:21:00.

budget, however, approved by the assembly and executive makes

:21:00.:21:05.

provision for the commencement of the track relay in 2014. This

:21:05.:21:09.

reflects the capital budget available. That is, �20 million in

:21:09.:21:14.

year for the budget period. It is not possible to start work earlier

:21:14.:21:20.

than 2014 on the main relay for this reason. The project was

:21:20.:21:23.

originally envisaged to take a couple of years, two years to

:21:23.:21:27.

complete. On this basis, I had the project will be completed in the

:21:28.:21:35.

financial year twenties 17. Given that Derry City is to be City of

:21:35.:21:40.

Culture in 2013, would the minister seriously make a case to the

:21:40.:21:44.

executive and find the funding because personally, I find it an

:21:44.:21:48.

absolute disgrace at an InterCity service is now going to have speed

:21:48.:21:53.

limits on it, when the public have doubled the numbers. I would appeal

:21:53.:21:58.

to the minister and are attached no blame to him for the neglect of the

:21:58.:22:04.

past. I am grateful and gratified to the member for the no blame

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attachment there. I do have ongoing concern but in the current

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financial climate that we find ourselves in, particularly within

:22:16.:22:22.

my departmental budget, I have to be honest to the house and say the

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earliest I am able to indicate his, as I have said, 2014. I welcome the

:22:29.:22:38.

fact that the minister... It is the only place in Northern Ireland

:22:39.:22:46.

where Orange feet walk without the requirement of... Will the Minister

:22:46.:22:53.

end of the visiting the island ensure that there is progress made?

:22:53.:22:57.

I have been concerned for some considerable period of time were

:22:57.:23:06.

the model... His department needs to show a greater commitment to

:23:06.:23:09.

delivering on specific issues which have been raised through the

:23:09.:23:14.

process to date. Well, I am grateful for the supplementary and

:23:14.:23:20.

have no intention of off -- forming a concerned residents' groups for

:23:20.:23:30.
:23:30.:23:30.

the puffins, who understand pretty much fly off. That might be

:23:30.:23:34.

something that all of us can to consider. On a more serious note,

:23:34.:23:38.

the final debate here today featured a campaign for Colin

:23:38.:23:42.

Wharton, he is the former UDR soldier was then 30 months in jail

:23:42.:23:47.

in the 1980s, charged with involvement in the murder of Adrian

:23:47.:23:52.

Carroll. The case against him was thrown out when the trial judge

:23:52.:23:55.

deemed that admits isn't -- and admitted he made to please was

:23:55.:24:02.

inadmissible. Complex and traumatic story for the family in the 1970s.

:24:02.:24:07.

Colin's brother Kenneth was one of the limit -- victims of the Kings

:24:07.:24:11.

Mills massacre and the report was officially released today blaming

:24:11.:24:16.

the IRA for the massacre. In the 80s, Colin went on to join the

:24:16.:24:19.

Ulster Defence Regiment and he was arrested for his alleged

:24:19.:24:23.

involvement in the murder of Adrian Carroll in Armagh. He spent about

:24:23.:24:28.

13 months in custody on remand but the case against him was thrown out

:24:28.:24:33.

by the trial judge to deemed an admission that he made to the

:24:33.:24:35.

police was inadmissible. He might have thought that he would have

:24:35.:24:40.

been happy with that but in fact, what he has seen as some double

:24:40.:24:43.

convicted of that which was subsequently released on appeal has

:24:43.:24:47.

gone composition. He's not been able to get compensation. He

:24:47.:24:52.

believes there is a slur against him. He was quite happy though that

:24:52.:24:57.

in this debate, at Stormont today, he did receive support that he felt

:24:57.:25:02.

has moved his campaign for it on. We have the minister for justice

:25:02.:25:12.
:25:12.:25:16.

coming out and saying that I was innocent. I question is why do I

:25:16.:25:19.

have to make a statement? We have backing for him from the Unionists,

:25:20.:25:24.

we had backing from the SDLP and the alliance. David Ford spoke

:25:24.:25:28.

sympathetically about his case. Sinn Fein were notable by their

:25:28.:25:31.

absence during the course of the debates and afterwards Mr Wharton

:25:31.:25:35.

was pretty scathing about Sinn Fein. Police said he met them and lobbied

:25:35.:25:38.

them in person but never heard back from them. This case is a sharp

:25:39.:25:42.

reminder that the past is never far from the present at Stormont.

:25:42.:25:46.

Absolutely. We have of course the King's Mills report of the end of

:25:46.:25:52.

the week. There will be no doubt more controversy into the UDF

:25:52.:25:57.

massacre at a pub in the 1990s. Some might also say that the home

:25:57.:26:00.

activities of the historical inquiries team in relation to the

:26:00.:26:04.

UVF might have been one of the pressure points which contributed

:26:04.:26:08.

to solve that east Belfast trouble that we have seen. This is

:26:08.:26:11.

certainly a case that the past still retains the potential to come

:26:11.:26:18.

back and haunt us in the present. As for Peter Robinson, he once

:26:18.:26:21.

joked that if negotiating was an Olympic event, Northern Ireland

:26:21.:26:24.

could win gold. Sadly, there are no medals to be one in this category

:26:24.:26:27.

but there was an some excitement today when the Sports Minister

:26:27.:26:31.

welcomed the torch from the Games. The torch came to the north. Thus

:26:31.:26:35.

the first time that it came from London. We are trying to use this

:26:35.:26:39.

event and other events happening today to bring some awareness to

:26:39.:26:43.

the fact that there is a deadline for 29th June for people to become

:26:43.:26:48.

Torch bearers. We need at least 600 people, north. Ordinary people who

:26:48.:26:54.

do extraordinary things, nominate someone, 150 words about bearing

:26:54.:27:03.

the church for the UN pigs. Is this is the actual tort? It is the

:27:03.:27:13.
:27:13.:27:14.

actual tort. The it has come here... I saw the SDLP posing with it, I

:27:14.:27:20.

posed -- I saw you posing with it. This is going to be the start of a

:27:20.:27:27.

series of events. Political parties, communities, people representing

:27:27.:27:31.

communities are going to come together to raise the profile of

:27:31.:27:37.

the northern part of the island. Hopefully they will use whatever

:27:37.:27:40.

influence and connections they have to nominate could become torch-

:27:40.:27:50.
:27:50.:27:51.

bearer us. what about yourself, Adrian?

:27:51.:27:56.

Peter Robinson says politicians here occurred enter an Olympic

:27:56.:28:01.

event for negotiations. What about this issue of legal aid? When I

:28:01.:28:04.

heard and was reminded about Peter Robinson's remarks, it struck me

:28:04.:28:09.

that perhaps during the discussions we had, some and LA's could have

:28:09.:28:12.

been beneficial in that process and we wouldn't have ended up in the

:28:12.:28:15.

crisis we have. Seriously, there has to be compromise. We have a

:28:15.:28:19.

crisis, it has to be resolved. minister says he has compromised.

:28:19.:28:25.

The money is not there, ministers are agreed that it is the lawyers.

:28:25.:28:31.

The money is there and what we need a proper robust scrutiny of the men

:28:31.:28:34.

-- of the issue. That is all from Stormont. We are

:28:34.:28:38.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Martina Purdy 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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