23/01/2017 Stormont Today


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 23/01/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello and welcome to Stormont Today on what was the penultimate day


of debate in the Assembly chamber in this shorter than


Last week, one MLA suggested the clock was counting


down with a whimper, but today there was still plenty


of important business to be discussed on the hill.


Sinn Fein unveiled its new Stormont leader and in the chamber MLAs spent


more than six hours discussing the Renewable Heat


So, coming up on tonight's programme...


She's just into the top job and weeks from an election,


but Michelle O'Neill is already sure how she wants to move forward.


Accusations after the RHI scandal rumble on during another marathon


Agreements must be honoured. Partnership government must mean


exactly that. Accusations after the RHI scandal


rumble on during another marathon I am suspended from the party for


telling the truth about people in the front bench and those behind


them are guilty of far more serious inappropriate relationships and


behaviour than I am. And joining me with his thoughts


on another busy day in the Assembly is our Political Correspondent,


Enda McClafferty. Everyone knew it would


be announced today - but no-one could be absolutely sure


who it would be. Sinn Fein named Martin McGuinness's


successor as party leader north of the border and,


as the bookies had been suggesting in recent days,


it was indeed Michelle O'Neill Here's what she had to say to party


activists and the media just after lunchtime,


and just to warn you there is some For me to be selected to lead our


party in the North is truly the biggest honour and privilege of my


life. I feel an enormous responsibility on my shoulders and


while I do not are never underestimate my task given the


changing political work locally, nationally and internationally, I


will not let you down. These are challenging times and we have set


ourselves a big objectives, but Republicans have never been afraid


of a challenge. I have never been afraid of challenge and I have never


been afraid to act. As Sinn Fein Minister for agriculture and rural


development I decentralised an entire government department, Lock,


stock and barrel. When the system told me it could not be done. As


Minister for health I ended the DUP's discrimination against gay men


donating blood and I did it because it was the right thing to do. Over


the course of the last number of weeks, one others have shouted from


the sidelines, it was Sinn Fein who stood up and confronted corruption.


It was Sinn Fein who called a halt to the arrogance and intolerance. In


the aftermath of the election, there can and there will be no return to


the status quo. What does that mean? It means Sinn Fein are only


interested in participating in a power-sharing institutions if they


deliver for all of our citizens and if they operate on the basis of


equality and respect. Agreements must be honoured. Commitments must


be delivered. Partnership government must mean exactly that. It means


that regardless of where you come from, what language you speak, what


your sexuality is, what gender you are, that you are treated with


respect. Michelle O'Neil according


to Martin McGuinness has been Unlike him she does not have an IRA


past, but did we learn anything It was interesting but Martin


McGuinness took some time to set out Republican pedigree before regard to


the point when he talked about her role in leadership. He talked about


her father, he was a Republican prisoner. He was a councillor in


Dungannon. We know her uncle is involved in the movement which


fundraisers for Sinn Fein. We also knows that a cousin of hers was an


IRA man shot dead by the SS. She takes a lot of the boxes when it


comes to grassroot Republicans and what they would like to see in terms


of her past and family. There are big challenges piling up


in Michelle O'Neill's in-tray. There will be a short honeymoon


period because she has this election to fight and she knows she will be


in charge of a much smaller party at Stormont because of the fact that


you can analyse will not be returning after George II. She knows


the group would be smaller, but she also knows that the party faces a


big challenge from people before profit in west Belfast and in foil.


She knows in foil the party will be facing a bit of a dogfight for the


last seat because we know Eamon McCann pulled well last time and we


know Martin McGuinness is not on the ballot paper and that could have a


big bearing on the outcome of the election and it could come down to


the last seat between Sinn Fein and people before profit. There are


areas like that when the chalets will face a big fight.


We know the DUP in the last election used the prospect


of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister to mobilise


its voters, what happens with that this time around,


now that there's a new leader in charge?


The so-called bogeyman is gone for the DUP because last time they built


their campaign around Martin McGuinness as being the big threat


to them in terms of becoming First Minister. This time round I would


imagine the tactic would be different because it is Michelle


O'Neill they are taking on. You can hear the language already talking


about taking on the Republican agenda. It is not about


personalities, it is about the republican movement as a whole in


terms of what they want at Stormont around the Irish lumberjack and


other bills they are proposing to take forward to which unionists


would have difficulty with. That will beat the strategy employed by


the DUP. Here in Northern Ireland, three of the main parties are led by


women. We have Michelle O'Neill, Arlene Foster and Naomi Long. Very


clear in here. Mary Lou McDonald was here as well. You could see that


this felt like a changing of the guard within Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams


is likely to handover party Mary Lou McDonald at some stage. Martin


McGuinness has done that with Michelle O'Neill. We could see the


three big party figures on the island of Ireland in the not too


distant future. It is significant. MLAs spent most of today debating


the plan by the economy minister to cut ?490 million loss to the public


purse of the renewable heating scheme.


The debate started in the chamber a week ago, but was halted to give


The design process by officials and consultants field. The business case


scrutiny process did not identify the problems. All of the evidence


given to the committee did not inform the recommendation. Remember,


the committee recommended the design of this. This house, all of the


parties across this house supported the original, flawed, scheme. The


member might recall that party colleague, William McCrea, used to


sing a little song called excuses, excuses. Does that not some up


exactly her speech and that of Mr done this morning? Trying to spread


the blame to everyone else and running away from the reality. It


was Arlene Foster and Arlene Foster alone who was the minister and alone


signed of this scheme without the cost controls. No matter who else


you might try to smear, that is the irreducible reality. Thank you for


your comment in relation to this. I had hoped you would have listened to


what I have said and what I said was this, this is not, all of the


evidence, I do think this has to go above and beyond party politics. We


have got to step back and look objectively at the evidence before


us. At the evidence in front of the DAC. The evidence we have all heard.


This was not the feeling of a single individual. Indeed, I listened to


the permanent Secretary, Doctor Andrew McCormick, he was at


committee earlier today and effectively what he was saying was


what we have here is the best available. Very different from good,


very different from sound, solid, as good as it gets. Just, within the


context, this is the best available. I think that is a fair assessment. I


would also say Doctor McCormick has done more than anybody I have heard


over the last number of weeks to try to maintain the integrity of these


devolved institutions and I thank him for that. Today, the committee


had the opportunity to shift their position from them did the


regulations to prevent the regulations. They did not. The


minister did not turn up. The member needs to be unaware that her party


did vote against the proposal to close the scheme last February. That


is a fact. You can say you like, you voted against that, as did the


Ulster Unionist party, the closure of the scheme, despite repeated


warnings about the cost that was going to be accrued and lost to the


public purse. Your party voted against closing the scheme. The


simple fact. I know you want at the time, so it is not your fault. Your


party as a party and other members who are still here and you were here


last year did vote to oppose the scheme. On that date, when the SDLP


presented themselves here, they, like other members in this house,


were very mindful that the quick execution and the early closure of


that scheme was placing legitimate businesses and legitimate access to


the scheme, that was putting them at risk, because there were people who


had signed up to a very good, worthwhile scheme at that stage. I


will finish my point. A very good, worthwhile scheme at that time.


Those businesses were in the process of realising orders coming into


their businesses. They were in the process of installing these boilers


and, again, I repeat, with the measures in place that should have


been there from the outset. So, your little red Herring has just died.


For the avoidance of any doubt that people would say to me that he did


not speak until very late, I have a letter to the First Minister. A


letter to Arlene Foster dated 23rd of March 20 16. Three pages of a


four, I give her my permission to put into the Assembly library and


make public. The first paragraph of that, after the introduction, was in


the renewable heat initiative. The first paragraph refers to the fact


that the special advisers advised me to keep the scheme open. All of the


difficulties in the 23rd of March 2016, given to Arlene Foster. It


surprises me when you see the contents of this letter that I am


suspended from the party for telling the truth while people on the front


bench and those behind them are guilty of far more serious,


inappropriate relationships and behaviour than I am. Far more


serious. We have a prize in one hand of some reduction in the public


spend, but we have the risk on the other hand of litigation, of


judicial review and a further waste of public money on expensive legal


challenges. With publication of the Auditor General report ought last


October with the publication of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, they


could have brought forward the food plan the public deserves. Could he


explain why he, as committee chairman, has been absent from the


committee for the economy and by his two party colleagues have not


bothered to turn up? If his only issue with Sinn Fein is our


attendance at committee meetings when we recognised the full scale of


the impact in terms of these institutions, in terms of public


finance, in terms of public confidence that this scheme has


brought to this Assembly then the member is living in cloud cuckoo


land. This has been a disastrous scheme from start to finish. The


Handling has been disastrous, they provoked -- B proposal is not the


proposition outlined by the First Minister a couple of weeks ago. This


is a sticking plaster The real scandal here is that while


we have people unable to heat their homes and struggling to feed their


family, we have Barnes being raided by the police, empty Barnes, Mr


Speaker, with steam rising off them in the snow. I want that to stop. We


will not block these proposals today, despite our serious


reservations, and I hope that these proposals are a success, not for the


Minister and not for his party, but for the sake of the public who


ultimately are paying the price for this debacle, though they carry none


of the responsibility for it. I, am I department, have cooperated fully


with the Department of Finance and asked -- answered all questions and


queries and provided all requested information and yet no approval has


been forthcoming. The business case process is there to assess value for


money and also regularity and I understand that there have been no


issues raised in respect of either. I know the Finance minister is just


coming into the house and I would be happy to give way to him if he was


to offer approval for the scheme. The areas of concern remain state


aid approval and the fact that we do not have state aid approval. I know


that the commission has been contacted. I do have some concerns


in that regard. The scheme can't kick off on April one without the


stated approval. Also, as the Minister knows, major concerns


around the inspection regime, and I'm sure the Minister will accept


and it will be in his narrative later that without rigorous, robust,


100% inspections, this interim solution will fall. I don't have a


business plan for the inspections regime, I do think it is like a


horse and carriage, both go together. The Minister knows that


state aid approval cannot be sought, and will not be given unless there


is both public finance approval and approval of this house. I am


reluctant to say it is a chicken and egg type situation given the issue


we are debating, but it is. The inspection regime minister is also


well aware of our intentions in respect of taking forward a tender


for 100% site inspection, and I will give him the commitment to continue


to work with his officials, as long as they response to that in good


faith and does keep this issue politics three, which is


unfortunately not a conclusion at this stage.


And that motion eventually passed on an oral vote.


There was just one question time today, education.


Questions were supposed to be asked of the Executive Office,


but despite Michelle O'Neill getting the new top job in Sinn Fein,


neither the First nor Deputy First Minister's positions


So, Peter Weir was the lone Minister facing the Assembly.


I am disappointed that the NUS UWT are engaged in ongoing industrial


action. A recognised negotiating forum for teachers terms and


conditions as the teachers negotiating Council that the


department represents. It is made up of representatives from the Northern


Ireland teaching Council, comprising the five teaching unions and the


management size which comprises representatives from education


authority, C CMS, sectoral interests and the Department. Management side


meets regularly with the teaching Council as part of its work on TMC


and it is committed to moving forward in a constructive fashion.


Can you outline any actions you are taken to ensure teachers will be


adequately played -- paid and work on the conditions and appropriate


support to deliver education for our children and young people. Number of


things in relation to that. In terms of workload there is a key issue


that has been raised by a lot of teachers with May and whenever we


have sought anything from schools and collated responses in terms of


not simply where there could be additional responsibility or


opportunity, but a greater level of flexibility for schools. Why it was


sore, not simply that, but also in terms of suggestions of easing


burdens. It is a tight financial situation and looking well began


these burdens on schools and teachers is important as well. I am


also a bit disappointed for those unions that have taken the view of


non-spike action -- strike action that there is an impact in terms of


non-cooperation around the Inspectorate that can impact on


pupils learning. As regards the broader financial situation I think


it is important that there is a focus of where we move from 2017


because it isn't a big pot of money sitting somewhere that is ready to


be paid to make up for what has happened to date. With the Minister


agree that the potential for a resolution to teachers Bay has been


compromised due to the shenanigans in this assembly? Is the Minister


confident a resolution with some post-election when he abandoned his


post? I am not sure that abandoning is quite the right word on that side


of things, although clearly we have had in terms of issues around the


broader perspective, the fact that the executive has been collapsed by


one party and in particular it has been done ahead of any budget


settlement is not helpful to the overall situation. I think the


opportunity for a greater level of resolution and a greater level of


result the Matiz that people look forward to 2017 and is not realistic


that there is a pot of money out there to cover the situation between


2015 and now, or to backdate that. It is the case that it is not just a


question of finding a one-off pot. If you make changes to the pay and


conditions it is actually having a long-term impact in terms of school


budgets and it places a level of pressure on the baselines within


that so that must be borne in mind. I think the opportunities for that


will be potentially looking forward to 2017. The reality is wait it is


myself or someone else impose the issues remain the same. I think


simply a belief that if there is a change of personality is that it


will suddenly make resolution very easy, I don't think, I think that in


many ways misunderstands the nature of the problem.


Peter Weir on the continuing stand-off on teachers' pay.


The day's business opened with a Matter of the Day


about the gun attack on a police officer in North Belfast last night.


The officer was shot at least twice in the arm while in a car


MLAs united in their condemnation of the shooting.


It could easily have been talking about death here today, and a family


suffering that death, instead of hopefully the recovery that we are


going to see. It could also have been in the open court of the


Garrard, other people killed or maimed in that. Let me condemn it


absolutely and let me also say as a representative for the area and all


the other representatives of that area will be in one voice that


people that vote for us, and I mean that right across the board, are


absolutely opposed to the people who are involved in this. There are many


issues that divide us in this house but it is clear today that there is


an issue that unites us, and that is our unreserved condemnation of what


took place last night. The truth this violence has no place in our


society. All it serves to do is to create heartache, pain and


suffering, and as each and every one of us in this house knows, there are


far too many families in our constituencies who endure that pain


and suffering on a daily basis. This was not an attack on an individual


police officer or an attack on the PSNI, this was an attack on our


entire community. It says all that we need to know about the kind of


people who were involved, that they would attempt to kill a person who


was serving their community and do so with such reckless disregard for


the community in which they serve. These people are nothing but


despicable cowards. They have nothing to offer the people of


Northern Ireland. Mr Speaker, I have no doubt that this attack was


intended to kill. Thankfully the officer is in a stable condition but


we could have been hearing the loss of life this morning. This is not


just an attack on our police service, it is an attack on the


community, an attack on our country. It was reckless, multiple automatic


rounds fired into a public safe -- space and I am disgusted. This is


the first shooting of a police officer that eight years in Northern


Ireland, clearly an attempt by evil people to kill police and also the


general public. Totally random and indiscriminate, as others have said,


gunfire into a forecourt of a Garrard Jinnah built-up area -- a


forecourt of a garaged. There were 12 members of the general public and


the police there at the time. This is my last opportunity to speak to


this assembly. Some of you may be glad to know that I am retiring from


politics, but I hope that in the next assembly no politician has to


stand up and condemn a murderous attack on a police officer. Anyone


who is prepared to wear the uniform should get the support of this


assembly. I pledge my support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland,


incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and I hope that


everyone else does. Ross Hussey, who said he'll not be


standing for re-election. We return now to the Sinn Fein news


conference and before handing over the reins of power Martin McGuinness


gave a little more insight into why he was stepping down and thanked


Ian Paisley for comments he made on last week's edition of The View,


and again there were plenty of cameras flashing


as Mr McGuinness spoke. I had made a decision well in


advance of the particular circumstances that affect me at the


moment, that come May eight of this year, that would've been the tenth


anniversary of going into government with Ian Paisley, that that was the


right time for me to stand aside, so that a decision that I would have


stood by. Circumstances have intervened, the calling of the


election, the scandals that have existed, and of course we find


ourselves in a situation where it is physically impossible for me to


continue until May the 8th and I regret that very much because I have


very fond memories of working with Ian Paisley for that year that he


was in the office. I have very fond memories of not just building a


positive working relationship with him but we actually built a


friendship that was a real friendship that lasted until the day


he died, and they also want to pay tribute to Ian Paisley Junior and to


Eileen Paisley, Ian 's wife Andy Carroll Paisley for their remarks


during the course of last week. They are all good friends, and they are


all people who like Ian were very dedicated and committed to the


success of the peace process. Martin McGuinness speaking


in Stormont's Long And let's have a final


word from Enda. No surprise that Mr McGuinness


should show his gratitude to the Paisley family for their warm


words about him last week, Enda. Yes, this was his first opportunity


to publicly acknowledge what was said by Ian Paisley, Kyle Paisley


and Baroness Paisley. What Ian Paisley told you on the view last


week. He was also listening to Kyle Paisley 's interview on BBC Radio


four as well of the interview with Baroness Paisley on talkback and it


is clear from what he had to say that his relationship with them runs


very deep and as he talked about there whenever Dr Paisley was in


hospital and they exchanged texts and so on, so it is pretty clear


that what was said by the Paisley struck a chord with Martin


McGuinness. We heard today that the Ulster


Unionist Ross Hussey Well, Ross Hussey would say himself


that he is in poor health and he needs to get to need replacements


and he said in a statement today that that is why he has decided to


step down because he knows it will be a long recovery period for that


and he will essentially be out of politics during that time so it has


taken the decision now that he would be better out outside of politics to


allow time to recover but of course he was a subject of a sting


operation by a Sunday newspaper some months ago when he sent nude photos


of himself to an undercover reporter Andy talked about it today described


as an indiscretion but he said that was not why he was stepping down


from politics, it was purely on the grounds of the South. -- of his


health. And also missing from the chamber


will be the SDLP's Gerry Mullan. He's being replaced on the ballot


paper in East Londonderry by his predecessor, John Dallat,


but all is not well Yes, that's for sure. It's not the


first time we have said that, coming up to an election there seems to be


infighting within the SDLP. It comes down to a clash of personalities


between these men and it goes back to the employment of John Downer 's


daughter in Gerry Mullins office and he employed her when he took over


from John Dallek in the last election and she was let go from the


office and that did not go well with that family and they stopped


speaking from that particular point forward. Now the opportunity is come


round again for him to put his hat in the ring again and there was an


interview panel over the weekend that decided who would run and John


Downer came out on top there and Jerry Mullin is unhappy and says he


is disappointed and taking legal advice. We know he has been in storm


on talking to the party leader and let him know about what is


happening. This is not good for the party because if they are to retain


their seat in East Londonderry they need all their foot soldiers on the


ground in the last thing they can afford right now is to be not


pulling in the same direction for the various workers who do work on


the ground. Interesting times, that is for sure.


The Assembly is sitting tomorrow and we'll have a Stormont Today


So for now, from everyone in the team, good night.


The View holds politicians to account and we ask


the questions that our audiences want answers to.


We reflect what's happening in the political world but I think we also


set the agenda in the interviews that we conduct on the programme.


I always assume that an interviewee is telling the truth


Download Subtitles