23/06/2014 Stormont Today


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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The First Minister says a solution can be found to


the outstanding issues of flags, parades and the past.


Surely this party is serious about dealing with the outstanding issues


parades, flags and of course the past.


The Education Minister gives his budget a worrying diagnosis.


Our schools and boards are worrisome and we must identify ways to ensure


that education receives greater allocations.


And our Political Reporter, Stephen Walker, joins me to review


The First Minister told the Assembly today that he and


his party are serious about dealing with outstanding issues which were


not resolved during the marathon Haass talks last Christmas.


Peter Robinson said the problems over flags, parades


But before the impending intensive talks were mentioned at


Question Time, Mr Robinson had to once again answer questions


Would you add the net the issue of racial intimidation must be


addressed, must be acknowledged and addressed urgently? Of course, Mr


principal Deputy speaker, all incidences of racial tension must be


addressed are particularly where it involves intimidation or hate


claim, worse still when it involves attacks on members, those who can be


profile because of their race. It is a matter that has caused


considerable concern to the PSN in that we have reported an increased


number of racist incidents and racial cranes over the past year. I


trust that the work arising from this strategy, a strategy without


action point attached to it and funding for those action points will


not help. It is necessary that we take action from this. Would be


First Minister accept that it is the duty incumbent on all who hold high


office including his own office to condemn forthrightly and


unambiguously without ifs or buts any form of racism and I refer in


particular to the incident in east Belfast were a house was allocated


to the Nigerian and the First Minister in that situation tended to


defend or explain away the reasons for that obstruction by local


residents. I did no such thing. Indeed if one was to listen to the


interview in school I would say that 90% of it was condemning any tape of


racial intimidation. But if you have any difficulty with housing


allocations or with the allocation scheme the answer is to see the


Housing executive and elected representatives and deal with those


matters to them. The answer is not to stand outside someone's house,


allocated to them, because no matter what their background might be that


in my view will be seen as intimidation and certainly have


somebody from a different racial profile is involved it will


certainly be seen by them as being racially motivated. Could I ask the


Minister whether he can confirm that he and his party are up for serious


negotiations to implement the Haas proposals in the next few days? I am


sure that the member did not intend to indicate that his party were not


up for negotiation is on the outstanding issues but by saying it


was simply the implementation of the Haass proposals that is precisely


what he is saying. I can assure you that this party is serious about


dealing with the three outstanding issues of parades, flags and


identity and of course the past. Those are important issues which


whether readers of them this month, next in one year's came must be


resolved. But they will not be resolved on the basis of people


digging in their heels for one set of outcomes that suits them. It must


be a set of outcomes that suits all of the parties in this house


otherwise it is not simply going to happen.


And our Political Reporter, Stephen Walker, joins me now.


We'll come onto the talks in a moment,


but first this row about racism has so far refused to go away.


It is and no great surprise. It was inevitable that racism would be on


the agenda for Peter Robinson 's questions today. The sole questions


to the First Minister and Peter Robinson tried to explain away the


situation in Cincinnati did Barroso -- clear that he did no such thing.


It is clear these attacks are increasing. A few years ago this was


something you heard about once per week or every couple of weeks but


the perception has now we are feeling about racist attacks


everyday. Last week we have the want of the antiracism strategy so maybe


today's debate could not be more topical. As far as the toxin


concerned, any sign of a start date? Now. There are discussions going on


behind the scenes. We know that the parties have put forward the


delegations. We know that Sinn Fein have offered ten dates to the DUP


but as yet we have no start date. We might find out more information


tomorrow, tomorrow will be a meeting of the party leaders so it is


possible we might find out about that. We know that in the offices of


first and deputy first ministers staff have been set aside to deal


with the mechanics but in terms of concrete details and a start date,


we do not have that done. As far as the politicians are concerned the


detect any mood amongst them that there is an appetite for talking?


There is an appetite for solution. People desperately want a solution


but when you talk to politicians in the corridors here at Stormont there


is enormous frustration. People feel time is running out. We are coming


to recess and we have some crucial parades and particularly when it


comes to the issue of parading their is the uncertainty that if there was


some agreement or talking vendor could take some heat out of the


situation. The Alliance party see if there is not a date then the two


governments should put a date for work. In the scenes there is an


enormous amount of frustration that we don't have a date for the toxin


again. Briefly, Richard Haass, the man who chaired the worst talk


session, gave a speech tonight. Yes he did, he got an award for his work


towards Northern Ireland and has warned against complacency and says


that people in Northern Ireland want their reader to compromise, he says


people want the leaders to come up with a deal and he is worried that


one incident in Northern Ireland could spark violence but he is


urging people at this crucial time even at this last minute to make a


deal. The Minister of Education was also


up at the despatch box today He had some worrying words


about the state of the education purse, but first he


was asked about home schooling. I understand that in light of legal


advice received following litigation in which an issue turning on


education arose that the education board will review the arrangements


to ensure that the meat of children and young people who are dedicated


Ahmed with a suitable in full-time education. Proposing massive changes


based on an interpretation of the law which is not shared with the


education authorities in England and Wales or Scotland. This is


potentially damaging and can confirm to the house is he sought legal


advice on this? We have our own legislation in relation to education


including medication and there is currently a consultation going on. I


will keep an open mind in terms of the legislation of the consultation


and the guidance that will be issued. I have a concern that the


vast majority of people have spoken on this issue have spoken on the


needs of the adult and not on the needs of the child. And everyone in


this chamber reassure themselves, how do you reassure yourself that


the tales being medicated is being properly home educated? How do you


the issue yourself of that? It appears to me that everyone who has


spoken in this manner thus far has completely reassured, we have no


hesitation whatsoever in endorsing the current games and say that


children are being properly home educated. However, in the initial


answer to the member we have seen that this is not the case. We have


legal duties to ensure we are doing it properly and a moral duty. May I


ask the minister if people tell me an allusion to his budget allocation


that has not been spent what will be returned to the DFP any month in


rent? You'll I am not in the position to hand back money that has


been spent. I am happy to say that I have one of the few departments that


has not returned significant amount of money to the DFP. This -- neither


in this monitoring rent or previous monitoring rounds. The education


budget is far from healthy. Our schools and boards are all working


under budget. We need to continue to identify ways of ensuring that


education does receive greater allocations before the end of this


CSR are in the next round of budget negotiations. To ask the minister if


he has any plans to the carriage programmes in schools to make


children think about the differences between them and those around them?


We have programmes in schools to do exactly that. Part of the policy is


to ensure young children start interacting and engaging with others


from different communities and backgrounds whether they be racial,


social or otherwise. Many of us are already participating in programmes


such as that. We obviously have the shared education programme moving


forward and I hope to be in the position in a number of weeks to


announce funding for continued share education programmes. Schools have


the access to courses, and they are carrying out such work but be wanted


promoted and increased as well. The recent discovery of the remains


of almost 800 children in a mass grave at a Galway care home


was a story heard across the world. Today it was debated in the Assembly


as a motion called for the Dublin government to fully investigate what


happened at the Bon Secours Sisters' In a moment we'll talk to


Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff, who brought the motion,


but first of all, here's a flavour This is not just the film Philomena


this is real life and it has happened in the recent past, the


first lady, I referred to, admission date to marry and veal was January


1980. January 1980 when a young woman from my constituency gave


birth to a baby boy and that baby boy was taken from her. It was a


place where mothers and babies were incarcerated and treated like


centres or social outcasts. A place where the mortality rate among


children was fun of the expected average when compared to the


mortality rate among children born with and manage. It is fair to say


that the treatment of mothers and children in homes and institutions


throughout Ireland north and south has been nothing short of


disgraceful. And it is almost medieval in its cruelty. I think


that stories of children and families affected have gone to the


very core and touched a nerve of the entire society. Many people look to


the Irish proclamation for inspiration. It is on every, in most


government buildings in Dublin. It talks about cherishing all of the


children of our nation equally. I think we have a field massively --


we have failed massively in that standard. And I think a lot of the


revelations that have come out in the last number of years about how


communities and the suggestions and organisations of the state or


otherwise treated young people, greeted children is one that we


must, we have a lot of making up to do.


The motion passed and its proposer, Barry McElduff, is with me now.


You said in the chamber today that babies continued to be taken from


Do you have any concerns that the practices that appear to have


I have been particularly struck by the experiences of a number of women


whom I know, or whom I have come to know. I number of Dan in County


Tyrone have contacted me as well as other counties. They have brought to


my attention in their story. A couple of examples that I cited


today, the first one was a lady who was admitted at 17, decaying 18


during her time. She gave birth to a baby boy and he was taken away after


his birth. She was not reunited with him for about 20 years. I speak to


that lady often and she has left a huge impression on me. I have spoken


also to adult ease. One particular lady in my constituency was adopted


and was taken from her mother. Speaking to these mothers and


children who have been adopted has really made an impression on me. I


wanted to go to The Dail when it was debated to make sure that the


Assembly in the North debated the same type of motion. It is


island-wide. The homes are in the north and the South. All parts of


the islands of Ireland. Do you believe it was equally widespread


across the island of Ireland? The figures that you are eye watering.


Was it as extensive in the North? That is yes to be found out. I met


this morning with an archaeologist who gave me some testimony as to the


work she is carrying out close to the cemetery to identify how many


babies were buried there. Questions remain unanswered. That is what this


is about. It is about bringing down to the four so their voices can be


heard. The voices of the mothers, the voices of those who were adopted


and taken from their mothers. Those voices need to be harried and I


think in time we will get to the full truth. It will require all


government departments and agencies, north and south, to cooperate with


investigations. Were you pleased with the way this


matter was handled today? I was very pleased. I proposed the


motion and I was joined by two other representatives. I was pleased with


the tone coming from Danny Kennedy and Trevor Lunn, those members in


particular. Ulster Unionists and an member.


DUP did not speak and they can explain why they didn't take that


opportunity to participate in the debate. I did notice that they


verbalise their support for the motion when the Speaker has it to


the Assembly. Everyone spoke with one voice. I was pleased that -- at


the tone and the commitment of Assembly members to do what they


can. We need to provide a listening ear at Stormont for others and for


victims and survivors. We want, for example, a historical institutional


abuse enquiry in the North to be expanded. It should cover a mother


and baby homes, etc. It should look out all kinds of institutions,


whether state or otherwise, or perhaps women were incarcerated.


Thank you. MLAs approved the introduction


of new regulations for the The Justice Minister said


the changes are designed to further protect the public against


the danger of sexual offending. The draft regulations before the


House today will remove a number of differences between our law and


arrangements in the rest of the UK, it I believe is important to enhance


the overall effectiveness of risk management processes. The draft


regulations will require any sex offender with no fixed abode is to


make a notification to the police every week, to confirm a place for


he can be found. This will vastly improve the current requirement were


such an offender only have to check in on an annual basis. The


regulations will require an offender to notify the police if he is


resided -- has resided or stayed for 12 hours or more weather is a child


under 18. This information will help ensure that there is a focus on


child protection. This also requires notification of travel outside of


the UK for more than three days. Under the new requirements,


offenders will have to notify of all travel arrangements outside the UK


except for cross-border movement which will remain as it is


currently, notification of movement for three days or more. This is to


allow for people who travel across the border regularly, for example,


to visit a relative. In England, we will be more aware of


Sarah's law. The public has a right to know where a sex offender lives


in their community. There are inherent risks for the sex offender


by way of their own protection. We believe that the right of the


community at the right of parents and families to know that their


children are being protected, and that they know the whereabouts of


the sex offenders residing in Northern Ireland, is the paramount,


critical tests that should be met. Great


the new draft additional amendments are to ensure that this focus


continues to be achieved as effectively as possible. Public


protection must be at the heart of society. These requirements will


form an excellent tool to the authorities and will enhance the


management of members. This statutory rule will enhance


what we already have. In terms of public protection, insofar as new


information will be required to be given by sex offenders to the


police. I think it is important that if we are to manage the risk posed


by sex offenders, that in fact we do strengthen these arrangements.


Zero hours contracts - some people might not know what they are,


but approximately 28,000 workers in Northern Ireland are on them.


The contracts allowing employers to hire people with no guarantee of


Today, the Employment and Learning Minister, Stephen Farry, announced


As members will know, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK


to which implement law has devolved. Given that concerns have been


raised, my commitments to ensuring that employment is fair, I have


decided to review the use of these types of contracts, initially


through a public consultation. The information gathering indicated that


zero hours contracts can be useful for employers and individuals in


specific circumstances, arriving flexibility for both parties. Some


regard zero are as contract as vital and in response to the labour


market. Had implement levels been higher, they might have been


expected during the recent downturn. There are 19,600 zero hours


contracts currently use within the Northern Ireland health service.


In relation to the health service, we do know that zero hours contracts


will be used within different aspects of the public sector in


Northern Ireland 's. Any comment at this stage would be largely


speculative, but I will be seeking to have conversations with other


ministerial colleagues around all this. One of the things we are


mindful of is the unintended consequences. There clearly is


concern around the use of these contracts, but equally they may


provide benefits to a number of different sectors, whether private


or public. With you accept that zero contract


hours creates a hierarchy of workers within which you have secure and


insecure contracts, and workers with rights and entitlements and those


that don't? It is worth stressing that people on


zero hours contracts do benefit from a large number of employment rights.


In that sense, there is no hierarchy in terms of the protection


available, there is a difference in terms of the nature of the


relationship. There are a number of consequences that flow from that


that I have highlighted already, in terms of ability to plan, security


of earnings and the invocations that has over access to credit. There is


a whole host of possible consequences, particularly those in


low learning situations. It is worth stressing that why we do associate


zero hours contracts with people on lower incomes, they are used in a


whole range of different walks of life and can be for people on quite


high earnings. Representatives of the local print


press appeared before the While those attending were


commercial executives with their papers,


the MLAs were nonetheless keen to I would always argue, a bit like


your own professional role, to be effective in what we do. I think


there are lines in that and something that annoyed me at the


time, and maybe I -- was when Arlene Foster's father dives. It was in the


front page of the Belfast Telegraph, with a picture of Arlene Foster


crying out farther's funeral. I am quite pleased that Northern Ireland


hasn't gone down that route of personal publication.


Why did you decide that that was in the public interest?


I am solely responsible for commercial aspect of the paper.


There is a strong line between commercial and editorial so I have


absolutely no input into the editorial aspects of the paper. A


predator is sitting behind me. That would be appropriate, if there


are issues of concern. I think our readers want to see the


humans behind governments. I don't think our reputation as local


newspapers here in Northern Ireland, we act with integrity at all times.


How do you go about reporting on the Northern Ireland Assembly and


Executive and how significant you think it is that you do that in a


positive manner? We don't see much of it, to be frank.


There is a perception that we only report on bad news but a lot of what


happens here is reported in a very factual manner. We are not going out


of our way to distort. It doesn't sell newspapers and it wouldn't


encourage people to pick up the Irish News. That is just being


truthful. People do want to be informed and know what is going on


truthful. People do want to be informed and and I think we give a


responsible amount of coverage. Dominic Fitzpatrick from the


Irish News. Stephen, the Queen and the Duke


of Edinburgh are here and they have The royal couple are staying at


Hillsborough Castle. They match the First Minister Peter Robinson and


Martin McGuinness. The Queen was here back in 2012, so they know each


other, very familiar faces. It would have been a mixture of formal and


informal. Interesting that that meeting with


Martin McGuinness is the third, and each time they need the news value


goes down. That's true. They first met back in


2012. There was a meeting at Windsor Castle. Tonight is the third event.


As you say, every time they meet, the news value goes down. He said


tonight's event was about reaching out and he was representing an


entire community. They have a busy few days ahead?


A very busy schedule with a tour of the Crumlin Road Gaol which has


become a tourist attraction in else. They will visit the TV set of Game


of Thrones. We don't know if the Queen and Prince Philip are fans,


perhaps we will find out. Then there is an event at the British Legion


and a lunch at Belfast City Hall. I'm back with more


at the same time tomorrow night - Until then, from everyone


in the team - bye bye. BBC Northern Ireland's biggest


classical music party of the year. Free tickets are available


by random draw. For terms and conditions


and how to apply, before 5pm


on Monday, 14th July.


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.