23/06/2014 Stormont Today


23/06/2014

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

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the outstanding issues of flags, parades and the past.

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Surely this party is serious about dealing with the outstanding issues

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parades, flags and of course the past.

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The Education Minister gives his budget a worrying diagnosis.

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

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that education receives greater allocations.

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

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The First Minister told the Assembly today that he and

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his party are serious about dealing with outstanding issues which were

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not resolved during the marathon Haass talks last Christmas.

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Peter Robinson said the problems over flags, parades

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But before the impending intensive talks were mentioned at

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Question Time, Mr Robinson had to once again answer questions

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

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

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principal Deputy speaker, all incidences of racial tension must be

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addressed are particularly where it involves intimidation or hate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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office including his own office to condemn forthrightly and

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

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

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

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defend or explain away the reasons for that obstruction by local

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

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

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racial intimidation. But if you have any difficulty with housing

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

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Housing executive and elected representatives and deal with those

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

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

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in my view will be seen as intimidation and certainly have

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somebody from a different racial profile is involved it will

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

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

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

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

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

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was simply the implementation of the Haass proposals that is precisely

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

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dealing with the three outstanding issues of parades, flags and

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

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

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

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

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

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otherwise it is not simply going to happen.

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

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We'll come onto the talks in a moment,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the perception has now we are feeling about racist attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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towards Northern Ireland and has warned against complacency and says

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

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

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one incident in Northern Ireland could spark violence but he is

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

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deal. The Minister of Education was also

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up at the despatch box today He had some worrying words

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about the state of the education purse, but first he

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

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advice received following litigation in which an issue turning on

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education arose that the education board will review the arrangements

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

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

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

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education authorities in England and Wales or Scotland. This is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this chamber reassure themselves, how do you reassure yourself that

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

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

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

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hesitation whatsoever in endorsing the current games and say that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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in this monitoring rent or previous monitoring rounds. The education

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

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

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education does receive greater allocations before the end of this

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

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

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

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

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to ensure young children start interacting and engaging with others

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from different communities and backgrounds whether they be racial,

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

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

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

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announce funding for continued share education programmes. Schools have

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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place where mothers and babies were incarcerated and treated like

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

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children was fun of the expected average when compared to the

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

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that the treatment of mothers and children in homes and institutions

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throughout Ireland north and south has been nothing short of

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

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that stories of children and families affected have gone to the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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communities and the suggestions and organisations of the state or

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otherwise treated young people, greeted children is one that we

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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investigations. Were you pleased with the way this

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

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

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

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particular. Ulster Unionists and an member.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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whether state or otherwise, or perhaps women were incarcerated.

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Thank you. MLAs approved the introduction

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of new regulations for the The Justice Minister said

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the changes are designed to further protect the public against

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the danger of sexual offending. The draft regulations before the

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

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

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the overall effectiveness of risk management processes. The draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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child protection. This also requires notification of travel outside of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:20:09.:20:15.

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

:20:16.:20:19.

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

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

:20:23.:20:26.

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

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

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critical tests that should be met. Great

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the new draft additional amendments are to ensure that this focus

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continues to be achieved as effectively as possible. Public

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

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form an excellent tool to the authorities and will enhance the

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management of members. This statutory rule will enhance

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

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

:21:20.:21:25.

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

:21:26.:21:34.

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

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

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

:21:43.:21:44.

The contracts allowing employers to hire people with no guarantee of

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

:21:48.:21:50.

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

:21:51.:22:04.

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

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

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

:22:16.:22:18.

through a public consultation. The information gathering indicated that

:22:19.:22:27.

zero hours contracts can be useful for employers and individuals in

:22:28.:22:30.

specific circumstances, arriving flexibility for both parties. Some

:22:31.:22:38.

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

:22:39.:22:44.

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

:22:45.:22:49.

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

:22:50.:22:53.

contracts currently use within the Northern Ireland health service.

:22:54.:23:02.

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

:23:03.:23:08.

will be used within different aspects of the public sector in

:23:09.:23:14.

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

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

:23:20.:23:24.

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

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mindful of is the unintended consequences. There clearly is

:23:30.:23:33.

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

:23:34.:23:38.

provide benefits to a number of different sectors, whether private

:23:39.:23:41.

or public. With you accept that zero contract

:23:42.:23:45.

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

:23:46.:23:50.

insecure contracts, and workers with rights and entitlements and those

:23:51.:23:54.

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

:23:55.:23:58.

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

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

:24:04.:24:07.

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

:24:08.:24:12.

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

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

:24:15.:24:20.

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

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a whole host of possible consequences, particularly those in

:24:25.:24:31.

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

:24:32.:24:34.

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

:24:35.:24:39.

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

:24:40.:24:41.

high earnings. Representatives of the local print

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press appeared before the While those attending were

:24:47.:24:48.

commercial executives with their papers,

:24:49.:24:52.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:25:37.:25:43.

hasn't gone down that route of personal publication.

:25:44.:25:49.

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

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I am solely responsible for commercial aspect of the paper.

:25:55.:25:58.

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

:25:59.:26:01.

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

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

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

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

:26:33.:26:36.

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

:26:37.:26:42.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:48.:26:51.

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

:26:52.:26:56.

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

:26:57.:27:01.

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

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

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

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

:27:20.:27:20.

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

:27:21.:27:24.

responsible amount of coverage. Dominic Fitzpatrick from the

:27:25.:27:26.

Irish News. Stephen, the Queen and the Duke

:27:27.:27:27.

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

:27:28.:27:42.

Hillsborough Castle. They match the First Minister Peter Robinson and

:27:43.:27:45.

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

:27:46.:27:51.

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

:27:52.:27:55.

informal. Interesting that that meeting with

:27:56.:28:00.

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

:28:01.:28:05.

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

:28:06.:28:11.

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

:28:12.:28:18.

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

:28:19.:28:22.

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

:28:23.:28:26.

entire community. They have a busy few days ahead?

:28:27.:28:33.

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

:28:34.:28:35.

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

:28:36.:28:41.

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

:28:42.:28:45.

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

:28:46.:28:47.

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

:28:48.:28:51.

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

:28:52.:28:55.

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

:28:56.:29:08.

classical music party of the year. Free tickets are available

:29:09.:29:12.

by random draw. For terms and conditions

:29:13.:29:14.

and how to apply, before 5pm

:29:15.:29:19.

on Monday, 14th July.

:29:20.:29:23.

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.