24/06/2014 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.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 24/06/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Coming up in the next 30 minutes, David Ford outlines his vision


A justice system which protect the citizens and treat victims with


respect and fairness and makes best use of scarce public resources. A


justice system of which we can all be proud.


As the racism row rumbles on in the Assembly the Social Development


I will take no comment at all from Sinn Fein members about anything to


do with racism after 30 years of the terrorist campaign that thrives on a


racist attack on anyone who was British and not Irish.


And I'm joined by the political commentator, Cathy Gormley-Heenan.


Proceedings at Stormont were very much dominated


by justice and education issues today, but the media focus was


The Queen was in Belfast attending several functions with the Duke


The couple visited Crumlin Road Jail, the set


of the American television series 'Game of Thrones' and attended


But it wasn't just the locations chosen for the Queen


The Queen was here today and she spent much of the day in the company


of the Deputy First Minister. This has become something of a regular


occurrence. It certainly is. The impact factor is probably not as


high as it was but this was the first visit that Martin McGuinness


and the Queen met privately and a loan without intermediary is


probably not as high as it was but this was the first visit that Martin


McGuinness and the Queen met privately and a loan without


intermediaries to soften the conversation or move either one of


them in a particular direction. And again, these sorts of actions are


part of the choreography of the peace process. First you have the


meeting elsewhere, then with people and then alone. I expect further


meetings to take place. They seem everything relax uncomfortable in


one another's company. Yes, and that is a great difference between the


political and personal. As part of the political portfolio he needs the


Queen in his capacity as Debbie the First Minister but personal


relationships have been built up for a long time. They are both obviously


very aware of the symbols of being seen together. The symbolism today


was phenomenal. Part of the tour was in Crumlin Road jail, that spoke


volumes. Both Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were detained at Her


Majesty 's pleasure in the prison at different points during the conflict


and the fact that both of them were together with her and taking her on


the tour was hugely some bollard but even more so the fact that she went


to Crumlin Road steel which was a jail which is very popular for


tourists and that agreement was found between unionists and


nationalists on the use of that jail as it is the traction spoke volumes.


The Queen the Queens Phil then it was made public several years ago.


That has never happened before. Is that another example of the


increased normalcy of the relationship between the northern


Irish republicans and the Royal family? Yes and sending the message


that there is absolute faith in the PSN I to look after the Queen on her


visit. And briefly, the first and deputy first ministers might have


been showing the Queen the sites but they have also been thinking about


politics, day-to-day politics in the background. There was a beating at


Stormont Castle logo has been scarce and there could be talked before


next week. Well anything happen before the summer recess? We only


have 12 and a half weeks but the message before the election is that


we have a window of opportunity to sort this out at my question would


be, what has happened since the end of the elections until now that has


delayed progress again on this issue?


Back to Stormont now and the debate on the Justice Bill


I am bringing forward measures to improve the way that the system


supports victims and witnesses, speeds up his profession and


increases the level of protection the system provides a Giggs they do


is founders. Part one trait a single jurisdiction for county and


magistrate courts, this will bring these two court cases in line with


the High Court, Crown Court and Coroner's Courts, delivering greater


flexibility in the disposal of court business by allowing cases to be


listed in or transferred to in terms of court weather is good reason for


doing so. The new arrangement will allow us to better meet the needs of


victims and witnesses, allowing cases to be dealt with at the court


venue that best suit particular case. Part of the mix prosecutor --


prosecutorial fines different. This will increase capacity. It will


enable some fences to be dealt with at an early stage without cost to


the court, enable prosecutorial resources to be better connected to


prosecute more serious offences. This dispenses with the idea of the


investigating officer to appear in court and releases resources to


policing. Part four contains provisions that will improve the


experiences of victims and witnesses in the justice system. It will


increase the standard of service that victims and witnesses can


expect to receive. These provisions should also give rise to a greater


focus on the needs of victims and witnesses across the criminal


justice system. Too often victims and witnesses are unclear about the


services available to them. They might not know when they should be


provided with information about their case or what measures are


available to help them get the best evidence in court. The charges will


address this by setting out for victims and one is a statutory basis


what services are to be provided, the standards of service required


and the clear indication of how they should be treated by criminal


justice agencies. Part seven makes provision for the introduction of


violent offences orders to help mitigate the risk of violent repeat


offending. The court can make an order where it is satisfied it is


necessary for the purpose of protecting the public from the risk


of serious violent harm caused by the offender. The provisions aim to


provide a similar level of protection to the public from the


risk posed by violent offenders. This is already provided to sexual


offences prevention orders to manage the risk from sex offenders. The


bill include Ruth reforms to manage guilty pleas. -- the bill includes


reforms. The provisions will require sentencing courts to state the


sentence that would have been imposed if a guilty plea had been


entered at the LA is reasonable opportunity and places the duty on


the defence solicitor to advise a client about the benefits of an


early guilty plea. With these provisions we hope to encourage


those guilty of a criminal offence to admit their guilt at the earliest


reasonable stage. This bill is part of a blueprint for the better


justice system in Northern Ireland, one that protects it citizens,


treated victims with respect and fairness and make the best use of


scarce public resources. In short a justice system of which we can all


be proud. The Justice Minister, David Ford,


outlining his proposed changes to the justice


system in Northern Ireland. And Cathy Gormley-Heenan


is still with me. The Minister is promising a justice


system we can all be proud of. Yet he has several areas to


improve and he also needs It is, some of the efficiencies that


can take place as part of the bill do not actually require a lot of


money. For example one of the more senior judges recently, just as we


complained that the length of time it was taking some cases to even get


to court needed to be addressed and that be addressed quite easily by


ensuring that representatives from the Public prosecution service have


to go to court to explain why there is a goalie in the proceedings in


blue have now been brought before the court in a timely fashion. That


does not cost money at all but requires personnel to be available


to the court in a certain period of time. Thank you for now. This is


what this assembly is all about. Legislating on things that impact on


people 's lives and now that we have started this bill through the


passage of the house it becomes the house is built. It is up to MLAs to


shape this bill. In 2012 the committee brought a report to the


assembly on this crucial piece of work that had been undertaken


regarding the experiences of and services provided to victims. And


witnesses claim encounter the criminal justice system. The


findings before difficult reading. Statements such as an accord, people


are misinformed, ill informed or not informed at all. As the trauma


suffered by families can often be exacerbated by the criminal justice


system. This made the committee determined to ensure that the


changes would take place. We would be in support of the idea of a


single jurisdiction. We will support that because it was out playing very


clearly. Rather than bringing this measure in with other aspects of the


court system. We will ensure better case management and in terms of the


use of witnesses and particularly victims, they will assist this


process and we will make sure the courts are held in appropriate


places. In my own experience as a lawyer that to some extent victims


and even witnesses were regarded... As incidental to the legal process,


to the trial. I think that the interests of victims was often boxed


during the course of those trials. -- often lost. What we have with the


justiciary and indeed amongst lawyers generally is the realisation


that victims do count. I welcome any efficiency that is brought into the


criminal justice system. I am sure that is what we are hoping to do


with this bill. And who would not welcome a faster federal justice


system? Although I hope that the minister is not indicating that we


do not have a fair justice system at the moment. I am wondering that when


we have a faster justice system will that bring more economic savings to


the justice process? We have talked a lot in the justice committee and


indeed at various times in this house about the legal aid bills and


I have been one who has said that we need to reduce the legal aid bill


but we must also reduce and look for other efficiencies in the justice


system. I wonder if this faster process is being proposed within


this bill and will it actually result in any economic savings? The


introduction of prosecutorial fines, for low-level offences, is an


important member -- important way to reduce pressure on courts. Many


offenders plead guilty and Magistrates' Courts, rendering many


experiences are necessary. I can take of no circumstances where if


you were a barrister or a solicitor you would ever let your client into


the dock without having told them, by the way, you fight on and are


convicted you will look at this range of sentence. If you plead


guilty you will probably look at this range of sentence. To think


that, all, a disabling through for a criminal justice system to put it in


clause 78 with all of the celebrity that this brings that it shall be


the solemn duty of solicitors to advise their clients of what would


happen in respect of an early guilty plea. Such nonsense.


Social Development Minister told the Assembly today that more that


1400 jobs in Northern Ireland could be directly under threat if the


Nelson McCausland was referring to public sector employees here who


work indirectly for the Department of Work and Pensions in England.


The jobs could be lost because the staff will no longer be operating


the same social security systems. What might be the implications in a


job situation? Around 600 staff are currently employed. It provides


processing for a number of working age benefits in the South East of


England. That work is done on behalf of the Department for work and in


so. There are 800 staff employed in the child maintenance service


providing service to the eastern area of England for the Department


for Work and Pensions. The total number of staff is over 1400.


Following a meeting with Iain Duncan Smith in March 2012, I highlighted


to this assembly my concern that these jobs will be at risk if


Northern Ireland does not progress with welfare reform. That is because


many of the competitive advantages that Northern Ireland offers will


disappear as the staff will no longer be operating the same


systems. While I share some of your frustrations, can you tell the house


when you last meaningfully engaged with any of this political parties


in this chamber to progress that matter? It is a matter that is


brought up regularly around the executive table. On many occasions.


Because I think that is where the matter sits at the moment. The


member would also be a way that there is a ministerial subcommittee


which has been working on this for some time. We the point some time


ago for everything possible that could be done in terms of extracting


agreements from Westminster and trying to get our reasonable package


of flexibility is in Northern Ireland, that is work that was done


in quite some time ago. Can I ask the Minister Fred he agrees that the


treatment of Michael was racial and intimidation? The disappointing --


it is disappointing sometimes divide the people take situations and


telling them to make political points. The members should learn


that lesson. The situation has been clearly identified by the Housing


executive and by others and the nature of their decision. I'm not


familiar with the details of the situation other than what I have


read in the newspapers. Having said that, anyone should have the right


to be treated equally by the Housing executive and should not


disadvantaged or discriminated in any way because of their race or


anything else. I would take no comments at all from Sinn Fein


members about anything to do with racism after 30 years of a terrorist


campaign that thrived on a racist attack on anybody who was British


and not Irish. The Education Minister today


revealed the names of the 15 schools which have been


approved for rebuilding. John O'Dowd told


the Assembly that ?170 million will be divided between eight primary


and seven post-primary schools. The Minister said


the schools were selected according Limited capital re-sources have been


made available to me. The scale of investment goes across a wide and


diverse schools estate. I am sure that every member of this house can


identify a range of schools that are in need of investment. I would love


to be in a position to make a statement that promises investment


to all schools in need. But I must be realistic and ensure that any


school announced for investment will be sustainable for many years to


come. The major project I am announcing today are as follows.


St Mark's and St Luke's Primary Schools, Twinbrook.


Monkstown High School and Newtownabbey Community High School.


St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen.


In welcoming this announcement, I think it is mixed with good news,


partial news and no news. I think in respect of the case of this


announcement, some of it is a case of jam tomorrow. If you want jam


tomorrow, you have to grow fruit today. Are preparations in


recognition of the lead in time. The announcements I have been making


since June 2012 have been learning processes. The Department for


Education is now taking forward the largest capital programme. Could the


Minister tell us what it will mean to the construction industry in


terms of finance going into that industry? A recent report carried


out by the construction industry suggest that every pound announced


in relation to capital investment stimulates a further two within the


construction industry. My primary objective is to build new schools


for our pupils and communities. But I am acutely aware that this


announcement will also help the construction industry.


And it was a busy day for the Education Minister, as he was also


called to answer an urgent oral question, tabled by the chair of the


The Minister told the Assembly he hasn't cancelled teaching


redundancies after 120 school staff scheduled for redundancy were


All applications were assessed against a strict code Delia --


criteria. I am prized Tora ties and -- I have prioritised schools in a


closure or amalgamation situation. If funding were available, I would


be in a position to proceed with a further 28. 93 applications have not


been approved as they did not meet all the criteria. But if funding


were to become available, they may proceed. They have not been approved


at the stage for various reasons. I have not cancelled teacher


redundancies. I find it ironic to be called to the chamber for not


funding redundancies. Can the Minister tell the house


today where did you know that this scheme was not going to be fully


implemented and why was this scheme introduced without there being


financial security in regard to his budget? In relation as to when I


became aware of the situation, when it became clear that the safest --


the executive was not in a position to agree. That bid has not yet been


successful. Once that became clear that it would not be in place in


time, I informed schools of the position we were in.


A new apprencticeship strategy announced by the Employment Minister


came up several times during the course of question time today.


But first, we heard about the possibility of a veterinary school


being established at the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus.


The proposal has been brought forward by the University. It has


the discretion to offer better now vacate -- veteran Larry courses. It


is preparing an economic proposal to support it. This proposal might be


used to bid for additional funding. Would you consider the possibility


of economic support from agriculture and rural development because of the


subject matter? Investment is very expensive. The universal themselves


are talking about a school of 250 students, 50 across five years. It


is more expensive to train of it than any profession you might think


of. -- a vet. The university can go ahead with his from its existing


resources, but that might be a distortion. It is something we can


consider, but it has to be determined. The minister talked


about apprenticeships at level seven and level eight. What uptake does he


anticipate at those levels and what resource strategy will he be


deploying? Today, we are launching the high-level policy framework for


apprenticeships and we are making a major switch from a situation for


apprenticeships are primarily offered at level two and level


three. We have a fresh youth training offer which will address


the level two issue. This is very much in the hands of sector


partnerships to develop the framework. It is possible, we have


seen in other parts of the world apprenticeships being delivered at


level seven and level eight. We want to make sure that Northern Ireland


is part of that, but it is in the hands of the business community to


come forward. Can I ask the Minister, he read a


statement this morning saying that while he -- that access would be


widened, could you expand on that? We are looking at the expansion of


apprenticeships. We want to look at any particular barriers that exist


and we have raised issues about some of the gender imbalances that exist


already. Also people with disabilities. This will be


cross-referenced with work we are doing without disability employment


service. We are developing a disability employment strategy which


will be available in the autumn. And Cathy Gormley-Heenan


is with me again. There's just another week left of


the Assembly and there's a definite Not much of a serious nature


is being discussed or passed? One of the things before the


election was that everyone thought that welfare reform would not be


touched until the election was over and dealt with swiftly afterwards.


But given the severity of the penalties from the Treasury this


would be dealt with before the end of the parliamentary term. That


hasn't happened. If it is delayed until September, we have another ?10


million of penalties. A good effort, could do better.


Now, sometimes politicians up here on the hill can be accused of


of being a little out of tune with the electorate


but this evening in the Great Hall that certainly wasn't the case.


That was Ross Houston from the Lisburn Flute Orchestra.


He'll be taking part in a Guinness world record attempt in September


Do join me for The View on Thursday at 10.35 on BBC1.


Until then, from everyone in the team, bye bye.


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.

Download Subtitles