24/09/2012 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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Good evening. Welcome to Stormont Today. The big Ripon is BP motion


calling for the removal or Nelson McCausland. The Post Minister made


his views very weird. There is clearly as it the green agenda with


a sectarian pact team put England the motion. -- sectarian agenda.


all kings of reasons which I cannot going sooner. During in the in the


studio is the Shadow Secretary of State, Brown incorporate. -- Vernon


Coker. The motion said that by failing to condemn loyalist bans


which preached at rates Commission ruling, he had breached the


ministerial code of conduct. When Nelson McCausland became a minister


he signed up to the ministerial code. In those he promised to up


old law and order and promote good community relations. We contend


that his bill you to condemn these actions on these two occasions


exacerbated the buyer was that arose out of them. These dangers


constitute appeal you to uphold law and order and promote good


community relations and he must these the consequences. A hyping


the proposal buried disappointing. Indeed, it is depressing. The


proposal indicates that the motion is not part of an arrow, sectarian


agenda and there was nothing a row about it. But, it is clearly a


sectarian agenda with a sectarian pack team putting down a motion.


the SDLP membership and then the breaking of the law, he entering of


houses, the illegal parades carried out by the civil rights movement


and a founding fathers of their party? Will one of them stand on


their feet and see my -- that they condemn that. We need to set the


tone and demonstrate leadership this week and that mistakes have


been made and we could up and bitter, the leadership can stand up


and accept that we need a mystic and we need to seize up. The pledge


that he took his clear, precisely to find in relation to the


minister's responsibility to uphold the rule of law, it lays out how


that pledge you'd be practice. In particular order minister by


stating that those who deliberately and knowingly broke the termination


of the Parades Commission in this instance, the band's playing as


passing St Patrick's Chapel on the 20 per of August were and his words


are totally justified is in clear breach of that pledge. This house


has a duty to uphold the highest standards so that the people of the


north, who put us here, can have convinced that those unique that


rules play by the rules. This motion, it is about decency and


accountability and it is about order. The SDLP went on the attack


in relation to what can be described as "civil disobedience".


That was the initial porkies but they were on the pickled go and and


they still Ark and stop the SDLP was born to it at a movement that


employed civil disobedience as a tactic including the illegal


occupation of public property. Does he can be in his predecessors for


their actions? Alistair MacDonald is not a member of the Exchequer


that and so, I eat pose a second question, does Alex at we condemn


the founding fathers of the SDLP boarder Action? It is clear back


they are Anne will position to bring or what such a motion that


that bringing themselves up to charges of gross hypocrisy can stop


Nelson McCausland, but unbowed and unapologetic today. Stephen Walker


is what we know it. Quite heated debate which split along


traditional lines. Is it was quite a heated debate. We got a labour of


it in those clips. People will remember this debate was on time.


The SDLP motion was supported by Sinn Fein, by the Alliance Party


and by the Greens. It divided what the majority of Ulster Unionists


rolling in behind Nelson McCausland. Two Ulster Unionists did not cope.


An independent Unionist go put of the SDLP emotion and afterwards, he


explained why it. The Post minister and his party had an opportunity


today to put a marker down and show they are determined to stamp out


sectarianism. All I had today from Nelson McCausland and his party


colleagues was all the averages of the other side. Nothing about him


being unable to condemn the violence that was happening,


condemn others, who were breaking the law. Explaining why he bloated


the way he did, there. The boat bailed - Does that mean there isn't


into the matter? 47 members voted for the motion, and Baltic it's, so


the motion failed, but the SDLP leader Alistair MacDonald made it


clear that as far as she is concerned, it is not the end of the


matter. We intend pursuing this. We intend speaking to the Assembly


ombudsman and going through the committee of privileges and


procedures, because this needs to be established once and for all.


Those are the views of Alastair Macdonald, making it clear that


although the vote was lost he's going to try to take the matter


brother. -- brother. -- further. The national allegiances of


athletes and the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was


what all the Jane de today. I agree with the minister that it was a


wonderful location or our sports people, with a Olympian or


Paralympian, in particular might own constituency was blessed with


Michael McKillop and Paddy Barnes. As the minister any plans for


developing a boxing strategy arising out of the wonder of


success of our boxers in the Olympics? The minister did announce


a strategy for the boxing fraternity, and I note that he is a


great interest in boxing, but, there is a planned in place, so


being boxing clubs to see what equipment and materials are


required across the North and that will report back to the minister.


Boxing is a great we, as a diversion, for boys and girls, in


relation to bringing Bin in of the streets and so intimate different


way, and a very old pulling spoke. It might be one or and one in the


ring but there is a great team at this you have won a boxing club.


Passed - aren't a boxing club. Everyone is aware of the difficult


choice that the maerl will we will have to make in terms of allegiance


and we support them, what the readers, but will the Minister


asked his brain that the same opportunity that that presently


afforded to the likes of Roy Wii Boy and Graeme it will and others,


to play well at the Team GB will team Ireland, should be reported in


the Olympic Games to boxers so that they are not compelled to pick or


team Ireland which they could fight or Team GB if they used to do so?


One thing that has been shown, over the Olympics and this last period


of time, regardless of what team anyone plead for all drawing, the


whole community got behind been to support them. I noted for Rommel's


riches of the committee that someone from you was achieving, on


the world stage. It is a huge achievement to secure the world


police and borough games, and it is enough to capture the imagination


of people in Northern Ireland and put it the end with the scale and


possibility of this event, and if she is working with the tourism


minister and volunteering to make sure we get as much information out


there about the opportunities for volunteering and tourism in gold in


as it it, or so. -- in gold in this event. Now that the Olympics and


Paralympics up past, there will be a focus on the world police and


borough games. This is a major international sporting event and


when people look back to the Olympics and the many programmes


and articles in relation to the Olympics and Paralympics, one of


the main features has been the role of volunteers, who meet in dipping


League games, they broke that extra dimension to the Olympics, and I


have no doubt that the department will be able to recruit three


doesn't buy put the ball it appears to do their up on the streets of


Belfast, to make these the crinkly police and fire games. -- friendly.


The centenary of the signing of the Ulster Cup it was marked at public


buildings with a lecturer in the long gallery. Among those attending


was Vernon Coker. An important event would you to attend? It is a


very significant historical event, the start of the decade of


commemoration and it sets the tone all the rest of the decade will go,


so it is an extremely important event and an interesting one for me


to be at. And you have done it and -- several other appointments


related to it. I wanted to come and see what was going on with respect


to the marking of the same thing or the Cup at 100 years ago. And went


to the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road. What was important


about that, it was historians reflecting on what happened all


that time ago, talking about the significance of it to ordinary


people, people are bringing in memorabilia from the time, people


who had been talking to and went back there about what happened, so


it was the people's history that was recorded at the Spectrum Centre.


That was what made it so important for me, do you that. A picture of


you signing a book, singing a visitors' book. I think it is


important. If you're the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern


Ireland, it is important the company will Bono when, to talk to


people about these important, historic events. There are more to


come, that MPs 16 rising, that will be marked in an important way.


any people are saying that it is important that this first event in


this decade of centenary commemorations gets off on the


right Britain, that the process gets off to a good start, and there


is some nervousness, and he will be aware of this ahead of the parade


on Saturday, that things have the potential not to go as well as they


might also what are you doing about the tops going on behind closed


doors to make sure Saturday passes The vast majority of people wanted


these events to be marked in a peaceful way. There are discussions


going on looking at how these events can be marked in an


appropriate way. I think what is needed is local leadership. People


need to come together to see were compromises can be found. I


expected to go well. I am sure the vast majority of people would


expect that. You have to hope that the discussions that no doubt will


be going on, in which people will seek to market in an appropriate


way -- to market... That is what everybody will work towards


achieving. Did you give direct advice about dealing with


residents' groups, for example? Certainly what you would want to


see his everyone talking to everyone. Local leadership, people


on the ground. Seeing how these occasions can be marked in an


appropriate way. Certainly that is what you would hope to be happening.


You are here at Stormont on the day the SDLP tabled a vote of no


confidence in Nelson McCausland. Some people think that was not a


great idea in the lead-up to Saturday's parade. Do you think it


was wise? The Assembly will decide on which Motion's are put forward.


That is a matter for the Assembly. We want to see all of these


occasions, starting with the Ulster Covenant, marked in an appropriate


way. That will require local leadership and people coming


together to discuss these events. Certainly that is what I expect to


happen. If you remain in this position, you would expect that you


would be back and attending other events that different parts of the


community would be celebrating? There are quite a lot of


commemorations and celebrations in the next 10 years. Exactly.


Starting with the marking of the signing of the Ulster Coburn up


this weekend, hugely significant event. -- also covenant. To --


Ulster. I think sensible people in Northern Ireland and the rest of


Ireland, they will be looking to see how it can be marked in the


wake that would do everyone credit. Thank you for coming in. Nice to


meet you. The Department of Agriculture's decision to move its


headquarters from Belfast got a mixed reaction from staff,


according to the union. Today it was the turn of MLAs to quiz the


Minister. It is a very difficult time in


terms of the weather, the increasing prices on the global


markets. We have to continue to work with the industry. That is one


of the reason -- reasons we established the board. A lot of


these things, such as pricing in global markets, are B and our


control. We have to work with industry and do our best for all


involved. There is distinct difference between the set up we


have and what is in Britain, that most of our farmers are involved


with co-operatives. We have to continue to work with the industry


to make sure we promote all our sectors. They need... Car and the


Minister guarantee this House that she will bring measures in to bring


stability to the local milk producers before the end of milk


quotas? One of the pieces of work we have taken forward as getting


involved in the UK dairy package. Looking at the potential market we


should be exploring. One of the differences is that we're self-


sufficient in milk and milk products. In Britain, they are not.


We are target in the export market. We will continue to work with


industry. The Department's headquarters at Dundonald House and


higher bank or no longer fit for purpose. We saw an opportunity to


spread high quality public sector jobs across the North. I secured


the programme for Government commitment and an outline of the


project has been approved. The top two were in the north-west. I made


my decision to relocate to Ballykelly. The availability of an


Assembly owned Star -- side and the availability of buildings on that


side. Can the Minister confirm that no staff will be forced to relocate


to Ballykelly? I recognise the location could create problems for


existing staff. I am going to take the time that we have to develop


and implement change. That can include looking at more flexible


working, looking at doing things a little bit differently. I do not


expect that existing members of staff will be forced to move. Of


course, the one thing I would say is that their responsibilities


under existing contracts and they have to be honoured. We are


locating high-value public sector jobs and creating a fair


distribution of those jobs across the North. It was recommended some


time ago in the Bain report. It helps to build a our economy in a


fair wear. There is a better distribution of jobs. Michelle


O'Neill. Welfare was back on the agenda today. The direct payment of


housing benefit to social landlords was called for.


We have emphasised the urgent need for this Assembly to shape the


legislation to suit Northern Ireland, rather than merely rubber-


stamped something that has been made in England and has no


cognisance of the realities of life here. The move towards universal


credit is being packaged as a means of giving and teaching the


claimants financial responsibility. There is to be a single household


payment of benefits to one nominated person per household.


This move in itself is fraught with danger. I fear that many households


will have to learn the hard way. Families will have major difficulty


managing budgets. Some think that many have not done before.


Especially when these budgets are already reduced due to benefit cuts


and rising unemployment. Problems will also rise within families,


especially where there may be addiction problems. Will the


benefit find its way to its intended target? Within the


constraints of the parity principle, I am pursuing other adjustments to


make sure Universal Credit is better tailored to meet the needs


of Northern Ireland customers once we have the Welfare Reform Bill


through Assembly. I have asked that the IT functionality be put in


place to allow the credit payment to be split between members of the


household. I have asked the Department for Work and Pensions


for the IT capability to make universal credit payments more


frequently than on a monthly basis. While other continue to vigorously


pursue these changes -- I will continue, Assembly Members should


not there are practical considerations because of the


extent to which we utilise the computer systems provided by the


Department of Work and Pensions for the delivery of benefits in


Northern Ireland. The best way is for Northern Ireland to be part of


the main system with the flexibility require. -- we require.


Everybody in this Assembly is looking for the same thing, to


deliver firm or the Ryland the flexibilities we want, we need and


would require. Last week there was a private member's bill concerning


the employment of special advisers. There were questions about whether


or not individual MLAs could be provided with legal advice. Jim


Allister was first to speak. Special manager is a special person


in that they have the status of not just a civil servant, but a senior


civil servant. They have access to all Government papers. They advise


that the highest level. Indeed, some might say on some occasions


that they are and effective Government. They advised the


ministers and many of the arrangements made our probably the


product of agreements between special advisers. Is everyone who


purport to be a special adviser being paid from public funds? The


Department of Finance has not accepted that their appointment has


been regular. That is my belief. If I am wrong about that, I am wrong.


Certainly that is my belief based on what is in the public domain.


Vetting is a requirement for every other senior civil servant. Why


should special advisers be different? Why should they be


exempt from that basic fundamental requirement? Why are you proposing


to single out special advisers in this way beyond the policy on


convictions which is correct Northern Ireland civil service


recruitment policy and procedure? ASBOs because of the controversy


brought upon the issue by the insensitive appointment of Mary


McArdle, which drew such public disquiet and brought such hurt to


the family of Mary Travers. I am simply saying, never again should


that be capable of having -- happening. Is part of what I see as


good governance arrangements, when I'm happy to give as much


assistance -- assistance as I can. Does that assistance extent to


individual Assembly Members? From time to time it could, yes. Why BG


declined to give me advice when I asked for your advice on the autism


Bill? -- why did you decline? are all sorts of reasons as to why


I cannot answer that. I thought -- I cannot go into them now. I cannot


answer that question. A baby you could try to explain. -- ready.


am not sure I could. If you write to me, I will try to answer your


question. John Larkin and Dominic Bradley agreeing to disagree.


Stephen water is here. Just to return to the special advisers Bill,


it moves on a stage in Parliament Buildings Tamara? It does. It comes


before the House tomorrow. Some of the issues we saw highlight of last


week will be highlighted tomorrow. The issue has been incredibly


controversial. Some of the arguments rehearsed last week, we


were here tomorrow. We have talked a lot about the covenant tonight


and in recent weeks. It looks like it is going to remain very much at


the top of the agenda certainly for the foreseeable future? I think it


well. I think the commemorations surrounding it up and be hard to


miss this week. We had a service yesterday at St Anne's Cathedral in


Belfast, attended by many people. We have an event tonight at


Stormont. There is a dinner on Friday night. And a lot of focus on


the parade taking place in Belfast on Saturday. We expect a ruling


from the Parades Commission very soon on that March. A lot of


coverage in the papers and on the radio and television. A lot of


special programmes? That is right. A lot of features on BBC Northern


Ireland. As special documentary being prepared. It will be hard to


miss. An interesting development tonight relating to the Scot has


referendum vote. What can you tell me? David Hulme from the Orange


Order has issued a statement on the Scottish referendum. He has


suggested that Ulster Scots should be given a vote in that referendum.


Obviously the vote is for people in Scotland. He is suggesting because


of the historical links, Ulster Scots should get their opportunity


to describe Scotland's future. Some people may say it is tongue-in-


cheek. David Hume believes there are great historical and political


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.