25/03/2014 Stormont Today


25/03/2014

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.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 25/03/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Coming up in the next 30 minutes:

:00:26.:00:31.

The First Minister reacts to concerns over the judge-led inquiry

:00:32.:00:40.

into OTRs. I want to see this issue dealt with and dealt with

:00:41.:00:45.

thoroughly. If at any time I feel it has not been dealt with robbery and

:00:46.:00:49.

thoroughly I will try for you. There were rhyming couplets in the Chamber

:00:50.:00:53.

as one MLA asked about poetry funding. Budgets, flags, parades, we

:00:54.:01:01.

drop out one by one and only recently we have hovered on the over

:01:02.:01:05.

those On the Run. And joining me to give his view on another busy day at

:01:06.:01:09.

Stormont is political commentator, Alex Kane.

:01:10.:01:16.

A row over On the Runs was threatening to derail Stormont just

:01:17.:01:21.

a few weeks ago. The First Minister suggested he'd quit if he didn't get

:01:22.:01:26.

a full inquiry. Now there's several inquiries including one by the

:01:27.:01:30.

Justice Committee. It quizzed the permanent secretary of the

:01:31.:01:32.

Department of Justice this afternoon. But let's hear first from

:01:33.:01:36.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

:01:37.:01:41.

The judge led inquiry demanded by the First Minister has been

:01:42.:01:43.

criticised because Lady Justice Hallet will only examine a sample of

:01:44.:01:47.

cases and won't consider whether the letters sent to Republicans classed

:01:48.:01:56.

as On the Run were legal. I met with the judge yesterday. I

:01:57.:02:05.

believe she will conduct a fair and impartial review of this. At a time

:02:06.:02:09.

like this, all sorts of political agendas are trying to influence it.

:02:10.:02:16.

My sense of it is she will not be influenced, she will stick to the

:02:17.:02:19.

agreement. That is what she has got to do. Dominic Grieve, the Attorney

:02:20.:02:27.

General, was a perfectly lawful process. All of the cases will be

:02:28.:02:34.

reviewed whether they are reviewed by the police or by the judge is the

:02:35.:02:39.

issue. As I understand it, the police are reviewing all 228 of

:02:40.:02:44.

those who are involved in receiving letters. Many of them might have

:02:45.:02:53.

been considered to be associated with multiple offences so we're

:02:54.:02:58.

talking about many hundreds of case files. There are some nonsense,

:02:59.:03:03.

political opponents are trying to make something of it, that this is

:03:04.:03:08.

not a full review. If we had the kind of public enquiry that some

:03:09.:03:14.

people are asking for this issue would go on for at least a decade.

:03:15.:03:19.

That is not acceptable to me no visit acceptable to the victims of

:03:20.:03:22.

terrorism in Northern Ireland. They want this issue dealt with quickly.

:03:23.:03:30.

I am prepared to fold the delay until the end of June if that is

:03:31.:03:35.

required. I want to see this issue dealt with thoroughly. If at any

:03:36.:03:39.

time I feel it is not been dealt with properly and thoroughly then I

:03:40.:03:43.

will cry foul. The Justice Committee began its own

:03:44.:03:47.

inquiry today. The first witness was Nick Perry, the highest ranking

:03:48.:03:50.

official in the Department of Justice. Mr Perry was aware of the

:03:51.:03:55.

scheme when he was a director at the Northern Ireland Office. But did not

:03:56.:04:00.

inform the Justice Minister when he moved over as this would have been

:04:01.:04:06.

contrary to civil service rules. The justice minister has addressed

:04:07.:04:09.

on a number of occasions many areas of confusion. I mention it again

:04:10.:04:15.

because it is of a fundamental importance. Nor the Department of

:04:16.:04:18.

Justice or any of its staff have had any involvement to the scheme dealt

:04:19.:04:26.

with OTRs. There had been suggestions the department had been

:04:27.:04:28.

implementing these arrangements without the Minister 's knowledge.

:04:29.:04:34.

That is wholly incorrect. I don't see anywhere that explicitly stated

:04:35.:04:41.

aim in -- administrative scheme will be retained. You make an assumption

:04:42.:04:51.

that because of a delectable, this is a matter we are going to keep. It

:04:52.:04:57.

is an issue you were going to close your ears to shut your eyes to

:04:58.:05:01.

without getting any independent legal advice as permanent Secretary

:05:02.:05:05.

of the Department of Justice. I find that not just remarkable but

:05:06.:05:08.

incredulous that is the position you would take. I would repeat the

:05:09.:05:15.

point. I do make the assumption, and it is a reasonable one, that the

:05:16.:05:21.

division between devolved and non-devolved matters was taken on

:05:22.:05:30.

the basis of legal advice. You may ask some other ministers what their

:05:31.:05:33.

view is. If I was the Minister for Justice and you had withheld this

:05:34.:05:39.

information from me, you wouldn't be my permanent secretary. It'd be a

:05:40.:05:44.

clear breach of trust. Withheld this information based on nothing more

:05:45.:05:51.

than your own assumptions. But isn't something I would tolerate from any

:05:52.:05:59.

permanent secretary. I am entirety happy I worked within the guidance.

:06:00.:06:10.

Have you find yourself in a situation when the Minister has

:06:11.:06:15.

asked the question that if it goes and answered, you may have

:06:16.:06:21.

information which could compromise? No, I haven't. Could you find

:06:22.:06:28.

yourself in a position? I don't believe so. This issue will always

:06:29.:06:36.

going to re-emerge. A blank man on a galloping horse would realise this

:06:37.:06:42.

would re-emerge. I think that is what you should have briefed your

:06:43.:06:45.

minister at the time but you fail to do that.

:06:46.:06:48.

And with his thoughts on this issue and more, I'm joined by the

:06:49.:06:51.

Newsletter columnist, Alex Kane. What did you make of the revelations

:06:52.:07:01.

around this judge led inquiry? I am not surprised. The minute as Oz

:07:02.:07:04.

announced he had that in quietly and then another three, this is the

:07:05.:07:08.

fourth one. They are all going to have overlap in all squabbling

:07:09.:07:18.

remits. Peter Robinson says it is acknowledged Lord Justice Hallett is

:07:19.:07:23.

as great a look at all of them. All of that is going to take months to

:07:24.:07:28.

sort out. What if they come to differing conclusions? What if they

:07:29.:07:32.

concentrate on different nuances? I do think you will be any clearer on

:07:33.:07:41.

this OTR mess. The critics include Jim Allister. We had statement today

:07:42.:07:46.

from Mike Nesbitt who said this remit is disappointing. The two

:07:47.:07:50.

Robinson is making out these aren't just political opponents trying to

:07:51.:07:54.

make a Beavis issue. -- Peter Robinson. He said he was going to

:07:55.:08:00.

step down if he did not get a thorough investigation. He got the

:08:01.:08:07.

fairness minimum he could get. -- their list. He is using the excuse

:08:08.:08:12.

of five of the committees which even got ask for, he did not make the

:08:13.:08:16.

resignation issue. They are saving his bacon. I would not be

:08:17.:08:21.

sympathetic with Jim Allister and Mike Nesbitt but I think on this one

:08:22.:08:27.

they are right. Do you think first -- the First Minister overplayed his

:08:28.:08:32.

hand? He knew it was never is going to come to that point. The

:08:33.:08:36.

government knew what he was going to accept. Nick Perry in the hot seat

:08:37.:08:46.

there. Later, the chairman of the Justice Committee put out a

:08:47.:08:48.

statement saying many people would have questions about the fact that

:08:49.:08:51.

make that Nick Perry says he did not have the details or the content of

:08:52.:08:56.

the legal advice the minister asked for on this issue. Do you find that

:08:57.:09:01.

odd? I do find it odd cause we do know she knew the details but chose

:09:02.:09:06.

not to pass them on to the Minister. He says that is normal ministerial

:09:07.:09:09.

convention. Ministers are not supposed to give stuff other

:09:10.:09:20.

ministers had. This department did not exist before. He could have

:09:21.:09:23.

found a way of letting the minister now. Sinn Fein members on the

:09:24.:09:29.

Justice Committee could have told David Ford about this. They said

:09:30.:09:34.

they knew about this all along. Finally, it doesn't matter to the

:09:35.:09:39.

electorate out there is it going to be issue? No, it isn't going to be

:09:40.:09:44.

an issue. They have already made up their minds.

:09:45.:09:48.

It's not often you would like our MLAs to be poets, but one MLA used

:09:49.:09:52.

his poetic licence when asking a question of the Culture, Arts and

:09:53.:09:54.

Leisure Minister earlier. Ulster Scots funding was also on the

:09:55.:09:58.

agenda, but first we turn to mental health initiatives.

:09:59.:10:03.

Can the Minister indicate if any thought has been given to ensuring

:10:04.:10:10.

that a champion of people will mental health issues can be brought

:10:11.:10:16.

forward to help promote those issues in terms of leisure pursuits and

:10:17.:10:19.

active sports participation in that category? I thank the member for his

:10:20.:10:28.

question. We are looking. We have a champion for soccer. We have a

:10:29.:10:36.

number of sports personalities who have been proactive and genuine in

:10:37.:10:39.

their support around this issue and a happy to give up their time. We

:10:40.:10:48.

have Paddy Barnes in north Belfast. We have two boxes who went along

:10:49.:10:54.

with the strap line of we have got your back, we have got to your

:10:55.:11:02.

corner. We will roll it out across. We talk in anger and just, it is

:11:03.:11:10.

tempting to give the very best. Budgets, flags, parades, we dropped

:11:11.:11:16.

them out one by one. We hovered on the brink on those On the Run.

:11:17.:11:20.

Minister, my supplementary is unconditional. We recognise that

:11:21.:11:26.

poetry is traditional? Have you got the money to fund this expression

:11:27.:11:29.

will you let it flow away in another depression?

:11:30.:11:43.

And you did not wrap! I couldn't then the base for you. That is

:11:44.:11:47.

probably one of the best exchanges we have ever, ever hired. -- had.

:11:48.:12:00.

But the members point is right. We need to find poetry. We have a great

:12:01.:12:06.

history and heritage of poetry in the North. We have marked the sad

:12:07.:12:11.

passing of Seamus Heaney amongst others. We need to support them.

:12:12.:12:21.

They will be exam plus four other poets, budding poets and other cases

:12:22.:12:25.

including guitars. I have consistently asked the Minister to

:12:26.:12:35.

bring similar programmes. I am waiting on those programmes and have

:12:36.:12:40.

been waiting since September 2011. Whatever influence you have, it is

:12:41.:12:45.

important that people from the Ulster Scots community see

:12:46.:12:51.

ministerial investment and support in those initiatives. Can I have an

:12:52.:12:59.

assurance that if the project is brought forward, whether it be

:13:00.:13:08.

language history or culture for the Ulster Scots community across

:13:09.:13:12.

Ulster, it should have full support and he resourced in terms of money

:13:13.:13:18.

and people. I have already spoken to people and I appreciate that in

:13:19.:13:22.

terms of the pressures of language from its not the same. What we do

:13:23.:13:28.

need to do is look at cultural heritage. It is very important. So

:13:29.:13:33.

many times I have offered my support and I have encourage initiatives to

:13:34.:13:40.

come forward. The door is still open and I'm still waiting. I can assure

:13:41.:13:44.

the honourable member and other members that when they are brought

:13:45.:13:48.

forward, I will look at them with a view of giving them full support.

:13:49.:13:51.

And, staying with the Culture Minister, she faced a call to work

:13:52.:13:54.

with Environment Minister and sporting bodies to evaluate the

:13:55.:13:57.

existing facilities in the 11 new council areas. The Sinn Fein-led

:13:58.:14:00.

motion noted the lack of sporting facilities for people with special

:14:01.:14:03.

needs and disabilities. If it sounds familiar, it is. At present, people

:14:04.:14:15.

with disability exercise less than those without. Just 12% participate

:14:16.:14:22.

on a regular basis in sporting competitions. This figure indicates

:14:23.:14:26.

the problem. The most important legacy from the London 2012 Olympic

:14:27.:14:30.

and Paralympic games was the increase in the number of people

:14:31.:14:36.

wishing to but it abate in sport. -- to participate in sport. We heard of

:14:37.:14:42.

the increased demand from people with increased disabilities.

:14:43.:14:46.

Statistics show that disabled people are still half as likely to get

:14:47.:14:50.

involved as somebody who does not have a disability. Given that 20% of

:14:51.:14:55.

the population is considered to have a disability, this is a worrying

:14:56.:15:01.

statistic. We have made great progress. You have only got to look

:15:02.:15:06.

at the demand and the achievements of our athletes. It gives you an

:15:07.:15:16.

idea that there is demand, but the more the elite athletes achieved,

:15:17.:15:21.

the greater the demand. That is good and beneficial to all of us. We must

:15:22.:15:26.

do to address the need. Now we need to do our part. One has been

:15:27.:15:38.

accredited. 19 haven't even gone through any process. We need to

:15:39.:15:42.

ensure now that this is the opportunity to get all of our

:15:43.:15:46.

councils on board, to hammer the message home that it isn't good

:15:47.:15:50.

enough to put up around here, a ramp there. Everybody has to have access

:15:51.:15:58.

to our facilities. I believe it is a worthy debate. Like many other

:15:59.:16:07.

ministers, I am prepared to work with our stakeholders. For me, that

:16:08.:16:12.

includes our Minister for environment, our local authorities,

:16:13.:16:17.

this sports -- disability sports organisations and the Minister for

:16:18.:16:25.

health. In short, section 75 and the falling limitation of this

:16:26.:16:30.

legislation is everyone's business. -- full implementation. The

:16:31.:16:39.

seemingly successful Olympics 2012 heralded what was other time

:16:40.:16:43.

considered a new dawn for disabled sports. The reality on the ground is

:16:44.:16:49.

less tangible. The committee led with disabled athletes in

:16:50.:17:00.

Jordanstown. -- met with. Like all elite athletes, disabled or

:17:01.:17:02.

otherwise, they are the exception rather than the rule. Many more

:17:03.:17:07.

stories exist of what is lacking. So is there enough being done to

:17:08.:17:10.

facilitate those with disabilities who want to participate in sport?

:17:11.:17:13.

Joining me now is Kevin O'Neill from Disability Sports NI. How would you

:17:14.:17:24.

characterise the current state of sporting facilities? It is mixed. A

:17:25.:17:29.

lot of our modern facilities are very good. The issue is they are not

:17:30.:17:44.

designed for wheelchair users. If you go down to clubs, provision

:17:45.:17:52.

ranges from quite limited to poor. If you were advising the Minister,

:17:53.:17:56.

what would your advice be? It would be to improve across-the-board. The

:17:57.:18:01.

most important issue is we need access to sporting opportunities.

:18:02.:18:12.

One of the key reasons for a lack of participation if the opportunities.

:18:13.:18:18.

One of the statistics was that 20% of people in Northern Ireland are

:18:19.:18:21.

classified with a disability. Is there demand in that sector for

:18:22.:18:30.

better facilities? We noticed that after 2012 was a marked increase in

:18:31.:18:36.

people participating in sport. People want to participate in

:18:37.:18:44.

recreational activities. There is definitely a demand. The issue at

:18:45.:18:46.

the moment is the supplier isn't there. How concerned would you be

:18:47.:18:53.

that MLAs are merely paying lip service to this issue? The issue for

:18:54.:19:04.

us is that there is political will. We have no doubt there is political

:19:05.:19:09.

support. It is how we can form the support to grassroots opportunities

:19:10.:19:12.

on the ground. We are about to launch a strategic plan for the next

:19:13.:19:17.

period. We hope to get support for that. I am sure we will. Let's see

:19:18.:19:22.

what happens. Can you give me some of the details? It is

:19:23.:19:28.

across-the-board facilities. Coaching? In general, we need our

:19:29.:19:36.

coaches to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. The key

:19:37.:19:43.

issue in most areas of Northern Ireland, there is nothing for you

:19:44.:19:50.

fully. We want more grassroots opportunities on the ground. In a

:19:51.:19:56.

word, will the fact there are going to be these local authorities and

:19:57.:20:02.

opportunity? It is easier to have a conversation with 11 authorities

:20:03.:20:07.

than 26. Sport NI have improved things dramatically in recent years

:20:08.:20:11.

but we need to keep the momentum going. Thank you.

:20:12.:20:14.

Our MLAs looked beyond our borders today to discuss the plight of 33

:20:15.:20:18.

Christians condemned to death in North Korea. The DUP motion called

:20:19.:20:21.

on the Westminster government to use its influence to secure greater

:20:22.:20:24.

freedom of religious belief and worship throughout the world. I have

:20:25.:20:33.

said that we have relatively limited powers in this field. Foreign

:20:34.:20:38.

affairs is an entirely reserved matter at Westminster. We have no

:20:39.:20:45.

direct input into these issues. But I think we can use our influence as

:20:46.:20:49.

an integral part of the UK to bring pressure on the Department of

:20:50.:20:54.

foreign affairs who do all it can through the UN and through

:20:55.:20:57.

international diplomacy to try and bring some relief to the torture and

:20:58.:21:05.

ill-treatment of all those Christians in this renegade state.

:21:06.:21:10.

It is not right to threaten the execution of Christians in North

:21:11.:21:16.

Korea, burned churches in need, to massacre Christians in Sudan or

:21:17.:21:20.

Pakistan, or to burn people out of their homes because of their

:21:21.:21:25.

religion. It is not acceptable in this day and age. During the Crimean

:21:26.:21:31.

annexation recently, three Catholic priests were questioned and abused

:21:32.:21:39.

by pro-Russian forces. Given that we want freedom for all religions and

:21:40.:21:44.

given that the DUP are standing up for religious belief, I await with

:21:45.:21:48.

great extirpation their condemnation of anti-Catholicism, where it

:21:49.:21:56.

occurs, challenging... I won't give way... Challenging the Orange order

:21:57.:21:59.

when he steps out of line. Maybe they will no longer stay silent on

:22:00.:22:06.

the more recent behaviour against Christians at St Patrick 's Chapel

:22:07.:22:10.

in Belfast. In countries like China, there have been far too many

:22:11.:22:15.

incidents of denials of human rights, including rights in regard

:22:16.:22:22.

to freedom of worship. We in the West very readily do business. As an

:22:23.:22:31.

MEP, I often raised issues like this with the foreign affairs

:22:32.:22:39.

Commissioner. There always was an empathy but one always got the

:22:40.:22:43.

impression that it was tempered by their desire not to upset the trade

:22:44.:22:51.

opportunities. We would ask from this House today that a very strong

:22:52.:22:56.

message goes to our government that this assembly a pause of the

:22:57.:23:01.

persecution of Christians in North Korea, and right across the world. I

:23:02.:23:09.

also welcome the fact that his colleague, also a minister in the

:23:10.:23:17.

FCO, in his response to a member asking a question, said he takes the

:23:18.:23:23.

opportunities to go and visit Christian communities, whether they

:23:24.:23:29.

are in Egypt or Algeria, and I think that is a changeable way of --

:23:30.:23:35.

tangible way of showing support to Christians who may feel under threat

:23:36.:23:39.

or might be prosecuted by authorities. When I been on trade

:23:40.:23:46.

missions, I have taken the opportunity to visit Christian

:23:47.:23:50.

communities, just to say to them that we are supporting them. -- when

:23:51.:23:57.

I have been. Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster,

:23:58.:24:00.

speaking in that debate from the back benches. Education Minister

:24:01.:24:03.

John O'Dowd also faced questions today and the agenda was dominated

:24:04.:24:06.

by his proposals for the future of the Common Funding Formula. Ulster

:24:07.:24:09.

Unionist Robin Swann asked the question. On 13 March, after

:24:10.:24:24.

consideration, I announced my final decision on changes to the common

:24:25.:24:29.

funding scheme. I maintain this was a genuine consultation. I was

:24:30.:24:32.

delighted with the level of response we have seen and I have listened to

:24:33.:24:36.

the views from all who took the time to respond. I have made a number of

:24:37.:24:46.

proposals. I want to insure that resources remain. No school will

:24:47.:24:51.

receive less funding this year than it would have done if I had made no

:24:52.:24:59.

changes to the Budget or formula. There is a fund available for these

:25:00.:25:06.

schools whose budgets... Schools have received notification of the

:25:07.:25:11.

delegated Budget for the coming year. I thank him for his answer and

:25:12.:25:22.

recognising that the first former didn't work. Does he recognise that

:25:23.:25:31.

a transition makes it hard for principles to Budget into the

:25:32.:25:38.

future? It is the nature of the Budget system. I don't know the

:25:39.:25:44.

Department for education but not Budget, so I can't make any

:25:45.:25:50.

commitment under the guise of education beyond the current

:25:51.:25:54.

financial year. I can assure the honourable member that I will

:25:55.:25:58.

endeavour to secure whatever funding I can for the provision of education

:25:59.:26:02.

going into the future. I will take a serious look at the transition from

:26:03.:26:06.

going into the future for those groups may have lost funds as a

:26:07.:26:09.

result of the changes I have made. Members will recall that I was not

:26:10.:26:13.

satisfied that the exiting scheme was fit for purpose. I set out with

:26:14.:26:26.

an objective which remains. As I said in response to the original

:26:27.:26:31.

question, I have taken on concerns raised, but the objective remains.

:26:32.:26:41.

Schools have received money. I have also committed to putting in place

:26:42.:26:49.

tracking to make sure the money spent to reduce educational

:26:50.:26:54.

underachievement for all pupils. Now back to Alex Kane with his

:26:55.:26:57.

five-month -- with his final fours today's proceedings. That debate

:26:58.:27:01.

today on the persecution of Christians. Do you think would it

:27:02.:27:12.

was appropriate for the -- it was appropriate for the Northern Ireland

:27:13.:27:16.

assembly to delve into that issue? It was not. To spend an hour on a

:27:17.:27:25.

motion like that which doesn't make the blindest bit of difference to

:27:26.:27:28.

anybody, any constituent in Northern Ireland, it does a disservice to the

:27:29.:27:34.

people. They would argue they are putting pressure on the West must

:27:35.:27:43.

the government ahead of its debate. They are putting pressure but MPs

:27:44.:27:46.

can do the debate there. They talk about Christianity across the

:27:47.:27:51.

world, but no matter what the issue in Northern Ireland, it always comes

:27:52.:27:57.

back to the dreary steeples -- stable.

:27:58.:28:10.

He has no choice now. If he doesn't stand, the DUP are going to mock

:28:11.:28:16.

him. They are going to say, oh, Jim, what of the -- is the point of

:28:17.:28:26.

taking this on? He needs to be the one who provides the trickle down.

:28:27.:28:31.

They are not getting it anywhere else. They are not getting it in

:28:32.:28:35.

their own right. The party keep telling us an announcement on this

:28:36.:28:39.

issue is imminent. Have you heard any news? They have said April the

:28:40.:28:45.

3rd. We have to leave it there. That's all we have time for tonight.

:28:46.:28:49.

Mark Carruthers will be back with The View on Thursday night at 10:35

:28:50.:28:50.

on BBC One. Goodnight. At 11:20, British forces were sent

:28:51.:29:23.

the fateful telegram

:29:24.:29:28.

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

SRT

ASS