25/05/2016 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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of course, as from the smaller parties on the back benches.


So, coming up tonight: She took a little convincing


but an independent MLA from East Londonderry will be


This is probably the most difficult decision I've ever had in my life


It did cause me a lot of anxiety this past week but, as I said,


it's not reaching anybody, it's not reaching any


of my constituents and, most importantly, it's not reaching


anybody in Northern Ireland and I really look forward to it.


But as the formalities began, not everyone was enthusiastic


Less than two weeks ago, Miss Sugden boasted,


in this House, that she was an independent.


And the News Letter's Political Correspondent, Sam McBride,


is here as we dissect a very eventful start of term at Stormont.


We knew the ministerial roles that would be filled today and we knew


that the vast majority of them would come from the DUP


But the big question was who would fill the problematic


Justice Brief after Alliance had turned it down?


By the time the Assembly sat, everyone knew the answer to that


question, but that didn't stop some lively exchanges


Claire has been in this House for several years and we have been


We had that conversation with her initially.


We have had a number of


conversations since then and she has expressed


do this job in order to ensure that our society continues to move


forward, assist us putting a government together,


and she can be assured of the First Minister and my


And I have no doubt whatsoever she will enjoy the full


support of all of our ministerial colleagues to be appointed in the


course of this sitting of the Assembly.


She is a very progressive young woman, she obviously is highly


political, certainly enjoyed the support


of her constituents in the


course of the Assembly elections and we have every confidence in her


It's a great pleasure to be able to rise and


speak in support of the nomination made by the Deputy First Minister of


Claire Sugden to be our new minister of justice on what is for many


reasons of historic day in the


political history of Northern Ireland.


I think that Claire's appointment as Justice Minister will


symbolise the new generation of leadership that is emerging, not


just in this Assembly, not just in the Executive, but right across


As the Deputy First Minister has already said,


Claire has proven herself in this place since


is member for the East Londonderry constituency.


Many inside and outside of this chamber have been


very impressed by her contributions to debates and the proceedings of


She has times been thoughtful, she has been measured


and she has always been constructive I think we have all seen that she


possesses the skills and abilities to be a very good Minister.


The person who said this House of cards


is falling and good will come of it only if the jokers at the top come


crashing down and do not get up again as our new Justice Minister


And to the DUP, I remind them of this,


said by the same person in October of 2015:


One side of the House, the


largest political party, has decided that its


dirty inconsistent mess is


more important than moving Northern Ireland forward.


We are an absolutely no position to support a nomination for somebody


We corrupted it once before and we're doing it again now.


Our strong view is that the position of Justice


disturbing, Mr Speaker, is that even though


we have had some evolution on


our politics these last few weeks, the opportunity to evolve our


politics even further today has been missed.


And it's very clear to our electorate, Mr Speaker, that this is


a position for which no nationalist need apply.


The Deputy First Minister referred to the fact that


the post was first offered to Alliance, and it's no secret


that we put forward five proposals which we


believe would have made this place function better and would have


delivered better for the people of Northern Ireland.


And those proposals were rejected by the First


As is their right, they have sought to look


elsewhere and they have now


asked Claire Sugden to carry out the job.


And that is their right and


clearly, there are the numbers in this House to carry that.


Though I cannot personally support that


nomination, not because I have a fixation with the system, which I


don't, but whilst I cannot support that, I would certainly wish Claire


well in the task which clearly lies ahead of her.


It's no secret that my party did have discussions with the First


and Deputy First Minister in relation to the Justice Boost but we


were very clear - we would only serve


could progress our agenda, if we felt that we


could achieve more in


But I think the reality was our agenda was very different from that


of the DUP and Sinn Fein, which is why I'm


delighted that myself and


Clare Bailey will be in opposition, will be here to hold those parties


And yet today, yet today, for the sake of office, she


is willing to become the patsy of the jokers.


And that, I think, says a lot about this position - seduced


Less than two weeks ago, Miss Sugden boasted in


this House that she was an independent!


Well, no longer, I'm afraid because today, she has become


And whether or not she finds making up the numbers


on the dark side as fulfilling as she thinks, time alone will tell.


Well, that's how the appointment of the Justice Minister panned out


in the Chamber but the cat had been let out of the bag an hour earlier


by the First and Deputy First Ministers in Stormont's Great Hall.


Martin and I are delighted that Claire has agreed to be the new


Justice Minister for the new mandate and we are very much looking forward


to working with her and I hope that you will give her the credit that


she deserves in terms of stepping forward, taking this huge


opportunity to come forward and be the Justice


Minister for everyone in


It's a huge challenge, of course it is, but I


As Martin and Arlene say, this is an opportunity


for me, not only for me, but for the people


of my constituency and the


I am a progressive person, I do look forward to working with my new


I will have the support by Executive colleagues.


And indeed, moving forward, I would like to see collective


responsibility within our government so that Northern Ireland can move


This is probably the most difficult decision


I've ever had in my life and I've said that before.


It did cause me a lot of anxiety this past week.


I think David would be really proud with me. I had conversations with


his wife and she said David would be proud of me. We have confidence in


Claire to do the job. She is a young woman, she is very progressive,


Arlene and I have got to know her over the course of recent days and


have watched her performance and Assembly of the past couple of years


and we are satisfied that she will be able to do this job. She will


have our full support and she will have every assistance, from both


Arlene and myself. We will have a government in place today and we are


determined that it would be a government that gets things done.


It's a government that will work together. You will recognise the


change in how we operate over the next period of time. It will be a


good change. Arlene Foster making big promises


for the next five years. I'm joined now by Sam McBride


from the News Letter. Sam, there were a few whispers


about but it was still a bit of a surprise when we saw


Claire Sugden appear with Arlene Foster


and Martin McGuinness It was quite official image. Claire


Sugden, the only independent in the Chamber, walking out with the two


heads of government. On a personal level, is a story, it's


extraordinary. He is somebody who for weeks ago was not all guaranteed


coming back as an MLA even. She never stood for election before. And


suddenly, against anybody's expectations, she is not only


backers Stormont the Minister. It's an extraordinary rise. Ten days ago,


I raised it with her as a joke and she laughed and said, it's nice to


think about that but it won't happen. And all of a sudden, she has


been confirmed. Even last week, even when this was floated, I thought of


in this way. The DUP and Sinn Fein trying to bargain with the Alliance


Party of trying to get them over the line is a bluff. It was not seen as


a serious gambit than bringing the Greens, the instance, which should


not go anywhere. There has been process of elimination here in that


she is the last person standing that she was also well liked, she is


respected, she doesn't have a lot of experience but she is capable and.


She doesn't have a lot of appearance. She has not got huge


experience in the Chamber. She's only 29. Some people might say


lacking life experience and it is a very difficult brief. It's massively


difficult to not just politically but personally as well. She will now


be getting security briefings, she will have cast to take to storm at


an extra security even above that of other executive ministers. It's not


easy for anyone to take that role in particular but it is an incredible


rise and even though she has very little experience, she is respected


at the top government. Several of those parties and individuals in


opposition were very keen to register their unhappiness at the


appointment, perhaps not so much about Claire Sugden but the fact the


two parties had brought them into the executive. That is potential


banana skin for her. She certainly was very vocal around the time that


Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were at the head of the executive.


She has spoken glowingly about Arlene Foster and I do wonder


whether if Peter Robinson would still be here, she would be


persuaded to come on board by him. Justice was the big story


at Stormont today but there were also seven other seats


around the Executive table So when the First and Deputy


First Ministers rose to make their nominations everyone


was listening intently. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I


select the Department for the economy and I nominate Simon. We'll


Simon confirm he is willing to take up office and affirmed the terms of


the Pledge of office? I confirm I am willing to take up the office of


Minister for the economy and the terms of pledge of office set out in


the Northern Ireland act 1998. I would like to accuse the Department


of Finance and appoint Martina is our new Minister for Finance. Will


Martine confirm he is willing to take up office and affirmed the


terms of the pledge of office? I confirm the terms of the pledge of


office set out in the Northern Ireland act. I select the Department


for Education and I nominate Peter were. All Peter were confirm he's


willing to take up office and affirmed the terms of the pledge of


office? I confirm I am willing to take up the office of Minister of


education and affirmed the terms of the pledge of office as set out in


the Northern Ireland act 1998. Mr Speaker, I am not nominated the


executive. I select the Department of infrastructure and I would like


to nominate Chris Hassett is the Minister for that department.


SPEAKS IRISH. I confirm that I will take up the


office and I affirm the pledge of office.


I select the Department for agriculture environment and rural


affairs and I nominate Michelle McIlveen.


We'll Michelle McIlveen confirm that she is willing to take up office?


I confirm that I'm willing to take up the office of minister of


agriculture the environment and rural affairs and I affirm the


pledge of office as set out in Jeddah for in the Northern Ireland


act of 1988. I will not be nominating a minister


to this executive. Will the member confirmed he is


willing to take up office and affirm that terms of the pledge of office?


I can confirm that I'm willing to take up the office of minister for


communities and I affirm the terms set out in the Northern Ireland act


1988. Isolate the Department of Health and


nominate Michelle O'Neill as the new minister for health.


Will Michelle O'Neill confirmed that she is willing to take up office and


affirm the term of the pledge of office?


SPEAKS IRISH. I confirm I am willing to take up


the office of minister for health and I affirm the pledge set out in


the Northern Ireland act 1988. So, we now know who'll be doing


what job and joining me is the new Minister for Communities,


Paul Givan. A huge brief - from housing


and welfare to culture, arts, How will you stay across such


a diverse portfolio? I am privileged to be given the


opportunity to take on this responsibility and you are right


that the brief is fast. It touches on a wide range of issues that


connect with people on grassroots levels and I am looking forward to


getting out on the ground to engage with people and try to make our


society a better place for people to live in.


It is often at the end of the list of ministries and has been nicknamed


the Ministry of everything else. Do you think it has that feel to it?


If you consider this department has a budget of ?7 billion every year.


We spent ?90 million every day. That is a department with a huge


responsibility. Primarily deals with Social Security. It goes to local


government, housing. There is a huge opportunity to get involved and I do


feel that you need to be a jack of all trades to try and deliver in


terms of the ministerial responsibilities.


The danger is that you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. How


much do you know about sport and the arts because they are quite discrete


areas. There is no doubt that this will be


a test of my own ability to try and get on top of these issues. I


believe that I will be able to do that and I have had confidence


expressed to me by the First Minister who gave me this


responsibility. I know there will be an impressive team around me and the


department who will help guide me through that but ultimately I want


to bring my own stamp to this department. I want to bring forward


issues that I believe resonate with the public. There are vast number of


areas to get involved in but I am relishing the opportunity to do


that. Will you want to be a minister for


communities for all communities, for everybody, because there might be


some areas you are more comfortable in than others. Will you attend a


GAA match, for example? With that cause your problem?


I have been looking at some of the invitations and going to a GAA match


is something that I will do. It has already been carried out by a member


of the DUP. I will consider any invitation based on its own merits


before I will take a decision on what I will will not go to.


Is there an invitation from the GAA at the moment?


There is. It will not be an issue. I will go to an event that GAA will


organise. Iraq advisers are sporting organisation and almost jealous of


it from within the Nationalists claim it is that it is a grassroots


organisation that is at the centre of the community. I recognise the


value it brings to our society as a cultural and sporting organisation.


Clearly there will be some issues that they still need to address that


I am here to be proactive, to engage with people, and won't be barriers


put up in front of me by the GAA. As we saw earlier, Mike Nesbitt


and Colum Eastwood declined to nominate Ministers


to the Executive, so once the d'Hondt process was completed


the Speaker turned to The nominating officers of the


Ulster Unionist Party and the social do necrotic and Labour Party were


entitled to nominate members but declined to do so -- the SDLP. I'll


asked them if they choose to be recognised as part of the official


opposition. I asked Mike Nesbitt if your party wants to be recognised as


part of the official opposition. We do has to be recognised as part


of the official opposition and to initiate a new era for the Northern


Ireland Assembly. We will not take her seat at the executive table.


Should take our seats of their because the First Minister


McGuinness should set aside First Minister Foster as they do so


comfortably at Stormont Castle. I ask Mr Colum Eastwood is your


party choose to be recognised as part of the official opposition?


Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yes, we would like to be wrecked as does a member


of the opposition. -- like to be recognised. We will hold them to


account when we need to. The Ulster Unionist Party and the


SDLP will now be recognised as the official opposition.


So, it's officially official - we have an Opposition.


is whether or not the Ulster Unionists and SDLP


will nominate Shadow Ministers to formally keep


a close eye on members of the Executive.


That will perhaps become clear over the next few weeks.


In the meantime, I'm joined by another of today's


Ministerial appointments - Chris Hazzard, the Minister


Was it a surprise? We were talking about some of the positions and that


was one of them. Challenging times ahead but there is a fresh sense of


purpose around the executive table and I'm looking forward to getting


stuck in. Would you welcome the appointment of


a formal Shadow infrastructure minister?


Yes, it into something the opposition want to do then fair


enough. If we get to the end of this process and have a better sense of


government and keeping people held to account then all power to them.


It is a young executive, the average age is 38. Is there enough


experience around the executive table to grapple with some of the


very difficult issues that need to be dealt with?


I think so. It is about vision and determination and energy. I think I


have those values. I see those across the table. We have seen


people like Simon Hamilton who has come in and done a good job so I


hope to bring a similar vision and energy to my role.


He covered the education brief in the last mandate. How much do nobody


issues you will be dealing with in your new department?


Bets and pieces. This is the first day. But as an active MLA in my


constituency, infrastructure rows with waterways and street lighting.


We are dealing with these issues every day. I am accustomed to them.


I'm getting to meet members of staff tomorrow to continue those meetings


and get into the brief. It is an exciting time and I'm looking


forward to the challenge. It is a department that people feel


strongly about in terms of street lighting and road-building and a


grass being cut. They can make a difference to members of the public.


If the grass is not cut and the lights are not working, they can get


very cross and their higher is likely to be -- their annoyance is


likely to be directed at you. That is why I am elected to make


these decisions. It is about loving the sort of society we want to see.


And about welding the future we want to see. -- building.


You said yourself in your opening comments that this is a new


executive with a new purpose. It is also a new relationship between the


DUP and Sinn Fein around the executive table with the Justice


Minister who is an independent. Will it be a property party call issued,


different from what we saw in the last Andy?


I would hope so. I think that is what the people elected. I think we


have two main parties and people want to see them in control. We saw


confidence from Martin and Arlene to say this is the government and this


is how we will go forward. Will we see collective


responsibility? I think we will.


If that happens it is going to be a big change.


Once the issue of Ministers had been settled, business turned


There was again a great deal of standing up and sitting down.


That was until the Ulster Unionists picked economy and nominated


After he accepted, it was Arlene Foster's turn to pick


I would request an adjournment to consider matters.


Can I ask a member how long she would anticipate?


Ten minutes. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I name as deputy chair Pam Cameron.


As the member who has been nominated willing to take up office for which


she has been nominated? Thank you, Mr Speaker. Yes, I am


willing to take up office. I call on Martin McGuinness to


select and nominate. Finance, my apologies.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I select the economy and...


My apologies. It has gone, I'm sorry.


Can we have a few minutes adjournment.


Martin McGuinness, playing for time in the chamber.


Sam, there were a lot of ministers, committee chairs and deputy chairs


I suppose we could have expected a few mistakes?


But there were moments when people seem slightly lost as if they could


not find the script. It is a complex system for


allocating ministries and allocating the chairmanships of committees. It


is more complex in some ways because of the uncertainty around what the


small parties would do but it did leave to a bit of confusion at


various points. In reality, a lot of this is sorted out beforehand so


part of this is the public face. Let us talk about some of the names


included today. Perhaps you were surprised at some of those who find


their way to the executive table or committee chairman chips but also


some of the casualties. People you would expect to be part of the front


line of various parties who are nowhere to be seen.


There is a glaring omission on Sinn Fein's benches. The former minister,


Michel, who is a woman and they are trying to elect more women. The


chair of the finance committee similarly. It is difficult to fathom


sometimes how they come up with these things. On the DUP site, a


huge loss is Mervyn Storey. Someone with a lot of experience. He was


pragmatic and his dealings with other parties and quite well


respected I rivals. No position for him whatsoever. But a sharp DUP team


overall. Peter Weir is overdue a promotion. It is a competent looking


set of DUP ministers. It will be a fascinating five-year


mandate if today is anything to go by. Thank you for your comments.


Well, that's all we have time for tonight.


I'll be back tomorrow night with The View on BBC One


Until then, from everyone in the team, goodnight.


This programme contains some strong language


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# But don't believe in everything you see or hear


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.

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