25/06/2012 Stormont Today


25/06/2012

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Euro 2012 moves to the semi-final

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stage. Wimbledon has started with the usual flurry of upsets. The

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Olympics are just around the corner and the sport of politics grinds on

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relentlessly. Tonight: An end-of- term bonus from the Education

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Minister. I am announcing an investment of �133 million for

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capital projects. This will be in the 2013 / 14 financial year.

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debate about crossing the road made one member very cross. When the

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minister is not consider whether the functioning crossings are

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functioning properly, will he consider whether ministerial

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appointments are functioning properly within his department?

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my guest this evening is a law lecturer Rosemary Craig.

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We are approaching the end of term here at Stormont so ever earned --

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over the next two weeks we will decide how some of our departments

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have fared. Tonight, we start with justice. Rosemary Craig is here

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with her analysis. How do you think we have done overall? I think we

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have to be positive. Have a lot of new appointments, new judges, we

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have a new Attorney-General, we have a new Director of Public

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Prosecutions, so I think we have to look at the positive side and

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Northern Ireland is moving forward and I think justice is moving

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slowly. But I think we have to be very positive in how we are moving

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forward in Northern Ireland in that particular area. What sort of

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problems do you still see happening? You mentioned things

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happening slowly, cases coming to court do seem to take a long time?

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Yes, I can understand that from the public perspective, but I think we

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have to look at the due process of law and how a case does come to

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court. I think if you remember that when a crime is committed, the

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police have got to investigate that crime. They have got to put

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together the file, the papers and that goes in a system to the public

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prosecution service. The Public Prosecutions Service have them got

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to look at the case when it comes in and make a decision based on

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tests whether or not to prosecute in the case. Another new thing in

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Northern Ireland is the public prosecution service. Although it

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has been in existence for over five years, it is relatively new. The

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Police Service of Northern Ireland is relatively new, the directive

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brand new, he was appointed six months ago, he is a new boy on the

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job. You have to look at all of that and take that into perspective

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and say you cannot rush just as. If something is rushed through and

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something is missed, you cannot really try something twice. By the

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same token, we have had some cases which have taken over ten years to

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come to court. Yes, there are special circumstances and I think

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that is a matter for not dwelling on specific circumstances. Delayed

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defeats equity. There is no doubt about that. Let's look at the

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positive outcome from that case. The outcome from that case was

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people were declared by a jury and the jury trial is sacrosanct and I

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really like to see a jury trial. The jury trial found those people

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innocent and that is a triumph for justice. OK, we will talk late in

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the programme. The Education Minister have

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announced a huge spending plan for school buildings, ending a two-year

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freeze. But as they say, you cannot please all of the people all of the

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time, particularly our MLAs. I am today announcing an investment of

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100 their �3 million in special projects. It will be in the

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financial -- the last quarter of the current financial year or the

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financial year of 2013 / 14. I want to ensure they have been future

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priest and remain a priority for an investment. I have instructed my

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officials to identify it suitable projects. This is a pragmatic

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approach to ensuring that issue news of the capital budget. I want

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to stress that today's announcement in no way implies that other

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projects will not be considered at a later stage. Some time ago there

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was a review carried out of the capital projects. That resulted in

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schools being designated compliant, partially compliant or non-

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compliant. Schools that were deemed compliant, if they look down the

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list they will see some of them that their names are missing. I

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particularly draw attention to Ballymoney High School and another

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school which was linked for a school project. Can the Minister

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explain why those schools have somehow mysteriously disappeared

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off his captain and best man? a major blow today to those who

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were expecting to be on the list, which are not on the list, such as

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part call which is a split site. It has already spent over a million on

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its design. There have been ten years waiting. Are we going to in

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the autumn see a list of the schools and a list for the future

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so that schools can plan and see into the future when they are going

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to be rebuilt, because it takes three or four years to redesign and

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it has been a major blow to the schools. We are in the midst of a

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recession and two things which would help us get out of a

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recession our education and innovation. My question really is,

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what consideration is the Minister giving to the refurbishment of

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science labs as part of the school refurbishment programme? Schools

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may be in a position where they have hoped for a rebuild and now

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think this schools enhancement programme is a way forward. Can the

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Minister give detail about whether this will in future be detrimental

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to any school's application for a new build?

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RB pelican crossings in Northern Ireland working? What are the

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differences between a pelican crossing and a Puffin crossing?

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Some of the highbrow questions posed to the Regional Development

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Minister but first, it was just this and there was a call for a

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review of the sentencing of PSNI officers. It while the review will

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consider arrangements of other jurisdictions such as England and

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Wales, my aim is not to replicate it GB model but find a way forward

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for Northern Ireland. My view will also reflect the Court of Appeal

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which has been asked by the Director of Public Prosecutions to

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review the tariffs. This will provide the opportunity for the

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Court of Appeal to review the sentencing guidelines for the

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determination of tariffs. The recommendations of the review will

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be published for consultation as soon as I have had time to consider

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the court's decision and take the view of the justice committee in

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the light of them. The minister was asked how much money had been

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recovered from people who had for Jilly claimed legal aid. The Legal

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Services Commission collected �220,000. Costs recovered included

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debt, cost from the court and assisted person's legal aid. I

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propose to make more plans to recover costs where defendants are

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found to have the means to pay for their defence. Has the Minister any

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idea of the real outstanding monies in this and is there any estimates

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there for what likely could be recovered and secondly, why is

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there not as efficient mechanisms in place to actually stop this

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happening in the first place? answer to that second point is

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absolutely clear. There are sufficient mechanisms in place

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because under direct rule they were not given legislative competence

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and it is something we are seeking to catch up with -- there are not

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mechanisms in place. We have to consider what level of fraud there

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is, whether all payments are made properly and we also looking at

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taking powers to allow inspection of account books to ensure the kind

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of cheques which have been identified as being required are

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actually put in place because it is not a suitable system at the

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present time, the one we inherited. The Regional Development Minister

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was next or should that be the minister for birds. The my

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department's Road Service has advised that all 440 pelican

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crossings in operation across Northern Ireland are functioning

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properly. A crossing in Londonderry has been turned off temporarily as

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part of a temporary traffic management scheme to facilitate a

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Water sewer replacement scheme. Would the minister look at the time

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that members of the public have to cross and determine whether that

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could be extended to make it safer for elderly people, particularly in

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areas where there is a high volume of elderly residents nearby? I am

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grateful to the member for the supplementary question and indeed,

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I can confirm that pedestrian crossing timings are set in

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accordance with national guidelines and my department's officials are

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aware of the most recent research into pedestrian walking times and

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will be included in any future consultation on the proposed

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changes to current timings. I will say to further reflect on the

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concern that he has raised. called Jim Allister. Thank you, Mr

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Speaker. When the minister is not considering the weighty matter of

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whether the pelican crossings are functioning properly, has he had

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the opportunity to consider whether ministerial appointments are

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functioning properly in his department... Can I ask the member,

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clearly that is not relevant to the question. The minister did recently

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launched what was called a puffin crossing and I am delighted to say

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that the Minister's department has relented and will provide such a

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crossing to my village which will hopefully help the elderly people

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across. Is there any advantage in transferring pelican crossings to

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Puffin crossings so that elderly people can cross the road safely?

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There are issues of improving road safety that, and the strategic

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management of traffic on the road network and a Puffin crossings

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offer enhance safety and traffic flow Features. Since September 2011,

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the Roads Service has upgraded existing pelican crossings to

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Puffin crossings and installed 24 new puffins. The major differences

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between puffins and pelicans are that... This is not a black-and-

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white issue! Puffins have the red / green man on the push button, I

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hope you're listening because this is important, on the push-button

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unit beside the pedestrian. There is no flashing amber signal to

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drivers who are held on a red signal until pedestrians have

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completed their crossing and the time for pedestrians to cross the

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road can be extended by sensors which detect people still on the

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crossing. Drivers also derive benefit from puffins, for example,

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when a pedestrian pursues the push- button and then moves away, a

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demand for the Green man is cancelled so drivers do not

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Now you know. A charge of corporate manslaughter

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could apply to deaths of people in custody or detention here from

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September. The new law will apply to those held in court, detention

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cells, prisons, police cells and patients detained under the mental

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health orld. Here is the Justice Minister, David Ford.

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It Will apply to deaths in the custody and detention of the Prison

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Service, in police custody, in court detention cells, and the

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juvenile justice centre. It will also apply in the health service to

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secure accommodation for young people and patients being

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detainened under the mental health order T will include custody in

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detention facilities of the armed forces and the customs and

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immigration wings of the UK Border Agency. My proposed commencement

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order will cover all such facilities in Northern Ireland. The

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new offence of corporate manslaughter has a number of

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important elements. It is committed when the way in which an

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organisation's activities are managed or organised causes a

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person's death, and amounts to a gross breach of duty of care, owed

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by the organisation to the person who has died. So the focus is

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largely on the managerial actions of the organisation's senior

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management as a whole, rather than on those of individuals,

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particularly those further down the organisation. As members will

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appreciate, the offence is complex. However, basically it is about

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failures of organisation and management, depending on a gross

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breach of duty of care. As it is the body itself that will be

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prosecuted, the main penalty available on conviction for such a

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serious offence is not imprisonment, but a fine.

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Rosemary, we have had high profile deaths in custody in our prisons

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over the last couple of years. Do you think this will in some way add

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to the pressure on the Prison Service to make sure they do

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everything right, to prevent people dying in custody? Well, I certainly

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think lessons have to be learned, Tara, from any death, anywhere. I

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am slightly concerned by what I heard the Minister saying there,

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because who's going to be held responsible? It's going to be the

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body, he said, and fines. Now, fines, we have had massive fines

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for things. Compensations paid in massive sums of money. That comes

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out of the public purse. That money could be used for new hips, a new

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hospital, for helping programmes, we need many, many programmes in

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our juvenile justice system. We need them in the young offenders

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centre. We need them in the women's prison. My concern is when people

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are fined, or bodies are fined, that the public purse pays the fine.

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What would be the alternative then, what puts pressure on the Prison

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Service to do things correctly? Well, again it's like Government by

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committee, because whenever the ombudsman for the Prison Service

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has looked into deaths in prison, her reports have been quite clear

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that there are a number of glitches in the system whereby people have

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been doing wrong or not doing their job properly. But it doesn't come

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out at one person. I am not looking for a head on a platter, but what I

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am saying is it's difficult to find one person responsible in an

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organisation for anything. If someone escapes from custody, for

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example, from the prison vans or whatever, there's a number of

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people. It's the organisation. Again, it's not... On one person.

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Thank you. The controversial gas extraction

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process known as frocking has seen angry exchanges in the chamber.

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Last Thursday members of the enterprise committee heard evidence

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on the topic and there was a lot of interest from one Fermanagh MLA.

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the evidence just isn't there why are we rushing into this in that

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gas has been there for thousands of years. It's not going anywhere.

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are not rushing. An application put in 15 months, that's rushing.

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will be considered in context of the existing sites. Surely these

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issues should have been considered before a licence was given? It's

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not a licence for fracking. It's a licence to explore. All we are

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doing is having a look to see what's down there. If you are

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having a look to see what's down there, how come they've published

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figures telling us exactly what's down there. How many jobs it will

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create, thoug will give us security of supply for F we don't know

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what's down there how can they publish figures and you haven't

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said those figures aren't correct? That's the whole point of

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exploration. They've made estimates based on geological knowledge that

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we have, which is limited to a few bore holes and data. That's the

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point of the exploration, the first phase of the programme for them to

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to collect the information. If that information is not correct, why

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bother put it out? That's a decision for the company. I think

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you and I would understand why... We would understand that there are

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commercial reasons why they're suggesting that. They're coming to

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give evidence next week and obviously an opportunity to talk to

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the company there. But we reckon there is limited knowledge, there

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is some knowledge about what is there. There is limited knowledge,

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that's why this licence has been granted to do this exploratory work

:19:07.:19:12.

to find out much more definitively what is there, how much is there,

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whether it can be extracted. Then those sort of of figures and

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they're guess estimates at the present minute from the company

:19:19.:19:22.

would start to get firmed up. But they're at this stage, and they can

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only be at this stage guess estimates because the work has not

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been done. Well, sorry, and I did tell you I

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was finished, but if we were relying on... That was four

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questions ago! If we are relying on them giving guess estimates as to

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what's there to attract investors how can we be sure the information

:19:41.:19:45.

they're giving us on the environmental impact of this, on

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the fact they've said they they won't use chemicals. How can you

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trust them on that? That's really rather here nor there. The issue

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will be what the plan - if the planning authorities decide f the

:20:01.:20:05.

planning permission is given on a basis they don't use khaerpls --

:20:05.:20:08.

chemicals, then they won't use chemicals. Can it be done without

:20:08.:20:12.

chemicals? Well, Derek will have more information about this. But I

:20:12.:20:16.

understand that because we are talking about shallow of depth, the

:20:16.:20:21.

pressures are much lower, chemicals are needed where fracking is done

:20:21.:20:26.

at great depth and chemicals are required to facilitate the process.

:20:26.:20:31.

First of all, Wye like to say that we are all local people. We are

:20:31.:20:36.

concerned citizens we are all professionals in our own right, but

:20:36.:20:39.

not professional oil and gas industry people so we have had to

:20:39.:20:42.

do a lot of research because the research we needed didn't come to

:20:42.:20:47.

us. There is a huge sense in County Fermanagh people are being kept in

:20:47.:20:51.

the dark. The whole issue of community engagement, there was one

:20:51.:20:56.

single meeting held in County Fermanagh by the company and that

:20:56.:21:02.

was held in Enniskillen, which is outside the licence area. Along

:21:02.:21:05.

with lots of Government agencies, if you want to engage rural

:21:05.:21:09.

communities you have to meet, not just in the local County town, but

:21:09.:21:15.

try and get down local. The big issues are health and water,

:21:15.:21:19.

economics, farming, tourism, it's a nationwide issue this, it's going

:21:19.:21:22.

to affect everybody in Northern Ireland. There is the reputation

:21:22.:21:27.

and perception of our country. So we need to be very much aware it's

:21:27.:21:31.

not just one part of a small piece of Northern Ireland.

:21:31.:21:34.

The inquiry into historical institutional abuse will take three

:21:34.:21:39.

years to complete members were told today. The bill to set up the

:21:39.:21:42.

inquiry was debated in the chamber this afternoon. Here is the DUP

:21:42.:21:45.

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell outlining how the inquiry will deal

:21:45.:21:50.

with witnesses. The inquiry will wish to call

:21:50.:21:55.

witnesses to answer questions about the events of the time, or to hand

:21:55.:22:02.

over evidence and it is anticipated that they will do so. However, some

:22:02.:22:11.

may be unwilling to. Others may feel unable to because of

:22:11.:22:14.

confidentiality issues. Clause 9 therefore enables the presiding

:22:14.:22:21.

member to issue notices compelling witnesses to come before the

:22:21.:22:26.

inquiry or compelling evidence to be given to it. Often when we talk

:22:26.:22:32.

of victims and survivors we talk of the benefits and the advantages of

:22:32.:22:35.

story-telling. There is no doubt that an individual can take great

:22:35.:22:39.

comfort from being able in a safe and secure environment, perhaps for

:22:39.:22:44.

the first time in ten, 20, 30 or 40 years, to have the facility to tell

:22:44.:22:51.

their story. To get it off their chest. Wye put it to you, that

:22:51.:22:56.

that's not really the full benefit. Story-telling is only of real

:22:56.:23:02.

advantage to a victim or a survivor if there is somebody listening.

:23:02.:23:08.

It's my personal opinion that the costs of this investigation should

:23:08.:23:15.

at least in part be met by the Catholic Church. Because it is

:23:15.:23:21.

clergy and lay people within the Catholic Church on this one who are

:23:21.:23:25.

responsible, at least in part, and the leadership of the Church

:23:25.:23:28.

culpable in terms of dealing with it and those costs should be met

:23:29.:23:34.

therefore appropriately. I think the legislation that will pass this

:23:34.:23:39.

House must include measures to control costs and minimise costs to

:23:39.:23:45.

the taxpayer, but at the same time ensure that the investigation and

:23:45.:23:49.

the report that will come from the investigation are clearly robust

:23:49.:23:56.

and will provide that surety to people who are victims.

:23:56.:24:00.

Martin McGuinness spoke today about his planned meeting with the Queen.

:24:00.:24:03.

He was asked if there is a role for the monarchy in any possible united

:24:03.:24:07.

Ireland. I think all of these things are

:24:07.:24:12.

obviously up there for discussion. I want to see a reunited Ireland

:24:12.:24:17.

and I am very determined, through my involvement in politics, to try

:24:17.:24:21.

and bring that about. I think we have made massive strides forward

:24:21.:24:28.

through the peace process in recent times. Power-sharing rules, all-

:24:28.:24:31.

Ireland institutions, east-west institutions rule, so we have to

:24:31.:24:35.

continue to move forward. The unthinkable in the past has come to

:24:35.:24:40.

pass. So, other things that may be unthinkable now I believe will come

:24:40.:24:47.

to pass in the future. But the next phase of this has to be a phase of

:24:47.:24:51.

reconciliation and I think that debate has commenced and I think it

:24:51.:24:57.

will gather speed over the course of coming times and I would like to

:24:57.:25:02.

think that what will happen on Wednesday morning will be a further

:25:02.:25:05.

impetus, a further spur on the road to national reconciliation in

:25:05.:25:08.

Ireland. Should Ireland, for example, consider joining the

:25:08.:25:12.

Commonwealth as part of this new phase? Well, I wouldn't be in

:25:12.:25:15.

favour of that and I don't think it's really necessary even to get

:25:15.:25:20.

into that at this stage. I do believe that as we evolve and as

:25:20.:25:25.

time moves forward we will become involved in very important dialogue

:25:25.:25:29.

and discussions about how everybody can feel safe and secure and

:25:29.:25:35.

comfortable on the island of Ireland. I want to be involved in

:25:35.:25:41.

showing a spirit of generosity to the unionist people and to ask in a

:25:41.:25:46.

sizable percentage, if not all, of the unionist community to recognise

:25:46.:25:51.

that in terms of economic prosperity, in terms of social

:25:51.:25:55.

stapblt, -- stability, in terms of political stability, in terms of

:25:55.:26:00.

the affinity that we all need to have with each other, we are much

:26:00.:26:05.

better working on the basis that we can collectively take take

:26:05.:26:08.

decisions that make this island a far better place for all of to us

:26:08.:26:11.

live in. Well, the grounds of Stormont have

:26:11.:26:15.

been a hive of activity today. Gareth Gordon filled me in on the

:26:15.:26:17.

preparations for this week's Jubilee party.

:26:17.:26:21.

Well, in case anyone is confused, politics is still the main business

:26:21.:26:23.

here at Stormont, even if the grounds have been turned into

:26:24.:26:27.

something like the days before Glastonbury or something. Something

:26:27.:26:30.

going on here that you couldn't help but notice it. Lots of crash

:26:30.:26:33.

barriers, they're appearing because the population of Northern Ireland

:26:33.:26:37.

have suddenly become interested in what MLAs are doing. Rather it's

:26:37.:26:42.

all to do with the visit on Wednesday by the Queen. And not

:26:42.:26:46.

inconsiderable crowd of 22,000 people here to see her. You cannot

:26:46.:26:51.

bring as many people as that on to the grounds of the estate without

:26:51.:26:57.

some facilities in place, we have a marquee going up behind, we have

:26:57.:27:01.

portaloos, two stages as well and rumours of some pretty big name

:27:01.:27:05.

acts to play on those stages. But of course they'll not steal the top

:27:05.:27:08.

billing from the Queen. This is one of only two places in Northern

:27:08.:27:11.

Ireland during her two-day visit where she will be doing a walkabout.

:27:11.:27:17.

But remember this, it will be a very short time. The organisers are

:27:17.:27:20.

aware you cannot bring a big crowd without giving them something else

:27:20.:27:24.

to do while waiting for the Queen, hence this activity. A non-

:27:24.:27:27.

appearance of a portrait of the Queen has roughlied a few feathers.

:27:27.:27:34.

This is a portrait of the Queen painted by the late artist Lydia

:27:34.:27:42.

deBerg who happens to have been an aunt of an unionist MLA. It's on

:27:42.:27:52.

loan to Hillsborough Castle. He's used colourful language to

:27:52.:27:55.

express his annoyance of the fact it hasn't been brought here. He

:27:55.:27:59.

says Stormont is an almost a venue for constant exhibition - he

:27:59.:28:04.

singles out the current one for crit criticism, he says it's a

:28:04.:28:08.

bizarre set of fish skins, technically I think he is right.

:28:08.:28:14.

This is an exhibition by an artist, The Screaming Silence of the Wind

:28:15.:28:20.

and uses fish leather. Jim Allister has a point about fish skins. He is

:28:20.:28:26.

unimpressed saying authorities are quite happy to bedeck Stormont like

:28:26.:28:30.

a Middle Eastern bazarr but cannot find room for a portrait of the

:28:30.:28:34.

Queen. Something that's been debated recent shreu whether or not

:28:34.:28:36.

to allow television cameras into court, are you for or against?

:28:36.:28:42.

think there is an argument for and against. It depends on what aspect

:28:42.:28:46.

they're going to televise. Sometimes there's a pilot running

:28:46.:28:50.

where they're televising the junk giving -- judge giving out the

:28:51.:28:55.

verdict, that type of thing, or sentencing. But I spent time last

:28:55.:29:00.

summer in America where the Casey Anthony trial, a child that was

:29:00.:29:05.

murdered, went on and it was really horrendous, it was a circus. It

:29:05.:29:09.

really was. The prosecution and the defence were just acting and Wye

:29:09.:29:11.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Tara Mills 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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