27/02/2012 Stormont Today


27/02/2012

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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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. No Oscars for us sadly but

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congratulations to Terry George and while our MLAs know how to bask in

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reflected glory, one member had strong words of criticism.

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What was done about this Assembly to make the best of this success?

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What plans were put in place by the Department?

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And learning about our shared history - it could be a steep

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learning curve for some. Signing of the Ulster Covenant

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coming up next year is an opportunity but there are other

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issues. Remember, the covenant was signed 100 years ago.

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Keeping me right tonight, historian Jonathan Bardon.

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There's always a lot of talk about the past up here at Stormont but

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today's debate took us way back to the Ulster Covenant and the Easter

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Rising and how they should be commemorated. Jonathan Bardon is

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here to give us some context. There may be one school of thought that

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we should just ignore them? I don't think we should ignore these events

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that were so momentous and did so much to shape our present that I

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think they have to be marked in some way or other. I think the

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danger is that you could cherry- pick and just choose one or two

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events and the triumphalist about them. These events all connect with

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each other up. We are is a sense of them and us but you get the

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impression from the MLAs that they are trying to move away from that?

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I hope so. For example, he Ulster day or the day that the covenant

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was signed in September of 1912, that took place because of another

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momentous event when the British Government got the day in April

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1912 when the Titanic went down, introduce the third Home Rule Bill

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to give the whole of Ireland a vote of devolution. Of course the

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government was a reaction against that. The Easter Rising coming up

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in a few years' time, balances things out? I have a problem with

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that. The Easter rising was in 1916. The covenant was in 1912 so that

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gives you a four-year gap. Again, it is cherry picking. One thing

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leads on to another. At the Easter Rising would not have taken place

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without the First World War or and of course of 1916 is important, not

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just for the Easter Rising, but for the great offensive along the

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western front in which so many people from Ulster and the whole of

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Ireland died. More people were fighting on the Western Front, were

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Catholics indeed were fighting on the Western Front, and fought in

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the Easter Rising. The Alliance Party motion called

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for a co-ordinated approach to the commemoration of these events.

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The challenge is, can explore this past together in a way that both

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aids understanding through education and discussion in order

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to learn from our past and help us informed the possibility of a

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better future. Should we feel this challenge, there is potential for a

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divisive period rather than one focused on the future progress and

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the degree of maturity displayed over the coming 10 years in how we

:04:07.:04:13.

look at the past will ship how we live in the future. The signing of

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the Ulster Covenant, coming up next year is an opportunity. But there

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are other issues. The covenant was signed this year, 100 years ago.

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That demonstrates my point because I think we have a lot to learn

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about each other. My understanding of the covenant is that it was

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signed in September of this year. Is that correct? That is the date I

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had in mind so the point I would like to make his, we would in fact

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learn from each other and we should because I do think that perhaps the

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hard words we normally here and perhaps the noise and clamour of

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that was because people didn't have the confidence that what they would

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say it would be heard. I think we all have a responsibility, perhaps

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not just for the past, but to take this opportunity, it is a

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responsibility in my view and I want to make it clear, I want to

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make this commitment on behalf of my party, we will participate in

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these events and as many of these events, including those that

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reflect the Unionist tradition as it is possible for us to do so.

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SDLP believes it is vitally important that we don't just

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remember the past but we ask almost critical questions of it and that

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articulating a vision of the future is as much a part of the process as

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looking back. But also offers us a picture of two to record and teach

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our people and particularly our young people who the history, and I

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mean the history, not our history or their history, which I have even

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heard today in this chamber. I think to say our history or their

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history is something that shouldn't be talked about. It is the history

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of Northern Ireland and the people within it. I think it does a great

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disservice to the people who were involved in these events when they

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are labelled as our history for their history or one section of our

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history for one section of our people or one section but we ignore

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that part of history. That is their history, the history of Northern

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Ireland and the people within it. Interesting to hear some of the

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thoughts there but we have great difficulty with dealing in our

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recent past, can we deal with the past 100 years ago? I think we can.

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There are many experts who are extremely well versed in this who

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could tell us about this. The BBC has a great archive of film. The

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newspapers are full of useful material. Actually, the Ulster

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Unionists in particular in 1912 were superb publicists and produced

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lots of wonderful postcards and propaganda at the time and the

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nationalists responded. Is there anything we can learn from it in

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terms of killing? I think so. We learn by discovering that it is

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more complex and we thought it was, it is not the kind of history that

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you get in ballads more on gable walls or on banners. I think that

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is what is so important and the more we know about it, the better.

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The more capable we are a standing back and understanding each other

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and opposite points of view. Emigration is a big issue in the

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Republic, but here? It turns out no one really knows what the situation

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is here as the Employment and Learning minister revealed during

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questions. There were feisty moments when Arlene Foster dealt

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with that hoary old topic, fracking. More on that in a second but first,

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here's the chair of the DEL committee casting up to the past to

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his minister on the issue of youth unemployment.

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On 8th June, you stated that we recognise the committee has an

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important role to play, not just in scrutinising policy. Can you

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explain why you have not brought these issues to the Committee for

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discussion and can you tell us if you proposals that you have shared

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with colleagues, if they will be a rehash of what is going on in the

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rest of the UK or if you have something a bit of thinking to

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bring to this matter? First of all, he raises a couple of questions and

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I will try to address those. If the chair of the committee wants to

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invite officials to break the Committee on this matter of

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importance, I am more than happy to make my officials available to them.

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At times the committee has asked for a whole host of briefings to be

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made to the committee on matters small and occasionally on matters

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large and certainly in this large matter, I would welcome the

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committee having a discussion around the matters. Of course the

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committee will appropriate that it is for the Executive to determine

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the policy and that is where agreement has to be found. After

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that, we look to the finance minister in terms of resourcing

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mess. Secondly, while we are mindful of the policies being

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developed in the rest of the UK, we are devolved region and we do not

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follow what happens in other jurisdictions. However we will take

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on board the lessons of what is working in the rest of the UK and

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indeed I am keen to add a premium up with the Northern Ireland of a

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dish nullity that is linked to our own economy and the proposal I'd

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put forward towards skill areas we have a Northern Ireland so we

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insure this is not simply about dealing with unemployment but also

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about an investment in the future of our economy by ensuring we are

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investigating -- investing in the right areas. He could I asked the

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Minister said his department has carried out any assessment of the

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number of young people who have emigrated particularly from rural

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areas in search of work and does the Department have a strategy for

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tackling youth unemployment in rural areas? I am very much aware

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of the issues he is raising but it is difficult to give a precise

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figure for emigration at this stage. It is not something for which the

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Executive is responsible and terms of monitoring those issues. He but

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we are aware of the issues. I am mindful of making sure there is a

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range of policies across Northern Ireland both for urban and rural

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areas. He will be aware for example that we have ruled out a project

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into areas like Cookstown and more oil recently so we are recognising

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that there are rock pockets of disadvantage where we need to make

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some particular interventions. Arlene Foster next and the possible

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income -- impact on tourism. With the Minister agree that there is a

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danger to tourism because of for a king. Was she assure me that

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stakeholders will be consulted before any input into the decision

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process. Also when the Minister agree that the other form of

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alternative energy, especially around the Ballycastle area. I have

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already indicated that there are no plans in place for hydraulic

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fracturing in the north Antrim area. Neither Rathlin energy or or

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singleton intense to use that but I do say this to remember, I was then

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an area last week which provides 80% of gas to the UK. That is the

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same state that is hosting the 2022 World Cup, it doesn't seem to have

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done any damage to their tourism infrastructure and indeed their

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bedding for the 2020 Olympics so the benefits which the production

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of gas can bring to a particular part of the world are huge. In

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answer to his first of many questions, do I see that fracturing

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damages tourism? Not if it is carried out in the way in which

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will comply with planning permissions, environmental impact

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assessments. I do not see a direct lineage between tourism and

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hydraulic fracturing and there has been whipped up, in certain parts

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of our country, quite disgraceful at putting it stories which are a

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disgrace of instead of looking at the facts. We are at a stage where

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a planning application needs to put in place, where an environmental

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impact is to be put in place and people would do well to wait until

:13:30.:13:40.
:13:40.:13:40.

those are in place before getting I would thank the minister for

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reminding us for the position and exploration of gas. Cot minister

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explain to the House what it will mean to Northern Ireland if there

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is gas there and if it would be feasible to do so, what it will

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mean for Northern Ireland. Well, the work that has been taken on at

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present by the particular company, a company which has now met with

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both myself and the minister of environment, are really carrying

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out work to see whether it is feasible to take shail gas out of

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the basin and in and around Fermanagh. That work is ongoing.

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They will carry out more work and then put in a planning application

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and a strategic environmental impact assessment. If they can take

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gas out of county Fermanagh in a safe way, which respects the

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environment and respects what happens in county Fermanagh, and

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can I say, I find it quite offensive for people to say that I

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would in some way damage county Fermanagh, Mr Speaker, as if.

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to the issue of some of these commemorations. There's the Ulster

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covenant, Easter rising, Titanic. There's the sufferage movement that

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we don't hear much about. Tem us about that. Ulster played its part

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in the campaign for vote for women. There were some very active

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suffragettes coming up towards to the First World War, for example,

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making an attack, I think, burning down the cave hill tennis Pavilion.

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There were teachers in Victoria College on a Friday would then take

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the boat to Britain and go down to London and join other suffragettes

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in throwing rocks through plate glass windows in Oxford Street and

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be back in the class on Monday morning. They certainly took things

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into their own hands a lot of it was quite violent. Yes it was the.

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The Government was very concerned about it. The Prime Minister who

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introduced the third home rule bill, Herbert Henry Asquith was in Dublin.

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He was cheered by great numbers of Nationalists when suffragettes

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attacked him. Our MLAs love a bit of reflected glory and what could

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be better than Hollywood glamour and razzmatazz. They were queuing

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up at the start of business to praise local director and

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screenwriter Terry George, whose short film The Shore won its

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category at the Oscars. This is a fantastic achievement given the

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prominence of the Oscars as being the highest accolade possible in

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the film industry. Whilst we have a number of nominees from Northern

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Ireland in the past, including Liam knee son, Keneth brana, to win this

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year in this category is outstanding. What was done by this

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Assembly to make the best of this success, what plans were put in

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place by the department ofent price, or the department of leisure to

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mark such a significant occasion on the winning of this occasion? Where

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was invest NI for example. Over recent years film making in

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Northern Ireland has been growing dramatically. This is helped in no

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small part not only bit funding given to Northern Ireland screen

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but also the ability of Northern Ireland to attract film makers to

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our shores, through the work of the Northern Ireland executive. With

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major television shows like game of thrones and movies like your

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Highness and killing Bono, we're developing the technical skills to

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go with the artistic talent to go with directors such as Terry George.

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I was fortunate enough some years ago to be one of the first trainees

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on the Irish broadcasting fund. From that fund we have accepted a

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number of companies which are currently producing film and

:17:34.:17:38.

television. So when we get an achievement of this world standing

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nature, it's something that we should shout about. I'm sure it's a

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great celebration in County Down and of Coney Island as well, which

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was made so famous by van Morrison. The former Chief Operating Officer

:17:55.:17:59.

of loch shore investments said the main reason she invested in The

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Shore was the impact it could have on the branding of Northern Ireland

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to the world as, and Terry George in his speech said we negotiated a

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peace and proved to the world that the Irish are great talkers. The

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film itself, Mr Speaker, is about someone who fled to America because

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of the Troubles. What a different peace when people leave for totally

:18:27.:18:32.

different reasons. Robin Swan joins me now. You waste nod time on

:18:32.:18:37.

getting this onto the agenda today. It's a fantastic achievement for

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Terry George and the film industry, especially when we're promoting the

:18:42.:18:44.

creative industries. Fantastic opportunity to put Northern Ireland

:18:44.:18:49.

on the world stage. You sounded a note of criticism. Of missed

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opportunity. The world was there, the world was watching, Terry

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George had no support from the Northern Ireland executive, there

:18:56.:19:00.

was nobody there to say this is a Northern Ireland product ah, part

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from Terry himself. He finished up with the Irish film boards after

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awards party. There was nothing there to celebrate Northern

:19:08.:19:12.

Ireland's achievement. Does the film not speak for itself. The film

:19:12.:19:15.

was a great reflection on Northern Ireland and what had happened,

:19:15.:19:18.

especially the story behind the entire film and the production

:19:18.:19:22.

itself. I think we're missing opportunities like this. We have

:19:22.:19:28.

Rory McIlroy in the world of golf, and nobody supporting him as the

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Northern Ireland executive. More need to be there to capture that

:19:31.:19:34.

spirit and the opportunity there to promote Northern Ireland. Would

:19:34.:19:39.

that not lead to criticism of MLAs only need to plan a trip to San

:19:39.:19:44.

Diego and there's shout of junkets, would that not lead to people

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accusing them of wasting money. it's industry based, I'm not

:19:50.:19:54.

talking about MLA junkets, this is serious contributions and support

:19:54.:19:57.

of the creative industries in Northern Ireland and being there on

:19:57.:20:02.

the world stage and making ourself known as a world player. We have

:20:02.:20:07.

the game of throne world wide series, let's maximise the

:20:07.:20:11.

potential and maximise all that is good about Northern Ireland. It's a

:20:11.:20:14.

fantastic achievement and not to take away from it, we've had short

:20:15.:20:19.

films nominated in the past, can you see a time when we would have a

:20:19.:20:23.

full length, feature film nominated or winning an Oscar? Certainly.

:20:23.:20:30.

We've had previous actors nominated from Northern Ireland Liam Neeson,

:20:30.:20:33.

we have the ability there. If we put enough investment into the

:20:33.:20:37.

creative industries into screen NI and into all the creative

:20:37.:20:42.

individuals who are out there, surely, before long, we will

:20:42.:20:46.

produce full length films here that will take the Oscars no, problem,

:20:46.:20:56.
:20:56.:20:56.

same as Terry George did. Thank you for joining us. The SDLP's kolum

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Eastwood was put in his place earlier. Would he be bold to

:21:00.:21:06.

criticise the spending plans again. This budget has a lack of any real

:21:06.:21:09.

focus on job creation. There's a weakness in dealing with the

:21:09.:21:14.

threats to people amongst the poorest in our society and

:21:14.:21:19.

threatened by the oncoming onslaught of welfare reform. The

:21:19.:21:25.

devolution of corporation tax is moving at a far too slow pace. Mr

:21:25.:21:29.

Deputy Speaker, the politics of this budget is equivalent to a

:21:29.:21:33.

splash of bright paint on a distinctly grey canvas. Political

:21:33.:21:40.

choreography cannot distract from the reality of the defishcy of good

:21:40.:21:45.

Government. How can we convince anyone that the leadership is

:21:45.:21:50.

capable of dealing with more fiscal powers, when it hasn't fully

:21:50.:21:53.

utilised the block expenditure in its possession. It's sad to see for

:21:53.:21:59.

someone so young, he has got himself into a state of despair,

:21:59.:22:05.

which, I mean, usually, the youth are the people who have got

:22:05.:22:10.

idealism that lifts them beyond the circumstances in which they find

:22:10.:22:14.

themselves, help to pull themselves out of the mud an the mire and look

:22:14.:22:19.

to rise for a brighter future. I'm afraid that the young people in the

:22:19.:22:23.

SDLP have got their eyes as firmly on the ground in front of them as

:22:23.:22:28.

some of the older members who have had the batterings and beatings of

:22:28.:22:33.

electoral defeat after electoral defeat and therefore, have got into

:22:33.:22:38.

this kind of negative attitude. Well that's him told. Now, Stormont

:22:38.:22:42.

committees cover all sorts of topics, but sometimes MLAs can

:22:42.:22:46.

wonder off down unexpected avenues, leaving guests a little bewildered.

:22:46.:22:49.

Here's what happened when a presentation to the education

:22:50.:22:56.

committee on preschool places took a slight diversion and listen out

:22:56.:23:00.

for sometimes torturous similar Liz as we look at the work of the

:23:00.:23:04.

committees here on the Hill. This is a bit like, this has turned

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into the debate about food globally, I mean, I presume you do believe

:23:09.:23:13.

there's enough food in the world to feed snerch I'm not qualified to

:23:13.:23:18.

comment on that. You don't have an opinion? I'm not here to answer

:23:18.:23:23.

question abouts that. I may well be if there is and it's not

:23:23.:23:28.

necessarily in the right place. That's why we have familiarins and

:23:28.:23:31.

food shortages. That's why the food of Africa gets thrown up. This

:23:31.:23:37.

debate is turning into one of these arguments. Yeah we all want to

:23:37.:23:40.

eliminate global hunger but we can't take the necessary steps to

:23:40.:23:48.

do it. So we tolerate 10% of kids not getting a place. It's not 10%.

:23:48.:23:53.

In some areas we're hitting 100%. Some areas it's about 90%. This is

:23:53.:23:59.

very close. We are looking at the experience from last year. Even the

:23:59.:24:06.

figures about parents who didn't get placed aren't entirely accurate.

:24:07.:24:11.

I think areas we need to do a bit more work. We also need to look at

:24:11.:24:14.

parents who don't apply. There's a number of parents who actually

:24:14.:24:20.

don't apply for a place for their children. We need to look at that.

:24:20.:24:24.

We need to look at parents who drop off during the application process

:24:24.:24:29.

and find out why that is. We need to look at the cohort and if

:24:29.:24:32.

there's barriers to applications, address those. Once people come

:24:32.:24:35.

into the application process make sure it works better for them so

:24:35.:24:40.

they get the places at the end. minister mentioned, I think it's

:24:40.:24:46.

worth noting, that the DSD is putting in money. It's always been

:24:46.:24:51.

the view and strongly the view of the MAC that it can't be a stand

:24:51.:24:55.

alone place. Part of the reason why it was put there was because of the

:24:56.:25:00.

clustering, the sense of clustering of cultural activity and those two

:25:00.:25:03.

would feed off each other. The point that we made is that you

:25:03.:25:08.

can't fund the MAC and strip everything else back. It's like

:25:08.:25:11.

putting Wayne Rooney out without any other players around them. The

:25:11.:25:17.

MAC is a focal point for arts and culture activities in the cathedral

:25:17.:25:19.

quarter. Everything else has to keep going and that includes the

:25:19.:25:24.

black box, which has become a very important part of what cathedral

:25:24.:25:32.

quarter is. The other big thing that the minister mentioned was the

:25:32.:25:37.

managed work space and 50% subsidy and so on. That is a really

:25:37.:25:41.

important part of clustering. I think we can do that a lot better.

:25:41.:25:44.

Wod' like to work with the department more on that front.

:25:44.:25:49.

Every little bit counts. Every little bit counts. Sean will tell

:25:49.:25:57.

you if you get 5% or 10% from a Government, that leverages another

:25:57.:26:00.

10% from somewhere else. This is a set of dominoes. You take one piece

:26:00.:26:04.

out and the rest don't fall. Sean has to cut back, reduce prices or

:26:04.:26:09.

whatever it might be. The cocktail is important. It's like not putting

:26:09.:26:14.

gin in a gin sling, I don't know, I've never had a gin cling, I just

:26:14.:26:18.

thought of that. The cocktail is really important. These numbers

:26:18.:26:23.

were very important. We're so grateful that they've been restored.

:26:23.:26:27.

Peter Robinson says the conflict transformation at the former maize

:26:27.:26:30.

jail could provide a space for people to share their experiences

:26:30.:26:37.

from the Troubles. But the executive is having difficulty

:26:37.:26:40.

finding someone to head the development of the site. It's not

:26:40.:26:43.

great news. The first and deputy First Minister had hoped to

:26:43.:26:48.

announce shortly the appointment of a chairman of the board, along with

:26:48.:26:56.

board members. But in weekly answer booklet today, the Ulster Unionists

:26:56.:27:01.

found out that they weren't able to appoint a chairman because they

:27:01.:27:05.

didn't get a suitable candidate. The pool will stay but they will

:27:05.:27:09.

look again at finding a chairman. Some speculation that the first and

:27:09.:27:13.

deputy First Minister couldn't agree. I spoke with Mike Nesbitt

:27:13.:27:16.

and asked how concerned he was. very disappointed. But I'm

:27:16.:27:20.

concerned yes, because you would have thought for such a big and

:27:20.:27:23.

potentially exciting development, you would have had a queue of

:27:23.:27:28.

suitably qualified people coming forward. Yet, according to them,

:27:28.:27:34.

not one. What about the David McNargolery issue and the plans to

:27:34.:27:43.

discipline him glrb McNarry. understand a date has been set but

:27:43.:27:45.

the party will not comment, nor will they comment on suggestion

:27:45.:27:50.

that's other people are also going to appear before the disciplinery

:27:50.:27:56.

panel. The SDLP now, Alastair McDonald had a baptism of fire when

:27:56.:28:02.

he took over as leader. But he has reached the 100-day stage. First

:28:02.:28:07.

the lights, then a party row, public row, over MLAs and salaries.

:28:07.:28:13.

He got good news, given to us today, that is that he had set a number of

:28:13.:28:17.

targets for his first 100 days in targets. He's met those targets.

:28:17.:28:21.

His fundraising target of �20,000 was met before Christmas.

:28:21.:28:25.

A final word from you. Is there a danger in all these commemorations

:28:25.:28:29.

of stirring up old wounds from the past. There certainly is and the

:28:29.:28:35.

Government needs to lead to ensure that doesn't happen, to make sure

:28:35.:28:39.

it's inclusive, non-triumphalist and brings everybody on board by

:28:39.:28:46.

looking at the sequence of events from April of 1912 all the way up

:28:46.:28:49.

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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