27/06/2011 Stormont Today


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

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Hello and welcome to Stormont today. Another tax deadline is looming, do


not worry it is not a personal income tax. But if you have a view


on corporation tax and whether it should be lowered, you only have


until Friday. Cannot make up your mind? Stay tuned. We will hear from


a business champion and an opposing view.


Plus, they are the good guys, aren't they? The Community


Relations Council that is, so why when they were at Stormont did it


turn out like this? Tom Elliott fights to keep order at an


Albert Einstein like to say the hardest thing in the world to


understand is income tax. At least he did not have to grapple with the


issues of corporation tax. But to give us his take, I am joined by a


Michael Ryan, vice-president of Bombardier Aerospace Belfast. Give


us your pitch, why should we lower corporation tax? It is generally


agreed within our society here that we lag behind most of the


indicators first is the UK for the wellbeing of the our community in


Northern Ireland. Those indicators are driven in many ways by the


effectiveness of our economy here and our economy depends on


businesses. If our economy depends on businesses them one of the ways


to influence that is to increase the size of the businesses in


Northern Ireland. The Assembly will be debating this tomorrow, we hear


lots of talk about job creation, it could have re -- create 4,500 jobs


a year. But we could lose money from the block grant. There has


been at an argument about how much it could cost first is the number


of jobs it could create. What we have been doing for the last 20


years has not closed the gap. If we want to do something differently,


what we have done his lookout side and looked at the data and looked


at the evidence and the reduction of corporation tax is one of the


tools that we begin will help us close the gap with the rest of the


UK. The consultation has been extended until this Friday and the


cynics would say that it is because the quality of responses is not


there, people are not interested or it is not being argued well enough.


You said yourself that tax is a difficult it issue for all of us


individually and for corporations as well. We have had a lot of


elections lately, we have had a lot of issues that have been asked of


the tax payer and all of our citizens. That is another one on


top of that. I do not think it reflects a lack of interest or


opportunity. The critics say there is not one shred of evidence that


it will create many jobs and it could benefit the rich. There is a


lot of evidence, when we have looked at data from Estonia,


Singapore, from the south of Ireland. It does not benefit the


rich. If our businesses are no different from the businesses in


the rest of the world our businesses will reinvest that in


their businesses and that will eventually bring more tax in total


as revenue for Northern Ireland from, for our society here. We will


return to the subject later. Nelson the course and is now no


stranger to interrogation. Let us hear from Martin McGuinness, who


revealed among other things that he is considering taking the Executive


on the road. First here he is answering questions on the memorial


fund. Naturally I understand that this is an issue that has been in


the media recently. A lot of people have been frustrated at the length


of time it has taken. I am very pleased to confirm that we now have


the necessary authorisations in place for the memorial budget for


2011-12. Over �3.5 million has been distributed so far. Along with a


total of �4.4 million provided in 2010-11 that has more than doubled


the total in 2008-nine. When it exerts the terms and conditions of


the letter of off-air, further funds will be released. That will


enable the fund to be distributed to individuals whose applications


have been assessed. Fancy a visit from the Executive, it seems Mr


McGuinness wants to take meetings out and about. The Executive


recognises the particular difficulties of up island life. It


hopes to develop policies and projects that will improve


conditions for islanders. They have indicated that they are broadly


content with development so far. friend the Deputy First Minister


for underlining the importance for ensuring that the island is


properly serviced by the administration and the government


departments in Northern Ireland. Will the Deputy First Minister


today ensure that when it comes to implementation that OFMDFM will


play an active role in making sure that there is delivery. We have had


a lot in terms of commitment in the action plan but we need to see


delivery on the ground which will benefit the people off the island.


I think I can say on behalf of both the First Minister and myself that


we do recognise the importance of giving as much support as we can to


the islanders. Those of us who have been to the island, and I have been


there myself, during the course of last year. We appreciate and


understand the particular exceptional difficulties which


islanders have, which people who are here on the mainland do not


have. From our perspective, recognising the challenges faced by


islanders, and they are different from here, means they do need to be


addressed in a different way. Nelson McCausland was back taking


questions with a very different brief, social development. Here he


is facing a question on reform of pensions for women. Will the


Minister confirm that he will work with DWP to ensure that changes


brought about as a result of this bill or the widen 10 shirt and a


reform that are advertised as widely as possible so that people


can prepare for the financial future. I can in -- ensure the


member of that. It is essential that we keep close contact with DWP


in London as this process moves forward and that all the


information is disseminated as widely as possible. So that people


are not caught unawares and a fully aware of any implications.


minister and the house and I am sure the wider community will be


aware of the concern that there is come particularly among the small


number of women who will be adversely affected by this. Members


are working to minimise that change. Given that it will come before the


Assembly, can the Minister outlined the period of time that the women


will get to make belated preparation for a retirement that


they did not expect to come when it now appears it is going to?


Speaker, the amount of notice that an individual woman would receive


would obviously depend on her date of birth. That could range from


four-and-a-half years to nearly seven years. Women whose state


pension age is due to increase the most have a longer period of notice


than those affected earlier forum the increase is smaller.


The main topic of debate in the chamber was the Budget, yet again.


It was passed on a cross-community voting and the Minister dismissed


his critics as whingers. One of those who voted against it was a


single Green MLA, Stephen Agnew. The speakers as you are a whinger.


That seems to be his attitude. He thinks that everybody else is being


unrealistic. It is clear that the Budget could be allocated in


different ways. It failed on the green new deal, which I think as


well as being a good forward step, I think it would be a fairly major


economic driver and has support from the business community,


environmental groups and trade unions. I think that is something


that this Budget it has failed to protect public services through


Gram Mensing cuts through revenue- raising measures. And it has failed


to provide the necessary funding so we can keep the cap on fees. Those


are three fundamental issues on which this Budget fails. In terms


of the green you deal, that is about making homes more efficient.


But the money is not there to fund it. That was it when that has been


made in previous debates. It is where you put your priorities, to


me that should be one of the key priorities. It is not for this


Executive and it is not within the budget. I know we're going to come


on to it later but the cost of corporation tax if we go down that


route would be similar to what the cost of the green new deal would be.


So why are we in leaning towards that rather than the green New


Deal? Do you think that talk by parties has been cheap? I think


that yes. They are saying we are doing the green new deal but


clearly it is not sufficient and there is not a genuine commitment


to it. What we have got is a pilot scheme but we have had pilot


schemes in the PUP Republic of up Ireland that have produced an


immense of this. We can look at other countries examples, it does


reduce jobs, it does reduce heating bills and it does reduce energy use.


You're objecting to corporation tax as well? I will be supporting the


motion that the Assembly should have the power. I think we should


decide hearing Northern Ireland Water our corporation tax rule is.


But I will be warning against of this had rushed into reducing and


because it will result in cuts to public services and potential job


losses with no guaranteed return. Michael Ryan, you heard it there,


it will be cuts to public services with no guaranteed return. I do not


believe it has to be cuts to public services. We have had to improve


our competitiveness by 15% over the past five years. There is room


within public services are to improve competitiveness without


losing jobs. I think the green New Deal is a good thing in principle.


The corporation tax, the data is there, the evidence is there, and


looking forward to a future for Northern Ireland which is better


than what we have now means that we have to do this.


You would think that having the Community Relations Council to hand


might lead to some good vibes among members. But the OFMDFM committee


had to be suspended after tensions run high last week. It all started


politely enough for with discussion of recent events in Belfast.


Looking at the new stories of this week we start the week with a Rory


McIlroy story of about Northern Ireland within the international


global context. By the end of the week the story leading on the BBC


News is riots in Belfast. I do not want to put that us either or us. I


want to say that those her choices. I do think that tackling the issues


that remain is an economic investment worth making with long-


term consequences. Particularly for people in the most at vulnerable


and weakest areas. There is an assertion that community relations


can be a class obsession. There is no doubt that the people who pay


for it are the people at the front end of some of the most week and


vulnerable communities. It is useful to note that the correlation


between poverty and conflict is very high. All the studies that


have been done shows that there is a significant correlation in terms


of the areas that suffer most in terms of conflict are also the


areas with the highest levels of deprivation. Therefore, bringing


together reconciliation on the one hand and of regeneration on the


If anybody examined the conflict over the last 40 years, you can see


clearly that poverty and conflict are not linked. That is my problem


with the CRC all along. If you look back on their funding, it would be


very hard to point to some progress where people have been changed from


what they are doing to a different way of looking at things.


correlation is that the areas that have suffered the most in the


conflict are also areas of intense poverty. That is beyond doubt. I am


not saying that poverty caused it? Look at the people involved in the


conflict. Did they all come from poverty? Most of them did not.


question in terms of which areas suffered the most tended to be


areas of the most intense poverty, on both sides. What the G A A is


trying to do what the Irish Football Association, anybody who


was at Windsor Park in the night to remember in 1996 who goes there now,


it would make a difference. I was sitting in a restaurant last year...


Sorry, I will suspend the meeting. One minute later, the Sassoon


reconvened with one notable absence. Did Tom Elliott press the ejector


button? I am not going to storm a way the


way -- storm away the way that Francie Molloy has done but I agree


with some of the sentiments. poet Francie Molloy's allegation to


David Jeffrey but he refused to comment.


Twitter can get politicians into trouble. Ian McCrea has upset Sinn


Fein after he tweeted that it was great to see Tyrone beat in the


Ulster semi-final and that he hoped Donegal would be to Londonderry to


keep the celebrations out of Mid- Ulster.


If you put things out on Twitter, they are out in the public domain.


Journalists see these things and, if you look at what Peter Robinson


said last week about reaching out to other communities, what he saw


as the Catholic or the nationalist community, that is the theory, but


Ian puts it into practice on the ground with silly comments like


this. It sends a very negative message about what some regard as


the real face of the UUP. Does he need to apologise? He needs to


apologise and withdraw his comments. The G A A does our lot to bring


people in off the streets. He should withdraw the Commons and


recognise it for what it is. Have you been speaking to people in D G


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