28/01/2013 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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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. After the weekend killing of the


Garter officer Adrian Donohue, the hunt is on for his killers. Also,


the Deputy First minister it reaches out to flag demonstrators.


I met with people who were involved in the protest and others who were


a good influence and could stop the violence on the streets. And with


her insides is our Political Correspondent Martina Purdy. The


Justice Minister David Ford said that the PSNI and guard D Baugh co-


operate to catch the killers of the Garda officer. Officers paid their


respects to guard officer Adrian Donohue he was shot dead last


Friday. For us and foremost, I am sure every member of this House


will join me in condemning the callous murder of Detective Garda


or Adrian Donohue. My thoughts are with his wife and family and other


Garda officers. We are committed to working together against the


criminal gangs and to protect all our communities, north and south.


Can I ask if the minister will join with me to call on everyone with


information to co-operate? person who has any information


whatsoever relating to this or any other serious crime has a duty to


inform be PSNI, the Garter or an organisation like Crimestoppers.


The fight against terrorism and organised crime is a fight in which


we are all united and one in which is clearly seen by the response


coming from the PSNI of and the garden. The in respect of the


reports that are coming that these serious organised crime gangs are


moving from Dublin and residing in places like Newry, what response


can the Minister give to ask that Northern Ireland is not a safe


place for them to hide. Last week there was a report of significant


efforts being taken by the PSNI along with their colleagues in the


garda it to disrupt and deterred and dismember organised crime gangs.


Sadly the reality is that some of these crime gangs spread across


every part of Europe, if not wider. But I have no doubt that we will


see corporation a cross the border and in the United Kingdom generally.


-- across the border. There is no doubt in the work that I is going


on in terms of cross-border co- operation. Is it by talk that a


criminal agency in Northern Ireland will continue? I will continue to


highlight the corporation on a 0- south basis. The current situation


is a decision has not been reached about the serious and organised


crime Association. I am keen to see we have a body operating in line


with the police and contributing to the fight against organised crime,


and a heinous crimes such as human trafficking. It is essential that


there is a seamless transition from the old organisation to be new one


-- to the new one. We need to join up law enforcement in the best way


in both the jurisdictions of this island. That is why I have regular


meetings with the Home Office and the Scottish cabinet minister for


justice. All of that is necessary and it is important that Northern


Ireland should be joined in to the appropriate UK agencies in the


right way, just as we need to maintain the structures we have for


the 0-South agreement. Political Correspondent Martina


Purdy is with us. Please remind us of the issues regarding


international crime? There are plans at Westminster to have this


national crime agency which would be a very powerful agency. It would


be the British version of the FBI. The difficulty is that criminal


justice has been devolved to Norman Ireland. The Executive will need to


be able to take back powers and legislate for this new organisation.


It was bought to David Ford last week and there were objections.


we are having a stand-off? There was an issue over accountability.


One of the key concerns was this agency would report directly to the


Home Secretary rather than the cheap constable. -- chief constable.


Martin McGuinness and Alex at what are involved and after voting, the


Unionists and the Alliance agreed to have backing from Westminster.


It will have implications for what does or doesn't happen here,


whatever happens in the UK? We are hearing that the DUP will do its


best to legislate for a national agency. They do need national


consensus for these agents to have powers here. There are concerns


about accountability. The other issues include the proceeds of


crime - do they stay here or go back to Westminster question its --


Westminster? Thank you. We will hear more from Martina Purdy later.


Today, the Deputy First Minister said but he met some of those


involved in the flag protest. protests have led to difficult


trading situations for businesses. I have met with representatives of


the traders and hospitality industry in the area. They told me


that over the weekend there have been 2 million tweeds. -- tweets.


These protests should not put people off visiting Belfast. Apart


from the financial and moral support, is it not necessary for


the Deputy First Minister and First Minister to work together to calm


the situation, to condemn violence and to condemn illegal protest?


important thing as we move forward is to see and it ends of conflict


and violence on the streets. All be political parties have expressed


their opposition to the violence. Over two weeks ago I met whip some


people who were involved in a protest. I also met with some


people who I believed could influence the ending of violence on


the streets. I know that the First Minister is also equally committed


to ensuring an end to be violence on the streets, as I am. It is


crucially important we all work together and that we are seen to be


working together. As in the case of previous incidents, it is important


we send a clear message to be violent extremists -- the violent


extremists. Would the Deputy First Minister agreed that what the


entire community would like to see is the First Minister and Deputy


First Minister standing shoulder to shoulder to condemn not only the


violence of today, but all violence, past as well as present? It is


vital that all of the members in this Assembly and all the political


parties in this Assembly are speaking with one voice. I know


people have issued their own individual statements. I accept all


the people in this Assembly are totally opposed to violence of any


description whatsoever and individually all of the political


parties have made it clear they won the protests to end. It is also


important that we offered to speak to those people involved in the


protests. I am willing to speak to more people. I am extending my


offer to do this. I am willing to go to the waterside because this is


an important year for the city. If this year is a success, every


community, every single political party, all of the churches,


community sectors will benefit from how we bring the City of Culture


here. Also, the legacy we leave could provide were needed


Higher and lower at engagement with gay rights groups and they are


concerned that there is an increase in Hamill full beer in schools but


that is a matter for the schools, and any form of bullying is wrong


and that includes a homophobic bullying and bullying is often the


products of exterior forces to the school and attitudes within


communities on behalf of the household -- and we have to lead


from the household. And society has a major role to play in ending the


type of language and behaviour we see from adults and if we do that,


we will see a decrease in homophobic bullying. Does he


believe that teaching in some schools that homosexuality is a


saying is against the duty of teachers? It has not been brought


my attention that any individual school is teaching that and the


ethos of any school is a matter for the board of governors of that


school but it isn't a job to deal with morality issues, I have to do


with educational issues and I do not believe that such practices are


beneficial to the well-being of the community. In the 21st century, we


should treat all of our citizens with equality and respect and that


being gay and being in a loving relationship isn't descend and in


any context of the word by would have. Does the education minister


share by aspiration for moving to a single educational system and can


he give some idea of a time from? My aspiration is to ease this


legislation over the line and that will be the first step towards a


greater sharing of sectors and there ever has been before. With


the education and library boards around one table but we are now


bringing all the sectors around one table under one authority


responsible for the delivery of educational policy in the north.


That is a major step forward. Education has been pointed to a


many times as the solution to sectarianism and I believe that has


a significant role to play in resolving sectarianism but


education isn't the cause as the terrain isn't. Therefore, it cannot


be held up and be responsible for all the ills in the society.


Committees and all of us have to move forward to ensure we can reach


a stage where everyone is comfortable with a single education


system. At the moment, the educational skills are authority,


this is a significant step forward. A as a result of the area planning


process, does he foresee closer co- operation in border communities


between primary schools either side of the board? It is a logical


outcome of closer co-operation under the educational sector that


we require closer co-operation along the border. It is to benefit


the people who live along the border corridors that these


proposals are into this but it makes sense in health and an


education. It is one of the issues and will raise with my counterpart


minister when they next meet. There is no career out there that if you


study for you are guaranteed a job and teaching is clearly one of


those areas. In terms of graduates and postgraduates coming out of


universities across a wide range of subjects, there is no guarantee.


Over the last number of years we have reduced the trainee teacher


intake by 32% and our current teacher training colleges are just


about operating on a basis when they are viable so we have choices


to make in society, we can decide to continue to dramatically reduce


the teacher training intake to abbesses weather training colleges


become unviable and what will happen is students will travel to


England, Wales and the South of Ireland to train and they welcome


back here and whoever is in the ministerial post will be asked a


question, how many teachers are working? We will have similar


figures, we will have lost the colleges, the ability to train our


own teachers and the murder might shake his head. I am sure when he


was looking at teacher-training numbers for nurses and doctors and


other medical professions, this was in his head. To be completely


abandoned training here? Or do we plan provisions that allow for an


intake which is at the moment around 600. What we have done in


tandem is we have encouraged schools to recruit newly qualified


teachers, encouraged schools to ensure that when they are looking


for substitutes, they use newly qualified teachers so the


department has done everything within its power to ensure newly


qualified teachers are given a fair playing field. Members are going to


have to ask themselves and answer the question, do they want teacher


training here or do they want students to travel? That is the


next decision. The Education Minister, John O'Dowd. What is the


Social Development Minister doing to deliver his department's


commitments to tackle social disadvantage? Today, MLAs debated


that very question during a motion brought forward by Sinn Fein.


underlying principle is to get people into work and off benefits


and nobody would disagree with that. The reality is that there are no


jobs and to introduce cuts and penalise people at this time will


only make the situation worse. A recent report stated that to have a


reasonable standard of living, a person needs to earn �7.20 each


hour and the minimum wage here is �6.19. A report has found that half


of the children in poverty live in working hustles and some of the


most deprived wards in the north, poverty figures stand out 63%, an


appalling statistic. The average and council areas is 21% in Britain.


Explaining how the department is tackling social disadvantage,


perhaps a master could spend less time selling welfare reform and


getting on with the task of alleviating hardship and


deprivation across the six counties. The DST has implemented a number of


initiatives that are having a real effect on committees. Campaigns to


encourage people to claim benefits, they have no doubt made a direct


contribution to raising people out of poverty. I believe the time is


right to continue building on the success and try to ensure that


current economic climate that the find ourselves in and the impending


necessary welfare reforms, we need to keep momentum. It is important


to ensure that people realise that people have the system to help them


when they need it but life on the system should not be considered as


an acceptable alternative. Tackling social deprivation must surely be


one of those issues which truly unites all parties. We might differ


about what matters we think our past or what programmes are more


effective than others, but on the whole, nobody could disagree with


the broad objective of tackling fuel poverty and social exclusion.


Unfortunately, recent difficulties have made what was already at


difficult life for many people in Northern Ireland even harder. We


have the highest level of economic inactivity across the UK. And even


Astwick, we learnt that a number of people claiming unemployment


related benefits stood at a startling 65,200. That was in


December. An increase of 500 over the previous month. The month in


which Christmas a Kurd. The Minister will not be surprised to


hear that I believe he is failing to deliver adequate social housing.


He will stay -- say he has met its targets but even given that the


social housing development programme has significantly


underspent to the tune of �8 million this year, that in some


ways shows a lack of ambition on his part. I looked at the number of


people on waiting lists, especially those in housing stress, and I


don't see it being reduced enough to merit the handing back of so


much money. The targets for the last Programme for Government left


a lot of lines in Red Ed writing, which meant that those particular


targets had not been met. There was a target to have child poverty


halved by 2010 and that was not delivered. The target to work


towards ending severe child poverty by 2012, obviously not delivered.


The target to make the reduction of 15% on the rate of suicide, still


in the red. And to reduce by 50% a life-expectancy differential


between the most disadvantaged areas and the Northern Ireland


average, still in the red. There was a target to increase attainment


levels in primary schools to which the majority of pupils with their


neighbourhood renewal areas would be within 5% of the average, still


not delivered. We have a real difficulty, 120,000 young people


and children still living in poverty and I am not going to stand


here and defend the Minister for Social Development because they


understand he has a very particular role in dealing with this and it is


very difficult when we look at what has coming down the tracks. None of


us can stand on the sidelines and pretend it is the fault of Mr


McCausland or someone else, each and every minister in the Executive


has responsibility to deliver the end of social disadvantage and the


end of child poverty. I hope all parties take that very seriously.


And that we understand that it is a cross cutting issue. The most


important issue to try to end social disadvantage. My Department


has made and continues to make good progress in meeting our targets.


Four other six targets concern housing issues. Housing plays a


hugely significant role in creating as safe, healthy and prosperous


society had my first strategy in Northern Ireland, launched with


public consultation in October, set out my vision for housing in


Northern Ireland. In this I have set out my proposals for housing as


a means to have support and sustain economic recovery created -- create


employment and to regenerate some of our most deprived communities.


The strategy not only focuses on the delivery of the Programme for


Government but goes much further in creating the conditions for stable,


sustainable, accessible, good quality, affordable and well-


managed housing to support economic growth and prosperity. The Social


Development Minister, Nelson McCausland. The issue of who pays


for the shake-up in our local councils was raised by the SDLP


this afternoon. There are plans to cut the number of councils from 26


to 11 and Dolores Kelly told the chamber that central government


should do more to help fund the cost. As members will know, the


SDLP is the only party which did not support the budget, which did


not allow for any funding for the RPA. The guidelines agreed by the


Executive at that time were that the implementation costs associated


with reform would not be met by central government. Local


government would be required to bear these costs. There is a huge


amount of work but the cost to the ratepayer is something that we are


very concerned about and that concern is one which colleagues at


local council level share. By and large, and I don't seek to speak


for everybody, but we have moved forward in debates about the review


of public administration and whether it should happen. It is


happening and how should it be funded? That is one area of comfort.


The second principle adopted by the council past year is that the


Executive would not play for those upfront costs and it would be a


matter for local government on the basis that they would be the


beneficiary. That is unreasonable argument. We have a scenario, we


are being asked to buy a car and we don't know it has tyres for wipers


or lights, but this has to go ahead. Why? RPA was nonsense. This isn't


going to work, there is nothing local about this. This is a dirty


deal between yourselves and Sinn Fein. You are trying to force this


through. You even add about yourselves... Other councillors


don't want it. They don't want this deal. Small parties don't want this


deal. Why? Ross Hussey. Martina Purdy John Smith Bay. -- Martina


Purdy is with me. Obviously money is tight. Why shouldn't the


councils pay for the shake-up when they will benefit from savings?


Isn't that what the previous Executive decided? Yes, in the last


term but Alex Attwood says that they are going to have to move off


this position and his paper says the cost of this shake-up is around


100 and out �2 million and the upfront costs are around �40


million. Everybody agrees the councils will make savings but the


Minister says there are some costs that will not make savings. If you


have a severance package for councillors, for example. If the


councils don't get the money from the Executive, they will pass it on


to ratepayers. The SDLP is obviously championing its Minister


but there seems to be some sympathy for his position that money is


needed from the Executive. Money might be tight, but as the old


adage has it, you must speculate to accumulate. The DUP failed to get


the amendment passed and the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Ulster Unionists


decided that the Executive needs to come on board. What has happened is


that will go back to the Executive, and they can ignore the vote but


there will be more pressure on Sammy Wilson, who continues to say


no. The deputy and First Minister might meet to resolve this. Do So


our two top Ministers might well be off to Rio? They have been


consulted about the possibility of travelling to Brazil in March ahead


of the visit to the west for St Patrick's Day and Brazil as one of


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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