30/01/2012 Stormont Today


30/01/2012

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 where nothing causes division quite

:00:32.:00:35.

like the issue of unity. And it's the Ulster Unionists who are

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getting themselves into a bind with David McNarry cast into the

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wilderness. And a leader who's unrepentant. Clearly once you see

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someone talk about the possibility in the future of the DUP Golding

:00:52.:01:02.
:01:02.:01:07.

beat First -- holding the First Minister's post it is beyond a joke.

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From a new position in the chamber, Mr McNarry can still see the funny

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side. It is called on this side of the house, if there is anything you

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can do to warm it up I would be very grateful. And we talk Irish

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language and ask where is the promised Irish language Act? So is

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David McNarry a scapegoat for unhappiness in the UUP ranks? Did

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he get what he deserved or did he over-react? We'll hear from him in

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a moment. But first, our political correspondent Martina Purdy spoke

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to Tom Elliott this afternoon. She began by asking him what it was

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about the Belfast Telegraph interview that had annoyed him.

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Ulster Unionist Party have been calling for better it union --

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unity in the party. David McNarry had intimated to me that he was

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carrying out an interview with the Belfast Telegraph the following day

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and I said to him to use the line issued on the press statement but

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unfortunately he went above and beyond that. There was no way he

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was not talking to the DUP. He was the liaison officer. He went beyond

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his remit. A what specifically did he say to upset the party? The area

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I wanted to deal with was to ensure that members were informed of any

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talks or progress so that they would not read it in the media.

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Just a few days before I had updated the party Executive on any

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discussions we were having with other parties and progress on the

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justice minister review. Clearly, once you see someone talk about the

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possibility in the future of the DUP holding the First Minister

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position and the Ulster Unionist Party holding the junior minister,

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that is way beyond the remit. used that line about junior

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ministers? That was a line he used. I think we need to be clear about

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this. David McNarry removed the deputy chair of the education

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committee. I did not remove the whip from him or suspend him. I

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have known him for a long time and a lot of our party members do not

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have the opportunity to have advised cheer or chairmanship of

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committee. All I was doing was the moving him in position. We did you

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first read the article? I was actually over in Scotland and I

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picked it up that morning and I saw it over in Scotland. Obviously I

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would not say I was surprised because to be fair to David, he

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phoned me the day he had done the interview and indicated and I think

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he realised my annoyance when he indicated some of the things he had

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said. I don't think he went into all be detail but he certainly gave

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me the brought out line and he certainly realised my annoyance

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even at that stage. When he phoned to tell you about the interview you

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were annoyed with him? Yes. David McNarry can give us his view of

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events. He says you went beyond your remit, is he right? I do not

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know what the remit is that he is talking about. I am sitting here

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talking to you and I have sat in this studio before talking to you

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and the remit as you lay down as the interviewer, I have no idea of

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what you will ask. Is anyone suggesting I would do an interview

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with a professional journalist of long-standing and tell them a

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parcel of lies in response to direct questions? I really do not

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do that. I am trained to dodge questions but I am never and never

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have gone into line to any member of the media. He seemed to have

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particular issue with the DUP First Minister and an Ulster Unionist

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junior minister, did that come off the top of your head or was that

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something discussed with Tom Eliot or other people you had been to

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talks with? Tom Eliot was well aware of that idea as you call it.

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It was an example and nothing else. An example of how corporation in

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the current Assembly might be displayed and that is all it was,

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an example. Surely you would have known there would be members of

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your party who would have all been the Belfast Telegraph on the Monday

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morning and be very surprised to read what they read. It was not my

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call to tell members of the Unionist Party. The issues that I

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was dealing with, I was dealing with as part of a panel. This

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novelty I have heard of a liaison officer is news to me. I was picked

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as part of a panel. I would use the word hand-picked by the leader as

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part of a panel of four are to go into these discussions. Four

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members of my party to be surprised, I have heard some of those who have

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expressed this surprise. Maybe they should be asking themselves, if

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they are so trusted by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, why

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were they left out of the loop? Why did they not know? It certainly was

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not my position to tell them. about these other members of the

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panel, who were they? I am not going to say, that would be unfair.

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I am not going to say who they are. I know who they are run by a quite

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clear who they are. Have they stood up for you in their discussions?

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do not know what discussions have taken place in my absence but what

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I do know is that in private they understand fully aware I am coming

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from. The understand my distress at what has happened and they would be,

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in my opinion, supportive. Have you over-reacted by resigning? He said

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it was only the committee chairmanship he was taking away.

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The committee chairmanship is important in terms that it is an

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office we hold as apartheid. I was greatly privileged to hold that

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deputy chairmanship. In many ways it is symbolic in that sense. In

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taking it away from me was nothing other than an outright punishment.

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I do not mind being punished if I have done something wrong. I have

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not done anything wrong and I have yet to hear anybody tell me,

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especially Tom Eliot, that I have done something wrong. But have you

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over-reacted? Surely you could stay within the party then, you did not

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have to a sign -- the resign from the Assembly group? The manner in

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which Tom be laid my sacking was on a mobile phone while driving a car.

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Now I have been a member of this party for quite a long time and

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there is a thing called respect. To really that news to me on his way

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to a meeting by mobile-phone seemed quite disrespectful. Do you think

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his leadership is vulnerable now? In terms of where Tom goes, the

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situation in the party for some time has been that there are two

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floating agendas. I have advised him to be cautious about those

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agendas. I have pointed out to him that those agendas are not loyal to

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him as I have been. They are not in the best interests of Unionism as I

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would be. He needs to be cautious. He has now made himself a prisoner

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of those two agendas. Which, I may say, are a separate agenda as by

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separate people. Has he backed the wrong horse? Could you bring him

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down in some way or attempt to do that? It is not a case of backing

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the wrong horse. True friends do not do what he has done. That just

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does not happen in my circle. what happens next? What is next for

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you? I am at work. My place of work is Stormont and my constituency

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office. I am out and about doing what and MLA does. This is my place

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of work and I am here. I intend to carry on with my work. Can you see

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yourself back in the fold, back in the Assembly party? I do not.

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think that is it, that is the end of the Ulster Unionist Party

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Assembly group? I will be very frank with you. I protected Tom in

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this storm. I am quite amazed about this story because it is not a

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story. The story that this is all about is the outcome. Will the two

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Unionist parties get together as I and many others wish or will they

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not? That is the outcome. That is still some distance away. I had

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protected Tom in spite of, and when I saw his reluctance, to say what

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was really happening, it is a question of honour as far as I am

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concerned. My integrity has been put into the public domain. I will

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fight to maintain my integrity. True friends, as they say, do not

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do what has been done to me. What will be your next step? My next

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step is the step I took to be where I found that called place in the

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Assembly. I hope I will warm it up a bit and I will continue with my

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work. Will you stand as an Ulster Unionist at the next election?

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next election is three or four macro years away. At this moment in

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time I know what I am doing tomorrow. Thank you for joining us

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tonight. You don't need to be a history buff to know that there are

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quite a few significant centenaries coming up. Titanic may not be

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controversial but the Ulster Convenant, the Easter Rising, the

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War of Independence and partition are likely to stir up debate. And

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it's up to the Culture minister to walk that tightrope. We'll hear her

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plans shortly. But first, it wasn't so long ago that the cattle disease

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brucelosis was rarely out of the farming headlines but things have

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come a long way in a short period of time as the Agriculture minister

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:12:45.:12:46.

told members today. I am pleased to stay there are only four cases of

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this in 2011. Our last confirmed outbreak was on 14th July, 1920 11.

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Our conferment cared incidence rate is down to 0.045 %. There are only

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seven herds presently under restriction. I think that is a

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remarkable achievement and that figure may have been a lot lower if

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it had not been for the two infection hot spots that developed

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infection hot spots that developed back in 2010 which were

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attributable in part to reckless activities by some hared keepers.

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Despite all of that there is good progress. We should not be

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farmers report any abortion of their cattle. It is also important

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goodbye as security is maintained. Eradicating this by 2014 is one of

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our proposals in Government. Achieving the status of being free

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from this is our aim. Good news as well for her the new EU protected

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status region. The can I thank the Minister for her response and for

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giving the comfort spot on to the EU quality food list last week.

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These potatoes, and also local apples are all coming, it is

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positive for our industry. We will the Department celebrate,

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commemorate or obliterate? So it never can centenaries and events

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during the decade ahead provide us all with the opportunity to gain a

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greater understanding of our shared past and how it shapes and identify

:14:51.:15:01.
:15:01.:15:01.

his relations today. My department is refunding its Ulster Covenant

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resource in historic content. A BBC programme will be transmitted in

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September of this year. There will be a Belfast City Council

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exhibition opened in City Hall this August. Exhibitions and talks on

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the covenant are being planned by museums and libraries. I am

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supportive of these plans to hold a lecture series exploring historical

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content of the period 1812 to 1922. I am not exactly overwhelmed by

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that answer. We are entering an important phase in the history of

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Northern Ireland. We are leading up to the foundation of Northern

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:16:04.:16:09.

Ireland. We can celebrate the fact that we as an integral party of the

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United Kingdom has survived 100 years and intend to survive another

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The list of events is conclusive. It is not triumphalist. It is

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inclusive. We are trying to build better relations. Not beating

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chests. So, if the member is genuine about the events and we

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hope to bring forward over the next decade, I would be happy to write

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to him. Language and the strategies for Irish and Ulster has Scotts.

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The Executive has included a strategy for the Irish language.

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The programme for government is for consultation. Following the

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consideration of responses, I would intend to set out a timetable on

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both strategies. I am committed to taking this forward with the 1990

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:17:36.:17:36.

Nate -- 1998 Act. It aims to protect the language and culture.

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Will the minister ensure the strategy is meet the needs of the

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languages and concentrate on how they will be funded? I cannot give

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the members assurance in terms of when the consultation has started

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that it will be a robust consultation and that I can give --

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I can give them. They will have to decide what funding they wish to

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allocate. The fact it is included as an Executive building block

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within the draft programme, I would expect colleagues to ensure funds

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are in place. There language strategy it should be sorted soon,

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but what about the Irish Language Act?

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The culture post was held by three DUP in the previous mandate. It is

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now held by Sinn Fein. I you encouraged by what you heard from

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the culture minister? The minister has made stronger and clear

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statement since she took up the post. In many ways, there have been

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more positive references to the Irish language in that short period

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of time than in the previous three years. It is welcome. There are

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stumbling blocks in front of any process to end that the Irish

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language. The Irish Language Act was a commitment given by the

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British Government so. Even if Stormont were willing to bring it

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in tomorrow, there would be issues they could not legislate on because

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if issues such as broadcasting. There will always need to be

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pressure coming from those at Assembly level who are sympathetic

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to the Irish language and who understand the reality of the

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situation. For people who do not know about the area, what practical

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difference to the Irish language speakers with the act make?

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Irish Language Act, if it is strong enough, if it is based on rights,

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will clarify the duties of government and the public sector in

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relation to Irish speakers. It will clarify what we can expect to have

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and what services and what timescale that will be done. It

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will cut-out frustration and time wasting and uncertainty that

:20:15.:20:22.

currently exists. It will enable the state to make strategies and

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put in place measures that it can bring in over a period of time.

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you concerned about the financial aspect? For some departments, it

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may seem further down the list given the straitened times?

:20:38.:20:48.
:20:48.:20:49.

Tsar areas, -- who these are areas where the language -- Irish

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:20:59.:20:59.

Language Act will cut across. Irish speakers are saying we pay taxes

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and we need to have a share of services that can meet the needs we

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have. Up until now we have been excluded. Those need can be met

:21:09.:21:15.

without the necessary huge -- necessarily huge additional cost.

:21:15.:21:19.

The ongoing detention of Marion Price he was return to prison last

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year was the main debate in the chamber. This motion called on the

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Justice Minister to press the Secretary of State to review his

:21:28.:21:34.

decision. There was no support from the Unionist pensioners, despite

:21:34.:21:44.
:21:44.:21:44.

the best efforts of SDLP to convince them otherwise. It was not

:21:44.:21:54.
:21:54.:21:54.

subject to the licence. The Secretary of State cannot find

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written details. Mr Speaker, I make the point clearly. There is

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something suspicious when the Northern Ireland Office cannot find

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the document. They are either withholding it or too embarrassed

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to share it. The Justice Minister of master raised this about

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processes within the prison system that are bought into doubt with

:22:17.:22:23.

this case. This community is content that people abide by the

:22:23.:22:29.

law. When they break the law, they serve their sentence until released.

:22:29.:22:35.

Marion Price were sentence for matters almost 40 years ago. She is

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in prison and has been treated appropriately. Hopefully, at some

:22:41.:22:46.

point in the future, the sentences and regime that will bring charges

:22:46.:22:51.

will do so and we can see the outcome of the judicial system but

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the judicial system at the moment should seek its course. I note with

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concern the continuing detention. But I am not convinced I should

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have particular concern. I am told she is vulnerable. Perhaps being in

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prison is the best place at times for vulnerable people. People mix

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up justice, sometimes mercy with revenge. What I her it was large

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doses of revenge. Bear this in mind, this woman was released in prison

:23:29.:23:37.

in 1980. -- from prison. 32 years later, 31 years later, she is

:23:37.:23:43.

returned to prison. The person has no right to challenge the basis on

:23:43.:23:48.

which her licence was revoked. will do everything to ensure she is

:23:48.:23:52.

treated in a way that meets her needs, recognising she is in a

:23:52.:23:57.

specific position as the sole category a woman prisoner in

:23:57.:24:01.

Northern Ireland. I will not interfere with due process as it

:24:01.:24:06.

lies to the commissioners, the responsibilities they have and the

:24:06.:24:11.

secretary of state has exercised. Back to the main story. The row in

:24:11.:24:17.

the Ulster Unionist Party. You heard what David McNarry said. What

:24:17.:24:25.

you make of it? My head is full of claims and counter claims. What I

:24:25.:24:29.

think is happening is there is a clear power struggle within the

:24:29.:24:36.

party. You heard David McNarry talk about two agendas. I think he means

:24:36.:24:41.

that those who want to go into our position and seize control of the

:24:41.:24:48.

party and those who want to stay in government and work co-operatively.

:24:48.:24:58.
:24:58.:24:59.

Is David McNarry a casualty? Will Tom Elliott for? -- fall down. It

:24:59.:25:04.

is confusing. Tom Elliott spoke about a liaison officer. David

:25:04.:25:09.

McNarry spoke about a panel. He is not spelling out what he means. Now

:25:09.:25:15.

back to Tom Elliott, to ask if the panel exists. These questions will

:25:15.:25:20.

run. I think Tom Elliott giving a substantial of interview, I think

:25:20.:25:26.

he hoped it would go away but I do not think it will. He was decisive

:25:26.:25:32.

about being seen as leading and taking a disciplinarian approach.

:25:32.:25:36.

Other people in the party have talked to the media and they have

:25:36.:25:43.

not had this happen, where they are demoted from a role. It is �6,000.

:25:43.:25:48.

Most of us would not like to lose a job like that. I put it to Tom

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Elliott, if my boss is upset with me, I do not think it would take

:25:55.:25:58.

him five days to reprimand me and I do not think I would be shocked

:25:58.:26:04.

when it came, in the way David McNarry says he was shocked. If Tom

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Elliott is saying he is punished because of the line where he talked

:26:09.:26:15.

about a DUP First Minister and Ulster Unionist junior minister, he

:26:15.:26:20.

said it was an idea. It underscores that David McNarry was not talking

:26:20.:26:24.

about a single party. He maintained he was talking about two parties

:26:24.:26:32.

working together. The plot will continue to thicken. There are

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people... I am hearing different things going on but it sounds like

:26:37.:26:42.

a power struggle. So far, David McNarry has been a casualty of it.

:26:42.:26:47.

Thank you. We can have a final word from Jan

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it. Where now for the campaign to get the Irish language act? Will

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held a major event in Stormont in November. We presented proposals

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the made in 2006. They were agreed proposals for what kind of shape

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and form the Irish Language Act should have. Those were re endorsed

:27:12.:27:18.

in November. We are Updating the proposals on education because of

:27:18.:27:26.

the growth in that period in education. And on the media,

:27:26.:27:32.

because of digital technologies and things like that. We will be

:27:32.:27:35.

publishing the 2012 version of the recommendations for the Irish

:27:35.:27:40.

Language Act. We will give that to the minister and we would hope it

:27:40.:27:46.

would influence the content of the bill to go before the Assembly, or

:27:46.:27:51.

to go to Westminster, whichever is appropriate. We realistically, what

:27:51.:28:00.

is your best guess, what year? commitment was given in 2006. Since

:28:00.:28:04.

that time three major bodies have spoken about what has happened and

:28:04.:28:08.

the way the commitment has not been fulfilled. United Nations, Council

:28:08.:28:15.

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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