30/04/2013 Stormont Today


30/04/2013

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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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to Stormont Today. Coming up on the programme:

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more care homes are to close, this time in the west of Northern

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Ireland. The Health Minister defends the move towards more care

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at home. We're very clear early - focused on what we want to do, and

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that's create better options for elderly people to maintain their

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independence and dignity. We'll be joined by the chair of Store moth's

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health committee. Also tonight, all transport issues were on the agenda

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from the A15 to Narrow Water Bridge. We have run out of road or bridge

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when it comes to this matter being concluded, and if that doesn't

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bring people to their senses, I don't know what will. Martin

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McGuinness gets his acronyms in a twist. I think the work that is

:01:13.:01:23.
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happening from the IRA - sorry - the IFA. Whoa! So the Western

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Health Trust has joined the northern and southern trusts in

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announcing the closure of its residential homes. Relatives and

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residents were told the plans. It's all part of major change approved

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by the Health Minister last month which is aimed at allowing more

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elderly people to be looked after at home. This is what Edwin Poots

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took -- told Newsline. We want to create better options for elderly

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people to maintain their independence and dignity, and we

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believe that support and care is a much better option for the elderly.

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However, there is an issue about how we handle those elderly people

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who are currently in residential homes who are content, and we

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understand that it can cause a huge amount of stress to them if there

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is a proposal to move them. What we're looking at is a

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different form of care. The care will provide support for people who

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become frail and will have to move into residential care, and that is

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different option for them. I think the people who are currently in

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care, those are the people we need to demonstrate to that we will

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treat them with dignity, care and respect, and the trust have

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identified they want to close 100% of homes. There's a consultation

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exercise to take place, and it's very important we listen. I am

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joined by the chair of the health committee at Stormont, Sinn Fein's

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Sue Ramsey. We know it was proposed closing 50%

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of care homes with a much greater emphasis on caring for people in

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their own homes, supported care, it's called system that something

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you're happy with in principle? think most people are happy with

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the vision of transforming your care. The committee is happy with

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the vision. What struck me is when you're building a house, you have

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your plans and put your foundation in. We need to see the foundations

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around Transferring your Care. And closing residential homes now

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actually doesn't go a long way to people buying into this. We have

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the cart before the horse - the closure of the homes before the

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framework that'll succeed them in place? That's some of the stuff we

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need to tease out, and we have the committee meeting tomorrow. We'll

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be asking the Chief Executive of the board to answer those questions,

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but the concern is some people don't know what Transforming Your

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Care is, and eldly people who have been in homes - some of them 10, 15,

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20 years are being told the home will close. We need to have people

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buy to this it to have the plan in place. The Minister says that

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within three to five years, 50% are closing. Now it seems all the homes

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are closing. You, as chair of the committee, and your committee, in

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allowing the Minister to go down this road - if he said 50% of homes

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would close - that's what he expected would happen - was that

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not the green light to the trusts to close all the homes, which was

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exactly what they have done? It was inevitable? I don't think we have

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missed the trick. It's not a final decision, and tomorrow, as chair of

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the Health committee, I have asked Mr Compton to come up and explain

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as the Health and Social Care Board to explain what this means. The

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final decision rests with the Minister. If he's saying 50% of the

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homes will close between three and five years, and the trust says

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we're doing it now, he needs to say, I am the Minister. You'll do as I

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say. That's an interesting question as to where the balance of power

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lies. It's actually up to the trusts to deliver the health care

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on the ground. That's not the Minister's responsibility.

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deliver on his proposals and his policy, and the Transforming Your

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Care policy is about ensuring more services are available at ground

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level. This proposal coming from the trust is proposing homes close

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right away. The Minister told us it would be 50% within three to five

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years. He has serious questions to ask of his trust's Chief Executives.

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He was asked on BBC Newsline tonight, do these announcements go

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too far? Is it too far to say, as three of the trusts have said, that

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a hundred percent of their trusts would close? He didn't say it was

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going too far. He said it was going further than he expected. There are

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currently proposals. As the Minister, he has the duty to ensure

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his policies and strategy is implemented. If the trust is going

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beyond what he has requested, he needs to question them. You can

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understand it because the trusts are under pressure. They're having

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to make savings left, right and centre. This is one way of doing it

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and doing it in a relatively straight forward way and saving

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quite a lot of money in a pretty straight forward way.Ing see the

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attraction of it. By attacking the most vulnerable. Is that the way

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you see it? The elderly and our children we always see as the most

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vulnerable in our society. The issue - we would then need to pay

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for that care, so if that care is in the community, we'll have to pay

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for it anyway. If people need care in private, homes will have to pay

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for it, so we need to look at efficiency savings, but not by

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attacking those who are the most vulnerable. That's very colourful

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language to be using. You're obviously not very happy about it,

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but what are you actually going to do about it? We have John Compton

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in front of the committee tomorrow and will be questioning him. The

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other issue we'll be dealing with within the committee is over

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187,000 cancelled appointments last year within the trust, cancelled by

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the hospital and by consultants. That's where we can get efficiency

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savings which will free up more. Interesting to watch how the debate

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unfolds in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you very much for

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joining us. Cross-border relations were top of the agenda when the

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assembly convened this morning. First up was the Deputy fir pir --

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fish fish with matters all iernd. - 2020 period compared with 2007,

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2013 - obviously, that's disappointing. We continue to

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ensure the final agreement delivers a flexible cap particularly in

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relation to the move to flat-rate payments. I would like the thank

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the Deputy Prime Minister for - Deputy First Minister for His

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statement, and I wonder, could he update us, was the A5 and the

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Narrow Water Bridge, these very important cross-border projects

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discussed? Our Government are fully implemented to the A5 project.

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Everybody is conscious of the recent judicial review where a

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judgment was made in the context of one of 12 objections. The Minister

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decided not to appeal, but to go for a remedy. It appears that that

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remedy will probably require a period of some - a year to 18

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months to resolve. There is still a total commitment from the checktive

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and the Irish Government to the scheme. We also took the

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opportunity during the course of the discussions with Mr Gilmore to

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remind him that the First Minister and I in previous conversations

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with Enda Kenny pressed the Irish Government to ensure the decision

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they took to withdraw from their part of the scheme with the

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exception of 50 million, that that needed to be reviewed on an ongoing

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basis. The Taoiseach actually gave us a commitment that would be

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reviewed in 2013. In relation to the Narrow Water Bridge, the

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Department of Finance and Personnel are currently undertaking a

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rigorous critical review of that bridge project. I hope there is an

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early and positive decision, given that the vital importance of this

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project - and certainly from my own experience and the Speaker himself

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knows well the impact that a very small bridge in our own city has

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made not just to the architecture of the city, but to the psychology

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of the citizens. What do you think the legacy will be at the end of

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the presidency, that people can look back on and say, we have moved

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forward. This was our main achievement during that six months'

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period? Well, obviously, the presidency has been held by the

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Irish Government, and I think from their perspective, we had our own

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discussions with them prior to taking over the presidency. The big

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concern was around whether or not there would be agreement at the

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European level on the budgets, and the last time the First Minister

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and I were in Brussels, the British Government in particular were

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getting a very bad press from European leaders.

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That has now been resolved. At a governmental level, there is

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agreement. At European level, there is agreement. The only body now to

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adjudicate this - and I think the vote will probably come in June -

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will be the European Parliament. If that goes through, if the cap

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negotiations go through in the way in which they have designed them, I

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think the Irish Government will consider that to be a major success

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for them. The Deputy First Minister there who touched on the A5 road

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project, and the transport theme continued with statements from the

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Environment Minister and the Minister for Regional Development,

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but it was building bridges, not roads, they were concerned with,

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and in particular, the Narrow Water Bridge project between Counties

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Down and Lythe. Let's be frank about this. We're at the 11th hour

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or one minute to midnight or whatever way you want to convey it.

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We have run out of road or out of bridge when it comes to this matter

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being concluded. President Barrosso opens up the European funding door

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for us, a door that in my view we have a lot more to do in order to

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get through, and that's a comment upon on my own department as it is

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a comment upon Government. So how do we reconcile that Barroso opens

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a door for European funding, and we close the door when it comes to

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Narrow Water? I think that doesn't add up politically. I think it is

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disrespectful to the European authorities, and I think, more than

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anything else, it cuts off our nose to spite our face. So I think that

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if this matter doesn't conclude itself in the next couple of weeks,

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then we may be past one minute to midnight in terms of getting us

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over the line, and therefore, I think that there is only one way

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forward, and that is make the decision, and make the decision now.

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There is a battle - an ongoing battle, it seems to me, a turf war,

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of a type, competing between the SDLP and Sinn Fein as to the

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ownership of this project and how - and who should celebrate who can

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claim victory with it. I have no interest in that. It's not - that

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is not relevant to the work of me or my department. I'm dealing with

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the legal processes which I have to deal with. I will consider after

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the consultation period has ended whether or not I am bound to

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consider, actually - whether or not it will be necessary to bring

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forward a public inquiry. I am aware that the Minister for Finance

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and Personnel has to consider the business case. I have no doubt that

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he will consider that on its proper basis. But it is not helped to have

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to say by unnecessary political grandstanding, which has been

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engaged in by the two Nationalist parties in that area attempting to

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:13:43.:13:49.

Let's talk about a couple of these projects, the Narrow Water Bridge.

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It was said this was the 11th hour, definitely going to happen, has to

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happen. Not sure where the DUP stands on it. Do you think it is

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going to happen? I think it probably will. I think they're used to be a

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phrase about people playing silly games and I think that he is trying

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to make a point about the political issue. Quite why, I don't know. It

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:14:26.:14:31.

is an �18 million project, a lot of jobs, good for tourism,

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communication, trade. This is happening as part of an EU peace. We

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had people saying yesterday they were trying to complete a euros with

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the Executive saying they would not go ahead would be a very negative

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message to the European Union about the interest that people of Northern

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Ireland have about the money. We also have a very unclear picture as

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far as A5 is concerned. Martin McGuinness said he is still

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committed to its construction. is a lot of confusion around the

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project, with the question of the land that has been vested and now

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apparently has been given back to the farmers, from whom it was vested

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in the first place. That is a muddle at the moment and how it is going to

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be resolved would be pretty tricky. Maybe they have spent the money they

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have already got. On the bigger picture, it looks like it is going

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to take a few years. The Irish government said they are politically

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committed to seeing the work achieved but, unfortunately, they

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don't have the money saw not financially committed. If things

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pick up in the next few years, maybe the money will come. Ireland is

:15:55.:16:04.
:16:05.:16:06.

still in a time of austerity. It could be quite a while before we see

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cars blazing down a motorway in the north-west. A lot of people want to

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see that but, as you say, it could be quite some time. I wanted to get

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your reflections on Sarah Scottish Education Secretary -- Sue Ramsey's

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comments. She took quite a tough line on what has happening. She

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talked about the Minister attacking the most vulnerable in our society.

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That is, as I suggested, pretty colourful language for the Chair of

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the committee to be using, in relation to a minister's position,

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isn't it? It is a sensitive position. If you have an elderly

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parent or grandparent facing that dilemma, you would need some

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certainty. You don't want a situation where the card is put

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before the horse. You want to know that if you're going to have care in

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the community it is going to be proper. If you're not going to have

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proper care then you want a home for your elderly parent or grandparent

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to go to. Very interesting to see quite how that plays out in the

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months ahead. Environmentalists hopes for a Marine

:17:09.:17:12.

Management Organisation have suffered a major setback. The

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Assembly has dropped an amendment on the Marine Bill that would have

:17:16.:17:18.

created a new organisation to oversee all coastal areas of

:17:18.:17:22.

Northern Ireland. The Alliance MLA Anna Lo tabled the amendment.

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Sustainable development does not seek to stop us from growing our

:17:27.:17:31.

economy. Rather, it aims to put in place a balance of economic, social

:17:31.:17:34.

and environmental measures to ensure we continue to do things effectively

:17:34.:17:40.

in the years to come. I asked him why did you not go for, as England

:17:40.:17:43.

and Wales, the independent model. The response came back from Scotland

:17:43.:17:49.

that they believed they were too small to have an independent MMO.

:17:49.:17:51.

Whenever you consider that Scotland accounts for roughly two thirds of

:17:51.:17:56.

all of the UK territorial waters, for them to believe that that was

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too small for them to govern, I think really highlights the fact

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that, perhaps, Northern Ireland which is a much smaller percentage

:18:05.:18:15.
:18:15.:18:17.

is far too small. Are we seeing that we want another committee to look

:18:17.:18:23.

after Marine? That is the question that has to be asked. I know that

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the juror brought up issues of money and the Minister hopefully will

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reflect on them. I did not hear what his comment was to the cheer at that

:18:33.:18:38.

time but I would like to know because, if that is what it is about

:18:38.:18:44.

and if we are considering cost of an issue, then, if we bring forward

:18:45.:18:49.

legislation, cost will always be an issue. It is a very special place.

:18:49.:18:55.

It has been trashed. It is the only word for it. Vantage have been able

:18:55.:19:00.

to scuba dive. When you drive along the worst mussel beds, or what where

:19:00.:19:05.

horse mussel beds, it looks like you're diving a ploughed field.

:19:05.:19:10.

Except, a ploughed field is ploughed for a purpose. The purpose is to

:19:10.:19:18.

grow new stuff. To manage the land. This has been raped. I listen to

:19:18.:19:22.

Mister McDevitt say that when you step into the sea and butcher

:19:22.:19:31.

goggles on you are in a different world. I accept that. If you go to

:19:31.:19:36.

some of the country places you will feel you are in a different world. I

:19:36.:19:40.

don't believe that is an argument just to have a Marine Management

:19:40.:19:48.

Organisation. I think at the heart of many people's frustrations with

:19:48.:19:53.

these institutions, and probably most of the Executive and government

:19:53.:19:59.

departments, is the failure to work together and the mentality that is

:19:59.:20:04.

perceived at the heart of government. I do believe it is

:20:04.:20:11.

perception. I think to not introduce an MMO, or even almost, I suppose,

:20:11.:20:21.
:20:21.:20:26.

be half way house of the Scottish model, -- model... I see this as a

:20:26.:20:31.

model for which this Government can define and reconfigure its ambition

:20:31.:20:37.

over the lifetime of this mandate. The Marine Bill should be followed

:20:37.:20:43.

by a climate change bill. Before the climate change Bill, there should be

:20:43.:20:47.

a second levy bill. After the climate change Bill, there might yet

:20:47.:20:54.

be a national parks bill. The environment Minister. The role

:20:54.:20:59.

of the Public Accounts Committee is to scrutinise the working of public

:21:00.:21:04.

bodies and how they manage their money. Last week, the troubled Fire

:21:04.:21:11.

and Rescue Services was called into these questions on how it operates.

:21:11.:21:16.

There have even management problems. Here is a flavour of

:21:16.:21:18.

seedings in our weekly look at committee business. The problems

:21:18.:21:25.

started to come late in 2009. You are saying today that you are still

:21:25.:21:29.

tried to appoint people. That is four years afterwards. That is

:21:29.:21:33.

taking too long. For years in a culture that has been particularly

:21:33.:21:39.

bad according to this report. This report is damning the organisation.

:21:39.:21:45.

It comes to light in 2009. We are still talking about it in 2013.

:21:45.:21:50.

came to light in 2009. We then had a change of board, change of German, a

:21:50.:21:58.

series of changes. It was around the time of the investigation into the

:21:58.:22:01.

whistleblowing that Peter retired and I then had to have very serious

:22:02.:22:07.

discussions with the cheer as to how to then deal with the situation. I

:22:07.:22:13.

was also talking to the Chief Fire rescue adviser to local communities

:22:13.:22:18.

and government in England. To take advice at the highest level as to

:22:19.:22:23.

how to provide interim leadership in a context where there was not a pool

:22:23.:22:32.

of applicants stepping forward. We have had such a turnover. So, yes,

:22:32.:22:36.

some things began to emerge in 2009 but the full picture, coming through

:22:36.:22:38.

the whistleblowing, and we need to acknowledge and appreciate that that

:22:38.:22:45.

happened, and make sure that, that came through during 2011. It was a

:22:45.:22:49.

gradually emerging picture. If I sound a little bit annoyed it is

:22:49.:22:55.

because, there was a whistleblower in 2002. He gave valuable

:22:55.:22:58.

information that could have resolved all these problems. That

:22:58.:23:03.

whistleblower was sacked. -- sacked from the border during a period of

:23:04.:23:08.

suspension. That person was Rosemary Creek. She won't mind me mentioning

:23:08.:23:15.

that. You know it anyway. We are now dealing with a new set of

:23:15.:23:18.

whistle-blowers and we know what happened to them before. We know

:23:18.:23:24.

what happened to others. We know about Mister Boyle has spent several

:23:24.:23:28.

months down in Enniskillen. If you are a professional accountant, has

:23:28.:23:33.

humiliated mustard be to be taken from your posts and sent out to

:23:34.:23:37.

Siberia, so to speak. Doctor McCormick, in view of the evidence

:23:37.:23:44.

before this committee today, do you not think that there is scope for a

:23:44.:23:48.

further deep dive investigation into what was going on, particularly

:23:48.:23:53.

since the current chairperson is not prepared to acknowledge that he did

:23:53.:23:58.

anything wrong, that he was not part of the problem and, in my opinion,

:23:58.:24:07.

quite honestly, should call? I think we need to reflect on all of the

:24:07.:24:10.

conclusions that you reached that were accountable to you and in your

:24:10.:24:16.

report on this issue that that would then go to the Minister, not only to

:24:16.:24:21.

myself but, at that stage, when you make your recommendations, those

:24:21.:24:25.

that we financially consider, my advice, at the present time is that,

:24:25.:24:31.

my judgement is, that we have investigated to inappropriate and --

:24:31.:24:36.

to an appropriate stage. The Social Development Minister has

:24:37.:24:40.

told the Assembly that the restructuring of the Housing

:24:40.:24:43.

Executive in Northern Ireland is in no way predetermined. Nelson

:24:43.:24:46.

McCausland also explain the new form of registration for landlords during

:24:46.:24:51.

Question Time today. Immediately following my statement in February

:24:51.:24:56.

on the proposals, I met with the Housing Executive board and the

:24:56.:25:02.

chief Executive to agree how we could work together to allay staph

:25:02.:25:05.

anxieties throughout the process. My officials have met and will continue

:25:05.:25:09.

to meet with trade unions to ensure staff concerns are raised and keep

:25:09.:25:15.

them as up-to-date on an ongoing basis. With regard to tenants, I

:25:15.:25:20.

have a meeting scheduled with the network established to make sure

:25:20.:25:26.

that tenants have a meaningful involvement. Can ask the Minister if

:25:26.:25:30.

you can reaffirm his previously stated commitment that there will be

:25:30.:25:34.

no predetermined outcome to the future of the Housing Executive?

:25:34.:25:39.

my original statement, I set out a general direction of travel. The

:25:39.:25:44.

details of all of this has still to be worked out. There is a lot of

:25:44.:25:48.

work to be done about getting business case is prepared, to look

:25:48.:25:51.

at various options. There will have to be detailed discussions with

:25:51.:25:54.

attentional funders to see what the best model would be. Therefore,

:25:54.:25:59.

there is nothing predetermined at the moment. They are looking at a

:25:59.:26:06.

direction of travel but nothing else. I informed the Assembly on the

:26:06.:26:10.

15th of January 2013 that it was intended that a landlord

:26:10.:26:17.

registration system would be ready by the summer. While thermal be --

:26:17.:26:20.

may be slippage, work is well underway on the design of the system

:26:20.:26:24.

and a final decision on who will act as the registrar should be made very

:26:24.:26:31.

soon. Can I ask the Minister what specifically is the calls of the

:26:31.:26:41.
:26:41.:26:47.

delay? -- the cause. The civil servants who are working on these

:26:47.:26:52.

working very hard on them. Like most things in life, it is always very

:26:52.:26:56.

difficult to predict exactly, down to the weeks or days, how long it

:26:56.:27:01.

will take to complete a piece of work. I'm sure the member, in all

:27:01.:27:05.

his years of business and other areas of life, will have found his

:27:05.:27:12.

own experience of that fact. The Bangor town Centre master plan

:27:12.:27:16.

produced to lead a major develop meant scheme was needed to

:27:16.:27:20.

regenerate the town centre. Schemes of this size and ambition are

:27:20.:27:24.

complex and challenging to deliver. A number of key steps need to be

:27:24.:27:29.

taken. The first is to assemble the site. My department has completed

:27:29.:27:34.

the first major step by agreeing to purchase the developer's land.

:27:34.:27:38.

Following completion of the sale, my officials will speak to the

:27:38.:27:42.

remaining property owners within the proposed boundary to discuss our

:27:42.:27:47.

plans for the area and to negotiate the purchase of these properties.

:27:47.:27:50.

Work will also be commenced on the planning application, taking

:27:50.:27:54.

approximately two years. Following approval, it will take another two

:27:54.:28:01.

to three years to complete the design and bring on board a contract

:28:01.:28:05.

to construct the scheme. If all progresses smoothly, construction

:28:05.:28:08.

will commence in 2018. The social -- the Social Development

:28:08.:28:13.

Minister. Just before we go, the otherwise businesslike atmosphere

:28:13.:28:17.

today was treated by his accession of politicians getting their

:28:17.:28:21.

transitory twist. Danny Kennedy referred to the Republic as the Free

:28:21.:28:27.

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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