31/01/2012 Stormont Today


31/01/2012

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. Fred Goodwin is stripped of his

:00:31.:00:36.

knighthood, but keeps his pension pot of �12 million. It's unlikely

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he'll get much sympathy. Here on the hill, MLAs concentrate on the

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young, youth unemployment an the eternal catch 22. A particular

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problem faced by young people is in sufficient experience and it's

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difficult to get such experience without having a job. There's a

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danger of young people being lost to long-term unemployment. And grab

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a box of tissues, as MLAs reveal their tearful secrets. People don't

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realise that behind every hard- nosed politician, there's a person

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who is soft about something and certainly sad songs really do get

:01:11.:01:21.
:01:21.:01:24.

me. With me throughout, Kula Yusuma, Concerns for a lost generation of

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young people deprived of the opportunity to join the workforce

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has become a major political issue, not just here, but also throughout

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Britain. With me now is Kula Yusuma. It is difficult in this climate but

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there's a loft young people facing unemployment potentially for a few

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years to come. There is. It's nearly one fifth of 16 to 24-year-

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olds find themselves unemployed and not in training on education. It's

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in the a straightforward as saying let's get them jobs. There are a

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group of young people who need a lot of training and support to find,

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to get the skills to get into the work place. You're right, the

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economic downturn, you see, seeing statistics, in Spain it's as much

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as 50% of young people are unemployed. This is a global issue

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we have to address properly. What do you think is the answer then?

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Even this phrase NEETs, not in education and training, has

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negative connotations. Yeah absolutely. Because we like to

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label people, because we can put them in a box. That's what I mean

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about things being complicated. You have a group of young people,

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several thousand young people who left school with no qualifications,

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without any skills to take them into a work place. They're barely

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able to read and write. We need to support them. That's what

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organisations like Include Youth are doing. We need to give them

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proper financial support to be able to progress up the ladder. At the

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other end you have graduates coming out with very good degrees and no

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jobs. In those cases we need to get them, again into the work place and

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help employers give them a chance to take them in and hopefully, we

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can see these young people go through. But there's a lot of work

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to be done. It's great that the Assembly's talking about it. We

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need to see some action. Stay with us. Now, young people were very

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much on the agenda today with questions to both the employment

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and learning and the Education Ministers. But first, you might

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remember two weeks ago, the Alliance Party's Judith Cochrane

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told the Assembly how tempted she was to kiss John O'Dowd. Well,

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today, it was her colleague Chris Lyttle who seemed keen to start a

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little bromance with the minister. Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker. My

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colleague Judith Cochrane threatened to kiss the minister for

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the start of progress in regards to nursery provision. If he could sort

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out the need for new build skills I maybe come down there and kiss

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himself -- him myself as well. Can I ask the minister with regards to

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communication with the schools, can I ask the minister how exactly he's

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going to commune the deadline and time scales for this plan with the

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schools who've been waiting for these new buildings for years?

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will have to tell my wife there is a House where I can get a kiss in,

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so there is. Last week the minister told education boards he was

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unhappy with an audit of schools they'd carried out. He sent it back.

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Today, members wanted to know more. Due to the sensitivity of the

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publication of the audit, what implications do you see for schools

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within north Belfast? Well, I understand there is some

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sensitivity around the publication of the audit. Rather -- whether

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it's north Belfast or any other constituency, the sensitivity of

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the information, most of the information will be in the public

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domain. I am bringing the information together, so I am as a

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minister, have a clear picture of our schools across the area. This

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is not the end game in relation to these aud its. The media should not

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be using them as a league table or what mapping out the destiny for

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schools. There may well be schools that are clearly identified as

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having such problems that they are unsustainable into the future. If

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that is the case, I have a duty to ask the managing authorities what

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plans are in place to secure the education of the young people at

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those schools. But I think in mat jort of case what's we will see is

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a position where schools need further support and we'll ask what

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further support are you giving those schools? How are we assisting

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schools to work out of their current financial or educational

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underattainment. We're entering the next stage of viability audits.

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This is not the final destination. These reports should not be used as

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a league table or speculate them in any way that would damage a school.

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Onto the employment and learning minister and the issue of

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unemployment among young people, clearly one of the most pressing

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matters facing his department. Deputy Speaker, members have tabled

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five questions all in the theme of youth unemployment and one on

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general unemployment. With permission I will address youth

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unemployment as a group and will see additional time in that regard.

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The increase in youth claimant unemployment, those aged 24 and

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under, between November 2007 and November 2011, for Northern Ireland

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was 155% compared to the overall UK rise of 97%. While the rate of

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youth unemployment may be marginally lower in Northern

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Ireland at 18.4% compared to 21.1% to the UK as a whole, it

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constitutes a major challenge. There are around 20,000 young

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people who are unemployed here. Youth unemployment brings its own

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challenges. Young people risk being denied the opportunity to acquire

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the skills. A particular problem is insufficient experience to compete

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for jobs and it's difficult to get such experience without having a

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job. There's a danger of young people being lost to long-term

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unemployment. This is an international issue and many

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governments have made targeted interventions N Great Britain the

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Government introduce aid youth contract. This initiative will

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invest 940 million in new measures over three years to help young

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progress in the labour market. It provides for advisors, 100,000 work

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placements over three years, a new wage incentive to encourage jobs

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and a new target for NEETs. In addition to youth contract measures

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Wales has put in place the jobs growth Wales programme a �75

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million scheme designed to create 4,000 jobs a year for young people.

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Scotland has in place the Scotland scheme whereby organisations are

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offered a grant of up to �6,000 for each job created. The scheme will

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create 2,000 jobs in the next three years and represents additional

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investment of �12.4 million. My department has a range of measures

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to help the unemployed to find work. More needs to be done. Therefore I

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have circulated to my executive colleagues a set of proposals to

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help young people and to address the threats to the future of our

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economy if we do not take effective action now. The executive should

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shortly consider the options and it is for the minister of finance to

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consider the issue of funding in the first instance. I will make a

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full statement to the Assembly when a package of measures has been

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agreed. This youth contract that the minister referred to there,

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what do we need to do here, because as I understand it, the departments,

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it's up to them how they spend the money. They don't necessarily have

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to put it into youth employment. hope to goodness they do put it

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into youth employment. Our understanding is that Stephen Farry

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has bid for a proportion to come to Northern Ireland. It has to go into

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programmes and processs to get young people, a range of young

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people into employment. The one thing that he didn't mention and I

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hope he will mention is how we give young people, there are a group of

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young people working incredibly hard to get into training and

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employment, but on, are on pre- vocational programmes. They're not

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given a penny by the state. Why as their friends in tech, in colleges,

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within so-called recognised training organisations get a

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training allowance. One thing he has to do is recognise the work

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that so many young people are doing. I'm hoping that some of this youth

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contract money can be spent on giving young people a training

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allowance to help them build the skill that's they need to get into

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the work place. The Health Minister has announced what he's called a

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full and rigorous investigation into the sued moan as infections

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which claimed the -- pseudo moan yaz infections which claimed the

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lives of four babies. Edwin Poots told the Assembly that the actions

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of trust officials need to be rigorously examined. I must ensure

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the review is thorough and rigorous and makes recommendations on

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immediate action that's we need to take. I want an internal report by

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the end of March so that urgent actions can be taken. He will be

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aware that there have been calls for a public inquiry, particularly

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from the parents of one of the children, one of the babies who

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very sadly died. He's opted for an independent investigation, could he

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tell the House why he's opted for an investigation rather than a full

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:11:00.:11:02.

blown public inquiry? In terms of public inquiries, there has been

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calls from at least one of the families for a public inquiry by

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some members of this house and indeed some people in the press and

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I realise that there is a huge degree of public concern at this

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time and people want answers. I believe an independent

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investigation and review will provide the urgent answers that I

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require. As I already stated, I've asked the chief executive of the

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RQIA to assist me in a full, rigorous, independent investigation

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into these incidents. A public inquiry in and of itself under the

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inquiries act 2005 would not be the quickest or most effective way of

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actually getting the answers. it was what everyone was talking

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about here on the Hill yesterday, would Tom Elliott add insult to

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injury and replace David McNarry on the education committee with his

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Strangford colleague Mike Nesbitt? The Speaker made the announcement

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to the House. Order. Members order. I would like first of all to inform

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members that I have been notified by the nominating officer of the

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Ulster Unionist Party Mr Tom Elliott. Mr David McNarry has been

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replaced as deputy chairperson of the committee for education. Mr

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Elliot has now nominated Mr Mike Nesbitt to be deputy chairperson of

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the committee for education and Mr Mike Nesbitt has accepted the

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appointment. A note from our producer, please be

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more careful with what you do with your papers and microphone. Earlier,

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I spoke to the new deputy chair, Mike Nesbitt. Well, I'm sorry about

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the circumstances which have led to the appointment, but I'm very

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pleased to be on the education committee. I think education and

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enterprise would have been my two picks, my passions. I'm very much

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looking forward to working with Joanne Dobson and the rest of the

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committee. David McNarry talked about two agendas in the Ulster

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Unionist Party last night. Which do you fit into? I didn't hear what he

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said. All I'm focused on is reading my brief for the education

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committee which meets tomorrow morning at 10.30. A lot of viewers

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will be parents of school children. A lot of your viewers will be

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teachers. I don't think they care about the internal maccinations of

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the party. They care about the future of the education of their

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children. There's not much more important than that in what we do.

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Surely you care about what happens in the party. I do. A lot of what

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we do is internal. I'm not going to wash our dirty linen in public. I'm

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focused on my role and getting myself up to speed on the actual

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they've covered so far and what they're covering tomorrow. You'll

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be aware that Stormont and beyond is awash with rumours, do you see

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yourself in some future role as leader of the Ulster Unionist

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Party? If you look at the clippings, you'll see that I have said

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publicly and unequivocally, I will never, ever challenge Tom Elliott's

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leadership. But if he was to step aside, would

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you put your name forward? If the building was to collapse, would I

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still want to be an MLA, who knows. What happens now with the party?

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Obviously, basil McCrae and Danny Kennedy gave a news conference this

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afternoon, how do you reassure supporters you're on track going

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forward? Last night I was at the division Alanual general meeting of

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Fermanagh. There were about 160 people there. They're totally

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united. I was at a party assembly group meeting this week, totally

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united. I was in east Belfast last week, totally united. Are you sure

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there's an issue here? Are you sure it isn't just to some extent a

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media invention? I'm very happy. I'm very confident that the Ulster

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Unionist Party is moving in the right direction. My focus isn't so

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much on the party, it's on what the people who are paying my salary

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elected me to do. As of tomorrow that is to do with education policy.

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Are you supportive of Tom Elliott's action against David McNarry

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considering he's your colleague in Strangford. It's not a question of

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whether he's my colleague in Strangford. The leader has taken

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action, we all in the Assembly group support the leader. You don't

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regret to see him go? I told you that I regretted the circumstances

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under which I come to be the vie chair marn of the education

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committee. That's what I'm focused on. I'm happy to continue talking

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about that. In terms of anything else, I understand as a journalist

:15:49.:15:54.

you're going to poke around and see if you can get me so say something,

:15:54.:16:04.
:16:04.:16:04.

if there is dirty linen, I'm not Conall McDevitt com and affable

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enough MLA you might think, but he seemed to get under the skin of the

:16:10.:16:13.

Social Development Minister day during a debate on pensions. Nelson

:16:13.:16:17.

McCausland was summing up at the end of a debate proposing the

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second stage of the Pensions Bill which would keep us in line with

:16:20.:16:30.
:16:30.:16:31.

the rest of the UK when he picked on the SDLP member. I think that is

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indeed the right and the responsible way to take this

:16:35.:16:45.
:16:45.:16:45.

forward. Could I actually just say in his case I do not commend

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irresponsibility and financial and fiscal incompetence from people you

:16:49.:16:59.

cannot work out... Can I make two point. If he wanted to speak on the

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matter, he might have been in the House. He could not even be

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bothered to be here to ask the question or make an intervention.

:17:07.:17:15.

The key point is and maybe he could tell me where he is going to

:17:15.:17:19.

conjure up �700 million from? A quick answer will do. Health or

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education? Which are you going to cut? I thank the Minister for

:17:25.:17:33.

giving way. The neighbour is McDevitt, minister. Committee

:17:33.:17:37.

members often spend hours listening to presentations from ministers or

:17:37.:17:41.

interest groups, but sometimes their burden is less pressing and

:17:41.:17:46.

then they can become a little wistful, nostalgic event. We start

:17:46.:17:49.

our weekly look at the work of the committees at education where they

:17:49.:17:56.

are discussing P E. Is it compulsory to provide swimming

:17:56.:18:01.

lessons or swimming for schools? This particular school does not

:18:01.:18:08.

have access to a nearby swimming facility. My understanding is that

:18:08.:18:18.

it does not provide swimming lessons. Then I made inquiries and

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the Department were very good at coming back and said, it is a

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statutory requirement, it is in the curriculum. A think it has to be

:18:27.:18:35.

noted that whilst in the past football and Gallic were perceived

:18:35.:18:42.

to be predominantly male who played those games. But when David speaks

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about rugby, what about hockey and other games that females play? That

:18:47.:18:54.

does not fit in. In my own area we have a fantastic hockey team. If

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that is not being funded, I know the community fund so that and the

:19:00.:19:06.

coaches come from the community. If we are talking in terms of equality,

:19:06.:19:15.

I think we should include female games like hockey. And cricket. It

:19:15.:19:22.

was an amazing thing why cricket was such eight Keene Sport west of

:19:22.:19:26.

the province, which is a very English thing. The answer I was

:19:26.:19:33.

given when I asked why there was a cricket club in Brady, at the Mills

:19:33.:19:37.

was the reason why. The mill owners would have provided a sport and

:19:37.:19:43.

they played cricket and that was the link. What it does raise his

:19:43.:19:46.

maybe we should look at this as another potential area for inquiry

:19:46.:19:56.
:19:56.:19:57.

for us. I agree with that and I agree with what Mekelle is saying.

:19:57.:20:06.

I used to play hobby and the next top you was the best game. It is an

:20:06.:20:09.

important piece of work for the committee to undertake in terms of

:20:09.:20:17.

the judiciary. Could I suggest that we invite a witness to give

:20:17.:20:26.

evidence on this issue? Can I anticipate the witness. There has

:20:26.:20:30.

been a certain former Secretary of State who has written a book and he

:20:30.:20:39.

has very definitely outspoken views on this issue. He has taken the

:20:39.:20:47.

very unusual step of making a public comment about this. He says

:20:47.:20:52.

it is an assault on the independence of the judiciary. That

:20:52.:20:58.

was a response to Mr Payne's comments that Sir Paul Girvan was

:20:58.:21:08.
:21:08.:21:12.

off his rocker! Being serious about it, he has clearly a very strong

:21:12.:21:18.

views on this. He has been on the inside track as far as this issue

:21:18.:21:22.

is concerned. I am proposing that given the fact he has very strong

:21:22.:21:26.

views that we invite him to come before this committee and give

:21:26.:21:34.

evidence. On the judiciary? On the appointments to the judiciary.

:21:34.:21:38.

to attend we will have terms of reference for our work on this and

:21:38.:21:43.

part of that will be witnesses and if you want to pick up almost

:21:43.:21:49.

Secretary of State for this list... They were talking about p, but on a

:21:49.:21:53.

more serious education at, is there some sort of early intervention

:21:53.:21:58.

needed to prevent children ever leaving school without some basic

:21:58.:22:02.

qualifications and the skills to read and write? Absolutely.

:22:02.:22:07.

Education is one of the biggest factors that can help children

:22:07.:22:13.

overcome some disadvantage. Our education system is very good. I am

:22:13.:22:17.

not going to criticise it for the sake of it, but too many people

:22:17.:22:21.

coming out at the other end with not enough and generally they come

:22:21.:22:25.

from poorer communities weather have been family difficulties

:22:25.:22:29.

through no fault of their own, so we need an education system that

:22:29.:22:33.

can educate all its children. That may mean a classroom assistant, it

:22:33.:22:38.

may mean children come out of the classes to get extra attention. It

:22:38.:22:43.

does not necessarily mean that many resources. It means we need to

:22:43.:22:47.

think differently about how we educate some of our children.

:22:47.:22:51.

Should we have targets to say that children should never be able to

:22:51.:22:55.

leave school without being able to read or write? I am not saying

:22:55.:22:59.

targets is right, because we have seen what is happening with league

:22:59.:23:05.

tables, but we should have targets that recognise a child's potential.

:23:05.:23:09.

If you have had a difficult time in your life, like a bereavement, as

:23:09.:23:14.

you may not get a GCSE at 16, but you may get it at 18 once things

:23:14.:23:19.

have settled a bit. It is to make sure children learn in the best way

:23:19.:23:23.

that they can. It has been a busy week for the Ulster Unionist Party,

:23:23.:23:30.

but today they attempted to move on as Martina told me earlier. We had

:23:30.:23:35.

Basil McCrae and Danny Kennedy appeared together at a news

:23:35.:23:37.

conference to say how much they supported the leader and they

:23:37.:23:43.

wanted to move forward and the party was united. They came

:23:43.:23:47.

together and Baz on a crate is seen as the man who prefers opposition

:23:47.:23:52.

and sees the fortunes of the Ulster Unionist Party best served by going

:23:52.:23:57.

into opposition, with Danny Kennedy the Minister involved in the talks,

:23:57.:24:03.

both different wings of the party coming together. Interesting DAVID

:24:03.:24:07.

COULTHARD: Nari mentioned agenda as last night. When he talked about

:24:07.:24:14.

two competing agendas he meant those two interests. Although David

:24:14.:24:18.

McNarry appeared on the programme last night, as a hurt and winded

:24:18.:24:23.

MLA, who he said was unfairly punished, he was more angry and

:24:23.:24:28.

vengeful today. He said this will be a 15 round fight and is not

:24:28.:24:33.

going quietly. The we have had discussions about two agendas and

:24:33.:24:38.

is this all semantics? He said last night he did not recognise this

:24:38.:24:43.

term a liaison officer, which was how Tom Elliot referred to him in

:24:43.:24:48.

the talks with the DUP. He spoke of a panel of four. He would not tell

:24:49.:24:53.

us who else was on this panel, but informed sources tell as it was

:24:53.:25:00.

David Campbell, the chairman of the party, Danny Kennedy and the Ulster

:25:00.:25:04.

Unionist leader Tom Elliot. I rang Tom Elliot and asked about the

:25:04.:25:07.

panel and he said he did not recognise there was a panel. He

:25:08.:25:14.

said there were meetings, there were areas of co-operation. The

:25:14.:25:20.

last meeting was 45 minutes. He said there were games being played,

:25:20.:25:25.

but in fairness to DAVID COULTHARD: Nari he was never officially known

:25:25.:25:32.

as a liaison officer. -- DAVID COULTHARD: Nari. We have been

:25:32.:25:36.

asking the politicians about which sad songs would make them cry. What

:25:36.:25:41.

would bring a tier 2 your eye? people say I am heartless and it is

:25:41.:25:48.

not possible to make me cry, but I say Elvis Presley and you can play

:25:48.:25:52.

his music at my funeral, which would cheer up many people around

:25:52.:25:58.

here. Perish the thought. Listening to a sad song has reduced seven out

:25:58.:26:03.

of 10 men to tears according to a studied. If the title music of this

:26:03.:26:08.

programme brings a tier 2 your eye, get eight issue and keep watching

:26:08.:26:14.

as MLAs reveal a softer side. was being facetious I would say

:26:14.:26:23.

every song that the Reverend McRae recorded. It would be a song by a

:26:23.:26:27.

group called the Stanlow brothers, different things to different

:26:27.:26:32.

people and it is a survey of how people view things if you are a

:26:32.:26:37.

father, a brother, a son and you are all those things. When I

:26:37.:26:44.

listened to my children perform, the tears come to my eyes. But I

:26:44.:26:48.

remember when my sister, who is a trained vocalists, did her first

:26:48.:26:56.

solo in church and she sang, I was moved to tears. Every time I hear

:26:56.:27:04.

that song in church tears come back to me. In a survey it brought back

:27:04.:27:11.

memories of the Show Band Days and suddenly the band would start to

:27:11.:27:20.

play Elvis and the men started to cry. It told the story of the

:27:20.:27:25.

orphanages which were in vogue in the Sixties and the whole idea of

:27:25.:27:29.

people turning up to adopt somebody and passing that little child

:27:29.:27:35.

because it was blind. That really was emotional. People do not

:27:35.:27:40.

realise that behind every hard- nosed politician there is a person

:27:40.:27:47.

who is soft about something and it certainly sad songs really get me.

:27:47.:27:53.

I do not know which is worse, nobody's child or two little boys.

:27:53.:27:59.

What would bring a tier 2 your eye? I have two if you indulge me. One

:27:59.:28:06.

is the South African national anthem and that always makes me cry.

:28:06.:28:12.

The other is Peggy Gordon, an old Irish folksong, because my children

:28:12.:28:17.

performed it when they were very young. It still brings a tier 2 I

:28:17.:28:22.

just thinking about it. One is personal and won his emotional

:28:22.:28:27.

thinking about people's struggles. Anything to do with children is

:28:27.:28:33.

tricky. Thank you for being our guest this event. That is it for

:28:33.:28:38.

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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