Young people come to the Top Table in the run-up to the election to face down politicians in a new audience debate show, presented by Stephen Nolan.
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Tonight, half of the entire studio audience is 21 and under.
Sitting opposite, our older audience.
And at the heart of this show, the top table.
On this programme, we really are giving young people priority
because that's a voice that is sometimes missing
What does a new generation actually want?
One half of this entire studio is filled with people aged 21 or under.
The other half is older and we've politicians from all five
of Northern Ireland's main parties here tonight too.
But on this show, and it will always be the same,
young people have the seats facing them at the top table.
Joining us at the top table tonight...
Thomas Copeland, Aoife Hollywood, Jack O'Dwyer-Henry,
Right, let's get stuck into the first question.
There it is tonight, the first question is about Brexit
What's more important to you - living in the UK
I'm going to start off just by saying I'd rather live
in the world's fifth largest economy than the world's 40th
I know that there are ideological reasons why perhaps Ireland should
be unified, but I don't want to have to pay 50 euros every time
I want to live in a country where the NHS is free on delivery.
And as well as that, I think it's very important
to stress, let's not pre-empt the results of Brexit.
We don't know what's going to happen, and anyone who says
they do know what's going to happen after Brexit is lying.
You want to run the referendum again, you want a second vote.
I want a second vote on the terms of the final deal.
So you're not going to accept the referendum result?
I want another referendum on the terms of the final deal,
and that's so important for Northern Ireland.
We are the only place to have a hard border.
We need to be able to have another shout out as to
I believe passionately in the United Kingdom.
It is, as Thomas has said, one of the fastest-growing
It is a fact that the Irish Republic does more trade with
the United Kingdom than anywhere else in the world so also
the Republic is tied in very strongly, in trading terms,
And so we need to ensure that we get the best deal possible from Brexit,
and that's what we will be seeking to ensure.
A second go at it, let's look at the deal first?
We elect Members of Parliament and we've got a general election
right now and every person here will have a vote,
I hope, in that election, and you will elect people to go
and represent you and therefore Parliament now has the mandate,
and I think it was right for Theresa May to call an election,
to seek a mandate to negotiate, and I don't think she has had to go
back to have a second referendum because, actually,
and this is important, Stephen, it ties her hands,
It ties the hand of the Prime Minister, and I think it gives
So I think, at this stage, we don't need to have a second referendum.
If I had been able to vote, and only 17, I would have voted Remain.
Seeing the results of the referendum, I do understand
that there needs to be special status for the six counties.
What's your stand on that, the special status?
I assume the six counties you are referring to is
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom
and we are the only part of the UK that has a land border with a EU
member state, so that's right, we are different from other parts
of the UK and there will need to be special arrangements.
But here's the challenge and a problem for us.
Well, special arrangements because we have a land
border and therefore, unlike any other part of the UK...
We have a majority that would vote Remain.
The United Kingdom held a referendum and the United Kingdom voted
to leave, and we have to respect that.
A lot of people talk about respect...
You have to understand that the six counties is a special...
And you have to understand that the six counties that
you describe and that I call Northern Ireland is part
of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland, and in a referendum held
in the United Kingdom, the people voted to leave.
Now, we can re-fight that battle is we want,
but what we really need to do is negotiate the best deal
But here's the amazing thing, Sir Jeffrey.
They told us that Brexit would be a panacea, there'd be
a new era of progress, and the reality is...
It's good to see the DUP immediately...
..is diving back to the past and division.
But here's the issue of Brexit and why the DUP know
they have sold us a pop, because I can't see any young
person, when they look at the bounty of Europe,
whether it's my children or our grandchildren,
that would deny themselves, to cut themselves off
You say you can't see any one person.
You're looking at one tonight - Calvin.
Tell them why you believe that we should be leaving the EU.
Well, Stephen, I believe that Northern Ireland, or the UK, sorry,
should be free from the EU because we are democrats
and the EU is completely and utterly undemocratic.
I appreciate that and understand that, but if the majority of people
in what you call the UK vote to leave, but the majority
The majority of people in Northern Ireland want to remain
within the UK so that means that we are part of the UK.
The majority of people in Northern Ireland want to remain
part of the UK and therefore with the UK-wide vote, so we have
The founding agreement of the peace process
It talks about the principle of consent.
What percentage of people want to remain within the United Kingdom?
It's significantly higher than those that want to remain
So therefore, the majority of people in Northern Ireland want to be part
of the United Kingdom, so therefore we have
There may be a unity referendum soon and we'll find out
what the percentages are but, in the meantime, Calvin,
you're almost saying to me, it doesn't matter how many jobs
are lost, how many farmers lose jobs, how much money
What about the potential benefits from Brexit?
Are you saying it doesn't matter what damage is done to the economy,
how it stunts our economic growth, how it cuts us off, how
Is that what you're saying, because somebody in Walsall
or Bristol or Birmingham, and fair play to them,
let them enjoy Brexit, are you saying because they have
voted for this in England and Wales, because Scotland didn't,
that it doesn't matter what damage it does to the economy
Because if you are, that's fair enough.
Are you not the same man representing the same party that
slammed the EU for imposing austerity on the likes of Greece?
I am one and the same and I will be critical of the EU and,
unlike anyone else at this table, I have addressed 27 ministers
for Europe in Brussels about how best to repair this damage that's
I think the more that Jeffrey and the Brexiteers go
on about the Democratic mandate and how that justifies
leaving the European Union, that's betraying the fact that that
argument hasn't actually been one in that there isn't an hasn't been
made a compelling case for the benefits of leaving
I'm still left completely unconvinced as to why
Northern Ireland obviously has voted to remain,
but I would like Jeffrey to outline exactly what he thinks will benefit
Northern Ireland from leaving the European Union because,
as far as I see it, that argument hasn't been effectively made.
And Jeffrey, you can pick that up in a second.
Where did your party stand on this, by the way?
We recognised the democratic will of the United Kingdom
We said that we recognised this was a UK-wide vote and the majority
of the people of the United Kingdom decided they were willing to leave,
and we respected that, and our MPs voted for that in Westminster.
But let's be clear, the days of Remainers
The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.
What we need now are 18 MPs sitting on the benches of Westminster,
arguing for the best possible deal for everybody in Northern Ireland,
and that is how we will get the best result.
Aoife, you live on the border, right?
I live right beside the border and that's such
Girls in my school will have to cross the border every day,
Different things, like cost controls.
There is a statistic that 3% of the GDP in
That's thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs.
That was a statistic on the BBC, that 3% of the GDP
Before we ever joined the European Union, we had a common
The idea that people living in Newry are going
to have their lives changed by Brexit in that they are going
to be stopped at the border every day is just a myth,
Well, how are you going to control immigration?
I'm interested that you suggest that someone who travels from Newry
to Dundalk and back has to go through immigration.
I'm saying that immigrants coming from Dublin, the richest part
of the European Union, will have to come through Newry
and then they could be going into the British Isles.
There's going to have to be some control, and you just can't...
Naomi, do you believe there will have to be a border?
There will have to be some kind of control, that's obvious,
and the reason I say that is because, if you go to any
country that has a border, a land border with an EU state,
So until somebody shows me an example where there are none,
I'm not going to be convinced about this.
Well, no, actually, I was in Switzerland last summer,
You didn't bring me back a Toblerone!
But, honestly, you have to go through, you have to pay,
you have to get a vignette for your car when you go
You can only work there for so many days of the year before
So it's nonsense to say that it's borderless.
You go through checkpoints, and this is important, Stephen.
All of the people who are saying that there won't be checkpoints
can't give you a single concrete example of that because it's fine
to talk about the common travel area, but we are now talking
about differentiating our immigration and our customs
That was never the case before, and that's the fundamental difference.
I don't think it's any secret that our party has always been
strongly pro-Europe and, actually, was the first
party that articulated an argument for special status,
call it what you will, but special relationship.
A special relationship for Northern Ireland.
But Stephen, can I tell you the argument...
No, tell me what special status means.
It means actually having recognition of the fact
that Northern Ireland, the North, the six counties,
actually is the only part of these islands which has a land border
We've already seen some concessions in terms of if a united Ireland...
Would we stay in the EU under the special status?
We would be able to stay in the EU, but they should have
special measures in terms of support from Europe.
We need the imagination and the innovation
Well, you will do it because the 28 states will agree to that,
You can't have a special status outside the EU.
The point I'd just like to make there, in actual fact,
individual parts of certain countries couldn't
What we are trying to fight for is that we have MPs
and we have a strong executive that can deal with the issue
of the border, and the reason I think, by the way,
Jeffrey, that we should have an independent referendum
Tell me about this ruling by know nothing about.
It just showed that it was based around Catalonia, and EU said,
and Jeffrey, back me up on this, that individual parts of certain
countries couldn't seek sincere special status within the EU,
and it came out of the fact that Nicola Sturgeon wanted Scotland
That's not a complete picture because the kingdom of Denmark makes
up the Faroe Islands, Greenland as well as mainland
Denmark, and yet the Faroe Islands and Greenland negotiated a Leave
while the rest of the kingdom of Denmark remained in,
so there are anomalies within the EU.
In fact, one of the important things, Stephen, about the EU,
if we're going to be honest, one of the really good things
about it, is it is innovative, it is flexible and it is creative
when it comes to trying to deal with these sorts of issues.
I wonder, by the way, does Brexit make a united
I think, yes, definitely, because it shows that the people
of England and Wales, their priority isn't
Northern Ireland and they are capable of making the decision that
will negatively affect Northern Ireland in terms
of the border, and that's an issue that was never discussed
international debate in the UK, and it hasn't been
Let's hear what we're saying in the audience tonight.
I find it pretty disgusting that in the first five minutes of
this show, Brexit has been reduced to a mere green and orange issue
yet again by the politicians of this country.
The biggest issue that will face this country in 30, 40 years and
it's being reduced again to a mere green and orange,
So, is there a politician you'd like to speak to
I would just put out a general question of how can we face
Brexit if we don't even have an Executive in this country?
I think what's most worrying about this is that every
other part of the British Isles has a paper
on response to Brexit except for Northern Ireland because
the Executive was never able to put one together.
It was a two-page letter written in August and since that,
Did Mike and Colin not put anything together?
The Ulster Unionist Party produced a paper that was handed over to
Theresa May in November, but the fact of the matter is there is no
one speaking, as the member of the audience said, for a collective
voice for Northern Ireland and that is concerning.
The sad reality is the referendum's over, so we have a
Conservative Government who will likely have a large majority after
this election so the unfortunate thing is that this is
Any remainers, the referendum's over.
Fight the election on your point, but it's
It seems quite clear to me that the DUP
clearly haven't thought this through at all.
The DUP clearly have jumped on the bandwagon
They clearly have ignored the voice of the people of Northern Ireland
or the six counties, whatever you want to call it.
And the voice of Northern Ireland says,
We don't want to join England and Wales.
Well, I'm part of the United Kingdom.
The name of my party is Democratic Unionist, so
This wasn't a Northern Ireland referendum.
It was a UK referendum and, by the way,
we didn't jump on the bandwagon, we were the only party from Northern
Ireland that campaigned for Brexit not just locally, but nationally.
I believe passionately that the UK has a bright future outside of
And I believe the EU is in serious trouble.
You think the EU's in serious trouble?
Clearly, we've taken a dip into the darkness here.
We don't know what's going to happen after Brexit.
Let's go to the older audience tonight as well.
I'd just like to call attention to the place here played
by Sinn Fein, SDLP and their ideas in Remain.
To me, it's pathetic that they tried to use it as a link to
try and link to the Irish Republic and unity.
And that's really what they're trying to use this as.
Brexit's about much more than a united
But the problem is, people campaigned
for Brexit and those that support it and campaigned
They're not able to tell us what it meant.
Are you telling me that people were stupid?
As simple as that, it doesn't mean that.
The Brexit that was voted for is not the Brexit that we are being
delivered and that's just a simple fact.
The Brexit that was voted for is not what being delivered.
With respect, the negotiations haven't even begun.
It is true that we do not yet know what the final
outcome will be and there's two things that are really important.
Number 1 - we need an Executive in Northern Ireland to give us a
collective voice to get the best deal.
The longer Sinn Fein prevent an Executive...
It's two parties, it's not just one party.
The longer we will be denied that voice.
In the absence of Sinn Fein agreeing to form an Executive,
we will have our seats in Westminster and we will be the voice
for Northern Ireland unlike Sinn Fein.
It's clear to see that the DUP and every other
Brexiteer don't really know what's coming out of this.
You don't know if there is if there's positives...
No, because the negotiations haven't begun.
Then you understand people's worries.
Why did you leave the EU, why did you vote to leave the EU?
I voted to leave the European Union...
I voted to leave the European Union because I believe
We are subsidising the EU to the tune of billions
Hold on a minute. Hold on a minute.
Northern Ireland's being subsidised by the UK, not by the EU.
It's clear we're talking about, you know, whether it's been
about being European, British, Irish or Northern Irish.
What is really clear, identity is really, really
important here and it's true for people of any age.
I've been finding out from kids in Kilkeel who feel
really, really strongly about their roots.
Why is your culture are so important to you?
Republicans just think it's Loyalism, and they don't
think it's all about having fun, but it is about having fun.
Going out with your friends and parading
I would say I'm more involved now that I'm older
and can do, like, the likes of lambeg drumming.
And I'm parading out tonight for Kilkeel Silver.
So are you excited about the 12th of July?
It's exciting because there is a lot of people watching you and you
just get that happy feeling that you're making people enjoy it.
I'm just excited about getting up and
going out and parading, listening to all of the different bands.
My sister does the flag carrying in it
and I love seeing her doing it and my dad
was in it for, like, in the bands for years.
Do you think that your tradition is under threat?
Yeah, you would fight the British again if you lost it, because you're
losing your tradition, you're losing your parades and Ulster Scots
When you see all the politicians fighting, what do you think?
Like, there could be people shooting each other.
You're saying they're a bunch of children?
They're arguing like a bunch of children.
I'm just glad that we've settled it more humanely
in the sense that we won't, erm, shoot people any more.
They're fighting at the minute, aren't they?
And the government of Northern Ireland has fallen.
I feel like if they don't get this sorted out soon, Northern
Ireland's going to go back to the Republic of Ireland.
Are you worried about a united Ireland?
Well, I would feel sad because our tradition
of Ulster Scots and English have been here for hundreds and hundreds
of years and if we just lose it just like that, instantly.
Calvin, do you feel your British identity is under threat?
In our current climate in Northern Ireland,
I do believe that my British identity is under threat.
From Sinn Fein and the Republican movement.
For example, I'm from the Orange tradition and
parading is something that Sinn Fein have targeted.
And, for me, you know, they're undermining.
That's an example of where they're trying to
Well, what would you like to come and visit me
in my constituency tomorrow and discuss this?
My constituency is in an area where there is a very
contentious parade and it's led to a lot of division in the area and
there still are divisions around Orange parading in South Belfast.
I have constituents who vote for me, for
example, who have visited the
Orange Hall on the Armour Road as part of a lengthy engagement of
He's talking about more than a march, isn't he?
Yeah, but I think the first step is dialogue.
Would you be interested in having that dialogue?
I'm happy to go along and find out more
Well, I can see what you're trying to do.
Because you know rightly I'll say that no, I don't want to
Because you're is part of a party that's completely and utterly
opposed to my right to march down a road.
But I'm not, I actually want to celebrate
You're completely and utterly trying to undermine my
culture and this is something that your party in particular is
How about you come with me to an Orange parade?
When I was Lord Mayor, I opened City Hall and allowed the
As the Lord Mayor, I was the only one who had
the ability to allow the orders to come into and use a room in City
There are big issues and where there is an Orange
There are ways that orange parades are used to try
It's important that we move away from that and I
invite you to move away from that with me.
And your party is fully intent on making it a divisive issue.
I think there's about six parades which are
still in dispute and every one of those local residents want to speak
I just want to ask a question I wanted to ask earlier
Does your party want Brexit to work in Northern Ireland?
Because it is an interesting question.
If Brexit doesn't work, that's the door open
Well, it's interesting because that's the question that...
Actually, the way to ensure that Brexit
doesn't utterly destroyed the economy here
and doesn't destroy the peace process is to make sure
that the Irish Government has the final
say in what the settlement is for Northern Ireland
and if they can get what the Spanish have for Gibraltar
which is there can be no settlement in relation
to Gibraltar until the Spanish...
The Spanish and the British Government agree, then you can get
For me, Brexit can't work and Jeffrey won't
give us a guarantee that no jobs will be lost.
They won't give us a guarantee that none of the Polish
people or Lithuanian people, maybe some in this audience, won't be
And those are the guarantees that we need.
I mean, you're talking about the issue of the Irish Government
coming in and taking control of this.
Do the Irish people want Northern Ireland as part
We have a ?9.6 billion deficit with Westminster.
They do not want us because they cannot afford
When Germany was reunified, the West Germans were in outrage of the
fact that they had their taxes shot up all for some idea that Germany
It is better for the people of Northern Ireland,
economicallly, to remain within the UK.
German unification seems to be going pretty well, Thomas.
And you can see, by the way, the table's
telling us we've very little time left for this debate.
We don't know what's going to happen after Brexit.
Maybe a united Ireland would suit us better after Brexit.
If Brexit doesn't work, the door is open for us.
Brexit is a leap into the dark and...
It's actually the world's sixth largest economy, thanks to Brexit.
It was the fifth largest and it has dropped back from there.
Very quickly, we're running out of time.
If I said to you there are far more countries outside the EU than there
are inside the EU, and all of the other countries in the world,
AOIFE: But they're not coming out of something...
They weren't in the European Union to
We don't know what is going to happen.
We are not sure by whatever, we don't know what is happening.
We're out of time, we're out of time.
There's a new age of politics in Northern Ireland.
If you are 21 or under and if you think you deserve a seat at
Right, let's look at our next question.
Do we need an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland?
Yes, we deserve one and there's no reason
What an Irish Language Act going to give you?
No, no, it will give legal defences as well,
And I'm looking at you, Jeffrey, because,
Well, now they love Irish all of a sudden.
But I want to ask you, first I want to ask you a question,
why do you oppose of and Irish Language Act?
Absolutely not scared of the Irish language.
I fully respect that there are many people here in
Northern Ireland and elsewhere who value the Irish language and I want
to see their rights to speak the Irish language encouraged
and supported and, of course, we will look at what that
But not just on the Irish language, because, of course, there are many
other cultural expressions and, Stephen, you heard from the young
That's where I grew up, and there's a thriving Ulster Scots
But, you know, they're not getting the level
of support that the Irish language is getting.
I listened carefully to what Jeffrey was saying about supporting
an Irish Language Act yet it was Paul Givan,
almost pulled the whole house down single-handedly by taking away
a small pot of money for Gaeltalk users.
He took that away and put it back in and then found hundreds
of thousands of pounds for Orange halls.
But, Dolores, in the last five years, and let's
be clear about this, ?171 million has been put
towards the Irish language in Northern Ireland.
What would an Irish language act actually deliver
First off, it would honour the commitments under
the Good Friday Agreement and St Andrew's.
That's the start that honour the commitments about equality.
Tell me practically what it would guarantee.
Irish speakers would have their rights across all public
sector organisations to have their cases heard
It's actually much more emotional, I believe, than terms...
So if they walked into any public establishment,
there would have to be someone behind the counter...
The Welsh have an act and the Scottish Parliament
has an act and I think what we need to do...
They are not guaranteed that there would be answered in Irish,
Would the Irish language act guarantee?
It's about recognising the rights and the equality of Irish speakers.
It would guarantee that the Irish language was protected in law.
Well, there are debates around whether people want to have native
Irish speakers whose first language is Irish, that they can communicate
in the language of their choice, that's what it means.
I just wanted to raise a point here that, when we have an NHS
that's closing A up at Daisy Hill, an education budget
that's slipping by 2.5%, I'd love to learn Irish,
it's a lovely language, but, when we have an education system
that's collapsing and an NHS that's collapsing, can we afford
First of all, no one's ever told me what it's going to cost,
so you hear figures ranging from ?2 million to ?20 million.
First of all, I have complete respect for the Irish language.
It is the language shared by both cultures in Northern Ireland.
The motto of the Royal Irish Regiment is in Irish.
In fact, it was the Presbyterians that actually protected it
Do you think Katie-Rose should have an Irish language act
People say that they want an Irish language act,
but give us the act and we'll tell you what we want and it.
The initial drafts that is all for it had High Commissioner
with powers of a High Court judge who could hound people out for not
respecting language, various other things,
and positive discrimination to highlight 100% of the public
sector workers who should be speaking Irish.
I don't know what's going to be in this act.
I want to be able to go into court and speak Irish,
I want to live my life through Irish.
The Irish language is of equal importance in the North, in Ireland,
Instead of firing back figures and numbers and now this,
I want to tell you, as a 17-year-old who has grown up in the Irish
language, most of my life is through the Irish language.
See the kids, the hundreds of kids, going through Irish medium schools?
They don't care about how much an Irish language is going to cost.
They just realise that they are being discriminated
Irish language rights are human rights.
There are a couple of reasons why I would oppose an Irish language act.
For me, the Irish language has been something that has been politicised
by Sinn Fein. And this act would be used to make those with the British
background to feel isolated and foreigners. The Irish language
brings with it a culture that everyone can be a part of. The
second reason why I do not want an Irish language act is it is not
practical. In Irish language act would be firstly for Irish speakers
because things like signage and documentation. Let me finish.
Signage and documentation. Someone who speaks Irish as a second
language or read English first there for the Irish language act is 0.24%
of the population. Leffler respond to you. It is much more than
signage. If you keep reverting back to the green and orange situation,
it has such a unifying quality, it brings people from all different
backgrounds together. This is from the latest census. The percentage of
people whose main language is Irish, 0.24%. That was the figures from the
senseless. In terms of the Irish language at, you supported, so there
would be in it? We are talking about that problem that people are
dismissing an Irish language act without looking at what it might
contain. This is not a blank cheque. There are pressures in terms of
public services and finances. One of the things we would like to see
Festival is protection for the language and so we do not end up
with the farcical situation where we are dependent on the Minister in the
department. You either had headed paper or ministers seeking out votes
to spray paint and replaced with another. Protection so you have a
scheme... Spell out. I am trying. There needs to be a consistent
approach in every department as to how it deals with the Irish
language, the example within the civil service, or departments would
have a consistent policy that would be governed by a scheme. I still do
not know what you would guarantee. The commissions themselves should
not have the rule that you have described. So would every public
document need to be in both languages? No, it wouldn't. Not
every public document is subject to FOIA. You have the right to opt out
and allow the individual to pay for it. At the moment, it is difficult
to come to a position. On the Irish language act, as there has not been
an act all though published, but I do not have an objection to it
because it makes sense that the language of the island should be
given some sort of legislative protection.
Saying it is a massive executive financial burden is... What about
the hundreds of millions the DUP squandered? Responsible public
spending, Geoffrey! Those costs have been capped in relation to the RHI.
And they will be capped going forward, Stephen. Definitely?
Absolutely. The point I'm making is this, you are suggesting at the
moment that nothing is being done for the Irish language. Despite the
fact that less than 1% of the population of this country have
Irish is the best language, we have Irish language schools... One at a
time, please. Let him respond to that point. We may have provisions
for Irish speakers at the moment but we also have a First Minister who
prepares the Irish speakers as crocodiles. There is clearly a lack
of respect. With respect, the First Minister did not describe Irish
language speakers as crocodiles, she said Sinn Fein. You have got to let
me to read this. Katy Rose was a more eloquent spokesperson. I
believe in a society which would welcome an Irish language act.
Arlene Foster has made a promise, I will never have an Irish language
act. She may not, but there will be an Irish language act. We will make
sure that this treasure can be shared with everyone. It will work
as it does in Scotland and Wales. Not every government department will
be translated into Irish but you will have the right to deal with it.
One last point, please. You can come back in the second, I promise. That
is a promise. Although some people dismiss Irish as a minority
language, it is incredibly important to some people, and there is a new
young generation of Irish speakers, let's have a look at them.
I am opted to find out what is so important about the Irish language.
Why do you deserve it? It is people's writes. People say right so
the time, writes about what? It is you human rights to speak whatever
language you want. It will be featured in the movie and no one
will know what it was going on about. Having a government in
Northern Ireland, is that not one potent than you Irish language act?
Having a government is also important, but they should be
treating us as they treat every other person who speaks English.
They found the money for the scoundrel, but yet they cannot put
money towards an Irish language act. We want equal
rights for everyone, but we will start with us because this is our
country. You are angry, aren't you? Who isn't? Legislator Eileen Foster?
The statement about the crocodiles made us more angry. She has not
given us what we wanted in the first place, the Irish language act. When
she said crocodiles, what did that mean to you? That she thinks of us
as animals. An Irish language act is very important to us. We just want
what they had been promising for ages, equality and Irish language
rights. Have you heard enough? People should respect us no matter
what our age because we still have human rights. We had more meaningful
things to say the most adults! Do you reckon? I think we should give
them a round of applause. That is for the kids and the other kids. We
mean it when we say we will reach out to young people of all ages and
try to bring them in to this BBC programme and once again we
appreciate everyone in this studio and everyone watching tonight. Let's
empower young people to have a voice. John, when you hear that
authentic voice, the 12, 13, are telling them there anything that is
called an Irish language act is unacceptable to your party? No, I'm
saying it would be nice to know what would be in the act and what we have
seen up until now is guesswork. Nothing has been put forward. The
idea there would be a High Commissioner that would conduct
which an stop... The Commissioner Rob... We need to take decisions.
And the problem is we are rubbish at taking decisions. There are all
sorts of options. The Commissioner is there to give advice and guidance
to help them engage in people who want to speak and Irish, but what
Calvert said is important. Here he sees this as an attack on culture,
but shouldn't be. In Belfast, where they originally opened that orange
for, many members spoken Irish. It was part of parcel of a shared
culture. We should embrace and celebrate it. Beside the place where
I live, there is an Orange Hall. The Irish language was there before. We
are allowing them to embrace it. I do not see what the problem is. The
foundations of the Irish language was promised in the Good Friday
Agreement but we do not have that. The Department of Finance
figures, 3.5 million. If Jonathan speaks
to his negotiators... No, no, across all Government,
not one department. Well, the Department
of Finance figures are In Scotland, it cost 5 million
and 3 million of that goes That includes Government departments
and we believe that local Government In Scotland, much of
the money goes towards Are you telling that young
man his figures are wrong? Well, you don't
understand the figures. Do you want to
patronise him any more? Do you want to
respond to that yourself? There is a politician
sitting there you don't understand. You're saying it's only
going to cost 2.5 million? I mean, the Gael League
came out and said that over the next five years, it
was going to cost 19 million and I, personally, think that
that underestimating it. Well, you should join
the talks because the UUP and DUP have been at the talks and the
figures at the talks and the most cogent figure is the nationwide
organisation which has presented its They say it will cost
2.5 million a year. So are you making
a commitment on behalf of Sinn Fein tonight that
you don't want any funding Because what I actually
said was that the Department of Finance
estimate was 3.5 million. So why would you want more than that
if you're standing by the figure and telling
him he's wrong? Well, he's wrong in his
estimate of Scotland. What I am saying is
that the estimate that I think is an accurate estimate is no
more than 3.5 million All right, listen, loads of people
in the audience tonight... No, let's go into the younger
audience tonight again. And we'll go to
the young lady in the We live in a culture
of fear and I'm putting it to all of you that there is no
big scary monster against your Irish language in the same way
there is no big scary monster against your British
identity. So, why do you need to pack money
into your Irish Language Act or pack money into your parades
instead of investing it in more an Irish Language Act,
I've made that very clear. You can't compare an Irish Language
Act to the parades, I'm sorry. Stay with this, stay
with the young lady here. Where is the parading organisations
looking for funding? Well, they've had
money all those years. I'm not putting the Irish
language and parades on the same level, I'm just saying
they're both about identity and they both seem to be all our people and
all our Government care about when they should care about far
more important things. We were promised
an Irish Language Act. I want to know where
the money has went for that. I want to know why our
culture is being used as a weapon by all parties,
not just green and orange. It's being used as a weapon
and it's being undermined. Dolores Kelly, is there not better
things in Northern Ireland in terms of priority to spend
whatever money we've got? If we think about the health
service, if we think about the education of our kids
and roads, do we really And you're talking about
the Irish Language Act That doesn't get you
out of the question. I'm not getting out
of the question, Stephen. I actually do believe it's important
for Northern Ireland to move forward, to actually recognise
our shared history and future. Do you agree with the
3.5 million figure? You see, Stephen, we cannot set
a figure on it because the Irish Language Act is part
of the talks and part of the talks will actually hopefully come
to an agreement about what
an Irish Language Act is. The talks have been
going on for ages. To just come back on what you said
about the division. See here especially,
as you all are aware, Irish language speakers
are entitled to health care and we do use schools and we do
use education, like. So the Irish language is away
way of uniting people. Once we get past that,
then we can start to move forward. I know Jeffrey earlier
was saying that due to The reason we have no Government is
because of the absence of respect. The arguments that
we're getting here about the money is a false argument
because we don't have the content agreed so you can't budget
until you have the content agreed. And the second thing
is, in City Hall last week, there was an agreement made
that there would be an Irish It's going to cost
a maximum of ?18,000. The other half was going to be paid
by Foras na Gaeilge. There was going to be money
invested in the Ulster Scots language and there was going to be
money given to newcomer languages... Unionists voted
against it, all of them. It was ?18,000 maximum spend
in a council with a huge budget. They voted against it
not because of money, but because they will not allow
this to move forward. We're great at putting forward
the problems, The Irish Language Act
is a solution, Calvin! Why not try to benefit
as many people in society? Why not include things
like Ulster Scots, Irish and parading so that we open it up
to as many people as possible? We can deal with those
things, Calvin. You talk about respect
and equality... Why do they have a Gaelic
language act in Scotland? Let's see where you want to see
Ulster Scots and parading. We're out of time.
We're out of time. If you are 21 or under
and want to have the biggest voice in
the country, apply now. Right, let's have a look
at our last question tonight. Does Northern Ireland need
to stop living in the past? Listen, the amount of money that
goes into investigations We can't move forward
with our future until we look at the past
and I think it's important. What you see this argument,
particularly coming from a more traditional side,
is that they say there is some kind When there are laws such
as their were during Bloody Sunday, we have
to investigate them. The Saville Inquiry
was a justified spending of money to prove that there
was misconduct on the part of the British Army and collusion
within the British Government and it's right
that we look back at the past because unless we fix and look
at where the blame lies in the past, Thomas, I absolutely
agree with you that you cannot dispense
with justice and we have to look at this
over a time period and try and then, after we've done that,
to move Northern Ireland forward. But what I would say
to you is this - there are over 3000 unsolved killings
in Northern Ireland. At the moment, it is undeniable
that the focus is on a small number of those killings,
mainly by the state. Despite the fact that
the state were responsible for less than 10% of all deaths
during the Troubles. The problem I have,
Thomas, is that I have constituents, The problem I have,
people who lost loved ones, who have been waiting
for decades. Decades for justice, for someone
to investigate the murder of their loved one and there
But why did the DUP block 56 cases going to
be investigated that would have got justice...
You did last year. You did last year.
The DUP, as I understand it, at the Executive blocked the
So how is that going to get justice for the people?
And those people have been waiting 45 years and more for
Because, Aoife, I do not believe there should be a
And therefore, I'm not prepared to see a
small number of cases given priority and priority funding whilst
thousands of families are waiting for the opportunity.
But we're going to have to start somewhere to move
We're to start somewhere to move on together in a society.
We can't have this orange and green all the time.
Well, how about starting with the IRA and what they did,
Well, what about the British Government collusion as well?
They murdered more people than anybody else.
We have to accept both sides did have their runs.
There is an old saying, an old proverb, that who
ever forget the past is blind in one eye.
Whoever focuses on it totally is blind in both and I think that's
totally prevalent when it comes to Northern Ireland.
The legacy issues are for everyone to see.
We have the worst mental health in the entirety
of the British Isles because of the issues that we have.
We have victims, tens of thousands of
victims, from the Troubles and we can't forget about that.
But, John, are we giving victims false hope because
there's very little chance of prosecutions
because the evidence is gone.
We see time and time again that evidence can come to light.
If victims want hope, there is an opportunity.
Why close all the I do think what is frustrating, as Jeffrey
highlighted, less than 10% of all the killings in the Troubles were
committed by state forces, yet they account for 70% of all of the
It feels at times but there is a victim...
Do you really think, Dolores, that everybody's
I mean, I see too many vested interests around the table
from former paramilitaries and from the British Government in terms of
I don't think the process is doomed, but I do believe
that commitments were made to victims and survivors back in 1998,
especially when prisoners were released and, in fact,
that anybody who would be subsequently prosecuted
would only serve a maximum of two years.
I do think many victims, and I speak to many of the individuals
and organisations recognise that they're not likely to get justice,
And there is a wailing cry for the truth
But you don't think they'll get the truth.
Well, I don't think they'll get the whole
I do wonder whether they'll get the name
of the person who pulled the trigger or the name of the people...
You know, I think they'll get some truth
around who was responsible and the organisation...
What's the point of getting the information if its not
It is important, because the truth...
You just said you don't think we'll get the truth.
Well, you asked me a straightforward question,
I'm asking you a straightforward follow-up question!
I'm telling you, there's a lot of vested interests.
We've already seen the defence committee at Westminster
In response to what Jeffrey was saying, I think it is of vital
importance that we get to the truth of, you know,
all of the killings, but especially those committed by
the state because I think there's a principle
at stake for the health of our democracy
that we need to know exactly what the state did in terms
of its murders, be they in incidents like Bloody Sunday or or
in terms of their collaboration with terrorist organisations.
Naomi, our state killings more important to be
I think that they have to be investigated on
exactly the same basis and help to the same
I think we expect more from the state than
we expect from paramilitaries who, obviously, set out to break the law
We expect those who are there to enforce the law to hold themselves
The important thing about this, Stephen, is there
is a difference between dealing with the past and is living in the past
and what we have to decide as a society is when we are going
to deal with the past in a way that allows us
to live in the present and look to the future.
If we don't do it now, we are offering victims false hope.
OK, let me go to our older audience this evening.
Let's get the lights up on the older audience here and we'll see...
My name is Sean, my father was murdered along with ten other
Jeffrey has based a campaign for ex-feds to be given an
immunity, an amnesty for breaking the law.
As Jeffrey know, he was an ex-serviceman himself,
who looked down the barrel of a gun, you make a decision yourself.
There is no way of saying that it was a moment of madness...
My question is why would you want somebody who wears a uniform
to get amnesty but you still call for other people who were
involved in the Troubles to be jailed?
Well, we're not calling for an amnesty.
What we have said is that in those cases
where investigations have taken place previously and where people
have been told they have no charge to answer
to that there should be a statute of limitations
and this is something that is prevalent
Would you set a time limit after which it
I'd just like to say, they're all going on about going for the
At the end of the day, in this country, the IRA
They are actually immune from prosecution.
See the HET, the majority of it is Loyalist that
There you go again, bringing back the green and orange.
Regardless of who you think started the war,
justice must be served for all cases.
Hold on a minute, hold on a minute, there is someone at this top
Give her the courtesy of listening to her.
With respect, I know I'm young and I didn't live through the
Troubles so I'll give back to the older people,
But regardless of who started the war or whatever, in
OTRs. In any case...
Why are the OTRs not being brought to justice?
I just think that we need to accept as society
that there was a fragile past, but we are going to have to
move on together at some point because we're going to be stuck in
this position for God knows how many years now
and we're going to have to work together.
Just don't go for one part of society.
No, I emphasised that both parts of society need to move
I know the question was relating to legacy, but there
are people here tonight is living in the past.
And I want to say, with the maximum of respect, with the maximum of
respect, that living in the past isn't going to cut it any more.
Whether it's discrimination against people at this table because they
speak Irish or discrimination against gays who want to get
married, discrimination against ethnic minorities,
or it's trying... CHEERING
Or it's trying to turn back the clock.
Because I lived through that horror as well.
I lived through it and I saw people dead in my street.
I have to say, I mean, I've said it before,
Victims deserve justice if it's available.
There needs to be some form of truth to come out.
But it seems too often that the focus is on state forces.
I am all for, if crimes were committed, then
they should be looked into, but the fact that the focus
Young man on the side of the table wants to speak.
Well, Stephen, I live in a community that has seen
many people's lives absolutely destroyed by terrorism.
And I interact with people on a regular basis
whose families have been torn apart.
So, for me, I think that we are past persecution.
I think the Good Friday agreement has completely
Imagine being the family member of a victim just
thinking they're not going to get justice.
Yeah, and I think it is horrendous and terrible, but I think
for us to start on the process of moving forward and bringing a
conclusion to the past, we need an apology.
From people that engaged in criminality and terrorism
You know, you're talking about respect for
ethnic minorities and respect for people
from the gay community and whatnot.
What about the respect for the victims of people...
Darkley Gospel Hall, where people worshipped,
met together to worship God, and were slaughtered because of it.
So, are you willing to show respect to those people?
You're talking to me, so let me answer.
We need respect for all those victims who died.
When we show respect, Calvin, when we show
respect, John's mother was shot by a British soldier.
So we have to show respect to him as well.
And our duty to all those that died is to create a piece which is
And let's see Sinn Fein take the lead on that
by apologising for what the IRA did and the campaign of 30 years of
ethnic cleansing and terrorising one community in Northern Ireland.
Stephen, the difficulty is that we are in danger of using
the past and other people's hurt as weapons in an argument
And I think that's a very dangerous thing to do.
I have sat in rooms with people who have
lost family members and their seeking out of the truth and
everything else has replaced, as a campaign, the last
They are still grieving for that loss today and we cannot be
dismissive of that is, but we also shouldn't
use their pain to try and
inflict political wounds on each other.
OK, so, John Stewart, what is the solution?
Well, first of all, one of the most frustrating things
that I find is for the victims over 20 or 30 years even waiting
I find it extremely frustrating that we cannot
yet agree on the definition of victim.
It is very clear to me, Stephen, and to everyone else that a
victim is someone who has suffered as a result
And if they were an innocent victim, they should be
I believe if you walked out with the intention of causing
devastation and murder and as a result...
It was a complex situation, was it not?
The people who suffered, the people who
are living with debilitating injuries.
One of the most compelling arguments came from Alan McBride,
whose wife died in the Shank Hill bombing.
And he said, the people who planted that bomb for him were not
But he said their family hurt like his family.
And we need to bear in mind that the relatives
are not responsible for the actions of those who died.
Aoife, do you think that those families of paramilitaries also
I think families on both sides, we're going to have to accept the
past. It happened. But we have to move on at some point together and
yes, the families need justice but it is not just the paramilitaries'
families, is the families that were hurt by things like Bloody Sunday.
We are going to have to accept and be able to understand that there
were grievances, but we are going to have to move on. How galling would
it be for some people who tried to abide by the war and they now in
2017 C paramilitaries and their families potentially getting support
from the state's how galling would that be for law-abiding citizens? I
think that all cases, paramilitary are not, should be looked into.
Should be given focus. Another thing, a la people are saying, there
was a word here, and people have different viewpoints at the table.
You can't just put it down to one. I think we're seeing certain people
undergo a campaign of a rewriting programme in Northern Ireland where
we equate terrorism to security forces. Now, for me, there is a key
difference. Those... Can I finish despite? Those that were engaged in
paramilitaries, they were intent on destroying the fabric of Northern
Ireland whereas the security forces stepped between, stepped on place
between those in Northern Ireland, civilians in Northern Ireland to
protect our and societies. Katie-Rose, Katie-Rose... No,
Katie-Rose go. People will good against what you're saying. It's not
about views,... But you think that's just should be served in those
cases? It's not an orange and green matter. There were specific cases,
OK, I'm not saying that there wasn't wrongdoing by maybe specific members
of the Armed Forces... Goes by very quickly, Thomas. When David Cameron
stepped forward as a result of the inquiry and apologise for the
actions of the British Army, that was a huge moment for Northern
Ireland and brought our community together and that was a crucial
thing. Investigations both sides bring our community together.
Dolores. I think we need to deal with the past in order to build
reconciliation and needs to be honesty around it and there are
people actively engaged in rewriting the past, but there are many
families still waiting on truth and justice and I am sorry, but that it
forces have two be held to a higher standard. Very quickly, John. I get
the feeling that for some people, it would be easier if people just
disappeared over the years and this would just drag on until there was
no one left to remember the past and that is a sad state and alluring.
Geoffrey. We need to deal with these issues, but I agree with Aoife. We
need to reach a point where we think about the future and the future is
you guys and I think I speak for all of us on the side of the table, we
have been highly impressed by your contributions night. It warms my
heart, Stephen, that we have young people, articulate, knowledgeable,
capable and will be the next generation of leaders in this
country. We can take this country so far, our generation but it is your
future. On our promise is that we are going to try and reach out to
you wherever you are in Northern Ireland. If you want to be at the
top table, contact us. Thank you very much to everyone in the studio
's night, the politicians and youth here at The Top Table. Well, there
will be plenty more discussion in the weeks ahead of next month's
General election. You can find details of the candidates running on
BBC website. We are out of time, but what has happened here tonight
really shows there is real passion for politician amongst all ages.
That is rejoining us, good night. -- thank you for joining us.
We're really in it up to here this week.