16/01/2017 BBC Newsline


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There's to be an Assembly election on Thursday March the second.


It was called at teatime by the Secretary of State exactly


seven days after Martin McGuinness resigned as the Deputy


James Brokenshire called on the parties to establish it as soon as


possible. No one should underestimate the challenge faced by


the institutions here and what is at stake. It is inevitable that debates


will be intense, I would encourage the parties to carry this election


with a view to the future of Northern Ireland and re-establishing


a partnership government at the earliest opportunity after that.


This is essential to the operation of government and means all must


Remain open to dialogue. Two parties that pledged to make a Fresh Start


are now deeply divided. Our political correspondent charts the


day. We've had political break-ups at


Stormont before but not quite like this. Arlene Foster and Martin


McGuinness's relationship has been in meltdown for months and today


this was reduced to ashes. This is the moment their separation was


rubber-stamped. One was prepared to stay and the other wanted out. I am


nominating Arlene Foster to be the minister. Thousands of people said


it in the country and we, as the DUP will decide who the leader of our


party is, not someone else sitting in this chamber. Sinn Fein have


honoured all agreements, we have striven to make these agreements


work, Martin McGuinness has acted with integrity, dignity and respect.


Moments later, Martin McGuinness left the chamber, leaving many to


wonder if he'd played his last political hand. Whilst Arlene Foster


faced up to her next challenge, blaming Sinn Fein for sending voters


back to the polls. They've forced an election which risks the stability


and future of Northern Ireland and suits nobody other than themselves.


They will take every vote for them as an encouragement that they can


bring down the Executive whenever they don't get their own way,


whatever the cost to Northern Ireland, again and again and again.


Today we've called time on the behaviour of the DUP. We've done so


because we can no longer accept how these institutions were being


treated with contempt, and the DUP treat the public with contempt. Sinn


Fein and Martin McGuinness have stretched ourselves to the very


limits to keep these institutions working but have been let down by


the behaviour of the DUP, the imposition of Tory policies and the


inaction of the Irish government. The heated exchanges continued


inside the chamber as Sinn Fein withdrew its motion of no-confidence


in the speaker Robin Newton. In a bizarre twist, the chamber was left


without a speaker when Lord Morrow refused to take any points of order


and left the chair. The Deputy speaker was drafted in. I'm going to


suspend the Assembly because of the absolute mess we've arrived into to


take some advice. There are a lot of questions to be dealt with in a


serious manner without tomfoolery that has been happening here. That


was not the only piece of business taken off the agenda, the plan to


reduce the cost of the flawed heating scheme was adjourned until


next week. The class of 2002 new about stop start politics but this


will be a new experience for the MLAs leaving Stormont not knowing


when or if they might return. As they know, collapsing institutions


is the easy bit. Bringing them back and rebuilding trust is the real


challenge and that is the test awaiting our politicians on the


other side of the election. As for other political parties, this was


their reaction to today's events. The people of Northern Ireland


should be extremely disappointed and angry by the developments that have


culminated in the inevitable collapse of this mandate after just


eight months. I would encourage them to express that anger and


frustration by coming out to vote next time and not staying at home.


They've had ten years of the DUP and Sinn Fein ruling us from Stormont


Castle. You need no more proof that they are incapable of working


together. We told people these parties could not deliver. We told


them we need a programme for government. Sinn Fein did not


listen. The DUP did not listen. It only took seven months of proper


accountability and opposition for this government to collapse. The


only thing the public have voted for in the Good Friday agreement is that


these institutions should work. Now we need people who are willing to be


transparent and accountable. They want to be elected to the Assembly


and do the work on behalf of the people. Eight months is a disgrace.


Earlier tonight in the Assembly the former Enterprise


Minister Jonathan Bell of the DUP addressed MLAs.


I believe these matters can be investigated. Alongside the very


first piece of information given to me by the DUP special officer that


you will not be allowed to reduce the tariff on the scheme because


Timothy Johnson, special adviser to the then First Minister and Jon


Ronson, the director of communications to the DUP, and the


special adviser to the economy minister, have such extensive


interests in the poultry industry that has not been allowed on the


agenda. I have the information, I have kept the records in many


formats. This party has suspended me for telling the truth whilst I give


the deputy leader all the information about the people sitting


beside them and bind them of much more serious offences. We've had


response to that from Timothy Johnston and from the special


adviser to the economy minister, Simon Hamilton. Mr Johnston said, I


have no family connections to the poultry industry...


The current Assembly comes to an early end without agreeing


a budget for the start of the new financial year in April.


A senior civil servant has warned that could lead to a huge


range of difficulties, particularly for the health service.


Earlier I spoke to our Economics and Business Editor John Campbell


about what will happen with no budget in place.


It is what David Stirling was trying to spell out today, he initially


stuck an optimistic note -- struck. He said we have a few weeks to put


an Executive back together and agree a budget just-in-time before the


start of the financial year in April. That means he is probably


more optimistic, and if it cannot be put together... He will immediately


have access to 75% of the budget, so he sought to reassure them he will


have that cash at hand and public services would continue to operate


even if there is not a government or a budget agreed. What does that mean


for the running of the departments? Even though he was reassuring people


that the cash would not run out he said it was still a very


unsatisfactory situation and his precise words were, if there wasn't


a government in place for a period of time, say a couple of months,


that would pose a huge range of difficulties in a wide range of


areas. He gave a specific example of the Department of Health and he said


the quality of services they depend on the pattern of spending, in other


words, the Department of Health, huge department, they need to have


certainty at the start of the financial year so they can plan


their services so if there is no budget in place, that will cause


difficulties to services that are already under pressure. There is


also a difficulty with rates bills. Setting rates is one of the powers.


There is a piece of legislation which allows the government to


collect rates, the taxes levied on businesses and households. If there


is no power to collect those then what happens? There is a contingency


plan in place. Usually they are collected over a ten month period.


It could be possible that you could get them in May or June. That is the


initial plan. If there's no money coming in, councils rely on them. He


said he could make it work for a couple of months. He emphasised it


could only be a short-term solution. If this runs on later than June or


July they will be in a real budget crunch. If there is no Executive in


place then a direct minister would step in and impose a budget.


You've News of an important phone call. Theresa May and Enda Kenny


spoke on the phone. Both parties say they are very concerned about the


direction politics is heading in Northern Ireland and they've urged


all sides to show respect during the campaign because there is a concern


in London and Dublin that gap between Sinn Fein and the DUP will


widen considerably the selection and that will make it more difficult


when we get down to the negotiations. In regards to the


practicalities of what will happen in Stormont before election day,


take us through that. We have our date of March the 2nd and we know


that the institutions, the Assembly will be devolved on January 26. The


business will continue in the chamber until January 25 and they


will wrap up ongoing as this, so to speak, by the 25th of January. After


that date, the ministers will still be in position and behind their


desks, running there are various departments. That will continue to


be the case until the eve of the election. We will have the election,


the MLAs are elected, how soon, given what you heard today, will be


Executive be back up and running? That's a massive question and not


too many pundits will have the answer. They would love to know how


it will play out. We do know there will be a three-week period for the


first and the Deputy First Minister to be elected. After that, we are


into unknown territory. It will be up to James Brokenshire to make the


call. We may see prolonged negotiations continuing between the


parties because we know the gap is so weighed between Sinn Fein and the


DUP that it may take some time before we can put things together


again. Seven days since Martin McGuinness announced his


resignation. You mentioned in your report about his political career.


Do we see the end of it today? Do we see Malcolm McGuinness playing his


last letter got hand? He seemed a lot stronger today, health-wise, and


speaking to him, he was pleased with where he was with his health. But he


has to decide whether he puts his health before politics. We are


expecting a decision on that. That needs to be made because the


election is now up and running. There will be 90 MLAs selected after


the election day. I presume they are all vying for position now within


parties as well. 18 MLAs are facing the prospect of redundancy from a


very good job, a job that pays ?50,000 a year with quite a generous


expenses package. These are politicians who thought they were in


a job for the next five years and here they are, seven or eight months


later, facing the electorate and 18 of them will not be coming back, we


know that pressure. We have a journey ahead of us, that is mature.


There is more on those developments on Stormont today at 11:20pm.


In other news now and two years after the death of a 13-year-old


Fermanagh boy following a playground incident, a former pupil


at his school has appeared in court charged with manslaughter.


Our South West reporter Julian Fowler was at the hearing


Oisin McGrath died after an incident in February 2000 15. France's


McDermott was in sixth form at time. The 19-year-old is accused of


unlawful killing. The family were in court and listened as the defence


solicitor said he'd been asked to express continuing sympathy to them,


saying it had devastated to families. The solicitor said Francis


would carry the memory of what happened in the schoolyard with him


for the rest of his life and said he had been instructed to minimise the


pain that the Justice process will have for the McGrath family. The


judge said the sentiments were laudable in an extremely difficult


set of circumstances. France's McDermott said he understood the


charges. He was released on bail for ?500 and will appear at Crown Court


next month. Efforts to stop the closure of a GP


practice in Portadown have failed. Someone who it was thought may be


able to take over the Bannview Our Health Correspondent


Marie-Louise Connolly reports. At one time, there were four


full-time GPs working from this practice, caring for 5200 men, women


and children. A vital health club in the town, over the years, as GPs


retired, they were not replaced. Despite the warning signs, the last


remaining GP resigned saying she could no longer cope with the


pressure. Nearby practices told the BBC they were overstretched and


unable to take on patients. It was left in the hands of the health and


social care boards to sex. A contractor had been fined late this


afternoon and it emerged that GP had withdrawn from the contract. The


health minister said the move was extremely disappointing and she has


called for an urgent meeting with the health and social care boards to


ensure patients receive high-quality health care. They added that the


health care will manage the practice until a contract is appointed. It is


not ideal that locums could be in charge of running a health centre.


Patients who are older, especially, require somebody who knows their


medical history. Unless problems are addressed this could become a


familiar story. The weather forecast, and here are the details.


We have a quieter week, apart from spots of rain we are looking at dry


weather. Rain has been moving through, it will clear away to the


east, and in the second part of the night it turning drier but we are


left with the legacy of cloud. Quite a bit of hillfort in places.


Temperatures will not be lower than 7 degrees. Tomorrow, apart from the


odd spot of drizzle we are looking at dry weather. Some low cloud over


the hills and it will be a dull and grey start. Similar across the


Republic of Ireland. Quite a brisk wind in the Northwest. Mainly dry.


Further south, southern Scotland and northern Wales seeing rain and to


the south of that it is mainly dry. The sun will come through after the


frosty start. Temperature is not much above four or 5 degrees. Milder


conditions, in fact, double figures. We are looking at 10 degrees in


Northern Ireland. Generally speaking, more cloud than sunshine.


I pressure of the dominant feature. Not a lot of sunshine. We are


looking at a fair amount of cloud. Mainly dry. Temperatures are


tapering down. That was BBC newsline. A fresh election has been


called for Thursday 2nd of March. The power-sharing Executive


collapsed, sparked by the renewable heat scheme which could cost


taxpayers nearly half ?1 billion. Good


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