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tv   The NI Leaders Debate  BBC News  June 7, 2017 12:00am-1:01am BST

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you would not get a free nhs available at the point of contact. there is so much we stand to lose if we leave the uk. so i am passionately unionist but i agree this election is about more than just the union. it is about health and education, it is about getting stormont up and running again quickly. we are prepared next monday to go to stormont and form a government without preconditions because the people we represent want us to get on with governing northern ireland and provide political stability. but if everything is under the shadow of the constitutional question, people won't believe that you are interested in all those other things. that is not what they are staying on the doorsteps. the doorsteps that i have visited, and there have been thousands of them in this election, yes, they want to see stormont up and running again but they are talking about health and members of their families waiting 18 months for operations. they are talking about schools funding. i'm sorry, but these are important issues to people on the ground. yes, the union is important and i'm passionate about it, and staying in the uk.
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but i also recognise, as someone who has been a member of parliament for 20 years, that the people i represent also want to see their politicians dealing daily with the bread and butter issues. is it a danger, as the question suggests, that this is seen as a referendum? i think it is notjust a danger, i think it is a wasted opportunity because people are voting in the election this thursday to choose people who can then go and represent them in westminster, be an effective voice their concerns but also people who will support the re—establishment of the institutions at stormont which is hugely important and that is the issue that people focus on, and not the issue of the border question but it is fed by lazy politicians, not by the public. jeffrey is right, when you ask people what worries them, what is keeping them awake at night, it is not the border question, it is the fact they can't get an appointment to see their gp, the fact the hospital waiting list is longer than it used to be. it is the fact they are not sure they can make ends meet
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and what they are not doing is worrying about the union but i have to say it is a bit disingenuous to say on one hand that those are the things that worry people on the doorstep, if almost your entire campaign is built around the border question. so i think people need to take responsibility on this side of the table for actually putting out the issues and the manifesto commitments that will actually make a difference to those other issues, and that is what we have been focused on when we have talked about progressive politics. it is about more thanjust the border question. it is actually about talking about how we deliver a fair and more just society and those other things we are committed to talk about in every election. applause colum eastwood 7 the question was, was this a referendum on the union and it isn't. this is a referendum on who is going to be in government on thursday and friday. i know who i would like to be in government. i would like to see a labour government, probably a progressive alliance that the sdlp would support. we don't want to see another tory government.
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are you ready to be disappointed? i hopefully won't be disappointed. what you are seeing in the polls and everything is things are narrowing. the question you asked about health and education, if we have another conservative government, we will see more and more squeeze on the health and education budget. a tory government, can you imagine trusting them even more with your health service? i don't trust them. i don't want to see them back in government, which is why we are going to go, if we are elected, on friday, monday, tuesday and wednesday, and vote against a tory government, stand up against them. of course, with the dup, they will support a tory government and john's party won't do anything at all. in fact, their vote will be like a proxy vote for the conservatives because they won't turn up, that is the truth. john o'dowd. the record shows that the sdlp mps don't turn up monday, tuesday, wednesday and thursday, maybe every other wednesday and thursday. their attendance rate is nearly as bad as ours and we are proud abstentionists. 78%, mark durkan, 80% for margaret ritchie and 38%
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for alasdair mcdonnell in the 2015—2017 session. you have to get your facts right. millions of pounds in expenses, they don't claim it, they have not taken them in the last parliament. excuse me. but i wanted you to get your facts right, that is all. but i'm correcting colum eastwood, they don't turn up apart from every other monday, tuesday and perhaps the wednesday. that's not true. in terms of the question, the constitutional question is important because it is about how we govern ourselves and what we see as our future and how we want to do it. i don't recognise the state that jeffrey talks about where there will not be a health service, where you have to pay 50 euros or £50 to see your gp. it's called the republic of ireland. that is a fact. applause we want a new vision for a new ireland. i want a health service across the island of ireland.
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i want to see a health service delivered free at the point of use. asjeffrey's party and other parties who would be involved in the governance of that new ireland want to see a health service, want to see health care free at the point of delivery, then that is what we can achieve, so we don't want to see two failed statesjoin together. i want a new beginning with services rights protected in law, where our lgbt brothers and sisters are equal, where people's language rights are protected and their cultural rights are protected. this is a westminster election. the question is why is the constitution involved. it's because partition has failed. nine decades after partition, it has failed so let's look for an alternative. let's's look towards a society we can all be proud of, a society we can all be part of and a society, and this is the most important thing, where our rights will be protected in law. applause robin swann, is the constitutional question lower down your priorities than that of the dup? andrew was asking about health
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and education and specifically the well—being of the people of northern ireland and the important thing is to get the northern ireland assembly up and running again because that is where those problems are solved. applause that is where four of the five politicians sitting round these benches can get back and working and after the 8th of june, we have three weeks to do it. this election is being fought on three issues, i think, the constitutional position of northern ireland within the union, on brexit but also on the restoration of our devolved assembly and that is the important thing. we need to get out and try to work together as the five parties that are here, to get the institution up and running on the 9th ofjune. with regard to our position in the union, john has said northern ireland is a failed state but we are far from it. i think northern ireland is a great place to live, a wonderful place to live
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and if this election is about our position in the union, i'm proud unionist and i'm glad we are there but what we have to do for the 18 mps on thursday, we need the 18 mps to take their seats at westminster, who will argue northern ireland's position. two years, while brexit is being triggered, that is a crucial time for northern ireland but more important is the three years after that, where we position how northern ireland actually works and how we get the devolved and further devolved legislation back to the northern ireland assembly. let me go back to andrew and see what he things about what he has heard. andrew, are you convinced that this is not a referendum? i'm convinced it's not a referendum but it is a shame to hear some of the politicians still indicating that it is. it sometimes seems like the assembly elections and the council elections, westminster, they are all put over partially as referendums on the constitutional question. whether it is meant to be or not, that is how it comes across. it is disappointing because, you know, there are so many other issues.
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with westminster, who is going to form the government, how is northern ireland going to have influence? what is the foreign policy going to be? there is so much more we can talk about than the issues we have talked about for the last 18 years. geoffrey donaldson, another quote from arlene foster in the manifesto, there is a need to counter the nationalist surge, of course, the nationalist surge in the assembly elections in march which brought sinn fein within 1200 votes of the dup as the largest party in northern ireland. that kind of rhetoric is exactly what andrew is complaining about. i don't think it is, it's because gerry adams has said, "this election is a barometer for a border poll". so sinn fein regard this election, that if they do well, they will go to the secretary of state and ask for a border poll. i believe a border poll would be very destabilising. therefore, we have to respond to that. we can't sit on our hands
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and pretend it isn't happening. and yes, we are saying to the unionists, you need to turn out and vote, and why? because the union is important to pay for the health service, to pay for our schools, for all the public services. but they did turn out in march, you got 250,000 votes. and we are pushing for a greater turnout in this election and we will get it. and john o'dowd, whatever the result of the election, you will still push for the border poll? yes, we will campaign for the referendum because as i said earlier, partition has failed and we need to move forward to an alternative and we see that as an agreed ireland, a new ireland where unionists, nationalists, republicans and others have their rights protected in law but when jeffrey donaldson talks about the union being important, economically, i'm happy to debate it because this idea we have a subsidy, everyone in this room pays taxes and they leave these shores and go to the treasury and then they send some back. let's have the debate on that. you get 10 billion back.
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but why don't the treasury release the figures in terms of corporation tax and how much corporation tax is leaving these shores, how much income tax and all the other taxes citizens pay? let me just make this point. quickly. who is the union important for? whose is the nine rights, to lgbt communities, ethnic minorities, language speakers, all those rights are in britain but if the union is so important, why don't we have those same rights here? a couple of people from the audience. just tojohn o'dowd, you said partition has failed so do we take that to mean you have given up on negotiations to start the assembly again? no, no, we see ireland in transition and the assembly as part of that. i believe the assembly and the executive is the way forward. i would much prefer to see ourselves governing ourselves. we will have our disputes and arguments but when the executive was working, it was working well for citizens here so the assembly is an important part of the democratic process. i will stop you because everyone needs to get involved. sinn fein say partition has
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failed but the truth is, the real failure people are talking about to us on the doorsteps is the failure of the main parties to be able to re—establish the executive. applause people gave both of those parties a mandate to do that back in march. and we are still sitting without an executive. hold on, john. we are still not in a position to get the executive reformed. i don't believe the problems are insurmountable if people are committed, but the more you listen to what people are saying in this election, the more you doubt whether the main parties here are actually committed to re—establishing devolution. i understand we will talk in more detail about that later. colum eastwood, please. we can get the assembly back up and running, if people are up for understanding that there are people here who are irish and they aren't going anywhere, that this is the only part, if you think
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about it in a purely unionist term, this is the only part of the uk that doesn't have marriage equality, the only part of the uk that doesn't have a minority languages act, but all of those things can be resolved. but i don't think there is anything wrong by the way with having a constitutional position. i have one. and there's nothing wrong with it and sometimes we talk about it as if it's a bad thing. we shouldn't be afraid to have that discussion. let's have it in a democratic and peaceful way, the kind of ireland i believe in is one where we build up northern ireland, where we eventually have a united ireland, we work towards that but we need to use the northern ireland assembly and the institutions... do you like the sound of that, robin swann? no, on the counter. i like the sound of unionism i am presenting and it's a positive progressive unionism that can work with colum eastwood and naomi long and john and jeffrey to bring about a northern ireland that delivers for the people of northern ireland. there is a positivity, there is a unionism now coming out that shouldn't be seen as purely orange and green and that's something that's coming out
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through this general election. we are seeing scottish candidates standing as unionists, welsh candidates standing as unionists. because there is a change, there is a revitalisation in what is the united kingdom at this minute in time because of brexit and how it's going to redefine itself and where we are going to position our self. we are going to move on to our second question, from john, a business development manager. who isn't complicit in terrorism, how do we address the causes of terrorism? 0k. this is referring, of course, not least to the events of the terrible events of the last few months, two attacks in london and one in manchester two weeks ago. naomi long, do you feel complicit in terrorism in some way, in any way? no, i don't. and i think that it's unfair to suggest that when people take decisions to inflict violence on other people that in some way you can blame circumstance for that. i think that's a very different conversation to the one which looks at, for example, how people are radicalised and how we intervene to prevent that happening. ultimately, i believe
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in personal responsibility. there will be many young people who grew up in the same community as me, some of whom chose to get involved in paramilitary activity, and some of whom didn't. often we had the same upbringing, the same experiences but made different choices, you have to be accountable at the personal level for the decisions you make. but i think we have to be willing to have the wider conversation about what it is that leads people to feel such despair and worthlessness in their lives that they're willing to risk, in particular the cases that we have seen recently in places like london and manchester, they're willing to squander... is it always despair and worthlessness? it is a sense of pointlessness in many cases, if you look at the typical people who have been radicalised, they're often people who are loners, who don't socialise well, who find themselves isolated and get a sense of purpose from being involved in organisations, a sense of importance, and a sense of purpose. we need to look at that very
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carefully, look at the circumstances as to how they've become radicalised, listen to young people who have become radicalised and have turned away from that and find solutions. so, it's not as simple as saying we are all complicit but we are all responsible for finding the solution and we can't deny personal responsibility, we have to hold people to account for their own actions and it's right we should do that. but at the same time as a society we need to make sure that the values that we espouse, we protect that, we don't allow those who want to drive wedges in our community to do it, because we know here in northern ireland better than anyone when you start to divide communities it is fertile recruitment ground for those who want to dehumanise others and that is right across... on that very point, thank you, on that point, john o'dowd, the republican moment espoused and practised violence, what do you think we have to learn from that, are those lessons you want to learn? well, the republican movement wasn't
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on its own in terms of violence in this conflict. i am asking for your own movement. i am not answering for any movement, i am answering for sinn fein, an elected party. i am sinn fein, mla, standing as a candidate in the westminster elections with a significant mandate. are you denying your past? no, but you are being... i am puzzled as to why you would... no, you are asking a loaded question. when you go around the rest of the members, particularly of jeffrey, will you remind him of his udr past... i am happy to do that. i am proud to say, what about you, i can stand here and say i am proud to have served my country in the ulster defence regiment. can you say the same? thankfully, i never served, i was harassed and threatened and my neighbours were murdered by the ulster defence regiment but i never served with it. the question is a legitimate question from the audience member. in terms of how we move beyond what is happening in london,
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how we move beyond what is happening in manchester, there is no justification for what we have seen. sorry, there is still terrorist violence going on in northern ireland today. it's notjust looking at london and manchester and paris. we witnessed that in bangor. we can come to that discussion, but in terms of manchester and london there is no justification for those attacks, there is nojustification for bangor. in terms of the outcry from world leaders, world leaders are going to have to ask the question, their actions in the middle east, their relationship with saudi arabia, who is arming terrorist organisations around that region, those who funded the creation of isis, those who created the climate of fear and despair in the middle east which is spreading across europe, have to ask themselves was the invasion of iraq the right thing to do at the time, despite the warnings about it? is there continued relationship with saudi arabia the right thing to do? are we going to have to change our policies across the globe and take
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into account the harm western nations are doing in the middle east and other parts of the world and resolve those issues in a peaceful democratic way, rather than this phrase of war on terror? because war on terror means death of civilians in the middle east and elsewhere. robin swann. john needs to remember libya also supported terrorism here in northern ireland, as well. but are we complicit in terrorism i think is the question. we are complicit in we don't stand up against it. we are complicit if we don't speak out against it and do everything that we can to inform the intelligence service and to inform society that what is being perpetrated, what is being promoted is not acceptable in any circumstance. we need to do that and coming back to naomi's point, young people don't always have the choice and that's why we see dangers through radicalisation of young people and that's where i agree with theresa may and her agenda to tackle that radicalisation at root cause because if we can get young people and get them a purpose,
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that isn't going down the valley of destruction and death, that is terrorism, but we can focus those energies into the creative citizenship they need to be, and that complicitness is something we all have to challenge. it's that complicitness i think that we have the ability across society and it's across the world and across each individual‘s core sense of purpose, we have to challenge terrorism by supporting our young people to make sure they no longer see those terrorism activities as a valued opportunity for a way to destroy life or destroy their own lives. jeffrey donaldson, we talked tojohn o'dowd about republican violence. the loyalist communities council has endorsed three dup candidates
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in this election, will you unequivocally divorce yourself from that endorsement? yes. 0k. we have been very clear, we do not accept support from anyone who is engaged in paramilitary or criminal activity. there is no equivocation on our part... there was for 15 minutes on talkback today. it took 15 minutes to get to the same point today that you reached straightaway. that is not true. that's progress! we will take no lectures from the alliance party. the alliance party washes it hands and says it doesn't do this and that and yet as you know your colleague chris lyttle meets regularly with the people that you are now condemning. yes, he does. no. no, he doesn't. we will take no lectures from sinn fein either. there is a difference between meeting people and having them endorse your campaign. even...
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one at a time. even donald trump said he didn't want the ku klux klan... one at a time, please. let me speak. thank you. we want to work with those who want the paramilitaries to leave the stage. we will continue to do that. we will continue to do it with the lcc because we have got to get the loyalist paramilitaries off the backs of the communities. you won't do that by standing back and lecturing people and passing judgment. you have to engage. you have to go and talk and sit and persuade people to do this. would you talk to isis? i don't see any point in talking to isis because they're not interested in any democratic transition. i will tell you what i would do and it goes back to the question asked originally. we have a watch list, the security services in this country, of people who are already radicalised. it's too late for these people. why do we continue to allow these people to remain in our midst when they represent a serious threat to the security of our country
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and to the safety and well—being of our citizens? why do we have to always wait until innocent people and their blood is spilled on our streets before we do something about this cancer in our midst? ok, colum eastwood. we are at it again. the question was about terrorist attacks in london and manchester. it wasn't actually, it was about how do we oppose terrorism and its causes? the world is talking about london and manchester. it's a broader question. we shouldn't be trying to find a way to fight with ourselves again about what happened in the past. let's focus on what's happening in britain. we need to not have an overreaction. not curb human rights. not go for a big security response. we need to speak to those young people who are open to being radicalised, go to where they are. we also need to understand the context of this is also, it's not the only reason, but it's also the fact that the british government along
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with other governments, including the american government, have gone to places in the middle east and destroyed countries. now the sdlp go to westminster, speak against that, vote against that, we are part of the movement in westminster to stop ill—thought out attacks and air strikes in syria, that's what you have to do, you have to go and speak up and vote against those types of things. that's how you get things done. john o'dowd, you wanted to come back. they didn't stop it in westminster. we did. we stopped the attacks in syria. i fully agree with anyone engaging with loyalist organisations to get them to leave the stage. but the dup and uda relationship is not about either leaving the stage. it's about both of them dominating the stage. the dup used the uda during elections... nonsense. that is complete nonsense. just take a look at this photograph, john, which is of your colleague mairtin o'muilleoir who is the candidate in south belfast, standing with someone i think you will recognise.
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someone very close... we can't see, you better tell us. there it is. you know, so, when john lectures us... it's jackie mcdonald. when we get lectures from sinn fein there will be a story in tomorrow's belfast telegraph that the shankill bomber responsible for the murder of nine innocent people on the shankill road is out campaigning for sinn fein in this election. can you imagine sean kelly, the shankill bomber arriving on your doorstep? sean kelly is out canvassing to promote politics in the peace process. the uda and dup relationship is about remaining centre stage. the dup used the uda for elections, the uda used the dup... how did we use them? they're canvassing at the moment. nonsense. endorsing your candidates. can ijust... he has rejected any such endorsement. colum eastwood, do you share john o'dowd's view?
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it's astonishing that we have a uda—linked organisation out promoting candidates in this election. i am glad now... it was set up byjonathan powell, the right—hand man of tony blair. that's fine. i am glad now thatjeffrey has said unequivocally he doesn't want their support. it took him a long time to do that and thankfully they're there. i issued a statement immediately on it. look at some of the things that went on in government around red sky and everything else, it's about time all of us step away from those types of people. all of us challenge them to move away from the types of activities they're involved in. i am not sure that's happening. i want to go to the audience. applause. a young lady in the back row. sorry to interrupt the bickering! i want to highlight this is a general election, not an assembly election. i want to go back to naomi long's point, she mentioned how we need to talk to people who have been radicalised. i think that's a good point. we need to recognise this isn'tjust
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an international problem, a foreign policy problem. this is a domestic problem. this isn't a migration issue, this is people here in our country being radicalised and brainwashed and they are being radicalised to do things like this in manchester and london. it's important to highlight that we need to talk to our own people and notjust focus on deporting people who you think are guilty. there was another hand there. she asked the same question i was about to ask. just on that. there was someone who was radicalised and works to provide counternarratives to those islamist terrorists who wish to radicalise young people and it's hugely important we use strong voices like that to provide a counternarrative and to provide an alternative voice for young people who perhaps through reasons of despair and lack of hope actually see this as a way of gaining some notoriety. he is a classic example of someone who can do that effectively and he is that's voices we should be capturing.
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thank you for that. now moving on to the third question from michelle, a volunteer coordinator. my question would be, what are each of the party leaders going to do to ensure the best possible deal for northern ireland post—brexit? ah, the brexit question, of course. colum eastwood, arlene foster said that before the pause in talks in northern ireland for the general election, the parties were close to agreeing the eu exit we wanted to see. is that your interpretation of what was going on? it is hard to know because the dup came to a lot of meetings and did not engage in a lot of them, but i did see some hope in the brexit stream of the negotiations. we have said from the outset we need to have special status for northern ireland. that means using the good friday agreement. it is great now we have the european union agreeing the good friday agreement has to be protected. that comes from a lot of the work
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we did in the brexit committee and a lot of work mark durkan did in the brexit committee in westminster, even though the committee is full of people like michael gove and everything, who wanted to leave, we still got it through. but we have to use the good friday agreement, the thing called north—south institutions, we can use them to have special recognition and status, customs union access, single market access for businesses. that is what we can do and it's very possible. that is why we proposed the motion in the assembly, that is why i've been travelling around europe, meeting with sister parties and we have 190 meps, eight commissioners and eight prime ministers, that is why people are listening to us in northern ireland. we would be better if we had a government here to make the case and i would love the dup to come to that position but it is unfortunate, the dup were absolutely complicit in trying to drag us out of the eu and young people and people in general in northern ireland voted against that vision for the future. it was a nationwide referendum. applause. robin swann, many of those things could have come out of your mouth.
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your manifesto talks about no hard border, ensuring the best deal for brexit, assurance for those in receipt of eu funds, and the common travel area but for you, a special status is the back door to a united ireland? that's true because as colum says, northern ireland's position is recognised in the good friday agreement by the principle of consent. that is where we have to locate the argument. special status, i believe, is something the republic of ireland should be looking for so that they can continue their trade with northern ireland and gb. 70—80% of the trade coming out of ireland... wouldn't special status for both be better? we don't need it. northern ireland, as part of the uk, is leaving the eu as part of a uk wide referendum. the uk entered the eec as one nation and it will leave the european union as one nation. article 50 has been triggered so the most important part of it is the 18 mp5 of northern ireland going across to westminster and arguing our point.
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the best time that northern ireland ever gained out of europe was when the three meps, john hume, ian paisley and jim nicholson, were in europe, arguing on behalf of northern ireland. the best deal northern ireland will get out of leaving the european union is when they have 18 mp5 sitting on the benches of westminster, arguing our case as northern ireland plc. do you find it hard, jeffrey, to argue for the best brexit case when you wanted it? no, not at all. in fact, i believe that brexit, the uk will thrive as a result of having, for the first time in decades, the opportunity to enter into new trade agreements with many countries. the world has changed dramatically since the european union was established. i think the uk will do well. but you want to leave the biggest market in the world.
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no, 73% of the goods that leave belfast port go to great britain. the idea that this country is dependent upon the european union... northern ireland is inextricably linked to the rest of the united kingdom. that is where our future is. we sell far more goods to gb than we do to any other, all the other countries. but you would close down access to the biggest market in the world, 500 million people. we are part of the fifth most successful economy in the world. sixth since brexit. they want to take us out of that to join an economy that has been stagnant in the past. hang on, your manifesto talks of easing of trade with the republic of ireland and the eu, no internal uk borders, maintain the cta, so you are in agreement with the rest of the parties on those major issues. we are absolutely. you know what we need more than anything else? we need an executive formed to speak for northern ireland. we need our own government, and with all due respect to naomi, who gives covering fire to sinn fein, but let me nail it here, next monday, we will beat stormont, ready to form a government,
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no preconditions. will you join the executive? the alliance abandoned power—sharing executive last around. no we didn't. she speaks of the need for power—sharing but she was not part of it. you are clearly out of touch. will you share power with us? you are clearly out of touch with what happened last time because we have made it clear we will share power with any of the parties. i haven't finished! do you want to come and stand here? will you help us represent northern ireland ? he does not want to talk about it. leave the restoration of the assembly for one minute. i'm quite sure we will come back to it. we will need to because we need to clarify what he said about us. you will have the opportunity. john o'dowd, what will your party do to ensure the best possible type of brexit deal for northern ireland?
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this is why this election is important because parties will be seeking mandates for the negotiations to follow, not only in relation to the important issue of the executive but also to the very important issue of brexit. and when sinn fein gets a strong vote, dublin, london and brussels sit up and listen and it has been shown that when sinn fein has a strong mandate and we go to negotiations... you don't want to use your mandate. big deal. we're talking about using your mandate, he talks about the good friday agreement. colum eastwood walked away from the north—south ministerial council which we brought proposals to, along with the dup. you have abandoned the north—south ministerial council, the one body that would bring the two parts of this island together to try to work through brexit and you have abandoned it, left it, john, you have left it, abandoned the executive, left northern ireland
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without a voice, you are not going take your seat in stormont or westminster. applause the north—south ministerial council put together proposals around brexit. the sdlp did not turn up to those meetings because they abstain from the north—south ministerial council. that is nonsense, no, that's nonsense. we were in the negotiation. let me finish, you have made an accusation. i will let you come back. the executive was putting together proposals in addition to dealing with the worst aspects of brexit but it was not a solution and the sdlp abstained from that as well. in terms of where this is going next, this is going to be negotiated in the european parliament and sinn fein has the largest delegation of meps from the island of ireland. it will be negotiated in dublin and the dail, where sinn fein have members. and in london, where sinn fein don't take their seats. but not in westminster, it will be negotiated... no negotiation will take place in the four westminster. bringing in colum eastwood. i'm glad sinn fein go to strasbourg and the european parliament.
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i don't think they shouldn't go, they tell me we should not go to london but they sit in a fringe group in the european parliament, with people like the communist party of bohemia and moravia. this is your influence in the european parliament. applause we have 190 meps, in my alliance, and i meet with the leaders almost every month. you sit with a bunch of communists, what is your influence? when you have a big mandatem you tell everyone about, you don't go and use it. the idea you would sit out this election, win this election and not use your mandate means when people panic about brexit, you won't go and do anything. and what could happen because of that? we will see again a prime minister who wants to bring in a hard border in ireland, a hard tory brexit. that is what she wants but you won't go and count against them. we will be there to count against her and try to get a labour government. applause
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first of all, i think you have seen why it is so difficult to get an executive restored, when you get hectored constantly. jeffrey does not want to hear what actually happened at the time. i'm listening. that's good to know, but you do that with your ears. i'm listening. applause when it comes to the executive, we did not walk away, let's be very clear. we saw the writing on the wall for the executive. we saw the imminent collapse. and you walked away. i'm going to give you a chance to talk about that in a moment but i want you to talk about brexit for this question. you will have every opportunity. i have to because of what was said before. but in terms of brexit, it is hugely important we get the right deal. we have to still have access to the uk market but we also have to deal with the issue that any kind of hard border, any kind of differentiation in terms of customs or access to the customs union will have a devastating impact
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on northern ireland. much of our business, the agri—food sector, the health sector, and many others, are dependent on the cross—border trade and cooperation. if we lose the opportunity to have access to the single market, to have access to the customs union, then we damage the very businesses we are building our financial and economic success on, that are going to grow the jobs for the future and give us opportunities. we need to get a good deal. we need to get a good deal — it's in everyone's interests to do that. i am still not convinced that brexit is a good decision but it is the decision that has been taken. my concern is it is a marginal decision in the uk. the country is split. i think a wise head, as prime minister, would choose to take a slightly softer approach, to try to bring people together, to try to find a compromise that lets her stick to the referendum result but at the same time hold onto those key issues which are crucial for economic future.
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she is going for a recklessly hard brexit and she has been aided and abetted every step of the way byjeffrey and his colleagues. isn't that a negotiating stance? it is not a very good negotiating position when other people in europe are dismissing you because simply what she's doing is ignoring the reality and it is not creating the kind of certainty which will allow people to go ahead with investment in business, that will allow people to go ahead and plan for the future and that is what a prime minister or to be doing. i'm going to bring in the audience, the lady in the blue jacket there. i'm listening to all the plans and everything, in terms of protecting the status quo but what are we actually doing to invest in our companies in order to prepare them for hard brexit if it actually happens? you know, what are we doing? there is no discussion about how we are helping companies actually prepare for the investment. because to build trade in the far east or in other, you know, economies outside the eu will take five years. but it's not going to happen here and now.
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this gentleman. i can't think that naomi entertaining the idea that brexit might be good or might potentially be a good decision. it will be a disaster. i did not say that. you said you were not sure if it's a good idea. i said i was not in favour, i'm still not in favour but i'm a democrat. it is an iceberg and we need to change course. i agree with you. culturally, it is a threat to us all, a huge threat. it has to be opposed. the lady in the front. i think it is laughable that jeffrey is continually saying that we need to trust the voice of the majority. you don't trust the voice of the majority who want marriage equality, the 56% in the north who voted to remain and the young people in this room and elsewhere who voted overwhelmingly to remain as you don't reflect the rights of the majority here. applause there are a couple here.
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brexit is happening whether we like it or not. why can't you sit down at the table and get on with it because we need the best deal. one more. i've probably knocked on as many doors asjeffrey and i haven't heard anyone talking about the issues that you two have been bickering about all night. what they are worried about is issues like we heard before, schools, doctors, and the health service but also, they are interested in the real brexit issues you have not addressed yet, so could you perhaps move on and answer the lady's question properly? we don't have time to go through it again but i will ask robin to address that. linked to... are we investing in the right places? do we have a plan at all? no because you've listened to what the two main executive parties are doing and bickering here today. nine days, 11 days after the election, theresa may will start negotiating brexit, if she continues
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to be prime minister. where will we be? still sitting around the table trying to reform the executive. that is what is wrong. and when you can see how these two gentlemen perform tonight, if that is how their parties will perform after the 9th ofjune, and the other parties try to get stormont and running again, i am despairing we will have any support. it brings us nicely to the last question which comes from tara, an architect. a lot of people are fed up with politicians passing the buck and blaming the other side when things go wrong. bearing this in mind, does your party bear any responsibility for the current impasse at stormont? i will go straight to naomi because i promised you a chance to talk back to jeffrey who accused you of walking out of the assembly. let's hear it. we put forward proposals nine months ago. we didn't qualify to be in the executive. we were asked if we would consider taking on thejustice ministry. we had been in the previous executive, sat there with two
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ministers and i think they had done an excellentjob. but what we discovered as time went on was that the dup were coming — more difficult to work with, they weren't respectful of their partners in government. so we weren't with a set of proposals, with five things that needed to happen. five things that i have to say had they happened would have prevented the collapse of the executive this time. because they would have dealt with things like the abuse of the petition of concern, the lack of respect between parties, more collectivity and all those things. but we were basically drummed out of the first and deputy first minister's office to the sound of fists being banged on the table to tell us no. so, at the end of the day there is only so hard you can push against that. we took a responsible decision to go into constructive opposition and that meant supporting the executive on occasion, where they were doing the right thing and holding them to account when they weren't.
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you have addressed that. the question is do you bear any responsibility for the impasse, do you feel responsibility? no, i don't feel any responsibility for the impasse because we have been at the talks, we have provided constructive solutions to the issues. we have sought to bridge the gap, often gaps that exist between other parties that would not be a barrier to us going into government. i say this, we may not bear any of the responsibility for the collapse, but we absolutely want to bear the weight of work that has to be done to get the executive re—established. thank you. john o'dowd, any responsibility for sinn fein? yes. go on. sinn fein brought down the executive because corruption was at the heart of government. £500 million of public funds being wasted on the now infamous rhi scheme. we offered arlene foster a way out, we asked her to step aside for four weeks. while these allegations were investigated? while allegations were investigated, yes. allegations of corruption. not corruption, allegations. allegations of corruption, ok, noel, if that keeps you happy. we asked her to step aside. and the courts. let me finish.
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she refused to do that, that brought the only circumstances that could have happened in any democratic institution. the institutions collapsed and we went to the people seeking mandates for all. now we have a responsibility to do, and yes, we have a responsibility in this, is to get those institutions up and going again with the equality and respect and integrity at the heart of government. given that the rhi, this is the renewable heat initiative for viewers on the bbc news channel and bbc parliament which was incentives given to businesses who employed renewable technology, renewable heat technology, that's in the hands of an inquiry, a judge. what's to stop you going back in? as jeffrey donaldson said, we will be there on monday, will you? there are outstanding agreements that need to be implemented. those agreements came as compromises. we compromised on issues, others compromised. now those compromises have to be implemented because despite what the other parties are saying, you don't get everything you want when you go into a power—sharing executive into a coalition, you have to compromise. we compromised in the past,
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other agreements were supposed to be implemented, they haven't been. now's the time to implement. robin swann. we took hard decisions to get the institutions up and running at the start. we despair to see the positions we have been put into. sinn fein collapsed the institutions, i believe, for opportunism. they saw the opportunity and took it. applause. you... you have had your chance, john. you will have a chance to respond. i did chair the public accounts committee, that investigated the rhi. john, let robin swann speak. you will have a chance. when it comes back to restoring the institutions there needs to be a mindset, there was accusations made to naomi going into opposition. we went into opposition after the last election because we thought there was an opportunity actually to bring mature politics into northern ireland where we could have a government and an opposition. but what happened was that sinn fein and the dup couldn't actually maintain the relationship of proper government and that's another reason
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the executive fell. to get up and running again we need to see changes in the institutions. we need to see reform of the petition of concern. we need to see our ministers accountable. and that will do away with a lot of of the scandals, when the ministers take responsibility for their decisions that they do in other legislators. jeffrey donaldson, your manifesto, priorities for deal to restore devolution, will it increase support for northern ireland's position in the uk, is it consistent with n! remaining a full integral part of the uk, is it compatible with citizenship, will it result in better government... that sounds like a lot of red lines. it doesn't, noel, because that's in relation to an agreement. we are saying why can't we negotiate and we did before, we had a functioning government and executive and assembly and we negotiated in parallel with that. i agree with you, on the doorstep — it worked in the stormont house agreement, colum. we were in government
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and we were negotiating. it happens all the time. i am sorry, whenjohn says the only option people have is to pull down a government, the same scheme in great britain has overspent bya fargreateramount than the scheme... but nobody has brought down the government. in the end political stability is important. it's what people need. i repeat, noel, on monday, we will go to stormont if the other parties willjoin us, we will have the assembly. we will form the executive with no preconditions. in parallel with that, while we are getting on with the business of delivering for people on public services and the things that really matter to people, we will negotiate these other things. we are not going to run away from negotiations. but why are others running away from government? that's the big question. we take responsibility. we will go in, we will help to govern and we are looking for partners to do that.
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i am looking around this table and i am asking the question, who willjoin us on monday to form a government? colum eastwood, will you be there? if arlene foster had taken responsibility last christmas we wouldn't be in this mess. well, she didn't. what we need to do now is focus on the future. we have a couple of weeks after this election to get things back up and running. i think we can. we have put in proposal after proposal after proposal to get things moving. if we change one thing, the petition of concern, to make sure it's not a block on rights and it's there to protect rights, we can have marriage equality, an irish language act, all those things people want to see happening. maybe. all of which we said nine months ago and no one else would expend any political capital whatsoever in backing us, not sinn fein, not the sdlp, not the ulster unionists and the dup. this was an sdlp policy from the very beginning. it was in the good friday agreement. petition of concern being reformed was not written into the good friday agreement, with all due respect, that's a ludicrous proposition. we have been talking about reforming the petition of concern since it was written badly.
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nobody backed us up. let's get moving on how we can solve our problems. the biggest problem we are facing, injuly who's going to be running the health service, the economy in northern ireland? theresa may potentially. do we want that happening? if it does happen, we need people to go and defend the rights of people here and make sure we don't have a tory party destroying our health service. the secretary of state has said you have 21 days after this election. we will be there on monday and every day and we will work with whoever we have to get things up and running. he want to be in government, we wanted to be in government last year by the way but people wouldn't negotiate back. absolutely. the other opposition parties can tell you that's exactly what happened. nobody walked away, people wanted to be in government, they weren't able because no one would negotiate back. we were faced with arrogance. applause. let me take some statements from the... with the likes of schools and so on, we have received letters to say budget cuts, possibly up to 6%, because the accept can't be forced. as voters, we don't get value
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for money for yourselves because the fact you have wasted so long arguing, you are getting paid to be there. why not money reinvested because we want to see return for what you are doing for us and based on tonight all you are doing is arguing and it's worrying. this gentleman in front. yes, well, it seems to me that any elected representative should go and vote on issues, they should represent the people. sinn fein aren't doing that. i would like to think that all parties are going to go to westminster, they're going to sit in the assembly, they're going to represent the people they're going to vote on important issues and not duck hard decisions. 0k. any others? what would a re—established stormont do for the 19505 born women disproportionately affected by two increases in state pension age by up to and including six years with little or no notice? that's a very specific question. it's going to be something dealt
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with at westminster. it's something that... it already went through westminster and you didn't stop it. it's been going on sometime... if i could answer the question. the boys can argue amongst themselves. the issue here is about women who have not had the time to prepare for the changes to their pension. there is a movement within westminster to try to get that changed. i have to move on from this. it's not really one for this forum. thank you for it anyway. it's about bearing responsibility and who do you think bears responsibility? i think the parties that were in government, i think the dup and sinn fein have created a mess. it's really on you guys to sort out this mess, the mess you created is impacting all of us horribly. as been mentioned before, the health service, the education, are all suffering.
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it's up to to you to sort it out. on that point, i am going to tell you that i am being told on the doors by the electorate i am visiting and knocking doors across a wide range, not to go back into the executive until it's sorted out, rights, equality and integrity at the heart of government. that's a clear message i am getting on the doorsteps. applause. but you are not knocking on unionist doors. unionists will have different views, i go along a row of houses... what do you say to them? i say i am a sinn fein candidate seeking your vote. when they say that to you... in terms of? when they say don't go in, what do you say? we will be back in negotiations and seeking rights on equality and integrity at the heart of government, that's the mandate we got at the last election, if we get the same mandate we will continue to see that. they're not saying what about my hospital appointment and kids‘ schooling? they're not saying that? i am telling you now the message received loud and clear on the doorsteps is don't go back until it's sorted out.
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what message are you getting, jeffrey donaldson? you are right people wanted mess sorted but the only way you do that is being in government, then you have the power to sort out the mess. you are the only ones who can put yourselves back in government. we are not, we rely on other parties, it is power—sharing. actually you don't. i find the irony of ironies, we have sinn fein here tonight saying we don't want a tory government, we are against a tory government. and they're prepared to hand over the reins of power in northern ireland to that same tory government because believe me if we don't get stormont running, directs rule from westminster and the tory government is what you are facing and you are responsible for handing that power back to them. it's your responsibility? i think the dup and sinn fein both have already handed back power to westminster. it was called welfare reform. what we can do is sort our problems out. we have already said this, i don't actually understand, jeffrey, why the dup, who believe in the united kingdom, are afraid to see marriage equality, for example. it's already in everywhere
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else on these islands. why are you afraid to see a languages act? we have one in scotland, we have one in wales. there is one in the south. what is the problem with it? why don't you embrace that as british diversity, however you want to do it and accept that we need to move things forward. we can no longer get stuck with all of these things happening. people are concerned about health and education. are you afraid of those things? noel, the place to discuss these is at stormont, the problem is we don't have a stormont at the moment. there are a lot of things i could ask you, are you afraid of the british flag i am proud of because you keep taking it down? are you afraid of my british identity, because you keep diminishing it? why culturally are you trying trying to deny me and the people i represent... we have to end the programme on those mutual accusations. thank you very much. that's where we must draw the northern ireland leaders‘ debate to a close. you will find a full list
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of candidates where you live on our news website. thank you to our guests. to our audience. and of course to you at home for watching. from the bbc northern ireland leaders‘ debate, good night. the weather cause all kinds of problems on tuesday. a number of serious accidents caused by strong winds in southern england. over 60 mph ina winds in southern england. over 60 mph in a number of places, bringing down a few trees and causing those problems. the pressure responsible still there in the wednesday but the winds slowly easing over the next 2a hours. this is how we started the day on wednesday. we are still talking about inland gales. outbreaks of rain across eastern areas, dry and brighter in the west. whether in proving. winds easing and
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afair bit whether in proving. winds easing and a fair bit of sunshine to go around as well. through wednesday morning, across southern counties of england, temperatures pushing into double figures fairly recently. gusts of 30 mph across southern counties, perhaps stronger around coastal hills. closer to the area of low pressure. any areas will start the day with sunshine across the east vico cloud with persistent outbreaks of rain affecting eastern scotland in particular. flooding affecting parts of eastern scotland as the rainfall totals continued to accumulate. a fair bit of dry weather through the rest of the day. the next weather system will be working major in the day. outbreaks of rain pushing into these areas as we head into wednesday evening. overnight, more wet weather across
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england and wales. scotland should state the the rain through the night. for thursday, low state the the rain through the night. forthursday, low pressure firmly in charge our weather. more waiting in the wing as well. quite settled spell in the moment. thursday, a spell of rain across england and northern ireland. rain had been to become slow—moving as it works in two southern scotland through thursday afternoon. brighter further south and east but still quite a bit of cloud around. friday looks like a better day. the dry, more in the way of sunshine, a few showers of spotted across eastern areas of scotland. sunday the better of the two days of the weekend. hello. i‘m babita sharma in london — the headlines. more questions for the uk‘s security services — as it emerges they were warned about the third london bridge attacker.
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he‘s been named as 22—year—old youssef zaghba. french police shoot a man outside paris‘s notre—dame cathedral — after he attacked officers with a hammer. also, president trump claims credit for the blockade of qatar by some of its gulf neighbours. he says it could be "the beginning of the end" for terrorism. and hidden for 600 years. the mediaeval aqueducts helping save southern india from drought.
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