BBC On The Record - Broadcast: 13.10.02

==================================================================================== NB. THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT; BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES, OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY ==================================================================================== ON THE RECORD RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE DATE: 13.10.02 ==================================================================================== JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. Tomorrow, barring a miracle, Northern Ireland will return to being ruled directly from Westminster. Then what? In this programme I'll be talking to the political leaders who will decide how Northern Ireland is to be governed in the future and whether the Peace Process can survive. We'll also be looking at whether the taxpayer should fork out for political parties and is the Government having second thoughts about changes to the Mental Health Act dealing with people who might be a danger to others. All that after the News read by Peter Sissons. NEWS HUMPHRYS: Mental patients are more likely to be a threat to themselves than anyone else. But what do we do about those who might harm us? We'll be reporting on the Government's dilemma. And who should pay for the political parties? The taxpayers? I'll also be talking to leaders of the main political parties in Northern Ireland as the Good Friday Agreement faces its biggest crisis yet. But first a quick look back at last week's big political stories. HUMPRHYS: Iain Duncan Smith wrapped up last week's Tory Conference by telling his Party it had to change and telling the public that it is changing. That was his consistent message but only on the QT. IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man. HUMPHRYS: Apologies for past Conservative misdemeanours were much in fashion, the Party Chairman Theresa May went on to accuse some Tories of behaving disgracefully and it got worse. THERESA MAY: There's a lot we need to do in this Party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us - the nasty party. HUMPHRYS: So leopards may be able to change their spots and it helped sell shoes too. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have apparently resolved their difference over hospitals by agreeing how much freedom the best will have to raise their own money but it's said plenty of differences remain between them. And Mr Blair took his crusade for a tougher United Nations resolution on Iraq to Russia. President Putin dismissed his evidence against Saddam Hussein as propaganda, but did not rule out supporting some sort of new resolution. And Labour was accused of using the black art of spin again this week, when academic researchers claimed their website showed an Orwellian disregard for facts, our old friend, lies damned lies and Government statistics. And of course the other big story was Northern Ireland. JOHN HUMPHRYS: Tomorrow the Northern Ireland Secretary will announce the suspension of devolved government in Northern Ireland. The province will be governed directly from Westminster. It's happened before, but they managed to strike a compromise then and eventually put the Peace Process back on track. This time it's hard to see how that will happen. The immediate cause for the crisis has been the discovery that Republican spies have been operating at the heart of government in Belfast and that they've been collecting details about men and women who work in the prisons - where they live for instance. The implications of that are chilling. The Unionists have said Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, is not fit to be in government and should be thrown out of the Northern Ireland Executive. But that would need the support of the SDLP, the Nationalist Party that's always been against the use of violence and they won't give that support. Their leader is Mark Durkan and he's in our Belfast newsroom now. Good afternoon Mr Durkan. MARK DURKAN: Good afternoon John. HUMPHRYS: You accept the suspension is inevitable, I suppose, the right thing to do? DURKAN: Well, I'm realistic about suspension but I am not at all fatalistic about the Agreement and I think we can't afford the cooling off period that some people are talking about. I think we have to move firm and we have to move fast to show that we are in the business of getting back to business in Devolution and then fulfilling the Agreement. We can deal with the underlying confidence issues, we have to deal with all of those that are there and they are not just in one direction but we should also round up the different aspects of the Agreement we haven't yet implemented so that we are coming back with things that are bigger and better than they have been. HUMPHRYS: But as we speak it is the can't see an alternative? - suspension is the only way to go? DURKAN: Well the fact is we will not vote for the exclusion of anyone in circumstances where we don't know what the full evidence is. That's not to say that there isn't a serious case for Republicans to answer, even in relation to these recent allegations because clearly somebody, somewhere was putting a lot of information on getting a lot of material together and that has caused further disquiet to many people coming on top of the whole series of events involving the IRA or alleged IRA activity. But we also, as we have opposed exclusion, we know that it's no more tenable for us to vote to exclude Sinn Fein than it would be really for the Ulster Unionist Party to stay on in the Executive indefinitely in these circumstances and we know that Sinn Fein isn't going to resign as David Trimble has asked them to do. Now, in those circumstances I don't see how we can sustain things as they are. There will be suspension but let us make sure that people are very clear, Devolution might be suspended, the Agreement is not suspended. The Agreement is sustained, the two governments have to continue to implement the Agreement in ways that fall to them and there has to be an all-in exercise and an all-out effort by the pro-Agreement parties to deal with the underlying issues and bring the Agreement back. HUMPHRYS: As you say, David Trimble called this morning and we have heard it before, that...for the resignation of the Sinn Fein ministers in the Executive. Do you think, does the SDLP think they should go, resign voluntarily? DURKAN: Well, even if they did resign voluntarily to prevent suspension, we would still have to deal with the underlying confidence issues that are there.... HUMPHRYS: ...sure but do you think they should go, that's the first question. DURKAN: ...and those arise because of the continued existence and continued activity of paramilitaries and we all need to be in a position where we have a much clearer and better and more reliable understanding that the Agreement means a future without paramilitaries and that means Republicans being able to articulate that the Agreement means a future without the IRA and the Loyalists being able to articulate that it's an Agreement that it's a future without all of their paramilitaries. HUMPHRYS: I take that point but the question is - do you think that they should now, to save this process, at this stage, talk about what follows later, of course, but do you think that at this stage, to save it, to keep the Unionists in, they should resign, those ministers should resign? DURKAN: Let's face it, even if they did resign, that of itself doesn't actually solve the problem, any more than other people who have said that the SDLP should vote to exclude Sinn Fein... HUMPHRYS: the answer is no, you don't think they should resign? DURKAN: ...I don't think they are going to resign... HUMPHRYS:, I'm asking you whether you think they should? DURKAN: Well, let's deal with the real politick of the situation, the reality is I can't see ministers, Sinn Fein Ministers resigning. We have already had the Unionists Ministers threatening to resign. We can get into a whole finger pointing exercise here and people will say it's the SDLP's fault for not voting to exclude, it's the Unionists' fault for demanding that there be exclusion, it's the Unionists' fault for threatening to resign, or it's Sinn Fein's fault for refusing to resign. The fact is that the underlying issues aren't to do with who is ministers and who is not ministers, the underlying issues are because there is not sufficient confidence because of the continued resistance and activity of paramilitaries and there are wider confidence issues now because of this instability in the institutions. People on the Nationalist community are lacking confidence on what is the real intent and motive on Unionism at this point. So let's deal with all of those issues, in what falls to us during suspension and not continue the silly spat on who should or shouldn't resign at this point. HUMPHRYS: Yeah, but what is not a silly proposition is that you, the SDLP could vote for the exclusion of Sinn Fein. Now as you say, unrealistic to expect them to resign, I'll be talking to Mr McGuinness later and I am sure that he will not leap to do so. But here we have a party, by your own admission, that has a serious case to answer, clearly the IRA appear to still see itself at war, in one way or another, you have it within your power to say we will vote to exclude these people who are pursuing things that we do not like them pursuing from the Executive and yet you won't do that. DURKAN: Well we don't see first of all that that would actually resolve the underlying problem and sustain and recover the Agreement in the way that it should be. We also know that where there are a lot of allegations and I think some of those allegations seem to be serious and more information may emerge to add to that, but the fact is that we still don't have evidence. And so, I note that Sinn Fein are saying they have no involvement in anything, have no knowledge, they are not actually saying that there was absolutely nothing going on. But we can't afford to have a situation where people are saying that some sort of on-going level of activity by the IRA is somehow allowable, as some sort of occupational therapy for hard men. We are very clear that it is not. There is no acceptable level of paramilitary activity, either inside the political domain, or outside. But we want to hear Unionist politicians being as concerned and as exercised about the vicious violence continuing from Loyalist paramilitaries as they seem to be about the allegations against the IRA. HUMPHRYS: But as far as the IRA is concerned, you say and Sinn Fein is concerned, you say there is not enough evidence to satisfy you. The fact is there is enough evidence to satisfy Dublin, who themselves were wholly opposed to suspension but have now agreed to suspension because they think that there is a very strong case there. And yet you are saying you are not satisfied with it. DURKAN: No, I have said that I accept the case in these circumstances for suspension... HUMPHYRS: Then why do you not vote for their suspension? DURKAN: No, for suspension of Devolution... HUMPHRYS: Quite so. DURKAN: There's a difference between exclusion and exclusion vote under the Agreement and suspension of Devolution. HUMPHRYS: Quite so, what I am putting to you - okay let me us clear.....what I am putting to you is that if you believe that there is a strong case and you certainly seem to be suggesting that. Then it seems odd to many people that you do not vote for the exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive. That's what I am putting to you. DURKAN: Well, I believe that there is a strong case and I believe that Sinn Fein can't continue to say that the allegations are comparable with the DUP getting some leaked documents or that this is all a put-up job by Unionists who don't want to share power with Catholics. I don't think that things can be dismissed in that way. But equally, let us be very clear, if we are talking about dealing with the underlying issue, if we are talking about upholding the Agreement and it was the SDLP was the party who negotiated inclusion into the Agreement, it wasn't Sinn Fein who put forward the idea of an inclusion of Executive appointed .... It was the SDLP, it was I who drafted and negotiated and stuck with that whole proposal whenever people were offering all sorts of alternatives. Now having done that then, when it was just a good idea and a good on concept, do you think we are going to turn our back on it now, whenever it has actually been proven to work and has been mandated by the people in a Referendum. HUMPHRYS: Mr Durkan, thanks very much indeed for that. JOHN HUMPHRYS: So...a very clear message there, the SDLP will not vote to throw Sinn Fein out of Northern Ireland's Government. That is what the Unionists are demanding. So the suspension of the whole thing - executive and assembly - seems inevitable. The hardliners in the Ulster Unionist Party have been warning for a long time now that Sinn Fein is not fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement which led to devolved government. At the last meeting of their Party's assembly they forced their leader, David Trimble, to take a tougher line. It seems they've been vindicated ... but once they've taken it apart, will it be possible to put it together again? The hardliners are led by the MP Jeffrey Donaldson and he's in our Belfast studio. Good afternoon Mr Donaldson. JOHN HUMPHRYS: So...a very clear message there, the SDLP will not vote to throw Sinn Fein out of Northern Ireland's Government. That is what the Unionists are demanding. So the suspension of the whole thing - Executive and Assembly - seems inevitable. The hardliners in the Ulster Unionist Party have been warning for a long time now that Sinn Fein is not fully committed to the Good Friday Agreement which led to devolved government. At the last meeting of their Party's Assembly they forced their leader, David Trimble, to take a tougher line. It seems they've been vindicated ... but once they've taken it apart, will it be possible to put it together again? The hardliners are led by the MP Jeffrey Donaldson and he is in our Belfast studio. Good afternoon Mr Donaldson. DONALDSON Good afternoon. HUMPHRYS: Do you support suspension? Do you believe it is the only way to go now? DONALDSON No, I don't think it's the only way to go. I think that what would have been more preferable would have been for the SDLP to join the other Democratic Parties in voting for the exclusion of the party that is in default. I mean it's a sad indictment on this process that all the people in Northern Ireland and all the political parties are going to be punished now by the government because of the misdemeanours of Sinn Fein IRA. We all suffer because one party has failed to honour its obligations under the Agreement and has failed to make the commitment to exclusively peaceful means. HUMPHRYS The reality is that they are not going to be thrown out obviously. We heard that again from Mr Durkan there. So, given that there is no option is there. No option to suspension that is, regrettable as it may be from your point of view. DONALDSON Well, it seems that the government has reached that conclusion and they've reached that conclusion because I have to say the SDLP in spite of the evidence that is there, and there is clear evidence. In my constituency John, prison officers and their families are being visited and told that they're on a list that has fallen into the hands of the IRA, that contains details of their home address, whether or not they carry a personal protection weapon. Those people are at risk, that's clear evidence that the IRA and Sinn Fein, and let's bear in mind that the people who've been charged are very closely connected with Sinn Fein, including their Head of Administration at Stormont. It's clear evidence, unequivocal evidence, that the IRA Sinn Fein have failed to make the transition to peace and democracy. Now in those circumstances, it's sad that the SDLP lacks the moral courage to stand up with democratic parties and say we want to continue with government in Northern Ireland, but until Sinn Fein IRA have disbanded their paramilitary organisation, ended their terrorist activities, they can't be part of that government. HUMPHRYS But if Martin McGuinness were to do what David Trimble called for this morning and that is himself to resign. Would that be enough to persuade you to carry on? DONALDSON Well, absolutely, and if Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein IRA had any moral courage at this time they would take that step. They would recognise that what the IRA has done is wrong, that it flies in the face of a commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means, that it undermines the basis of trust which is essential in any government and that until they are able to put that right, until we have clear evidence that the IRA have disbanded, that they've ended their power military and terrorist activities, then yes Sinn Fein should do the honourable thing and step down. But, I don't think Sinn Fein are a party of honour and that has been proven time and time again. HUMPHRYS Neither do you realistically believe that the IRA is going to be disbanded. Certainly not by Christmas, what was it Gerry Adams said to me the other day, that's making a demand that it'd happen by Christmas, is like wishing for Santa Claus as he put it. It's not going to happen is it? DONALDSON Well, that remains to be seen, but I think what is absolutely clear that it is the bottom line. Why do we need terrorist organisations in the new Northern Ireland. Why do Republicans need the IRA? Why do we need the UVF and the UDA. And I think that people are asking that question when these terrorist organisations are engaging in organised crime on a wide scale and whether the political level they are doing nothing but undermining the Peace Process and the political process, and I think that we need answers to those questions. If the IRA are committed to peace and to democracy, why are they continuing to target people? Why they're continuing to engage in espionage against the government and other political parties? Why are they doing so much to undermine trust and confidence in Northern Ireland? Well, I think these are questions that do need to be addressed and I think that the line is absolutely clear. And Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, when he was asked whether he would have Sinn Fein in an Irish Government said no, not until the IRA has disbanded and I think if it's good enough for Dublin, then it's good enough for Belfast and Stormont as well. HUMPHRYS Yes but you have to deal with the real politick of this don't you as Mr Durkan said a moment ago. You are going to have to compromise, as Gerry Adams once again put it, when we get to putting all of this back together again, which of course you will do one day, one has to hope anyway, Unionism will have to walk back in again and that's true isn't it, you'll have to go back. DONALDSON Well, we want to go back into government, that is absolutely clear. But look in the context of an international war against terrorism and look what happened last night in Bali. Does anyone seriously believe or suggest that there can be a place for a fully armed and active terrorist organisation at the heart of any democratic government, surely not. And especially not in a Northern Ireland where we've suffered thirty years of the kind of events we've seen tragically in Bali last night. Now that the IRA have got to make a choice. John Reid said they can't ride two horses, the Prime Minister said they've got to choose between democracy and terrorism and that's absolutely right. The problem I have John is this; that the rest of us are left in limbo land, that a political vacuum is created until the IRA makes that decision. That's wrong. HUMPHRYS And how long have they got to make that decision? DONALDSON Well, I would rather that they made that decision today. HUMPHRYS Sure, but they're not going to make it today, so how long they got. Let's try and be realistic about this. How long have they got? DONALDSON Well, I don't know the answer to that question, because the government have not told us for how long they are going to suspend the institutions. The government have not told us when the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly will be held. So the question as to the time scale quite frankly is out of my hands. It's been taken out of the hands of the political parties in Northern Ireland. Our leverage has been removed because the Assembly is being suspended and I think that's wrong. It's wrong that democratic parties like the Ulster Unionists should be punished and that the people of Northern Ireland should be punished simply because the IRA cannot let go of the past, can't let go of its terrorism and its power military activities. I hope that it will be sooner rather than later John, but as to the time scale. I just don't know. HUMPHRYS Jeffrey Donaldson, many thanks. JOHN HUMPHRYS: So... no concessions there. It's no longer just a matter of giving up a few guns. The IRA must be disbanded and it has to happen soon. If not that's the end of power-sharing in Northern Ireland with all that implies. A grim scenario. Everyone now agrees - British and Irish Governments included - that it's down to Sinn Fein and the IRA to make the concessions needed to rescue the whole process from disaster. Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein Minister in the Northern Ireland Government, is in our Derry studio. Good Afternoon Mr McGuinness, MARTIN MCGUINNESS: Good afternoon John. HUMPHRYS: As I say, everybody's agreed and including - and this is important - Dublin as well as London, that it is now down to you, down to Sinn Fein to do what is necessary to keep this thing alive. MCGUINNESS: Well, I think there will be some surprise in the Dublin Government that you have chosen to speak on their behalf. Certainly from our perspective.... HUMPHRYS: ....repeating what they've said. MCGUINNESS: Well, you shouldn't misquote them. The reality of the situation is that there is a huge problem within the process and the problem resides in the fact that people like Jeffrey Donaldson and others who you've just had on your programme, first of all I should point out, walked into the talks in 1997 along with Mr Trimble with the UVF at the right hand and the UDA at their left, and of course Mr Paisley's party has been associated with Ulster resistance, and the importation of arms for many years. But that said, Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside lead a rejectionist grouping of people within the Ulster Unionist Party. They succeeded two weeks ago in overturning Ulster Unionist policy which was pro-Agreement and I do accept that there are senior personalities within the Ulster Unionist Party who have no difficulty whatsoever in sharing power with Catholics and within an inclusive process, but they have now capitulated, and we have seen a situation develop whereby the rejectionist wing of Unionism led by Donaldson and Burnside are now out to destroy this Agreement because they're opposed to the Agreement lock, stock and barrel. HUMPHRYS: You could save it be resigning yourself. Would you - are you prepared to do that, fall on your own sword. That's what David Trimble wants, that's what Jeffrey Donaldson wants, that's what other people want. Well why not. Do it. MCGUINNESS: No, there's no prospect whatsoever of the Sinn Fein ministers resigning our seats. This was supposed to be from the very beginning an inclusive process. We have been very much at the heart of building the Peace Process, very much at the heart of the Good Friday negotiations and of course the all-Ireland dimension in terms of the North-South ministerial council, the removal of the British Government of Ireland Act. That Act by which they it claimed the right to rule over the North of Ireland. All of these were massive achievements for Sinn Fein that were within the negotiations, and we have a responsibility to represent the people who elect us and for a start as Minister of Education I am involved in very, very important work on the whole issue of the review of post primary education and I think many people within our society, including the children of many Unionist families in the socially deprived areas of the Shankill Road are very dependent on the work that I am doing to put in place an education system where every child is valued equally. HUMPHRYS: You say there are problems with the process, that is manifestly clear, but you are the problem with the process. Yes of course other Loyalist paramilitaries have been involved in doing nasty things, but now you have been - your side has been caught at it. You've been rumbled, you have been doing things you clearly should not have been doing, so you're the problem with the process, Gerry Adams himself acknowledges and I quote him. "There are issues to be resolved". So even he thinks there is a problem here and you could solve it. MCGUINNESS: Well I think there's a big difference in saying that there are issues to be resolved and I too agree with Gerry Adams, that they are saying that we are the problem within the process. We're not the problem within this process, and I think anyone who has watched the way Unionism has been divided from the very beginning knows and understands that there is an unresolved situation within Unionism between Mr Paisley's party and between the rejectionists and those people who told us they were pro-Agreement within David Trimble's party. Let's look at it like this John, yes there are problems, it is an imperfect peace, but I think if the people of the Middle East, the Israelis and the Palestinians, had the type of process that we have at the moment, they would be singing with joy in the streets. Now, what we need to see I think in the event that these institutions will be suspended, and we're opposed to the suspension of the institutions, what we need to see is a very proactive British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern drive forward with the type of change that was promised in the Good Friday Agreement. And I think ultimately Unionists will have to recognise, given the increase in vote of Nationalism and Republicans in the North that they are going to have to settle with us on the basis of equality as we move forward. HUMPHRYS: What we need to see surely, is people on your side not going around collecting the names and addresses and the personal details of prison officers. The implications of that are deeply, deeply sinister and you know what those implications are, every bit as well as I do. And so long as that continues people will simply laugh at the notion that you are not the problem. Clearly you are. MCGUINNESS: Well, I think it's a big mistake for you to prejudge the outcome of whatever investigations are taking place at.... HUMPHRYS: You know and I know that that list exists, you know and I know that that list is being held by the IRA, and you know and I know how they got hold of that list. MCGUINNESS I also know that the IRA have been on cessation for years. I believe that the IRA of all the armed groups have been the most steadfast in relation to the Irish cessation. I don't believe the lives of any prison officers are at risk. I don't believe the lives of any soldiers are at risk, and I don't believe that the lives of members of the policing force are at risk. But I certainly do know that over the course of the summer we have seen the vast bulk of violence coming from Unionist paramilitaries, the same people who walked into the talks with David Trimble and Jeffrey Donaldson a number of years ago, and they're killing each other, they're killing members of the Catholic community, and in fact we get a very muted response from Unionist politicians when it comes to their responsibilities of trying to bring that violence to an end. HUMPHRYS: No, they condemn it, they condemn it unreservedly, they've done it on this programme and many others over.... MCGUINNESS: Only when they're asked John. HUMPHRYS: Naturally when they're asked. Are you prepared this morning then to condemn the fact that that list has been got hold of by the IRA, however they got it, as a result of spying. And are you prepared to say they must absolutely do nothing with that list, they must put it away and we must stop doing that kind of thing, and we will never do it again. And, furthermore, the IRA must be disbanded and soon? MCGUINNESS: Well, I'm not prepared to sit here and listen to this nonsense of raising the IRA up as a big bogey man within the process. The reality of the situation is that Nationalists in Republican Ireland know that the IRA has been on cessation and I don't think anybody out there believes that the lives of anyone are at risk... HUMPHRYS: Then I repeat - why do they want the list? MCGUINNESS: We don't know who is responsible for this. There you go pre-judging. HUMPHRYS: Well it wasn't the Ulster Unionists who gave it to them, that's for sure. MCGUINNESS: Well, the Ulster Unionists themselves have had leaked document after leaked document from the NIO for decades. Mr Paisley's party have had leaked document after leaked document and in fact Mo Mowlam who many times you have interviewed on your programme, had no hesitation whatsoever in saying publicly that she had authorised the bugging of a vehicle used by Gerry Adams and myself as we were driving around the island of Ireland trying to save the Peace Process. So let's not over inflate this particular issue. What we need to do is recognise that the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement are coming under strain at the moment because of the inability of Unionism to come to terms with change, and I understand why that is the case. Unionists fear change, they see an increase in the Nationalist vote in the North, they are awaiting the outcome of the census figures which will show the Nationalist community in the North moving forward to some fifty per cent or forty-five/forty-seven per cent of the overall community, and all of these things frighten them. I think that they are frightened that this Republican or Nationalist juggernaut is going to overcome them and dominate them in the way that they dominated us for years, and that is not part of our agenda. We are totally and absolutely opposed to that and we're very committed to working with our Unionist counterparts in maintaining the institutions, keeping the institutions up and bringing about the peace to which all our people e deserve. HUMPHRYS: Well let me suggest to you the other reason why they are scared is that their worst fears have been confirmed as a result of what has been going on recently. Tony Blair put it...well let me put to you what Tony Blair himself said, he said the IRA, that you are pursuing a dual strategy, in other words we know what that means, the armalite and the ballot box in the old phrase. In other words you have not given up your old ways and there is a very serious threat and you are not in truth, serious about this peace process. That's the fear that they have. MCGUINNESS: Well I listened to Tony Blair during the Labour Party Conference and he said quite unequivocally that he believed that Gerry Adams and myself were absolutely committed to the success of the Peace Process and he's absolutely right because in my view, there is no sane or sensible alternative to the Peace Process, no sane or sensible alternative to the Good Friday Agreement and if the Unionists walk out of the institutions or the institutions are suspended, what everybody needs to know is that there is going to be no re-negotiation of the Agreement and Jeffrey Donaldson and others, David Trimble included, are in fact trying to bring about a re-negotiation of the Agreement because there are many dynamics taking place within Unionism at the moment. They are opposed to the Peace Process because some of them in fact are opposed to power sharing with Catholics, others are opposed to the all Ireland dimension, others are opposed to the Human Rights Commission, others are opposed to any prospect of the Patten recommendations being implemented in full, so there needs to be more honestly within ....... HUMPHRYS: A very very quick question, how soon could the IRA, you and Gerry Adams have both said you'd be happy to see the IRA be disbanded, how soon could that happen, very quickly if you wouldn't mind. MCGUINNESS: Well I think in the context of an ongoing Peace Process and the full and faithful implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, that there is every reason to believe that we can bring about a situation where all our groups are silent and then bring about their own disbandment over a period of time. The key for me at this time, particularly when Loyalists are killing Catholics in Belfast, and indeed killing each other, is to get them to stop, to ensure that their guns are silent. HUMPHRYS: Martin McGuinness, many thanks. HUMPHRYS: On Tuesday morning a think tank will produce a report about the state funding of political parties, we've seen a copy and it recommends that you and I - the taxpayers - should pick up the bill. So what? These brainy types are always coming up with weird and wonderful schemes and most of the time no-one pays much attention. But this is different because the think tank in question, the IPPR, is very close to the Government, and indeed the Labour Party's chairman, Charles Clarke, will be attending the launch of the report. That might be taken as a pretty heavy clue to the Government's thinking on this tricky question. But as Paul Wilenius reports, the Government will have a fight on its hands if it wants us to pay out. PAUL WILENIUS: The Labour Party may have new offices in London, but it's still got the same old problems. It needs money and lots of it. And so staff from these Old Queen Street offices are on the hunt for cash, wherever they can legally find it. The Labour Party is in its worst financial state ever - according to this confidential report here produced by party officials. Subscriptions from the party's dwindling membership are down and Tony Blair's been relying on big cash donations from rich supporters and the unions. But the controversy sparked off by such donations has forced Labour to seriously consider using more taxpayers' money to support political parties. In the past Labour and the trade unions were indeed brothers in arms. The unions helped to create the party and so Labour always knew where to get the cash to sustain it. However, this cosy relationship had a political downside, which eventually began to rip apart successive Labour governments. The image of the trade unions demanding favours in return for cash was deliberately whipped up by their Tory opponents. THERESA MAY MP: I think damage has been done to the Labour Party in the past, if you look back in to the '70s for example, by their relationship with the trade unions, and everybody knowing that the trade union funding to the Labour Party was driving that party's policy. WILENIUS: Although Labour is still knocking on the doors of the unions for money, it knows it comes with big political risks. MATTHEW TAYLOR: The unions I think have recognised that the position in which they say the money we give to the party is tied to policy outcomes is simply untenable. You know Tony Blair cannot be seen to be running a party that is influenced directly, by where its funding comes from, whether it's a rich individual or a trade union, so that finance policy link is untenable WILENIUS: Tony Blair actively tried to dispel that image by cosying up to big business and even before the 1997 election, Labour was welcomed by some of the biggest companies in Britain. And after his huge victory the party was able to take away big cheques from many of the nation's top boardrooms. But things began to take a turn for the worse when the government changed the rules over party funding, publishing the names of big supporters. Labour found it harder to get cash out of corporate donors. RUTH LEA: It's very hard to justify to your shareholders if you're giving political donations of more than five thousand pounds, under the current circumstances. Added to which, if you just get dragged in to the papers being accused of buying favours a bit sleazy you know, then that's not gong to help the company either and the shareholders could well say to the directors, why are you doing this, why are you giving money, if actually you may be damaging the business, so certainly, all the stuff that's been in the papers about buying favours has made it much, much harder for directors to justify political donations. WILENIUS: It's the damaging accusations of sleaze, which have really worried Labour. There was the one million pound gift to the party from Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone , and the hundred thousand pound donation from porn baron and Express publisher Richard Desmond, as well as the media storm over the Mittalgate affair. They left a nasty taste and critics claimed people were buying favours. MATTHEW TAYLOR: The public don't like high value donations from rich individuals to parties. That undermines confidence. The public assumes and maybe they are wrong about this, but they assume there's something fishy about that amount of money being given. The phrase they use to us in focus groups is, well people wouldn't give the money for nothing. THERESA MAY MP: Perhaps the best example of course for the Labour Party was the money they received from Bernie Ecclestone and the policy stance they then took on the issue of tobacco advertising at Formula One racing. So what we've seen with Labour is that some donations appear to have been linked to policy decisions by the government and that really is quite a different order of magnitude from an individual or a business giving a donation to a party they believe to be generally business friendly. WILENIUS: Labour knows only too well how damaging any suggestion of sleaze can be. They watched the Tories suffer appallingly over allegations of cash-for-questions, donations-for-favours and Knighthoods for big donors. The Conservative Party's credibility with the electorate evaporated. There are worries that this is fuelling voter disaffection with all politicians. TAYLOR: The big issue is the lack..... the loss of trust in the system as a whole and we see state funding as a way of helping to restore public trust and focus on the important parts of politics rather than having these distracting stories every few months, in which people's whole trust in the system is put in doubt by large donations. But it's also very important to emphasise that our current system of party funding is extremely unfair. WILENIUS: Any hopes of relying on income from party members are totally unrealistic. At a local branch meeting in London's Docklands members try to raise extra money through whip rounds and raffles. It's only a drop in the ocean when faced with a record deficit. A copy of the Labour Party budget seen by On The Record, admits it takes more money to service members than the party raises from their contributions. TAYLOR: It's vital for the public interest that political parties become stronger, particularly in the community level, recruit more members, undertake more activity locally, become more vibrant and more representative bodies locally. In the present system they can't do it, they can't do it because they can't afford to do it and because they can only spend money at the national level because there are much stricter limits than the local level, that's where their activity takes place. Under our proposals, parties should have every incentive to become active in their communities, more representative and that would actually renew politics. So there's a very big prize behind state funding. WILENIUS: So should the public pay? Matthew Taylor's Think Tank - the Institute for Public Policy Research - will unveil a report this week calling for political parties to be funded from the State. For every individual donations made to a political party the Exchequer would also contribute and to clean up politics there would be a five thousand pound cap or limit on donations for everyone. TONY BANKS MP: There's an obvious case for capping donations, otherwise it gives unfair advantage as it were to rich donors or to political parties that have got access to rich donors. I think you should cap individual donations and even if you have matching funds systems that involves Treasury paying over money, that should also be capped as well. MAGGIE JONES; I think it's unnecessary to have that sort of cap, the Labour Party has been at the forefront of introducing transparency and publicising the donations that are received, we're miles ahead of any of the other political parties and the work that we've done on that, and I think that's the issue, the issue has to be about transparency so that there can be no suggestion of underhand payments. WILENIUS: The unions feel it's their party and they can pay if they want to. However, it's not just the proposals to impose a strict limit on donations which have angered many in the Labour movement. Some Labour MPs would prefer to have the unions and members funding the party not the state. They feel it would go down badly with the voters and party members. TOM WATSON MP: Well it's very easy for the IPPR to put these proposals forward because of course they don't have to justify them to their constituents at fortnightly surgeries. But I don't support it, it wasn't a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party. Labour stood on a platform of investment and reform in the public sector, not to say to voters, I'm putting political parties first, schools and hospitals second. WILENIUS: This goes to the heart of the problem facing Tony Blair. State funding would mean he's no longer dependent on the unions, but they will not agree to such a move without a damaging fight. Although there are some MPs who feel it's possible to go down this route, without breaking the link between the unions and Labour. BANKS: I'm much in favour, totally in favour of maintaining the historic links between the Labour Party and the trade union movement, but it shouldn't be one that's just purely based on the ability of the unions to fund the Labour Party, because that again raises the big question mark about you know, if you're paying the piper are you calling the tune, and that creates tension, so my system would involve the unions themselves going to their own membership in order for their members to authorise their tax money to go to the Labour Party and I think that would help the unions in terms of their active involvement as well as the Labour Party. WILENIUS: Many in the Labour movement would applaud those sentiments. Yet there are worries that a part of the Labour leadership wants something different. That this is more about breaking the link with the unions, than just clearing the nine million pound deficit. JONES: I think there's a lot of suspicion about what the proposals are really intending to do, and there is suspicion that underlying this there is a desire to break the link between the unions and the party, and although that's not explicitly spelt out in the proposals, undoubtedly that is one of the consequences, that is the road that we believe that the logic of what they're saying would lead to. WATSON: There's no doubt about it that there are people at the centre of the party who would like to see an end to the link, to break that traditional route. I think if they want to do that, have the debate out in the open, don't try and do it through the back door. Well - it's a hackneyed phrase - but let's remember the union link did sustain the party through good times and bad, and there's a lot of trade unionists out there who do feel slightly threatened by the tone of the debate around state funding in Westminster and I think that's very sad. WILENIUS: This leaves party fundraisers with a major headache for almost everywhere they go to raise cash in the future, they will find it harder and harder to succeed. If Tony Blair moves towards state funding he has to get the money from here - the Treasury - and in turn that comes from the taxpayer. But will the voters be happy with giving up to twenty million pounds of their money every year to political parties to help fund their operations? Although there are some who feel that the public could eventually be persuaded, there are many others who fear it would spark off a vicious political backlash against the Government. WATSON: I think that the electorate will not put up with more Millbank spin doctors, more photo opportunities for Conservative politicians. We stood at the last election on a platform of investment and reform of the public sector. If we were to say schools and hospitals come after political parties it would simply be bonkers. WILENIUS: It's not just the unions and many Labour MPs who are against state funding of political parties. There is fierce opposition from the Conservative Party, who fear the voters just would not wear it . MAY: I think if the Labour Government were to propose state funding for political parties, it would go down with voters like a lead balloon, and I think voters would give them a very clear message that they want their tax-payers money to be spent on improving public services and not on funding the party political activities of the various political parties. WILENIUS: Some cynics believe that it would only take one more scandal like the Bernie Ecclestone affair to send Britain racing towards state funding. But others are convinced public resistance is so great that the party fundraisers will have to keep their begging bowls out for a long time yet. HUMPHRYS: Paul Wilenius reporting there. Earlier this year the Government came up with a radical proposal to deal with those sad and sometimes dangerous people who are not just mentally ill but might pose a threat to the rest of us. There's a loophole in the law which means that unless a person can be treated for their illness they cannot be locked up in a mental institution. So they might be left to wander the streets and - as with the case of Jayne Zito's husband - tragedy can result. He was killed by a man with a severe personality disorder who had not been taking his medicine. The Government wants to do something about that AND it has a proposal to lock up mentally ill people even if they have done nothing wrong who MIGHT be dangerous to others. That raises profoundly difficult questions - and there are now signs that in the face of so many misgivings the Government may be backing off. This report from David Grossman. DAVID GROSSMAN: It's easy to see mental illness as another world, dangerous, frightening and confusing. The Government knows that one of the biggest public concerns about the mentally ill is the small number who hurt other people. Shocking stories of psycho killers are a tabloid staple. The Government's response is a proposal to change the law but their ideas are so controversial the Government may now be having to think again. The proposals would change Mental Health Law in two important ways; firstly it would allow doctors to compel those being treated for mental illness within the community to accept their treatment. At the moment that can only be done inside hospitals. And secondly, it would allow those few disturbed individuals with what is known as Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder to be incarcerated, even if their condition is untreatable and even if they've never broken the law. Now both these changes say critics and there are many of them, raise fundamental questions, not only about how we treat the mentally ill within our society but also about civil liberties in general. DR LIAM FOX MP: The Bill is regressive, it sets back attitudes to mental illness a hundred years in my view. It is stigmatizing at a time when we have to reduce stigma in mental illness and potentially is a threat to our civil liberties. It is a very bad Bill, drafted for the wrong reasons and it needs to be stopped in its tracks right away. GROSSMAN: Care of the mentally ill has come far. In the nineties many Victorian asylums closed, their patients released for Care in the Community. But the Government thinks that Mental Health Law hasn't reflected this change, compulsory treatment can only be given in hospital. As the law now stands, there is no way for doctors or other mental health professionals to force a Care in the Community patient to accept their medication. Jonathan Zito was killed by a schizophrenic who wasn't taking his treatmen, Christopher Clunis stabbed him to death in a random attack. Jonathan's widow, Jayne Zito, has long campaigned for a change in the law. JAYNE ZITO We feel that this Compulsory Treatment Order, would mean that individuals who suffer from severe mental illness like Christopher Clunis would, when they start to deteriorate, when they begin to show warning signals that things are not right, that they're not taking their medication, that they're becoming ill in the community, that prevention can take place, so we don't see people deteriorating rapidly till horrendous things happen for them and for the people around them that they love. GROSSMAN: But Jayne Zito has few supporters here at the World Mental Health Day Fair in Wakefield. Practically every organisation that has anything to do with this area of care is against the government's proposals. More than fifty organisations, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Law Society as well as charities like Mind have joined in the Mental Health Alliance to fight this change to the law. PAUL FARMER: As an alliance we've got three major problems with it. We think it's unworkable, unethical and it's flawed. We think it's unworkable because of the large amount of resources required to put into the system to try and make it work. We think it's unethical because of the relationship the professionals will have with people with mental health problems which will turn them from doctors into jailers. And we think it's flawed because underneath the headlines are some very real problems with a lot of the detail which means it's going to lead to a significant increase in the use of compulsory powers. GROSSMAN: Emma Harding was diagnosed schizophrenic while at University. She's now well but is still having treatment, she now works helping people with mental illness to find jobs. She says that having the threat of compulsion hanging over her would have made it much less likely that she would have sought help in the first place. EMMA HARDING: I would have been a lot less willing to actually access mental health services, had I thought that there was a likelihood that I'd be treated compulsorily. I think there's a lot of stigma attached to that particular situation. I think it's quite likely that people will want to be a little bit more guarded about the information they give to mental health professionals, if there's an increased chance that compulsion is going to be used in their treatment and it will put a lot of people off actually being open and honest about some of the feelings they have and that will make people more vulnerable to suicide for example. GROSSMAN: But Compulsory Treatment Orders aren't the only controversial proposal. At the moment there are some individuals doctors can't help. The condition is called Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder, those who have it are more commonly called psychopaths. It's a controversial diagnosis as there's no accepted way to recognise it and some dispute whether it exists at all. The current Mental Health Law can only be used to detain those whose condition is treatable and Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder can't be treated. That means these individuals can only be dealt with by the Criminal Justice System, commonly resulting in a cycle of violence, imprisonment, release and more violence. The government wants to move to close down that cycle and allow individuals with Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder to be detained indefinitely before they can harm anyone else. Sounds very neat, but hang on say critics, that change would fundamentally destroy cherished principles of civil liberty. Dr LIAM FOX If you are regarded as having a Personality Disorder and remember there's no objective test for that and someone thinks that you might commit a crime in future, you can be detained against your will. It's the only example I can think of in this country where you could actually have your liberty denied without breaking any law and I find that really quite sinister. DAVID HINCHLIFFE I think there is a worry that where you've got an unclear definition that this may become a dustbin to include people who are not in any way suffering from Personality Disorders, who are not in any way suffering from mental health problems, who may be people who conveniently could be excluded from society without the appropriate mechanisms of protection of the law that this country is...has prided itself on over many many years. GROSSMAN: But such a law, say its supporters might have saved Lin and Megan Russell. Josie Russell only just survived the attack that killed her mother and sister. Before the murders their assailant Michael Stone was known to have had a Dangerous Personality Disorder but couldn't legally be detained. ZITO: The Zito Trust welcome this because we see it as a much better option, than allowing individuals who are very vulnerable, individuals with personality disorder, to be left within our Criminal Justice System, to serve a sentence and then to be thrown out onto our streets, sometimes to commit and repeat the same crimes again. So we see this again, as a preventative measure, that looks humanely at individuals who have complex diagnosis within our communities. GROSSMAN: But would such a law have been the only way to stop Michael Stone. The inquiry into the murders found that he'd actually been in contact with mental health workers and shortly beforehand had begged to be admitted to a secure hospital, only to be turned away. What's needed say critics, is an improvement to standards of mental health care, not a dangerous new law. FARMER: The homicide inquires that have taken place over the last ten years or so, really show very clearly that people were often either in contact with Mental Health Services and the services failed them for whatever reason, or that they tried to make contact with Mental Health Services, only to be turned away, because the service was too busy. The person wasn't considered to be sufficiently in crisis and if we are going to eradicate those issues, what the inquiries say time after time is that you need to make sure you've got decent quality, properly resourced Mental Health Services to address the needs of the individual. GROSSMAN: The government's ideas on mental health are at the moment only proposals. The consultation period on them has just finished and everyone is now anxiously awaiting a final version. Can it really be that given the level of opposition that these measures have managed to excite, that the government now intends to push on with them regardless. Well, recently the government's Mental Health Tzar Louis Appleby has suggested that changes may have to be made before a Bill is presented to Parliament. That suggestion that the government may be backing down would seem to fit in with our experience when we tried to get a minister, any minister, to come on to defend these controversial ideas. We were told that no minister from any government department involved in the Bill was available for interview. FARMER: I think this is a government which runs on headlines and I think it thought that it would get support from certain sections of the tabloid press. I think to everybody's credit, they have actually decided this is a hugely cynical exercise which purposely sets out to demonise and stigmatise people with mental illness which is a retrograde Bill and which should be overwhelmingly rejected. We intend to lead the fight in Parliament, to make sure that this Bill does not progress from this point. HINCHLIFFE As the Bill is currently drafted there are some key areas where I think there may be serious difficulties in convincing the House of Commons and certainly the House of Lords that the measure as it's currently drafted is right, is achieving the appropriate balance. There are some very genuine worries, but I hope these will be addressed by the ministerial team in the process of discussion prior to the Bill coming to Parliament. JAYNE ZITO: We will be very disappointed if the government actually withdraw the major recommendations that they've made within this review of legislation. We know that we only have one opportunity every ten/fifteen years to influence and change legislation in this country that will have a major impact on individuals who are vulnerable, and the...wider public. So we will be very disappointed if the government withdraw the recommendations 'cos we whole heatedly support the recommendations as they stand within the review of the Mental Health Act. GROSSMAN: In the treatment of the mentally ill there are no quick cures. In Mental Health Law too the answers aren't obvious or easy. The government has singularly failed to convince its critics that it's got the balance between patients' rights and public safety and now may be having second thoughts. HUMPHRYS: David Grossman reporting there. And that's it for this week and don't forget about our website. Until the same time next week. Good Afternoon. 24 FoLdEd
NB. This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.