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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  June 18, 2018 4:30am-5:01am BST

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all this is bbc news. all the headlines: the us first lady, melania trump, has called for republicans and democrats to work together to change the country's immigration policy. she made the comments amid controversy over president trump's zero—tolerance approach towards illegal immigrants. laura bush had described this as immoral. the conservative candidate ivan duque has won colombia's presidential election, having campaigned to overhaul the 2016 peace agreement with farc rebels. mr duque wants to introduce tougher punishments for war crimes committed by the farc. electoral officials said he polled more than 54% of the vote. at the football world cup in russia, the defending champions, germany, have made a disastrous start to their bid to retain the title. they were beaten 1—0 by mexico. another of the favourites to win the tournament, brazil, have also had a disappointing start, with a 1—0 draw against switzerland. those were the headlines on bbc
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news. now it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, from dublin. i'm stephen sackur. ireland has been going through a period of extraordinary change. social attitudes have shifted dramatically on abortion, gay rights, and the role of the catholic church. brexit now poses a massive political challenge, as well, both here in the republic and in northern ireland as well. my guest today is the leader of sinn fein, the irish republican party, which is steeped in ireland's history. the question is, can it be an agent of irish change? mary lou mcdonald,
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welcome to hardtalk. thank you. ireland is changing remarkably fast, both in terms of its social and cultural attitudes, its politics, as well. and your party, sinn fein, is steeped in the past. how can you persuade the irish people that you can be agents of change? well, i think you're right to say that ireland is changing, and in some respects quite dramatically. i mean, we had a recent referendum on the very vexed social issue of abortion rights. and i think, more than anything else in recent times, that is a weathervane forjust how radically irish public opinion has
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changed, and the extent to which we now live in a much more diverse, much more open, much more tolerant society. and a year ago, slightly more, of course, we had the referendum on marriage equality. again, another — not quite so vexed, but nonetheless a contentious issue. and similarly, the population of ireland stated that they were well ahead, in many cases, of their politicians and their political leaders. and sinn fein in both of those instances, in both of those campaigns, was front and centre in making the argument for progress, in making the argument for change. and, you know, you say that we're steeped in the past, and in history. well, we have our history, we have our past. we're ireland's oldest political party. but every nation, every political movement, has a past, has its history, but also has its contemporary iteration, has its future plans. and for us, politics in ireland now is all about making a way forward. we are the party that argues for irish reunification, so i think, more than any, we have a national project that is all about national democracy. but it does mean —
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if you are truly committed to change, it does mean you're going to have to wrestle with forces inside your own party who aren't as ready for change as you are. you said not so long ago it's no longer about beards and black leatherjackets, obviously a nod to the paramilitaries, to the ira. but that hasn't gone away, has it? well, actually, that reference that you quoted back to me was all about the first common meeting that i went to, which was actually the local branch of sinn fein. and at that time, the party was much more male, i suppose much more traditional in its outlooks and its views. and i know in that time, over 20 years now, i have personally experienced and witnessed, and like to think have been part of leading, change within the party. and i now lead a party that's incredibly diverse, that has a huge and growing young membership, that has now — not quite gender parity,
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but we're not far off it. but what you haven't addressed in all of that, and i know it is all very important, but what you haven't addressed is the degree to which you have to straddle the interests of the republic of ireland and the north of ireland. sinn fein, of course, being committed to a united ireland, has a significant presence in both. but the point i'm getting to is that you, as a dubliner, as a middle—class dubliner, of an age where the troubles, as they're called in northern ireland, were not woven into your childhood and early adulthood, you are somebody that many of your party members in the north are suspicious of. they're not, actually. well, i can quote you a few who are, if you want me to. well, let me tell you that i am the leader of the party, and i'm the leader on the basis of a huge degree of confidence and support, from people right across the country. so don't buy into this fairlyjaded mythology that there is such a vast difference between sinn fein and the south and the north. you know, it's about 100 miles from where we sit
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into the centre of belfast. it's not outer kathmandu. that's very true, but 100 miles geographically... sorry, you have asked a question. we shared common social norms, social values. we live on the one island. and i'm a dubliner, i'm very proud to be a dubliner. i'm a woman of my age and my generation. of course that marks me out as different to my predecessor, for example, but that's a good thing. you say to me that i can guarantee you're not regarded with suspicion in the north of ireland. let me give you one for instance, it's an interesting one. you very recently went up to the city which is known to unionist protestants in northern ireland as londonderry, but known to republicans and nationalists as derry, and you very deliberately referred to it as londonderry. now, that outraged some people in your own party and your own community in the north of ireland. just to quote one former internee, nationalist republican,
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mickey donnelly, after you said londonderry he said, i'm shocked and outraged, and mary lou has shown her lack of republican credentials. well, that certainly would not reflect the view right across the party. you're right, we refer to doire cholmcille as derry, and our unionist neighbours refer to it as londonderry. hold on, hold on. of course it matters, that's why i stepped out of my vernacular into the vernacular of our unionist neighbours. and it was very obviously a gesture on my part of recognition, but also of common courtesy to the person that had hosted us. that is myjob. leaders lead, and sometimes that might upset the fringe or a number of people within a particular movement. and it's interesting, your vision of what leadership of sinn fein today means. and you've made some really interesting speeches, in one of which you talked about how your vision of a united ireland is a place where
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arlene foster, you said, the leader of the democratic unionists in northern ireland, you said i want a place where arlene foster feels comfortable, feel secure, feels at home in my ireland. how can arlene foster feel secure and comfortable as long as, and this is the words of the police chief of northern ireland, george hamilton just the other day, as long as the ira structure, and he means the sort of leadership, the administrative structure, remains intact? he said, not for terrorist purposes, but nonetheless, this ira structure still exists. and he pointed out that it still wields influence in the republican movement, and presumably, one can only assume, in sinn fein, and that it still maintains discipline in the republican movement. arlene foster is never going to feel comfortable with that. well, firstly, the ireland that i envisage is not my ireland, it is our ireland, and arlene foster has as legitimate a claim and a stake in that ireland as i do. secondly, whatever george hamilton's
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view is on that matter, i want to tell you that i am the leader of sinn fein, that i am part of the collective leadership, that the sinn fein leadership calls the shots in our party. so what is your relationship with the ira, then? these people that george hamilton says are still out there, still wielding influence. what is your relationship with them? i have no relationship with the ira. i have never been a member of the ira. i was democratically elected to this position. we are an open, democratic party, and nobody dictates the pace to me. you have also indicated that you're an ambitious politician. and of course, in ireland, given the nature of the political make—up of the country, usually prime ministers are the result of coalition building. and you have said you're ready, as sinn fein, to work with the other main parties, whether it be fine gael or fianna fail. the trouble is you are still associated with the ira,
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with the men of violence, with what micheal martin of fianna fail calls the appalling atrocities of the past. they won't work with you. how are you going to fix that? each of the irish political parties — it's simply a matter of when, but each and every one of them had a relationship with the ira. it's just a function of irish history. it's a function of the fact that we were colonised, and so on and so forth. i'm sure you are aware of that. the same people that you quote are the ones who encourage us, correctly, by the way, to re—establish the power—sharing institutions in the north, and to be in government with none other than the democratic unionist party, you know, a very challenging governmental partnership, as you can imagine. what i can tell you is that sinn fein is a party
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with a democratic mandate, that at the next election we hope to develop that mandate further. well, forgive me, i believe you've got 23 seats in the irish parliament, out of 150—odd. that's correct. so you are not a huge player right now. you are significant, but you are not a big player. and the prime minister, leo varadkar, who is very popular right now, he says, i will never work with sinn fein, because they are eurosceptic, they are nationalistic, and even sectarian. the faces may get younger, but their politics remains the same. and he relies on the support of micheal martin, who you have quoted, to keep them in government. so there isn't a clear—cut majority for any party. and, of course, political parties willjockey for position. i can simply say this — that we will seek a democratic mandate, and after the next election i will talk to the political parties, i will talk to independent members of the dail. i can only speak for myself.
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if these two gentleman you have quoted have said they will not talk to me, bear in mind they are also saying they won't talk to each other, so they run a very serious risk of winding up talking to themselves. but that is a matter for them. what is a matterfor you is how irish people perceive you as a party offering them the prospect of a more prosperous ireland. now, you are a big—state, old —fashioned socialist party. is that what the ireland of the 21st century really wa nts ? the ireland, the dublin that you are sitting in, stephen, is a country that came through the most horrific, horrendous economic crash. and that didn't happen on my watch, and it didn't happen on sinn fein‘s watch. and the recovery hasn't happened on your watch either. this happened on the watch of the very people who would lay the kind of analysis that you have articulated. well, mary lou mcdonald, we sit in an ireland where the growth rate is 6%, the unemployment is down at 6%, and job growth is at record levels. we sit in an ireland
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with the fastest—growing economy in the european union. and ten years ago, if you had interviewed me, you would have rattled off the same statistics. of course increases in employment are a good thing, and increased economic activity are a good thing. but you're also sitting in a dublin which has a national emergency in housing. you're sitting in a jurisdiction that has a health service which is confused and inefficient. you're sitting in a place that is crying out for reform, crying out for decent investment in efficient public services, crying out for a level playing pitch, crying out forfair taxation, crying out for accountability, all of these things that old —fashioned lefty people like me believe in. and you're asking me, are they necessary components of a prosperous and progressive ireland ? and i would say to you, absolutely they are. so you are sticking with the massive tax hike for the highest—earning
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irish people. you are sticking with rises in corporation tax. you are sticking with an economic plan which goldman sachs, and whatever you think about bankers, goldman sachs rather influentially declared sinn fein represents the biggest risk to ireland's economic recovery. you are sticking with all that, are you? well, firstly, we're not arguing for an increase in corporate tax. we're arguing for harmonisation of the corporate rate rate across ireland between the two jurisdictions. secondly, we're arguing for fair taxation on a matter of simple logic. the grown—ups understand that things have to be paid for, services have to be paid for, and those with the deeper pockets and the broader shoulders carry somewhat more of the burden. and can i say, in respect to our friends at goldman sachs and to the great bankers of this world, i think that they mightjust do a little bit of self—analysis and ask themselves, honestly, what function they have served in terms of servicing the common good. because, you see, the difference between goldman sachs and the bankers and me is that i'm charged with the duty and the responsibility to act in the collective good.
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and do you know what that means, stephen? sometimes that means saying things that are difficult for very wealthy people to hear. it's not so much the wealthy people.. they have to be pursued. it is not so much the wealthy individual, it is the message you are sending to business. the business minister has accused you of terrifying business. actually, one of the things i have done since i became leader in february, is i have made it my business to actually restart our conversation with irish business and i have gone to chambers of commerce north and south and we have had a conversation around skills capacity, we have had a conversation around infrastructure, around investment. and i think increasingly, people understand there is actually a lot of a shared agenda. as for the minister that you quote saying that we strike terror
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into the heart of business, that is just hyperbole. that is political posturing, in my view. there is plenty of political posturing going on on the island of ireland, not least in the north, there is no devolved government and hasn't been for a basic year and a half. the system has broken down. obviously it takes two to tango and it is not all the fault of sinn fein, but nonetheless, sinn fein‘s insistence that there must be no resumption of devolved government until the unionist political forces accept the irish language in an official language in the way they are not compare to, that is stymieing any effort to get the devolution back. are you prepared to compromise? i think it is an absolute disgrace that we don't have our power sharing institutions up and running in the north and last february, one of the issues, the language rights, which are enjoyed in scotland and wales, we resolved those issues and we had in fact arrived at an accommodation with eileen foster and dup, as a matter of deep regret, not to play the blame game because i have not interest in that,
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it is a matter of deep regret that the dup couldn't or wouldn't take that deal over the line. we moved, we compromised. the february agreement, i went out and said to northern nationalists, this agreement is not perfectly formed in the nationalist eye. you will criticise this agreement, legitimately criticise this agreement, but what we have achieved is enough. it was sufficient to move forward. that remains my position. but i have to tell you this as well — the overarching issue and challenge of brexit, the fact that people in the north of ireland voted against brexit has meant that the dup in my view have taken refuge, have gone into hiding in westminster. they are under theresa may's wing. she is certainly putting zero by way of pressure, encouragement or incentive on them to do the right thing
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and to re—establish the power—sharing institutions. either way, it is not acceptable that we don't have the power—sharing institutions. you and i agree on that. and you just suggested that in your view, the dup, the unionist stance on this is connected to brexit. so let's briefly talk about brexit. is it fair to say that you see brexit as an enormous opportunity for sinn fein, in that if you are your cards right, whatever happens with the brexit deal, it seems likely that it is going to raise new questions — new, challenging questions about the possibility in the long—term, of a united ireland. and is that your agenda here? you know... are you playing brexit because you see it as an avenue to restart a debate about united ireland ? i think undoubtedly brexit places the issue of the partition of ireland and the irish border front and centre.
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of that, there is no doubt. brexit is a disaster. brexit is a tory conceived vanity. it was something that was pursued with reckless abandon, irrespective of the consequences, it seems to me, for the island of britain, but also with a wilful disregard for the island of ireland. i don't think ireland even featured in the thinking of the tories when they pursued this matter. to my way of thinking it is premised on a very ugly agenda of exclusion, of anti—immigrant sentiment, of abusing and taking advantage of people's understandable and insecurities and frustrations with the european project, i have to tell you, some of which i share. but the brexit issue... let me tell you this. this is the bottom line on this. we will not be, this country, ireland will not be the collateral damage
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in the tory brexit. end of story. so, we have commitments and we will hold people to these commitments that there will be no hardening of the border on our island, that there will be no damage to the good friday agreement, that we painfully worked to and established. and citizens in the north will not be robbed of their rights. it is quite clear, well i shouldn't say it is quite clear — but elements in the government appeared to be absolutely sure that whatever the final deal in terms of customs arrangements and the economic arrangements between the uk and the european union — they are quite sure that technical responses can be found to ensure that there needn't customs posts and guard posts and all of that stuff. they say it is possible with modern technology to avoid all of that. so why are you making such a constant and such a big fuss about it? can i just say with the greatest of respect to the british government, they are bluffing and they have presented non—solutions based on technological
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alice in wonderland fantasy land — each of their proposals have been comprehensively discredited and disregarded quite correctly, by the european negotiators. there is no question of customs posts or paraphernalia on the island of ireland, but it is notjust that. it is about divergence in terms of regulation, it is about differing standards across everything. you name it — it in every facet of our lives. the united kingdom had every right to vote for brexit and northern ireland is a part of the united kingdom, so you are going to have to live with the reality of brexit. well, i am sorry to disabuse you of that notion — brexit is, with all due respect to you on a far side of the pond, is your creation, it's your baby and it is your problem. it's not going to be ours.
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and i would also remind you that the british government is party to an internationally binding treaty called the good friday agreement and at the core of that is the concept of consent. and what the agreement says is that the people of the north of ireland must consent to any change in the constitutional status of the north of ireland. of course, when the agreement was signed that meant that union between britain and the north. but i think that you can fairly and feasibly argue that the proposal to coerce the north of ireland out of the european union, despite the democratically expressed wishes and views of the people, actually flies in the face of the consent principal. and i have to tell you in any event... that sounds to me like a threat. that is not a threat. i am arguing the case. i'm not — if you listen to the government here in dublin, they are similarly taking a very firm position, as is michel barnier and his team of negotiators, because there is an obligation under everybody concerned,
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to protect people's livelihoods, people's standard of living, and of course, to protect the precious thing, the very precious thing that we have developed here in ireland 20 years ago. we are almost out of time. a final thought on brexit and the future of ireland. you seem to be quite convinced that this whole debate about brexit has, in a sense, revived the notion that a united ireland is not that far away. let me just quote to you the words of the prime minister. he said in a visit to northern ireland, last week he said that he was coming as a neighbour, most definitely not as an invader. he went on to say that as far as he was concerned, if there were to be a referendum on unification, the north, the people of the north would vote against it and he said the time and the conditions, in his opinion, were simply not right to either think about having a referendum, let alone actually call for one.
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0k. and look, long before you would actually name a day for the referendum, of course we have to have an all of society, north to south, conversation about what does the new ireland look like? because i am not so presumptuous, i am not going to hand it down on tablets of stone, why should i? this is not something that is simply about sinn fein, this is a matter well beyond us and unionism has a critical voice. those who argued passionately for the maintenance of the union, as is their right, also now need to think about, to talk about, to tell us, what it is that they need. what it is that they require in this new ireland. and we want to have that discussion with them in a calm way, in a respectful way and as and when, whenever the date is for the referendum — i want two things. i want us to win it,
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but i want us to win it well and decently with an emphasis on maximising consensus. will there be a referendum in your life? absolutely. not a shred of doubt? no doubt at all. mary lou mcdonald, we have to end there, but thank you very much for being on hardtalk. well, after a fairly cloudy weekend, some of us will be waking up to some decent sunshine first thing on monday morning, but not absolutely everywhere. and as far as the weather goes for the week ahead, well, it looks like summer is going to return to southern and central part of the uk. certainly warming up by tuesday and wednesday.
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the north, however, unsettled with some rain. now, this is what's happening right now. there's still a lot of cloud there in the atlantic, and it is pushing in the direction of the uk. so during the course of this morning and this afternoon, the clouds in some areas will actually increase after that bright and sunny start. so this is what it looks like through the early hours. we still have cloud in south—eastern and southern areas. mist and murk as well. by the time we get to 6:00pm, largely clear skies in many western and northern areas. and then, through the morning, we will see a atlantic winds once again dragging the cloud, and some of this cloud will be thick enough to produce a little bit of light rain and drizzle. the north—west of scotland, additionally, very windy. around the coast of the highland, winds up to gale—force. and temperatures on monday getting up to 25 degrees in the south—east, still fairly fresh in the north. this warm weather, it looks like it will be warming up in the southern half of the uk. you can see the warm air coming in from the south, but it never really reaches scotland
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or northern ireland. it takes almost a turn and ends up in europe. humid and warm winds from the south—west. with that also comes quite a bit of cloud, maybe some spots of rain. but the weather front here that separates the cooler air in the north and that in the south will be drifting across northern ireland and eventually into scotland. and that spells rain for places like glasgow a little bit later in the day. wednesday, the weather front is expected to sink a little bit further south across the country. that means that the area of warmth across the south of the uk will also be pushed a little bit towards the south. so here's the weather front. behind it, we've got fresh air in place in scotland, northern ireland and northern england. cloudy conditions with a few spots of rain. and then the extreme south—east here retains the heat on wednesday. the weather front be pushing the heat further south. look how very hot it is across the near continent. so temperatures on wednesday probably getting to around 26, perhaps 27 celsius.
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in newcastle, only around about 16 degrees, so quite a bit fresher, contrasting across the uk. by thursday, high pressure establishes across the uk. this means dry weather, but it will turn a tad cooler for us. goodbye. this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top story: taking on trump over us migrants. the president's wife melania says she hates to see children split from their parents at the border — former first lady laura bush says the policy's "cruel" and "immoral". mexico's world cup win over champions germany triggers shockwaves in mexico city and stuns fans across the globe. i'm lucy hockings in moscow.
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after sunday's surprises, we're looking forward to another day's action — and england's debut. and addiction to electronic games formally recognised as a medical disorder by the world health organisation.
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