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14 April 2015

Question Time: Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister Monday 13 April 2015


Martin McGuinness answered questions on behalf of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister during today’s question time. The deputy First Minister discussed the future of the Maze/Long Kesh site as plans for a new peace-building centre at the site stall. The development of a peace centre at the site is one of the Programme for Government commitments and, despite the current impasse on plans to move forward, “when we make commitments, we keep them. There is a very strong commitment in the development of the Maze/Long Kesh site for the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society for that to move in parallel with the construction of the peace-building and conflict resolution centre. ” Discussions will continue to see if a way forward can be determined - “I am determined to find a way forward, and I hope that those who opposed the project in the first instance recognise the opportunities that the construction of a peace-building and conflict resolution centre can provide for the purposes of reconciliation and peace-making among all of us.”

During the topical question period Bronwyn McGahan asked the Minister what impact there will be on delivering services in light of the cuts to the Executive’s block grants. Mr McGuinness believes that “the British Government are effectively crucifying the Executive as a result of the swingeing cuts to our block grant” saying that £1.5bn has been stripped away. As a result the cuts have had an impact on the ability of departments to deliver services to the highest standard. However he feels that our Ministers “have performed heroically in the face of that onslaught by protecting front-line services and the most vulnerable members of society.” Mr McGuinness ominously added that “my attitude is this: if the Tories are re-elected, given the threats that they have made about the continuation of austerity, we should all be afraid; we should all be very afraid.”

During Question Time the deputy First Minister also answered questions on anti-discrimination legislation, the recruitment of a Victims’ Commissioner, urban village projects and deficiencies in the Racial Equality Strategy.