Leader’s Debate

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UTV link:

So… what did you think then?


  • Harry Jay

    Look Cynic47

    Everyone I’ve met thinks peters a lovely man, hes exonorated himself and we’re gonna have a landslide!!!!!!

    Go DUP

  • PrivateBob

    Is it streaming live somewhere? I can’t seem to get it on the U.tv site..I’m down south at the minute so that might affect it?

  • cynic47

    Is Margaret Ritchie reading everything she says off a script that she keeps looking down at?

  • JohnM

    Margaret Ritchie is dreadful – impressed with Gerry so far. Peter Robinson seems to be doing OK too.

  • cynic47

    Harry Jay

    Not a twat just dense!! lol In good company with Seamus McKee.

  • cynic47

    I would like someone to ask Peter why he didn’t just arrange a meeting over a cup of coffee between the late Mr Fraser and the developer and let them thratch out a deal between them. What was the £5 business all about and why did Peter need to get involved at all in the legal transfer? He certainly went the extra mile!

  • Mr Angry

    It’s sad that the preferred programme soundclip was the tired old hackneyed “When two tribes go to war”.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I quite enjoyed it.
    That was the Premiership……Vauxhall Conference (AP/Greens/TUV) at 10.30pm.
    Thre were of ourse two contests not one.
    Adams won the Nationalist side (to be honest all he had to do was let Ritchie act like a deputy head in a middle sized primary school).
    Robbo lost hands down to Empey who just kept chipping away.

    There is of course a double standard on the IRA. It was confidently asserted on Slugger a week or so ago that the IRA were approached by the Beeb recently. That actuallu strikes me as being a biggr issue than whether Gerry was actually a member.
    Obviously my response to his denials is much the same as everyone elses. But as I understand it it is a standard response from people who were in IRA and people who were not in it.
    There is a class of republican known as “ex-prisoner” which is of course a code for actually being in it.
    Would Sinn Féin actually get a single vote less if he “confessed”?

  • cynic47


  • Idealistic Realist

    Wasn’t a great debate but i think Gerry probably came across the least petty and the most concise. Is it just me (i’m aware of my own bias) or does Margaret Ritchie just not come across well at all??

    also, 1st time voters me hole, most were party members who are regulars on these type of shows by now, some sdlp youth members and Carly Greene of the Green party who asked a question for instance, no floating voters in that audience.

  • JC McQuaid

    Several times Margaret Richie finished reading her script with the smug smile of a schoolkid clearing the hurdle of reading a piece clearly. She also seemed bizarrely aggressive. I really do hate to say it, but I think even arrogant big McDonnell would have done a better job.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    has Jim Dougall got an Agent?
    He must be coining it these days.

  • If I were an SDLP member who voted for Ritchie instead of McDonnell, I’d be regretting it right now.

  • Henry94

    Margaret Ritchie lacks warmth on television. She should relax a bit and let more of her personality show.

    Adams was well defended as usual but I doubt he won any new fans.

    Robinson and Sir Reg clearly despise each other but neither delivered any serious punches.

  • impartial1986

    It was really embarassing watching Margaret Ritchie reading her answers.
    Gerry Adams came across very well, he is pretty good when it comes to debates. I loved how he kept asking about SDLP going off to Afghanistan!!
    Peter Robinson was as expected, blaming BBC for everything, and Sir Reg, well, he just waffled on about…. ehh…. anyone remember what Reg spoke about?

  • snowstorm

    I missed Margaret Ritchie – was she even there?

  • South Antrim BOY

    GOOD to see Reg there, hes spent more time in that studio than in S Antrim

    Reports from UUs are Reg isnt doing well

  • Angie

    I think Peter Robinson showed tonight on the leaders debate that he was the most mature and responsible political leader! Reg Empey came across as a bitter wee child trying to score cheap points! I am a first time voting young mum and Peter Robinson’s party will surely be getting my vote!

  • dv-drummer

    I thought that it was really , terribly boring . Question time was way better when they were in Belfast a few months ago . It’s just the same , tired old rhetoric over and over again . If they were to throw in the TUV , Greens and AP then at least it would have spiced it up a bit !

  • Oracle

    Jim Dougal, what a waste of a programe, Dougal from the magic roundabout would have been better.. Awful simply awful made it a dire programe to watch a real pushover to the point of embarrassment.

    Reg balless per usual
    Adama lied per usual
    Robinson not forth coming per usual

    Ritchie.. dear God what a horrible horrible decision the SDLP made electing her… clueless in the extreme and gutless too, the biggest loser by a country mile

  • South Antrim BOY

    if reg calls to my door id like to ask him what influence he will have if the libs and labour form a coalition

  • PrivateBob

    Just about half way through watching it and it’s pure entertainment. Margaret Ritchie’s performance is laughably bad. Empey comes across ok, but is hampered by the Conservative linkup, Robbo seems competent and Gerry just seems to enjoy every minute of it!

    The worst thing may be the moderation, Jim Dougal lets everyone get away with far too much, Alastair Stewart’s style was much better.

    Empey doesn’t look to enthused about unionist unity either..

  • Sean

    Richie was very poor as she has been since the Sdlp gave her the big job. Another poster suggested Adams was well protected but it appeared to me the Sdlp leader was the one enjoying protection particularly around Mr Burns’ juant to Afghanistan at the MOD’s expense.

  • Idealistic Realist

    … but we didn’t support the war in Iraq!

    cough; … I said Afghanistan

    even Obama’s people would struggle to work with Ritchie, if the raw material ain’t there, you can’t polish it.

  • cynic47

    Did someone put this thread forward an hour?

  • PrivateBob

    Sean, she was definitely saved by the bell on that one..nonetheless her reply was an infantile ‘If I tell you, will you tell me?’

  • Henry94

    the Sdlp leader was the one enjoying protection particularly around Mr Burns’ juant to Afghanistan at the MOD’s expense.

    That was weird. We’re out of time he said and then took another question. It left the allegation made but not answered. Ritchie should have insisted on a right to reply.

  • Chris Donnelly


    Her inexperience showed from the outset. You’re right about what she should have done….she didn’t, and instead maintained a stolid glare in the opposite direction.

    Two bad debate performances in a row from a party needing a top drawer performance this time to give credibility to perception of a revival in fortunes.

    Not looking good for Ritchie.

    My money’s on Alisdair going for jugular after next year’s Assembly elections- ya heard it here first!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    That about sums up all FIVE performances.
    The irony is that the SDLP best hope is for Margaret Ritchie to lose in South Down. It at least gives them some chance to recover if shes forced to resign.
    She could of course realise her own incompetence and resign.

    But judging by her committment to Double Jobbing as a “Leader”, I dont expect it.

  • PrivateBob

    Definitely not looking good for Ritchie, I’m sure a lot of the SDLP faithful are still not happy about what she said regarding the Fianna Fail linkup.

    In terms of who won I’d say: Adams, Empey, Robbo, Ritchie. But overall not anything spectacular.

    I’d agree with that Chris, Ritchie’s days may be numbered unless something crazy happens!

  • cynic47

    Her very deliberate delivery when she first burst on the scene was fresh and impressive now it is just annoying. She shouldn’t try to concentrate on her style of delivery but think more about what she is actually going to say.

  • Brian Walker

    I was watching the UK debate to the end. I’ll catch up but it was a terrible piece of scheduling. And no report yet on the BBC’s website. Are they censoring it because it was on UTV or did they fall asleep?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Donnelly, it does of course depend on who is around after the Assembly Elections.
    May 6th 2010 is the first problem.
    If McDonnell loses South Belfast he wont be grateful to Ritchie.
    If McDonnell holds on …….it will be IN SPITE of Ritchie not BECAUSE of her. Whether two or three SDLP people go back to Westminster….SHE is the novice.
    The FST decision coupled with her truly horrendous performance is likely to start a whispering campaign against her.
    I am sure the cell phone conversations of leading SDLP people tonight will be interesting.
    So frankly if South Belfast is lost, McDonnell wont be a happy bunny.
    If he wins he might feel empowered to say “I told you so”.

    Very very difficult to think that Ritchie will still be leading the SDLP into the Assembly Elections.
    Of course this does not mean that McDonnell will.

  • slug

    Adams denying he was in the IRA is a bit like Liberace denying he was gay.

  • slug

    Seriously I watched the debate to see what people are saying about Margaret Ritchie and she wasn’t that bad at all. The main thing she needs to do is to not read. Her style is certainly more confrontational and she will have to be careful there, but its also refreshing to have a woman and someone NEW!

  • slug

    On the unionist side Reg showed how it shoudl be done. Thought it right that the economic issues need to be accepted – we borrow £1 for every £4 we spend – and that does require us to tighten the belt. And his point on the rise in NI rates that Labour plan are important for all of us including the public sector who also pay NI rates.

    I don’t believe it makes sense to keep on spending as though there is not an issue about that. Do we need to rebalance away from the public sector – Sir Reg the only one with the honesty to address that essential point.

  • Harry Jay

    It goes without saying that Peter was a wonderful performer and Reg was crap.

    Bye bye Reg. Bye bye UUP

  • Stewart

    Pretty standard from Adams, Robinson & Empey, all tried to play it safe.

    As for Ritchie, hopeless. Did she really have to read every response from her notes. On a par with McKinney’s shocking display last weekend

    Funniest part of the show was Ritchie’s reaction when Adams mentioned the war in Afghanistan, i thought she’d been electrocuted with the facial expression.

  • Co. Down man

    Gerry kicked Ritchie’s ass, she was awful, refused to answer questios, the SDLP will be quaking, Peter did well Empey? who’s Empey?

  • cut the bull

    It would have been interesting if Jim had’ve asked the panels views on the Easter protest in Maghaberry jail by republican prisoners demanding political status and the hunger strike which is now in its 10th day by Liam Hannaway, who is Gerry Adams cousin.

  • slug

    And the relevance to a Westminster election?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    He did deny it.
    Indeed he got a lot of money off the Daily mirrors Cassandra column for even suggesting it.

    Who are we to argue with a High Court decision?

  • cut the bull

    The relevance to where SF got its political strength from, the aftermath of the 1981 hunger strike and the political status issue within jails.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Is this the worlds most unsuccessful hunger strike which was held in the prison canteen.
    Obviously reublican dissidents cant organise the proverbial whatsit in a brewery but a hunger strike in a canteen probably takes the biscuit (to coin a phrase).

    Seems to me that a few years back there was some other “Ill Never Forget Whats His Name” prisoner who was on hunger strike. We were solemnly on Internet Message Boards that West Belfast was rejecting Gerry Adams in favour of ………Crossey (?) Crossan (?) McCrossan (?).
    Anybody remember him?
    His name was plastered all over the wall of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

  • cut the bull

    I dont believe people will go in droves to reject SF as a result of a hunger strike in Maghberry but it could could cause problems because of SF’slinks of thepast with support for protests for political status within jails

  • J Kelly

    Not that I would say it but I told you so. Margaret Ritchie is a disaster for the SDLP. If her preformance wasn’t bad enough then we had Martina Purdy on Hearts and Minds taking at hand at her about the white coats at their manifesto launch. Has anyone heard from 1967, conall or joc.

  • No Bullshit

    Ritchie was poor, Robinson was dire, but held himself together (medication?) Empey was cool and unflustered, Gerry went through the motions. Was anyone tempted to change their vote?

  • Oracle

    It was bad that she had no idea how to answer, any other spokesperson worth their salt would have retorted to Adams that MI6 wrote Seana Walsh war over speech for P O’Niell

    Or that the British Government pumped half a million quid into the pro Adams S/F gazette the Andersonstown News and that the same paper wanted to carry Police adverts to get even more money off the PSNI

    Or that the CIA picked up loads of the S/F bills on many of the fund raising tours and that a CIA front gave media coaching to several S/F MLA’s free of charge

    Alas Ritchie just mumbled nonsense instead… spineless and useless

  • J Kelly

    Mick, Will we now get a Thomas Burns watch.

  • Let’s be honest, even his Mum dose ‘t think Peter is a lovely

  • Sean Og

    No real winner IMO but Ritchie was the loser. First McKinney’s dreadful performance now this. Not a good start for SDLP.

    I can’t see Margaret Ritchie standing down any time in the near future so they have to work with what they have. They need to keep her off TV for a start. There’s no point trying to coach or train her. DSD tried that and she got worse.

    Why could the SDLP membership not see this coming? Everybody else could.

  • chewnicked

    Moment of the night was Ritchie’s shocked expression when Gerry mentioned the SDLP’s Aghanistan foray. she then rambled on about Iraq before generous Gerry re-directed her to the right country. Car crash stuff from Margaret who spent most of the night staring vacantly into space-was she looking for volcano dust?

  • slug

    I know he denied it that”s why I find them similar. You believe both denials?

  • G O’Neill

    No, J Kelly, beacuse that would hurt the SDLP and mick wouldnt do that…..wonder how Pete Barker will try and spin this so that GA and sinn fein did badly.

  • Henry94

    I assumed that when Mark Durkan stood down as leader he had some other big project lined up. But it looks like he’s just going to be the MP for Foyle. What’s that about? He was a head and shoulders above everybody else in the SDLP in terms of ability and unless he has a good reason not to then he should lead the party.

  • iluvni

    Peter Robinson smirked when listening to Gerry Adams denials about his IRA membership.
    He ought to realise that his own claims of innocence over land deals and scandals are regarded with equal scepticism.
    Two chancers.

  • “Adams denying he was in the IRA is a bit like Liberace denying he was gay.” ….. slug says: April 23, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Asking him if he was ever in the pay of the CIA would be a novelty, slug, and move things on into much more fertile territory for denial. And a mole for MI5 is another tangent if you really want to get bogged down in the Past rather than build a new Future in control of your own destiny, which is very much what Gerry Adams is all about, whilst all the other puppets on the political stage are status quo muppets content to rely on others to provide the money and the imaginative innovative solutions which their own limited and limiting intelligence so obviously lacks.

  • Mick Fealty

    Remind me?

  • slug

    Have you watched him in Westminster. It’s obvious that he greatly prefers that to Stormont. That would be my attitude too.

  • Sean

    Saved by the bellat the third time of asking, she managed not to answer the question twice before.

  • stewart

    Why was Thomas Burns in Afghanistan again?

  • Sean

    The Problem for the SDLP is, if not Richie then who, McDonnell is extremely unpopular within the broad party and even within the South Belfast organisation, half of whom(under McDevitt’s stewardship)are on the canvass trail in Strangford for Clare Hannah.
    McDonnell also publicly distanced himself from the party twice on Radio Ulster earlier this week. Stating “you’ll have to ask the SDLP about that” when asked about any possible electoral pact in FST. Maybe they’ll have to bring Durkan back.

  • Sean

    Chris see my point just above re the good doctor.

  • slug

    People are angry with the DUP and will have been reminded why.

  • madraj55

    FJH. As you see, I’ve anagrammed my former posting name. Didn’t Jim Dougal fromnt the schools series on NI, called ‘A State Apart’? At least when i saw it years after it was originally shown, it was in the schools programmes on BBC2. I think Brown can come out of this still in nr. 10 with LD in tow. I don’t think Unionists should get their hopes up even if there is a hung parliament, especially after the 42 days detention business. the DUP got nothing but a smirk for that from Brown. The second ‘night of the long knives’ at tory central oiffice is not far off.

  • Mick Fealty

    My honest take was posted just after your comment. I gave it to Adams on impact Empey on politics.

  • Mick Fealty gave it to Adams for ‘impact’? nothing new there then.

    I think the Shinners want to think Ritchie was worse than she was and the unionists want to think the Robinson was worse than he was.

    I thought the questions were a bit lame. So sack the host.

    I also thought Gerry Adams appears to have had a miraculous recovery from all his family trauma. Not too clever that…

  • orly

    Would have been a lot better if UTV hadn’t ruined it with their crappy format. Barely get a conversation going and then you have to cut away to watch crap Hughes Insurance adverts.

    Jim Dougall looked well out of place and stumbled over words.

    Empey was reasonable and Robinson did about as well as he could have hoped despite getting laid into, once again, about his personal circumstances even when the question at the time was totally unrelated.

    Gerry was as evasive as normal but he seemed to be having a right laugh inside. Ritchie looked out of her depth but she hasn’t been sitting in these kinds of discussions for decades like the others round the table.

    In the end next to nothing of any actual note or consequence was actually said. Which wasn’t a surprise.

    Then we had the secondary debate which I think lasted all of 10 minutes. Basically consisted of Jim Allister saying his piece, having a brief argument with David Ford and Steven Agnew getting about 2 minutes in the middle. Sloppy and useless on UTVs part.

  • Alias

    What is the point of a debate between four party leaders who will form the next devolved consociational administration irrespective of the charade? It would only make some sense if the public actually had a choice between them in the matter of which of them should form the government. It is really just more ‘peace processing’ in the form of “Oh, look at how normalised NI society has become now that the state-sponsored murder gangs are in stage two mode”

  • cut the bull,

    I think that’s too simplistic as it doesn’t explain previous surges for republican parties like SF e.g. Clarke and Mitchell in the 50s and independent republicans subsequent to that. The Hunger Strikes certainly awakened the potential of the political path within SF but it is erroneous to say that where it got it’s ‘political strength’. Republicanism has always been popular, it’s just many were turned off by the violence.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’d love some clarification as the only source is the same one SF have – his declaration on the Register of Members Interests.

    However, given his wife is seriously ill (afaik the reason he isn’t running in South Antrim) we may end up waiting for clarification.

  • Well Burns isn’t an independent and the SDLP have plenty of competent spin doctors such as yer man McDevitt who blogs here. I see no reason why we should be left waiting for an explanation.

  • John O’Connell

    I think Gerry came across as a cute hoor used car salesman and that’s just fine for the SDLP.

  • madraj55

    Mr Angry. Sure, at times UTV itself is a cliche, i surprised they didn’t get Julian to chair in his ‘NI corrie persona.
    Most of last night’s debate was a good cure for insommnia, frankly.

  • cynic47

    Two minutes for the Green’s is about right.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well I wasnt tempted.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The Tories are indeed merciless with Failures.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oh on Dougall…no I dont recall the “A State Apart” but Ive been out of school a long long time.
    Dougall I recall as “our man in Brussels” before Jane Morrice and that guy Kennedy …eurocrats. running the Common Market office here.
    Then I think he had the Radio Ulster “God slot” (Sunday Service on a Sunday morning).
    The Euro experience gives him a kind of “I am too sophisticated for this” aura which obviously plays well with BBC/UTV producers

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    About 1 minute 50 seconds longer than Id give them

  • Terry Andrews

    Good job on the redesigning. I am sure there are few teething problems.
    I cant get the rest of the contributors to the various topics ie leaders debate
    but keep up the good work.