NI Leaders’ Debate – Liveblog open

The final NI Leader’s Debate takes place at 9pm on BBCNI.

We are running another Liveblog throughout the broadcast – available in body of this post.

<a href=”″ mce_href=”″ >NI Leaders’ Debate</a>


  • socaire

    I genuinely think you are wrong because even back then it was about shady deals and hung parliaments. Even the most liberal Englishman has no love for Ireland and the Irish – and that includes you too, lamhdearg.

  • G O’Neill

    At least Slugger is always here to try and give MR and The SDLP a leg up. Unfortunately the actual Nationalist electorate can see MR for the disaster zone that she is no matter how much wishful thinking goes on on this site.

  • slug

    Henry does support violence – he said so here to me.

  • Driftwood

    The Special Reconaissance Regiment are already deployed.operationally., as are other special forces. The regular Army garrison here (5,000) fits in rightly. We have 3 in our local cricket team. great guys.
    We are just another UK region. Cornwall, and parts of Wales have so called ‘nationialists’.
    Like SF, they’re barstool bores.
    No big deal, if contact is made, you leave after 1 pint.

  • medillen

    Mick I am sorry but your SDLP bias is becoming so blatant that it is damaging your crediblity, out with it man.

  • Mr O’Neil

    I am not an SDLP supporter. I am in the luxurious position of not caring as long as nationalists win as many seats as possible. He has the safest seat because the people in his community have been very well trained. It will take a few more years for them to regain full confidence.

    sdelaneys John O’Connell

    Economics are definitely not GAs strong point.


    Running true to form I see.

    Just as well I did not expect you to answer my last question. I have to go to College tomorrow, so guess I will finish my glass and totter off.

  • iluvni

    Sir Reg exposed tonight the deceit behind the policing and justice ‘agreement’. The DUP have conned the people.

  • medillen

    This is the point when someone has lost the plot.

  • John East Belfast


    So I have just discovered – his mask has slipped – he kept it in place for quite a while

    It was bad enough his justification of PIRA violence – that is something a few generations are going to have to take to their graves disagreeing on.

    What I couldnt believe was, that despite him being Pro Agreement and anti dissident now, he would support PIRA type violence in thefuture

  • medillen

    This is the point when someone has probably lost the plot.

  • lamhdearg

    Shady deals yes, Hung parliaments yes, And it could happen again, But it SF dont take there seats they have no influence in a hung parliament, As for your jibe about love for Ireland, i love Ireland and its people just as i do Spain and its people.

  • Lionel Hutz

    MR lost the UTV debate on style. The criticism was of general lack of confidence, the Reading, the faces etc. The UTV debate never got to substance.

    The BBC debate saw a difference in style. She is still MR and is never going to be the best communicator but the points of criticism were addressed and removed. She stumbled a few times though were she should have had great points to make. The thing is that Gerry did that indignant angry man routine he resorts to when he is flustered so MR looked quite good by comparison.

    Also there was slightly more substance in this debate, which isn’t Gerrys strong point.

    Can anyone name one issue where Gerry beat Margaret. She might turn out to be a good leader yet (this is the point where I lose the plot)

  • itchy not scratchy

    it was a much better debate than utv for sure.

  • lamhdearg

    Is this post done for tonight, I dont like to just leave in mid debate, But work at 7 and all that?.

  • oracle

    After the last debate I slammed Ritchie for a dire performance, I must admit I was expecting more of the same but she really did much better almost acceptable, more than a match for Adams but only on tonights performance were Carruthers kept it professional.
    Robbo still shifty and Adams out of his dept once he’s drawn on economics or social policies or not allowed to bluff and bully
    Old useles Reg won the debate tonight, although it would have been hard to lose.

  • Cuchlar

    One thing that struck me was the ‘bundles’ of questions-many of them were teed up for a particular party. Personally I don’t want to see Ritchie fail as the sole female but she is God awful.
    The live feed stream became a bit comical in its desire for her to do well. All fair in politics, but not exactly reflective of what was on screen guys.
    On the unionist divide- I am pre-conditioned to be anti-tory and it is an impossible line that both sides are playing. Liberal and right-wing tory seems to be line depending on your polling/position in this love-in? Some go, most don’t and if anyone scratches surface it should cause a pause for thought. Would have loved to see UUs come out as genuinely challenging to the DUP young earthers; but they can’t because they have too many in their own ranks, as do climate change deniers Tories. Adams walked it; but with that competition who wouldn’t?

  • Cuchlar

    Which do you think is more likely to bring Brit troops onto our streets? McGuinness and Adams, or dissidents? Only asking

  • Diogenes

    It’s all quite depressing really. Yet another leadership debate where it is brutally clear than none of the participants have the first notion of what leadership actually entails. Leadership is not something you ‘give’ to people. Leadership is not something that you ‘show’ to people either.

    Leadership is something that people confer on you because they want to follow the vision that you outline, the path to the future that you offer and the qualities and values that you display and hold. The US gets Obama and we get…hmm. I think you can see where I’m going with this folks.

    None of the parties won on policy substance beacause none of the parties have any real policies on anything beyond vague platitudes and a promise to re-arrange the deck-chairs on the Titanic in which ever fashion suits their grassroots voters. We have party manifestos that have less hard detail or basis in reality than your average wish list to Santa and a re-run of the same intra-sectarian playground name-calling that we laughingly call election campaigns.

    But don’t worry, as long as you vote for ‘us’ and not for ‘them ‘uns’ (insert faction of your choice) we’ll cut the deficit, cut the Public Sector, increase ‘front line services’ (whatever that means), increase the Private Sector, grow a successful economy, create a shared future (whatever that means), secure the peace, Unite Ireland/Secure the Union (delete as appropriate) and there’ll be tea and buns for everybody and best of all it won’t cost YOU anything and there’ll be no pain for YOU at all – but only if you vote for ‘us’ and not ‘them ‘uns’.

  • Michaelhenry

    no british army are allowed to walk armed on IRISH streets, the dissidents just want to pretend that they have someone to fight.

  • Michaelhenry

    dixie ellott is puting his trust in the unionists a day before an election, shame.

  • Peter Fyfe

    I wonder if anybody in the treasury will overhear this on bbc parliament. They will hear Peter Robinson giving them advice on tax policy throughout the uk, did nobody else find this funny? Maybe they will put him in for George if they need their votes, though I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • Michaelhenry

    for the 32 counties, read the good friday agreement again, old hand.

  • Michaelhenry

    london and manchester were not smashed up, unlike there young people in the so called great war, great for who.

  • old school

    He gets 600 quid an hour, via British funding, for writing in the Andytown News.
    Probably the highest paid contributor for a parish newsletter.

  • Mick Fealty


    Did you read the live blog on the UTV debate? MR was called very firmly on an atrocious performance. If you didn’t, I suggest you go back and read the live commentary, and not just the summary.

    I personally called it for Gerry. (BTW, I also, rather embarrassingly, called the 2007 minor leaders debate on RTE for Gerry, very very much against the wisdom of the crowd).

    If there is bias in it, fine. I’m happy to hold my hand up to having necessarily partial views. I have given my reasons, and I don’t mind in the least taking a hammering for them.

    But this single transferable spin does you boys little credit not least since it deftly avoids any kind of engaged discussion on the matter.

    A blind man and his dog could see this was a much improved performance from MR. Actually it was a better performance overall from Gerry too. But I still think he was bested by the other three on the policy stuff.

    It’s probably too late in the election cycle for the SDLP to gain much by it, but Sinn Fein (as I have said ad nauseum over the last 4/5 years) must address this problem in the longer term. My fear is they have not been building the appropriate in-house capacity to be able to send Gerry out properly equipped for this kind of battle.

    He certainly scored on the McGrady receipt (best use of a prop all night) too, though that was marred when he pivoted away to avoid answering the question on why he paid (and claimed) 3x above market rate for a flat in London he never used.

    Ironically it was Robbo who did best out of that (being the most vulnerable) by trying to get away from it). The Tories still don’t get that the expenses scandal will not play for them any more than it will for Labour. Reg was poorly coached on this particular aspect even if he scored tactically on what remains a too obscure position on P&J…

    No one should be patting themselves on the back over the Ritchie performance. She has a long way to go. But some basic things were addressed and she should be given the appropriate recognition.

  • Sorry was late.

    I meant his arguments were thin.

    I’m enjoying anyone who doesn’t get behind Adams is automatically biased and SDLP spin. I watched last night as an undecided and thought Adams did poorly.

    Ritchie’s performance last time was so bad, anything would have been an improvement.

    I’m just sick of listening to Shinners spin about industrial wages and expenses when the Brit Parliament is keeping the lights on in their offices and paying the bills and employing constituency staff in each of their MP’s constituencies.
    Do they not realise we can see online their expenses’ forms on Westminster headed paper.

  • They may have made more inroads with some of the undecided nationalist vote. O’Neill I enjoy you waving accusations of party alliegances (I have none), yet you’ll break your neck to defend Gerry. Heaven forbid anyone might offer some criticism of Adams!

    SDLP have run a pish poor campaign so far, on the other hand Sinn Fein have done well. But as good as SF are with spin, it was clear last night Gerry’s weakness is economics. He seemed to take for granted his McGrady prop would be sufficent to bury Ritchie and seemed underprepared content wise.

    If there was a 3rd debate, Gerry would no doubt win as he’s the natural media performeer and I couldn’t see him get caught out by the economic questions.

  • Neil McNickle

    I felt Sir Reg did well in pointing out the mess DUP/SF have made Policing and Justice. Also in showing that SF/SDLP wont support the rule of Law. SF/SDLP would not support bringing troops back onto the streets in any circumstances? So we should just let the dissidents run wild and murder us in our beds then?? Catch yourself on Gerry!
    Margaret again showed why only her mother could love her! An overly agressive Bulldog chewing a wasp springs to mind when I see her!
    Also very interested to see that the guardian of virtue St Margaret hasnt stopped any community funding to South Armagh in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, or does she only do that when Loyalists are involved and it wont cost her any votes??
    Gerrys claims on IRA membership are nearly as fantastic as the swish family Robinsons expense claims!

  • Re-engaged

    Re-posted – some of the posting is complete left field – Oracle – WHAT?

    What a torrid debate – can’t really say anyone won on substance – in terms of affible, easy going good old Uncle Gerry comes across best (the old jumpers, a pipe and slippers to complete the act).

    The structure of the debate was poor, the moderator was woeful – worse than his tie and too many questions for to cover in 1 hour.

    In the end:
    GA – has an act and stuck to it
    PR – some issues answered but didn’t land a killer punch on UC’s
    RE – still starstruck from his afternoon with Call Me Dave (at least he got the suit right this time)
    MR – over expressive – arms flailing at times, read too much and needed to really land a killer blow on Gerry – straggler but not by as much as last time

  • madraj55

    I see Ken Clarke has delivered himself of his customary blunt views on our lot. Cameron only thinks he’s in charge of the tories. Thanks to his loose cannon, we know what the body politic in Mother England thinks of doing deals with Ulstermen. They’d sooner do deals with al qaeda and the north koreans than the unionists. Leverage my foot.

  • medillen


    Well you only have to look at difference between the approaches, McGinness and Adams are trying to get the last of the British Army out, the dissidents are trying to bring them back.

  • Keithbelfast

    Or maybe she set the bar so low after the UTV debate that it was hard for people not to think she had vastly improved by the mere fact that she didn’t read from cue cards.

  • Rory Carr

    I did not see the first debate but I have to think that if Margaret Ritchie’s performance last night was seen as a great improvement on that one then I am very glad that I did not as I have never felt so embarrassed for a political leader before as I watched her desperately trying to remember all the things she had rehearsed and then giving herself a little congratulatory smile when those, “Yes, that’s it, I’ve remembered now, that ‘s what Eddie told me to say”, moments arrived. It was painful to watch.

    Empey was better than I ever recall seeing him and Robinson scored by not being so Robinson-like and keeping it low. Adams was clearly most at ease and scored well on the expenses scandal which clearly discomfited the others.

    None of them had anything useful to say on economic matter matters which is hardly surprising since these are matters over which they will have no control whatsoever except perhaps if they are prepared to act in unison which was Adams’s war cry, surprisingly perhaps since the most effective unison in the event of a hung parliament, minority government or an administration with a small majority would be if one where SF were prepared to vote in unity with the other NI MP’s and we all know the problems there.

    Overall – Ritchie should get a job behind the counter in a clothing outlet where she will be much happier.

    Adams won on the night (as did Celtic, beating Rangers 2-1).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    what is so predictable about the debates is how people (generally) score the people they like the most the highest and also take no account of the strength of the arguements that each leader is armed with entering the fray. The only people whose views are probably of any value (apart from my own of course) are those who are ‘undecided’ a very uncommon breed in the Northern Irish territories.

    Just to show I’m above the ptifalls mentioned above, I think that Adams, who would get my electoral vote, did not in my opinion fare very well as he is not suited to the leaders debate format. Part of Grizzly’s attraction is that he is not a normal leader but an insurgent turned politician and doesnt really do bread and butter issues well. Reggie, who I really dislike, surely had the most difficult task after Davey put his foot in it by admitting he will cut the feck out of the Ulster budget but debated extremely well and I would put the dimunitive and annoying little fecker as the wiinner with Robbo second with a somewhat uncomfortable MR in last.

  • Critical Alien

    I literally couldn’t watch the whole thing. It was like a school play. Dreadful.

    Peter Robinson’s justification for hiring family members – their loyalty – was uttered without irony. Wow. I mean… just wow. He looked bleary too.
    Gerry Adams’ strange and unchallenged remark on the economy – that it is something to do with citizenship. What? I read often about SF’s fantasy economics. I think that was a glimpse of it. Apparently owning passports is somehow linked to prosperity? Adams’ charming personality also shone through. He has those odd lines the like of which you’d expect from an elderly, pipe-smoking man at a fireside. Carruthers’ intrusions were met with things like “It does me no harm when you interrupt me”. Weird attempt to be superior.
    Sir Reg – Are you in the room? Give us a sign? Mark Carruthers wasn’t up to the job of divining Reg’s opinions. We’d have needed Derek Acorah. Some smelling salts at the very least.
    Margaret showed us what it is like when a human being consciously tries to infuse their words with sincerity. It turns out that it looks peculiar. To be fair she seemed as baffled by her own answers as the audience presumably were – “Dissident bombs are wrong”. Ok, thanks for that. I’ll make a note.
    Carruthers presumably had producers or directors barking in his ear the whole time, telling him what to do, judging by the odd peaks and troughs in his vigour. He did bark at Adams on occasion, before becoming a more languid. At that same point, the Adams barking, the BBC accent seemed to nearly slip too – “Catch yerself on, Gerry, wise the bap!”.
    That would have been worth watching.
    In summary, leadership qualities not apparent and no debate.

  • Michaelhenry

    and you would turn down that job, if you had the wit to do it.

  • Neil

    One thing I keep thinking of in reference to the first debate, I wonder why Margaret was so keen to get Gerry in instead of Marty? Any ideas?

    The only thing I can think of that looked like it was produced from her arsenal regarding Gerry was about his brother. Was that it? A sneaky dig lined up at the man’s family problems?

    The only other thing of note is how noticeably things have changed, from Nationalists attacking Unionists and vice versa, to now Nationalists attacking Nationalists and Unionists attacking Unionists. That’s normality for ya.

  • Neil McNickle

    Moment of the night belonged to Robbo, when pressed on employing family and with a perfectly straight face cited there loyalty as the main reason for employing them.
    You couldnt make this stuff up!

  • JohnM

    I wish I had a choice as a nationalist. But I just cannot bring myself to vote for the SDLP while Margaret Ritchie is at the helm.

    Not that it really matters as Gregory is my MP.

  • Neil McNickle

    JohnM, why not try a bit of tactical voting for Lesley Macaulay (UU&C) and help get rid of Gregory?
    Lesley is a fantasic young lady, full of enery, untainted by sleeze and ready to be a full time reprenstitive for all communities!

  • madraj55

    Neil. Robbo is an irony free zone, as are most in his excuse for a party. he might wake up 2moro to find brown with a majority of 20 like john major in ’92 in spite of the polls. the liberals are falling back to their true poll position and labour are closing in the next 24 hrs will tell if we’re looking at another ’92.

  • JohnM

    Neil, because she hasn’t a hope. The BelTel poll suggests she is going to come fourth.

    Plus I would rather be bludgeoned to death than vote Tory 🙂

  • YelloSmurf

    because there were about 12 cameras in the room and they were specifically told by the floor manager that if they tried to look down a camera they would probably choose the wrong one.

  • daisy

    Progress of sorts – my doorbell rang last night and it was a man handing out leaflets for UUC and asking for my vote. Well blow me down with a feather – never before has a unionist appeared at my door to request my vote (my name on the electoral register makes everyone assume things about me which may or may not be accurate and therefore only certain ‘types’ of political parties will canvass me).

    I had to disappoint him because hell would freeze over before I would ever vote Tory, but I did thank him for at least acknowledging our existence and not just shoving a leaflet through the door.

  • sean young

    watching the leader of the SDLP was like been told off by your teacher she just goes through your head.

  • Neil McNickle

    @daisy UCUNF have been canvessing all doors extensivly without regard to possible voting options. We are trying to end the tribalism of NI politics by reaching out to all sections of the community.

    @JohnM think you might be surprised. The BT poll is a joke. Lesley has fought an excellent campaign and Willie Ross will do serious damage to Gregorys vote!

  • TheHorse

    Neil McNickle is that why the UUP, Orange Order, Tories etc had secret meetings during the Hillsborough negoitations – to end the tribalism of NI politics.

  • Jean Meslier

    Word is keep your eye on N Belfast

  • Driftwood

    She badly needs an ‘issue’. Eddie sustained himself a Westminster career waffling on about Sellafield for 25 years. No actual 2 headed fish was produced in evidence, but it was a good ‘hook’ to while away the years and add gravitas to the Downpatrick fiefdom.
    An engineer at BNFL told me they thought well of him up in Cumbria and they all wished him well in retirement.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Neil, whilst I like the fact that some in the UCU are “trying to end the tribalism of NI politics by reaching out to all sections of the community” why is it that Reg in the “debate” only ever made pleas to “the unionist community”, and why did he dismiss the question on ending sectarianism?

  • slug

    I agree that Lesley looks something special at this stage. I hope she does well.

  • slug

    I just don’t see Brown doing that.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Despite what I’ve said above, I would also wish Lesley, Trevor Ringland, Paula Bradshaw, Ian Parsley, Mike Nesbitt, John McCallister etc. luck. I do hope that they can get enough support so that one of these fresh faces can take over from Reg after retirement.