Knock Euro election hustings #nieuro (+audio)

Nine parties sent candidates or representatives to the European Election hustings organised by the Peace Group in Knock Presbyterian Church in East Belfast tonight.

Knock panel of nine

A little under 200 people turned up to hear a three minute pitch from the nine speakers.

  • Gavin Robinson (DUP) standing in for Diane Dodds
  • Martina Anderson (SF)
  • Lord Empey (UUP) standing in for Jim Nicholson
  • Alex Attwood (SDLP)
  • Anna Lo (Alliance)
  • Tina McKenzie (NI21)
  • Ross Brown (Green)
  • Henry Reilly (UKIP)
  • Irwin Armstrong (NI Conservatives) standing in for Mark Brotherston

Brett Lockhart QC chaired the event and the introductory remarks were followed by questions that had been submitted from the audience on sheets they were given on the way in.

At the end, each candidate/representative was invited to give a 60 second summary.

You can listen back to the whole evening and you’ll find some commentary from myself on the #nieuro hashtag as well as David McCann.

Knock PCI hustings

There was some audience support (in terms of applause) for some of Henry Reilly’s wild claims about “monsters being created across Europe” and such like. Gavin Robinson was calmly assured in his remarks, scoring few political points but instead concentrating on sounding reasonable. Martina Anderson talked of working in collaboration with all the other Irish – north and south – MEPs, but was out-Europed by Ross Brown who seemed to squeeze a lot more content about the European Parliament and Green Party influence there than the only sitting MEP in the venue. I suspect the atmosphere would have been very different had the DUP and UUP MEPs been present to challenge on level of influence. It was a good practice session for Tina McKenzie who relies heavily on her business experience in Europe to add to her electoral authority. And Alex Attwood obviously loves getting his sleeves rolled up and stuck into these events.

All in all, no one tripped. And while the TUV message was absent, Jim Allister may have secured as many votes on doorsteps as he would have in an East Belfast church.

The chair’s final message? Use your vote. Not too late to register or apply for a postal ballot …

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  • Granni Trixie

    Good for that church to organise this ie not “too posh to push” and good that most candidates supported the event.

    Did Jim Nicolson give a good reason for not being there? As a present incumbent he should have prioritised to be accountable.

  • Gopher

    He was working in Brussels for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland-UUP

    He is making excuses he was scared of debating with Anna- Alliance

    He is a Quisling in Europe- UKIP

    I hope he did not fly to Brussels – Greens (yes how are you actually going to get there lads)

    In the North of Ireland we need to bring people together to heal our divided society, we need Jim to be here tonight to send out a message that we the people of this Island are united behind the common goal of bringing peace and stability to the North to invest in the future of our children in the spirit of John Hume, Daniel O’Connell and Parnell. We need Jim to be here tonight in Knock in the North of Ireland to protect those key services. We in the North deserve Jim’s presence – Alex Attwood (he went on for another 2 hours)

    He was trying on jackboots in Brussels to oppress the people of Ireland- SF

    Dont care we just want his votes – NI21

    I think people minds are hardwired here so you can pick the one that serves you the best

  • Charles_Gould

    Gopher. That’s very good!

  • I think the reason given by Lord Empey was that Jim had a farming meeting this morning … it’ll be near the beginning of the audio. Diane Dodds had a CAP vote.

  • Granni Trixie

    Gopher:not so good – smart allecky doesn’t do it for me.

  • Gopher

    Sorry Granni, but it almost comes across as Alliances sole line of attack is Gentleman Jims unquestionable lack of charisma. Alls fair in politics I suppose but one can’t help get a whiff of hypocrisy that the criticism comes from a humourless preachy party that could out pontificate even the DUP on the most mundane daily issues and certainly out pedant the monolithic bores of SF. Jim was always my second transfer after Alliance he remains my second transfer after NI21. I’m sure I disagree with him on many issues but he ain’t trying to force them down my throat so if Tina don’t get in at least the least worst candidate might.

    My analogy of JIms persona would be like that of Alexander to Tina’s Montgomery. I always respected Alexander of Tunis but today we need a Montgomery. Time for us oldies to vote to give new ideas, new tactics and new leadership it’s head with Tina. With no disrespect to Jim hopefully many UUP (and other) voters will realise this as well.

  • Charles_Gould

    Granni: good question from Naomi today at PMQs.