SDLP Challenge DUP To Debate Merits Of EU Membership

The SDLP's Leader and European candidate Colum Eastwood has challenged the DUP candidate Diane Dodds to engage in a debate on the benefits the European Union brings to Northern Ireland.

It comes as voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday 23 May to elect the MEPs that will lead the region through Brexit. Also standing for election are the Alliance Party's Naomi Long, the Green Party's Clare Bailey, Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson and TUV Leader Jim Allister.

In addition, Danny Kennedy of the UUP, Conservative Amandeep Singh Bhogal, UKIP's Robert Hill and Independent candidates Neil Patrick McCann and Jane Morrice.

Mr Eastwood challenged Mrs Dodds, who is a sitting MEP and the leading Brexit supporting candidate in this election, to debate the merits of EU membership just 10 days before voting takes place.

He commented: "Mrs Dodds has cast doubt on the central theme of my campaign that we are so much better off as part of the European Union. If this is genuinely her view then I can't think of a credible reason why she would hesitate to take up my offer of a public debate. 

"If the DUP agree, I'm prepared to clear my schedule and to take part in such a debate anywhere across the North and at any time during the course of the next 10 days. 
News Image
"Over the last few days we have also heard many claims from the DUP that the monies we currently receive from the European Union are merely recycled from the British treasury. The real question is this – can they guarantee that all future British Governments will continue to match the funding levels which the European Union currently provides for our farmers, our businesses and our community and voluntary sector. Until now, it is very telling that this question has been met with a deafening silence. 

"After three years of crippling uncertainty, people are wise to the Brexiteer game. They will promise everything and deliver nothing. That is why we need to stop Brexit and stay within the security and certainty provided by the European Union."

Mrs Dodds, who launched her campaign in recent days, has been canvassing in east Antrim and east Belfast in the hope of being re-elected and sending a message to both London and Brussels that the referendum result should be implemented and the union strengthened.

She commented: "Almost 350,000 people in Northern Ireland voted to leave the EU. Together with 'leave' voters in Scotland it was Northern Ireland that helped us win the referendum. But the days of 'leave' and 'remain' should be over. This is now a case of respecting democracy.

"It is bad for democracy if people in London and Brussels are allowed to thwart the will of the people. Whilst some people would do a deal at any price, the DUP has been clear. We want the right deal. We will continue to stand against any new border being created in the Irish Sea. The United Kingdom voted as one nation in 2016 and we should leave as one nation.

"A sensible exit is possible but it will require strength and determination in negotiations. This election is an opportunity to strengthen the DUP hand in negotiations."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

08 August 2019
Lurgan Searches In Craigavon Dissident Bomb Probe
Police have carried out a number of searches in Lurgan following an attempt to murder serving officers in Craigavon last month. Dissident republicans left a booby-trap device in the Tullygally area of the town on the evening of Friday 26 July. The viable device was staged to resemble a fired mortar and designed to explode if touched.
07 August 2019
Record Crowds Expected To Attend Belfast Mela
A celebration of Northern Ireland's cultural diversity, the 13th Belfast Mela is set to attract record crowds. The festival was launched yesterday by Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane and promises to be a wonderful family day out with a variety of world foods, music and dance showcased in Botanic Gardens on Sunday 25 August.
19 August 2019
Other News In Brief
SDLP Slams Pension Plans The SDLP has hit out at government plans to raise the pension age from 67 to 75. Deputy leader Nichola Mallon said the proposal would condemn thousands into poverty in their old age and warned that the situation would be exacerbated by a no-deal Brexit.
09 August 2019
New Lodge Violence Is 'Dragging Us All Back'- Greens
In the wake of a series of public disorder incidents surrounding a bonfire in the New Lodge, a Green Party councillor has claimed the violence is dragging the people of Northern Ireland back to the past.
28 November 2003
Final results in for 2003 NI Assembly election
UPDATE: With all counts declared on Friday evening the clear winners are the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party who have claimed 10 more seats on the Assembly and Sinn Féin who have won 6 seats.