13/05/2019

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."



(JG/CM)

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

21 May 2019
8.1% Of NI Youths Out Of Work
16,000 young people in Northern Ireland aged between 16 and 24 are not in employment, education or training (NEET), it has emerged. The Labour Force Survey, released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) found that 8.
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.
21 May 2019
Opinions Sought On Alcohol & Drug Misuse
The Department of Health is seeking views from the public on alcohol and drug misuse and what can be done to address the issue. Interested parties are urged to submit their opinions as part of a pre-consultation exercise to help inform future policy direction for reducing alcohol and drug related harm.
20 May 2019
£300k Scheme To Transform Teaching Strategies
A new programme is set to inject more creativity into classrooms in a bid to improve educational outcomes for students. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is backing the strategy along with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, following a successful pilot scheme in 10 post-primary schools last year.
05 September 2014
Diane Dodds Selected For European Parliament Committee
DUP MEP Diane Dodds has been re-appointed to serve on the legislative European Parliament Committee known as the Conference of Presidents.