European Election Debate Spotlight

European Election Debate

Noel Thompson chairs a special edition of the programme as candidates for the European Parliament face an audience of voters.

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Hello and welcome to Spotlight's Special's European election debate.


Our studio audience will have the qhans chance to put questions to the


candidates. Our audience is made up of grass-roots political supporters


of the ten parties in the race with a sprinkling of people who haven't


made up their minds yet. You can follow us on Twitter. And we begin


by allowing the candidates to set out their stalls individually. Each


will have one minute to sell their wares, I shall interrupt them at the


60 second mark. At the end of our debate, the candidates will have


another chance to set out their debate. I invite, the Sinn Fein


candidate, to come to the podium. Ireland's place is in Europe, but


not part of the cosy, Conservative consensus in Europe. I was the only


MEP who voted against the cuts, cuts to farmers, rural dwellers, cuts for


businesses, cuts for SMEs, we need to draw down funding for small


businesses through the competitive programme. We need to access the #


80 billion. Sinn Fein has an alternative vision. Getting people


back to work. Those in work. Supporting those out of work. We


advance the peace process and we work to halt immigration. Sinn Fein


is standing in every constituency in Ireland. If you want a strong, Sinn


Fein voice then vote for us. APPLAUSE


The candidates are appearing in the order deck tated by their first


preference votes in the 2009 election. So next up, it is the


DUP's Diane Dodds. APPLAUSE


Good evening. Since I was elected to the European Parliament five years


ago, I have been standing up for Northern Ireland. Statistics show


that I'm the most active MEP in Northern Ireland. I'm proud that


I've been able to help churches and communities. Access over 6 6 million


of funding. That's make ago real difference to people's lives. This


election is primarily about who can get the best deal for Northern


Ireland. If elected, I will continue to work to get the most from Europe


for our farmers, our fishermen, our businesses and our communities. To


succeed, Northern Ireland needs its strongest voice in Europe. At this


election, I don't want to see unionism split and divided. The DUP


is the best party to make sure our voice is heard. On Thursday, I'm


asking you to vote Diane Dodds number one and transfer to other


Unionists. Your minute is up. Perfectly on


time. Thank you. APPLAUSE


Next up, the Ulster Unionist Party's Jim Nicholson.


APPLAUSE Thank you, Noel. Europe needs to get


real. The last few years have been difficult for Northern Ireland and


confidence in the European Union is at an all time low. In this election


people want to know who is best to defend and represent Northern


Ireland in Europe. You need someone with a record of delivery, you need


someone who has driven reform in Europe and you need someone with


experience. I am your MEP and I have delivered ?2 billion in peace


funding. I am your MEP who has campaigned for less Europe, but


better Europe. I am your MEP with the influence and the clout and the


experience to get the best deal for Northern Ireland. So I look to our


future and I'm confident, confident that we can reform Europe and I'm


confident that I am the right man for the job. Thank you.


APPLAUSE Our next candidate is the SDLP's,


Alex Attwood. APPLAUSE


Good evening all. I have been four months on the campaign trail


listening and learning, but it was a hustings event. 5017 and


18-year-olds that captured why I'm running. When they we polled 49 of


the 50 said they were for the European Union. They're right,


whatever our concerns, withdrawal would be folly. Our farmers, our


exporters and our businesses would lose out. But when polled about


where their long-term future might be, they said that it would be for


30% of them outside Northern Ireland. So after all their country


suffered, and all our people have endured, that's what the current


generation says and that should not be what the generation of the future


says. So I ask of you three things. We need strength again in Europe. We


need people and politicians who are tough, decisive and get things done


and we need to take Northern Ireland in a hopeful and bold direction. If


you vote on Thursday... Thank you very much indeed.


APPLAUSE And now it is the turn of the TUV's


Jim Allister. APPLAUSE


Good evening. In this election you have a three-fold opportunity to


make things better. First, you can improve your representation in


Brussels. Secondly, you have a golden opportunity to pass your


verdict on the dismal performance of Stormont where log jam and deadlock


is causing it not to deliver for you. And then very importantly, at


last, you have the opportunity to be heard on the constant pandering to


IRA and Sinn Fein. The on-the-run scandal exposed the skullduggery at


the heart of the peace process. Now, we've discovered that on more than


300 occasions, royal prerogative of mercy was offered to terrorists who


showed no mercy to their innocent victims. If you want to be heard in


these issues, vote TUV. Jim Allister, thank you very much


indeed. APPLAUSE


Now, the Alliance Party's, Anna Lo. APPLAUSE


Good evening. Northern Ireland is changing. We've become more open and


diverse. There are many opportunities for us. But mup of our


politics is divisive and inward looking. Change happens when people


step forward. Now is the time to show Europe the new phase of -- new


face of Northern Ireland. I have always been passionately pro-Europe.


It makes economic sense to be part of a single market of 500 million


customers. The EU has done a lot more than just about funding. As


chair of the Environment Committee, I have seen directives that helped


us protect our environment. As the founding chair of the all-party


group in Stormont on human trafficking I have seen at first


hand how member states working together can... Your minute is up.


Thank you very much indeed. APPLAUSE


Weren't they all well-behaved so far in the programme? Let's go to our


first question from the studio audience. It comes from ruth Maxwell


a chef in Belfast. Ruth. Has the free movement of people from across


been good or bad for Northern Ireland? Well, imbrayings, of course


-- immigration, of course has been a Ic.


The Government wants if capped at 100,000 by 2015. Let's go to Martina


Anderson. Has it been good for Northern Ireland or not? I think


that the whole discussion around immigration is being learned by the


UKIP agenda and the free movement of people across Europe is something


that is crucially important to the European Union. When you consider


the amount of our young people in this island alone and in many people


who have left and gone elsewhere, and the contributions that they


make, I would say that those households and almost 500,000 people


have left since the banking crisis. We know their sons and daughters


make a net contribution to the place wherever they have resided. And


other EU countries? There are thousands, thousands across England,


Scotland and Wales who reside in the EU countries. Particularly Spain. So


there are many people who go to the EU and there are other people from


the EU who come here. And it benefits us? They make a net


contribution to our economy. Jim Allister? One of the things that the


denotes an independent nation is the right to control their own borders


and the right to set their own policies on such vital matters as I


will gration. Sadly, one of the consequences of EU membership is


that that has been stripped away from us and our sovereignty in that


regard has been removed and we're at the mercy of open house immigration


from across the EU. Has that been good? In some places, we have had


some good, hard-working individuals who have come to make a life for


themselves. In other cases, we've had benefit tourists who are sending


back money to the rest of Europe. Child benefit being paid to the rest


of Europe. We have to get to a situation where this nation, the


United Kingdom, controls its own borders and another consequence of


the open house... On balance, you say it has been a little bit good


and a little bit bad. Would you say it is a positive thing for Northern


Ireland It is a bad thing this nation lost control over its own


borders. That's not really the question. Has it been a benefit to


Northern Ireland? No. It has not. One of the consequences has been to


drive down wages. It created a low page economy and I meet people


constantly struggling on the minimum wage, who just cannot find enough


hours to work to try and make ends meet. And one of the consequences of


floodgate immigration is that it has driven down - it made us into a l


pay economy. I think overall, it is a negative and fundamentally, this


nation should control its own borders. Anna Lo. Thank you. I came


here in 1974 when very few people wanted to come here to Northern


Ireland, because of the troubles. Immigration is good for any


countries. It brings diversity and it brings new skills and new ideas.


At the height of the economic boom here, with the construction industry


thriving, with the lack of workers, we went out to Poland to recruit


people. We ended up with 60,000 Polish people working here in the


construction sites and when the market fell about two-thirds of them


left. Do the low wage workers force down wages as Jim Allister suggests?


They are here to divide skills and we do not have enough of, like


plumbers and electricians and carpenters. When the market


collapsed, they went back and we have about 20,000 so this is a


matter of supply and demand. A lot of people come here for jobs that we


cannot fill. What we do not have the skills. -- or we do not. The recent


example would be a very big project here, we required 60,000 people for


an oil rig and we could only field, I think, 40%. 60%, we had to go to


Scotland and other parts in the EU. Diane Dodds? There is no doubt that


the European Union needs to be fundamentally reformed so that we


can once again have control over our own borders. We have said that we


want this as the key plank of the renegotiation that has been


promised. Before the referendum. Having said that, Northern Ireland


is a welcoming place and there are many people who have come here to


live among us and to make a positive contribution to society and that is


to be welcomed. You want to pick and choose? Every nation state needs to


be able to control its own borders, that is a fundamental of any


sovereign state but what we would like to see is immigration policy


more directed at economic need and that is a fundamental building block


of where economic policy should be. Let me also say, we are a welcoming


people and those people who have come to live among us and make a


positive contribution to assimilate into society are very welcome and


the DUP has members from the Polish community. We have translated our


election literature into as many as seven different languages. We want


to see people here, we do not want to see the racist attacks that we


have seen in recent days. Racism is wrong and the bears no part in


society and we should not confuse the issue of immigration with the


wrongful attacks on people because of either their collar or ethnicity.


-- collar. It takes a long time for the leader of your party to condemn


these incidents. -- colour. I would repudiate that absolutely, we say


very clearly from the top of our party to the bottom and the members


of the party, racism is wrong. Fundamentally wrong in society. We


condemn it at all levels and we want those people who constructed those


attacks to be dealt with by the law of the land, that is where any


Democratic party stands. If you try to close borders, do you not send a


message that migrants are not welcome? Which can lead to some of


those attacks? There is a danger of that. I believe in the freedom of


being able to work but not the freedom of movement to claim and we


do need in the negotiations, that this will change. And that is an


area whereby I certainly want sensible immigration policy and that


is what the Ulster Unionist Party once. -- wants. When Tony Blair


negotiated these border deals after 2005, they actually signed up to


this. I think our own government needs to make sure that they have


got it right and they get their own policy right. They are seeking to


limit this to 100,000 died 2015. And that is to be welcomed. -- by 2015.


Many people have left our own shores and have gone far away too many


places throughout this world. If you look at Australia and the United


States and New Zealand and many people here also work in Europe.


Alex Attwood, the latest figures show we had more people leaving


Northern Ireland and coming here by about 2000 so in that sense,


referring back to the question, has this policy been a good thing for


Northern Ireland? , make one comment, Jim said that immigration


had an overall negative. -- can I make. It is a positive for society.


That immigrants come here and work here. My children go to a school


that has mixed faith, has mixed social economic background and has a


mixed ethnic background and they are all the better for it. And myself


and my wife are better for that. Remember, Jim Nicholson touched upon


this, if we deny the immigrant and the stranger in our own country, we


deny ourselves because so many of us currently and over the generations


have been immigrants and strangers in other countries. If we deny them


here, we deny the very nature of being from this part of the world.


And let us recognise that when immigrants come here, the evidence


is they have little or no impact on unemployment, the evidence is that


they contribute more in taxes and pensions and benefits and let us


recognise that 1.4 million of people from Britain and Northern Ireland


live in the European Union. Letters have no language about this being a


negative when it is conclusively a benefit to society in terms of


adversity and the economy. -- diversity. There is such diverse


views from the panel and I take the point on board that it is important


that we do have control over the borders but at the same time, I


agree with Diane Dodds that these racist attacks that are happening in


East Belfast need to stop. Is it not true that whenever people raise this


issue of immigration, that it is a certain type of immigration were


talking about? They are quite comfortable with people coming here


from America or Australia or countries like that, but whenever


they are from somewhere else or possibly people of colour, that is


when they get problems. That is when we get these questions. At the end


of the day, you are talking about inherent racism. I do not think it


is racist to fundamentally hold the line that it is London and not


Brussels who should set immigration policy and that is all that I ask,


that our nation sets its own policy. And it is a consequence of being


within the EU that we cannot do that and I think that things are far


better settled knowing the needs of individual nations by individual


nations settling their own policies. That is not the point that he made.


You said that in your view, these were the concluding remarks, but it


was overall a negative in reply to the question about immigration into


Northern Ireland. But our own government cannot decide our own


policy. That is overwhelmingly negative. You went further than that


and do not rewrite that. In direct response to the question, it is


important that we condemn racism, it is fundamentally wrong. It is


fundamentally wrong. You have said that. However, we should not shy


away from talking about a policy issue which affects us as a


sovereign state. We need to talk about these issues but we need to


talk about this in a dignified way. Mr Allister, you are clearly racist,


that is the image you are portraying. You said you would like


London to make the decisions. Clearly, you would be opposed to the


decisions London would want to make so I would be careful about using


London as an example. London is the only government we have that works


in Northern Ireland. Why is it parochial party going to make any


headway if you admit decisions, from London? London is not voting on


Thursday. With the exception of Sinn Fein, who can make headway in the


Republic of Ireland, the rest of these parochial parties will make no


headway at all. Through the chair. I was going to make the point that


within the area of the rest of Europe, they have a massive problem


with border control because there is no border control within mainland EU


and it is only the UK and the Republic of Ireland who are not part


of this because we have water between us and it is different. They


have massive problems, especially in the South of Spain, speaking to


Spanish and French members and Greek members, and you have seen it on


television, people try to get in on those boats. They have a massive


bubble. It is a massive problem for the EU, not just us. -- problem. I


think at the heart of some of these comments we have had, particularly


from the Unionist candidates, is that they do not want to be in


Europe. And it strikes me as somewhat strange that they are


putting themselves forward. There is only one party which says that, that


is unfair. Over the campaign... Allow me to finish. Over the


campaign... Like IRA bombers going across the border to avoid being


arrested. Martina? Taking statistics about what has happened in the past


is not going to get us very far in this. And we could both do that. But


we will return to that if there is such a question. In relation to the


issue of immigration, it is quite clear that the number of people that


we have leaving the North, making a contribution, and the number of


people leaving Ireland making a contribution, they are contributors


so when we look at that free movement within Europe, along with


the other contributions that we benefit from with being in Europe, I


think they go hand in hand. And I think that is the kind of


conversation we need to have. One more comment. As Mr Allister brought


up issues of the past... We will talk about that later... I would


like to say to Mr Allister, I am beginning to wonder, maybe I should


vote for you! Because I would prefer to see you shipped off to Europe!


Let us move on! Jonathan, who is a machine operator from Belfast. Given


the recent comments made by the Catholic church suggesting that


Catholics should vote for parties opposed to gay marriage and


abortion, should religion stay out of politics? Bishop Noel Treanor


made that pastoral reflection saying voters should act with informed


conscience and he said that same-sex marriage and abortion were moral


absolutes. I suppose that Martina Anderson, he is saying, Roman


Catholic voters should vote for the SDLP, who are resolutely pro-life?


This is an opportunity for myself, given that insinuation, to put the


party position clearly. Tell us. I can back my claim. If you listen to


me. Sinn Fein is against the extension of the 19 six to seven act


and has voted so in the Assembly. We are consistent in our approach in


the Assembly and in Dublin and in Europe. We do not have any policy of


pro-choice but under the circumstances, when any woman's life


is at risk, as was the case with the lady, if she had been my sister, I


can figure no situation, where the part or the girl should have the


right to choose. That is against the policy of the church? You talked


about that issue and spoke about gay marriage. You see, as legislators,


our responsibility is to develop and advance civil affairs. And we need


to do so by treating people equally before the law. It is up to the


church to define and decide who is married within their own grounds.


And if they will acknowledge whether a couple is married. But when, in


terms of equal marriage, giving a couple access to equal rights before


the law, that is what we have to do. And we have to separate church and


state. Are you saying to the church butt out? I'm saying to the church


that we have got a responsibility as legislators to advance civil affairs


and the church has a responsibility to do what it does. But the church


should also look at the fact that it has the position for instance on


contraceptives. I know a lot of people. I have a lot of friends


within the LGA community and I will stand up for their rights that they


should be getting access to equal marriage before the law. Diane




Of course, the church has every right to make its position known and


to contribute to the public debate in our community. I, as an MEP...


Does that mean they can say you should not vote for candidate A


because candidate A doesn't agree with church teaching? They are


saying you should examine what each andidate stands for. As, assen MEP,


I -- I as an MEP, I meet lobby groups from all over the spectrum, I


meet all kinds of people who come to me and they contribute to the public


debate on the issues of concern to them. So of course, the church has


the right to actually contribute to the public debate. Not just the


Catholic Church, any of our churches and our communities right across


Northern Ireland. That is very important. And then, people have the


right to question candidates on their record and to make up their


mind based on their record as to how they will actually vote. When I am


looking at these issues, I stand on a record of being pro-life and


pro-marriage. That is a fundamental for me. I have been consistent in my


voting record, in the European Parliament, on all of those issues.


I am not like Sinn Fein that takes a different stance in Europe, compared


to the stance that they actually take here in Northern Ireland...


That's not true. Martina Anderson voted to keep a report within the


Parliament that actually wanted abortion to be treated as a


fundamental Human Right. That is fact. Do you want to answer that?


You must let her answer that. The report was not voted on. The report


is the report that Diane is referring to and the good things in


the Stella Report, female genital mutilation. On these issues, I


wanted to put Sinn Fein's position on the record as if I had of got the


opportunity to vote which none of us did, I would have put it on the


record that Sinn Fein did not support what was in that report


about abortion. We would not have supported that. That is clear. Let


us be absolutely clear what happened in the European Parliament. The


report was brought before the Parliament. I voted to have the


report taken back. Sinn Fein voted to keep the report. That's not in


voting in support. That's a different emphasis. The church and


its influence on politics? Well, I remember a conversation Noel, on one


of the quieter days in the Haass process with Richard Haass where I


said to him in my view the most interesting person in the world in


the last 20 years wag Pope Francis and Haass replied that he agreed. So


I think we are in this very fertile moment potentially around churches


including the Catholic Church where they can show leadership in the


world in a way that images the Catholic Church and the Christian


faith at the service of the poor. That's a very powerful thing. I


think... Same-sex marriage and abortion are not issues of economic


levels. It is very important that the church takes leadership


positions even if I, as a person, of faith and coming from the Catholic


tradition, and the tradition that Bishop Noel Trainor is from, even on


the issue of equal marriage, I differ with him. So that's why the


SDLP on three occasions in the Assembly voted in favour of equal


marriage. But recognising that this is an issue of conscious, our


morals, our values, for even our members, we have tid Said to our


people f it is a matter of conscience then you don't have to


vote in favour of the policy of the party in terms of equal marriage. I


believe that policy in terms of building an inclusive and respectful


society, one that they are crying out for, I think that is the right


approach and when to comes to abortion, the SDLP policy has been


since the day and the hour the party was formed is to be opposed to


abortion and like other parties, not to see the introduction of the 67


Abortion Act introduced into our circumstances in Northern Ireland.


Jim Allister? Jim Nicholson? Most of them are


conscience issues as far as the party is concerned and we have


members within the party with differing points of view, and I


don't believe it is an issue for Europe. I don't think it is the


responsibility of Europe and it should come down to regions within


the memb states so they can make their own decisions and it is the


right of any church... But to make an issue which is recognised in one


country, recognised by all countries. If you got married in


Spain, a same-sex marriage in Spain, that you would have to be recognised


by the Government of the United Kingdom? Well, this is one of the


difficulties in Europe quite frankly where they want to make one suit fit


everybody and it doesn't work because different people have


different traditions, different backgrounds and different beliefs,


but on this issue I have to say on abortion, I have to say, I think


probably there is maybe too many men give their view on this and I would


hate to have to be the one to decide between the life of a female and the


unborn child if there was danger. But you are a legislator, you are


paid. Yes, we are paid. But that is a very, very difficult decision to


have to take and if I had to take it... The bishop? He can speak for


himself. I'm not going to criticise Catholic... The Bishop of Cork spoke


out about this, he is looking forward to seeing same-sex marriage


recognised in the church? On gay marriage, I am not in favour and I


would not be in favour on abortion to extend the present Abortion Act.


Should churches get involved? It is right the church should have a view


on moral issues. I don't think churches should seek to tell any


individual how to vote, but it is legitimate for him to set out the


church position on moral issues. The same thing though, isn't it? No, it


is not. You are saying don't vote for anyone who doesn't agree with


us? Fundamentally, I am unashamedly pro-life, against abortion on


demand. I unashamedly protraditional marriage and against sex marriage.


There is no Human Right anywhere in the European Convention on Human


Rights in relation to same-sex marriage. It is, of course, a per


version of marriage and I remember being in the European Parliament


when Bairbre de B did vote for a report demanding abortion on demand


and Sinn Fein do play fast and loose with this issue. In Brussels they


are openly overtly pro-abortion. In Stormont, because they know it


wouldn't play too well, they try and tone down...


APPLAUSE You are saying that's not true? It


is not true. We will leave at that. Anna Lo. I have always said that


politicians should leave their bible at the door when they come into


Stormont. APPLAUSE


Think -- I think it is a politician mixing religion with politics. For


example our ban on blood donation by the DUP Health Minister. That is out


of line what rest of the UK -- with the rest of the UK. In terms of


abortion, our party, the Alliance Party has no set policy on this. It


is a matter of conscience, but I'm one of the only two politicians here


in Northern Ireland who support pro-choice. I believe and this is


coming from my experience of working as a community worker, and a social


worker for many years, working with women, with families, and women when


they are faced with a crisis pregnancy and I think she has the


right, she must have the right to decide what to do with her own body.


The question being, Anna Lo, it is not about politicians bringing their


religion into Parliament, it is about churchmen bringing their moral


precepts into politics? But this is church dictating to us. Do they have


the right to do that? In terms of same-sex marriage, the Alliance


Party has a strong policy in support of same-sex marriage. I believe...


APPLAUSE I believe if a couple, whether it is


two men, two women, I believe if a couple, whether it is


want to spend the rest of their lives together... What about a man


and two women, do you support that as well? I'll not ask that question.


Jonathan, what do you think? I still think that some parties or maybe the


individual members of the parties let their religion dictate the


policies and agendas rather than what would be for the benefit of


society as a whole. Let's move on to our third question. It is from Clive


Henderson who is from Irvinestown? If UK left the EU what would happen


the single farm payments? Jim Allister, I better put that to you,


would the Government replace that money? That vast amount of money is


a return of some of our own money because we pay in ?17 billion every


year into Brussels. We get back less than half so the net cost is ?23.6


million per day. ?1 million for every hour. So what we're getting


back from Europe a portion of our own money. If we weren't in the EU,


we would have ?17 billion to spend on our own farmers and our own


fishermen. We know the Health Service is in bad condition and the


welfare budget is costing millions and people are getting older and


they need more pensions? The Common Agricultural Policy doesn't just


apply to Northern Ireland, it applies across the United Kingdom,


the requirement of the agriculture and agri food industry particularly


at a time when world food production needs to rise, when there is a


rising population, it is perhaps the one industry that has great growth


opportunities. Any Government in its right mind would want to encourage


it, to grow it, because it can be our greatest exporter. I have


confident that any Government that wanted to have a competitive


industry in agriculture and I think all would, would recognise the


necessity of sustaining and supporting that industry. Would


there not be some Governments who would say if this industry can't


stand on its own two feet, let's give it up? I think the reality is


when you have an industry so central to food, as food production, which


is what keeps us all alive then no Government in it's right mind is


ever going to turn its back on that industry. And this nonsense that we


must cravely cling to Brussels and say, "Oh, we're so grateful that for


every ?20 we give you, you give us back ?10. How grateful we are." We


must really get over that attitude. APPLAUSE


This is an issue that goes to the heart of what the future is going to


be. If you look at the situation in the agricultural industry and you


have to realise that the farmers in Northern Ireland are simply, but the


first link in the food chain that is one of the most progressive,


creating jobs, and wealth and stability in Northern Ireland. It is


the one area that stood firm against that economic downturn. So I can


tell you one thing - before I would ever agree to leaving Europe, I


would not only want that renegotiation to take place between


London and Brussels, but I would want a negotiation between Belfast


and London to guarantee to me that the money that this ?17 million that


Jim talks about, would actually, we would get a portion of that for the


agricultural industry. So you don't have the confidence that he would


has that that would be automatic? Well, I have seen a lot of


governments come and go and I have never seen one want to send us extra


money. As far as I am concerned... They send us 10 approximately 0


billion a year, but they would have to send us more. The single farm


payment is more than 52% of every farm income in Northern Ireland.


That is what is needed to sustain that and can you imagine where this


country would be every lost jobs through farming and the food


industry that. There. And we have this challenge with the reform and


the biggest danger that we face is not from Brussels, and the CMP, it


is because Stormont cannot make up their mind about what to do before


August on high that Bonnie will be distributed. -- how that money. As


someone who has spent 25 years as a mEP, I have never once politicised


agriculture and it is a shame to those parties who have and if they


destroy this business, they will be held responsible by the people of


Northern Ireland. He is pointing the finger at you, Martina Anderson? I


would like to respond to the question because the couple and


farming is the exclusive competency of Europe sold you would not get


that replaced by any other government. -- so you would not.


That is where farmers have real concern in regards to the common


agricultural policy. This is about such a referendum and it is decided


that Britain should leave, we are of the opinion, as I said in my


opening, that the place of Ireland is in Europe and that is one of the


reasons that we look at this, we look at funding for cap and funding


for structural business and I would say to all of those groups, farmers


big and small, do not listen to the nonsense you will hear about us


being better out of Europe because there is no mission that the British


government will replace that funding for you here. It is actually Sinn


Fein? Politicising the single farm payment. Trying to even it out? That


is seen by some as taking money away from the most reductive farmers.


There are thousands of farmers in severely disadvantaged areas and


they are getting below the average payment. Because they are producing


below. This is about the rights for those farmers. People who produce


more should not get more subsidy? This is an income support model, not


for production. What would get better production is growth and that


is with the Minister, sitting in the Executive and the DUP blocked that.


That is what we need to look at if we're going for the growth strategy


and that is what we're going to do to enhance production. You are


blocking progress? I am glad to see I be culture at the top of the


agenda. The single farm payment is important to farmers, it is a


lifeline. -- agriculture. As the farmer's friend, the DUP has stood


up for farmers over and over again in Europe and in Stormont. We will


ensure that, no matter what happens in any renegotiation, we will ensure


that there is direct support. I want to say that even the most advanced


economy, free-market economy, in the world, the USA, supports farmers and


it is absolutely vital that we categorically state that no matter


what we do, support for farmers is absolutely important. And did you


block that growth strategy? It is important because Northern Ireland


agriculture is important to the economy, 52% of all manufacturing


sales are from this sector. It is absolutely vital to grow this sector


and we continue to support sustainable farming. The DUP stands


up for these farmers and that is why in December, when my colleague,


Simon Hamilton, to the Sinn Fein minister to court, we ensured there


was an extra 137 macro and euros in the pot for the single farm payment.


-- 137 macro. We are standing up for farmers. -- ?137 million. Growing


for growth is the agreed road map between the industry and the


government to take Northern Ireland farming into the future. Mike


Holding, Arlene Foster, is already delivering on this. What we need to


do... The DUP has blocked it. Through the chair. Anna Lo? Just to


follow up about that the buckle in December of two different ministers


going to court because they could not agree on how to spend both lots


of money. One part is for single farm payments by their partner that


can be transferred. To help with protecting the environment. -- but


part of that. Simon Hamilton scuppered that amount of money. We


had flexibility to move from the single farm payment to that


agri-food scheme, to help with infrastructure and new developments


and research. This is a movement happening in other countries? In


other parts of the UK, England, 90% transfer. 14% from Scotland, 12%


from Wales. We are getting into too much detail! I want you to respond


to the question, do you think that this money would come to farmers if


we left the EU? Absolutely not. It is crazy to think that. The same


Alliance Party wanted us to join the euro. That shows us the value of


their judgement. The last, from Jim Allister is strange, on one hand...


You also wanted us to join the EU! Do not trust London when it comes to


on the run prisoners but trust them with agriculture payments. You


cannot have this both ways. What would happen if there was withdrawal


from the European Union for the farmers? You can draw a conclusion


about what Londoners saying, too many welfare claimants, sink


awesome. That is what they would say here. -- sink or swim. There can be


no doubt, why? Many reasons but not least because the profile of the


farming industry here is very different from what it is in many


parts of Britain because we have 25,000 farmers here and they farm a


greater percentage of the land and so on. Jim Allister is also wrong.


He is a encounter. He measures what is paid over to Europe and what


comes back in European payments. It happens to be our own money. What he


completely ignores is what the CBI says and what it says is that the


GDP boost to Britain and Northern Ireland from membership of the


European Union, to use their word, towards the membership fee. Why? --


dwarfs. When you look at these export opportunities here and in


Britain into the EU, the average benefit to any citizen in these


parts of the world is over ?1200 every year. And the average net


payment by those citizens into the European Treasury is... Lady in the


front row? It is great to see that even the -- even if you disagree,


you support farmers. I am involved in the anti-fracking campaign and


farmers in Australia and America and Canada are crying out for help to


keep fracking away from farmland. I am hoping you will stand with us. We


will have no special lobbying! What are your views? I would not be sure


that the government would back the farming sector as well as it is at


present because of the income from the single farm payment and that


needs to be in place if you want cheap, safe food. Question number


four, from Gareth Brown, a public affairs manager from Randalstown.


Does the panel believe that the membership of the EU is important


for Northern Ireland and germs of dealing with difficult issues of the


past? And if so, could be explained by? -- could they explain why. Money


that was supposed to reconcile communities and contribute to shared


society, Alex Attwood? The answer is yes. Europe helps in so many ways,


some of which we do not recognise. Through the piece money, over the


last number of years. And there will be another in place by the end of


this year and into next year. We need to speed up the process because


lots of organisations are in jeopardy. -- peace. It also helps


because they have created a rights -based approach to society and


public policy. If there is anything we can learn from those years of


terror and conflict in the society, it is that when we deny rights, you


create instability. Therefore, this approach in the European Union and


across Europe generally, not least with the European Convention, is a


mechanism to inform us about how we should conduct politics and society


in the future and also, Europe has demonstrated and the world has


demonstrated that through international justice mechanisms,


you should not deny citizens and countries the rights of justice for


those who have suffered at the hands of those who have been involved in


conflict. If you look at this across the funding mechanism, justice and


that rights -based approach, Europe has much to teach us but,


critically, we must learn from that by having an approach to the past


and stealing without immediately. Anna Lo? We have not been able to


agree amongst ourselves and the EU would, I am sure, you have us a hand


and help us. The peace money came since 1995 and we have got 2 billion


euros out of this. I would hope in the next round, we would have 140


million going towards building a shared future. Specifically,


building community relations, having more shared spaces and shared


housing and integrated education for all of us to learn to live and go up


with our children to learn together. I think that Europe has done a lot


in keeping the peace since the last world war, World War II. And it has


helped in breaking down barriers between member states as well. I


think we can learn a lot from them but we can contribute a lot also, in


the Assembly there is great recognition that we have done well


in the peace process. We can have opportunities with other member


states to share learning. And we have received so much political


support and money from people and I think there is a moral obligation


for us to share that experience with others as well. And it is ?2 billion


since 1995. European money would have gone to support the Maze prison


project? What has happened to that? It has been redistributed and


firstly, can I say that peace funding... Let me... It has been


redistributed to a range of projects, one of which is the shared


site at the leisure centre in Newtownabbey, over ?4 million.


Communities will access and benefit from that. I am very happy to have


helped the council and communities are to actually access that. That is


a very important issue. Piece money has been important for Northern


Ireland. -- peace. The part will be around ?240 million. And I have


clearly said that I would like to see funding directed at young people


and those who are in danger of being drawn back into violence and I would


like us to really direct that, in giving young people a stake in


society and the future in Northern Ireland going forward. Yes, funding


has been important for Northern Ireland. Can the EU make peace in


Northern Ireland? No, fundamentally, peace in Northern Ireland will be


made here. And that will be based on truth and justice. And I do a lot of


work with the innocent victims of terrorism, both in the European


Parliament and in Northern Ireland, and they tell me that going forward,


we need to see truth and justice. And the prospect of justice for each


and every one of them as they go forward. And that is where it is


important. We can start this process. We can start it. I actually


looking at some of the issues that are important to give victims. One


of the issues that Israeli important is the issue of a definition of


victim. You know, we have... As you say jurp can't help us with --


Europe can't help us with that? We need a definition of a victim that


excludes the perpetrators of violence and I invite those parties


here, particularly the SDLP to join with us.


APPLAUSE What is your party's view on peace


money being used to redevelop the Mazi site and what -- Maze and what


are your feelings on a shrine to terrorism being built there? The


lady there? The only comment I have to make is to the parties regarding


funding coming out of Europe. It seems to be directed at innovative


projects which seem to have a time limit. There is a lot of good work


going on within the communities at present time for all sorts of


issues, be it victims, or whatever, with this money coming to us,


hopefully in 2014/2015, can the MEPs give us any guarantees that there


could be funding to sustain current projects because the projects we


have seem to die at a specific time? Jim Allister, it wasn't Europe's


fault Jim Allister that the Maze project collapsed. President Barroso


said he was impressed by Northern Ireland for developing a centre for


conflict resolution The Maze project typified the folly to go down that


road and what stopped the waste of ?20 million on the Maze project was


not the mighty DUP, what stopped the waste of that money was an uprising


of innocent victims who saw... APPLAUSE


Who saw that project for what it was, a glorification of the


victim-makers and sadly for five years, Mrs Dodds in Brussels never


spoke out about the Maze project, she stuck with the party line to


deliver the Sinn Fein agenda at the Maze and it took the innocent


victims to force the DUP U-turn on the Maze and I'm glad this party


played some small part in doing it. Martina Anderson? Our peace process


shines like a beacon light and gives a lot of hope to a lot of areas that


are trying to emerge from conflict. And Europe supports the Good Friday


agreement. And I think it is crucially important that we look at


the opportunities that the peace funding has brought here. 22,000


projects. 900,000 participants and as you have mentioned, there has


been sterling work which has been done in communities across the two


traditions here in the north and in the border corridors. I think we


need to look at the opportunities that we have to give something to


Europe in terms of hope and also for us to be able to get from Europe,


not just in terms of funding, but the peace centre in the Kerb would


have been -- Kesh would have been such a statement beyond Ireland to


peek who were trying to -- people who were trying to emerge from


conflict. Conflict is a terrible thing. It is how we are able to get


out of it and we were able to use that funding for that benefit.


APPLAUSE Can I go now? Yes, please. I was


involved in this from Peace One. On many occasion, there has been plenty


troubles on the way and it is far from perfect, but it did make a


valuable contribution in the early years to the two communities in


Northern Ireland. And I have to say, you know, many people say to me in


Brussels, that was 1994 when Ian Paisley and John Hume and I went


through the door. 20 years ago since that first peace one was formed.


Many people I know in Brussels say to me, "Jim, how long does it take


you to make peace in Northern Ireland?" We know the many problems


we have here, but Europe has been very good in that it has tried to


always stay above on many, many occasions the differences and the


disagreements that we have. But I have to say, where I agree with Jim,


because Jim was the MEP at the when he and I were locked out of any


discussions taking place at that time. We were not part of and for


the first time in all the time thave been an MEP that we were not part or


contributing to the Barroso taskforce. Even though we told them


that wouldn't happen... We're going to have to take a couple of


questions from the floor and then we've got to move on. We have no


time left. The January Ja gentleman in the black shirt. I'm assuming Jim


and Diane are talking about victim makers and terrorism and talking


about a collusion and terrorism. I would like to ask the panel what


have you and your party done to oppose the IRA shrine at the Maze?


Can I answer on two points? No, too many. The DUP said there will be no


shrine at the Maze and there will be no shrine at the Maze. It is off the


table. Can I say? We're not a one-man band. I don't have to speak


on everything... One last question. Time is running out for us. Jim, you


are the one-man band. APPLAUSE


Chris Jordan. If elected, what will you miss most while in Brussels?


Anna, what would you miss? What would I miss here? I wouldn't


miss the bickering that's been going on all night. What would I miss? I


would miss the nice people here. I would miss the hospitalality and the


warmth. My sister is over from Hong Kong and she couldn't get over...


How nice we are? Yes. I would miss my wife, my family and my two girls,


they are seven and five. I've missed a bit of their lives so far. It


won't be easy to miss a bit more. I will miss the people of Northern


Ireland on the days I'm over there because the strength and the


character and the capacity and the innovation... Flattery! Jim


Nicholson, you have practically forgotten Northern Ireland you have


been gone so long. Even for you Noel, that's pretty low! I can say a


lot of things. I do apologise? Not at all. It goes with the territory.


Probably the thing I mist the most is a good plate of Irish stew.


Martina Anderson, you have had two years out there, what have -- what


do you miss? I miss my mother. My hother has at zim -- mother has


Alzheimer's of the there is nothing that brightens up my day when I come


back from Europe particularly a journey from Strasbourg and walking


in to see my mummy. Jim Allister, what did you miss most? Being apart


from family is a sacrifice that everyone makes. Politically, would I


miss being a thorn in the flesh of Sinn Fein, DUP in Stormont? Well,


happily, well happily I would have someone to be that northern and I --


thorn and I would have a bigger mandate from across the province to


add to that thorn. Diane? Well, I would miss the people of Northern


Ireland. It is a privilege to represent Northern Ireland in the


European Parliament, but most of all, you know, you miss your family


and that's very significant and of course, nothing beats coming home to


a slice of Wheatan bread. I will give you 40 seconds to sum-up what


we have heard today. Who knows, we might find our debate changed views.


Martina Anderson. Well, if you are against austerity and want


leadership and you want someone that's going to stand up for you,


you want someone who is going to stand up against cuts and make sure


that we get and maximise the opportunities in Europe. If you want


team Sinn Fein, then you should vote for Sinn Fein councillors and myself


throughout Ireland and particularly here in the north.


Diane Dodds? APPLAUSE


This Thursday I'm asking you for a mandate to continue to represent


Northern Ireland in Europe. While the Unionist candidates agree on


many issues, the reality is that only one, the DUP, has the ability


to deliver. While some others just carp and criticise and have nothing


positive to offer, we are the party that stands up for Northern Ireland.


Division weakens Unionism. Splits votes mean lost power and influence.


I want to get the best deal for Northern Ireland and that's why on


Thursday, I'm asking you to vote to strengthen unionism and our voice in


the European Parliament. So I'm asking you to vote number one, DUP


and then transfer. Thank you very much indeed. Jim Nicholson? Thank


you, Noel. Can I thank the audience? I began this debate by saying Europe


needs to get real. And from what we've been saying, there is no doubt


about that and we have seen here tonight that it is obvious to all of


us that some of the candidates also need a reality check as well. We


must not take local differences we have witnessed here to Europe


because they will not understand our argument. I will not politicise


agriculture. I will stop the EU's to destroy o jobs and I will not lead


Northern Ireland over a cliff edge. I will continue to do what I have


done for 25 years and that's to proudly work on behalf of everyone


in Northern Ireland. Thank you very much indeed. Alex Attwood? Well,


thank you Noel and I thank the audience. I think this debate, I


think the politics of the last number of months and years


demonstrates that we have to move Northern Ireland in a hopeful and


bold direction. That we cannot continue to let people down. As I


said earlier, all of that happens or doesn't happen if people vote or


they do not vote. I have said all along in this election campaign that


this is no ordinary election and a poll and the papers are now saying


that there can be no ordinary outcome. That's powerful your votes


tonight are. That's why I ask you to vote for me.


Jim Allister. Over the years many unionist and democrats in Northern


Ireland feel they have been robbed of things that matter to them. We've


reached the stage where you can't even vote a party out of Government.


You are not allowed to change your Government and you are in the


allowed to have an opposition. Well, the one thing that can't be taken


from you is your vote. That is your secret weapon. So come out on


Thursday. Let's shake things up. Let's vote TUV to make a difference


on all these issues. Do not be distracted by the self serving


nonsense about splitting the vote. You cannot split a vote in a PR


election providing you use your transfers within the unionist family


and that's what everyone should do. Anna Lo? Yes, on Thursday you have


the opportunity to step forward, to make changes. If you don't want the


us and them old politics, you vote for the Alliance Party. We work for


everyone. We can present a new modern progressive and inclusive


image of Northern Ireland to Europe, to the world. I am ambitious for


Northern Ireland. I am ambitious, I will be very active in Europe to


work for everyone. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very


much indeed. There are four other candidates running in the European


election. Ross Brown of the Green Party, ma Tina McKenzie. There will


be a report on their response on Talk Back tomorrow and on BBC


Newsline on BBC One. A full list of candidates is on the BBC's election


website. The result of the euro polls should be known on Monday


afternoon. May the best teams win. Thank you to our candidates and to


our studio audience and to you at home for watching. Goodbye.


APPLAUSE with candidates standing in our 11


new council districts, and it's time for you to choose who will be


our representatives in Europe. BBC News NI will bring you


the results as they come in, with live coverage


from all the count centres. We'll have reaction,


expert analysis, and, of course, a chance for you


to have your say across TV,


In the run up to the election, candidates for the European Parliament face an audience of potential voters. Noel Thompson presents.

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