Patsy McGlone talks flags, jobs and votes.
Below is the SDLP Mid Ulster candidate’s webchat in full:
Patsy McGlone: Many mothers have already expressed their deep concern to me that their children are having to emigrate to find work. It is for us all as politicians to do our absolute best to help create jobs, and a key element of that is to bring about the stability in our society that gives a positive future for families. Consistently on the door steps people are saying they’re fed up with flag disputes on one side and ill timed border polls on the other - both of which are about deepening division. The SDLP is about building trust, accommodating difference and giving us the type of stable and prosperous society which provides decent paid jobs for young people.
Comment From Guest
How do you feel about young people being forced to leave NI due to lack of opportunities here?
Patsy McGlone: Late last year I carried out an extensive survey of 1,300 businesses in mid-ulster. I wanted to hear directly from local businesses what issues they had and what help they might need. A significant number of businesses responded. As a local MLA and Chair of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee in Stormont, I have been able to help on several fronts including identifying further support through the likes of Invest NI, InterTrade Ireland and indeed working with a number of banks. I have also uncovered through Assembly Questions, that even in the last five years, under Martin McGuinness as MP and Deputy First Minister, there has been a huge imbalance in terms of investment from Invest NI going to Mid-Ulster (£18m) compared with East Belfast (£60m). As someone from the constituency, with my roots firmly in the constituency, I’m determined to reverse this trend and get mid-ulster its fair share.
Comment From Fergal
Question for Patsy: What will you do about the lack of investment in Mid Ulster and the other rural areas compared to Belfast?
Patsy McGlone: This is an issue I have been working hard on in both my capacity as a constituency MLA and as Chair of the Assembly All-Party Working Group on Construction. Aside from dealing with individual cases in Mid-Ulster, I continue to press for public capital works projects, including school new builds, the construction of the new policing college outside Cookstown and road work improvements. I have also been working very closely with the industry on investment, procurement and tendering issues, and of course working with local businesses and banks to support local industry and create new jobs. I also do a considerable amount of work on planning issues to help kick start projects of all sizes to generate work for the construction sector.
Comment From Owen
Mid Ulster has many people who were in the building trade but can’t get any work now, what are you doing to help the construction sector?
Patsy McGlone: Without getting into individual cases, any one who breaks the law must be held accountable for that.
Comment From Rob
Do you support PSNI political policing and the victimisation of Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson this morning?
Patsy McGlone: I am the only candidate in this election from the constituency. I have lived there all my life and have been an elected representative for 20 years now. Since elected to the Assembly in 2003, I immediately opened two offices, one in Cookstown and one in Maghera and have dealt with thousands of people’s cases in that time. I always have an open door to people who approach me - be that when they call to my home or office or when I’m out and about. That is the key, in my view, to really understanding the needs of the entire community you live in. I am committed to serving all the people of Mid-Ulster be that in the Assembly or if elected to Westminster.
Comment From Michael
Many people in Mid-Ulster are of the opinion that Martin McGuinness was never in the area. How ‘hands on’ will you be if you are elected to be the area’s MP?
Patsy McGlone: The SDLP is a pro-life party. Personally, I feel very strongly about the issue of abortion and am on record about my views. I am also a member of the Justice Committee where we have already devoted considerable time to exploring what legislative options are available to the Assembly to make sure that the life of the mother and her unborn child are equally protected.
Comment From Catherine
Do you support the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast?
Patsy McGlone: The SDLP is standing in this election as we do in every election, to offer people choice. While others engage in a sham fight to distract the public away from their failures, the SDLP is standing on the real issues that matter to people. On the doorsteps, people want their politicians to build a positive future, create jobs, support struggling businesses, work for farm families and rural communities and just as importantly create a stable society where difference is accommodated not used as a reason to depend division in our society and give families a positive future in which to their children.
Comment From Michael
Are you not jeopardising a Nationalist winning MidUlster by standing against Francie Molloy?
Patsy McGlone: The decision in City Hall was a democratic decision, taken after a lengthy period of time and an Equality Impact Assessment. The outcome of designated days is exactly in line with what happens over Parliament Buildings in Stormont - a course of action which was previously agreed by all parties.
Comment From Jo
How can the SDLP claim to be a non sectarian party when your councillors voted to restrict the flying of Union Flag from Belfast City Hall?