Suspicious Robinson wonders if media has non-voting ‘plan’

Election Diary 2014
Election Diary 2014

Speaking as he launched the DUP’s manifesto yesterday, Peter Robinson said suggestions that turnout would fall yet again in the looming elections were wide of the mark.

He said that he had been out canvassing and speaking to “real people, not the journalists who take some hypothesis of what the view of the electorate is”.

He insisted that “real people” are not reluctant to vote and actually “inspire the candidates”. The First Minister then chided journalists: “Sometimes I wonder if it is part of the plan of the media to try and encourage people to stay at home. It is your job as much as it is ours as part of this society to encourage the use of the democratic process; to encourage people to come out and vote.”

Reg running on empty?

Candidates for local councils are always keen to be photographed with senior party figures, particularly if the image is to be published in their local newspaper.

However, the Antrim UUP candidate Paul Michael must have been somewhat disappointed when they opened the Antrim Times to see in the paper’s detailed two-page election coverage an image of him standing beside former UUP leader “Reg Empty”.

MEPs absent from hustings

Oxfam Ireland will tomorrow night host the latest hustings event of the election — but none of the Province’s three MEPs will be present.

At several recent events Martina Anderson, Diane Dodds and Jim Nicholson have not been in attendance, with party colleagues filling in for them. However, candidates for the smaller parties, such as the Greens, NI21 and UKIP have been attending in person. Oxfam said tomorrow night’s public hustings, which start at 7pm at Queen’s University, would focus on how EU policies impact on the developing world.

European election candidates who will be present are: the NI Conservatives’ Mark Brotherston, the Greens’ Ross Brown, Alliance’s Anna Lo, NI21’s Tina McKenzie and UKIP’s Henry Reilly.

BBC to ‘clarify’ Anna Lo’s attack on UKIP

UKIP’s Northern Ireland leader David McNarry has claimed an early success against pro-European opponents the Alliance Party.

During an interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme last Friday, Alliance candidate Anna Lo referred to UKIP “heightening tensions” while answering a question about recent racist attacks.

Mr McNarry complained to the BBC and claimed that there had been “an avalanche” of similar complaints about what was said.

The BBC edited some words out of the programme when it was repeated on Sunday.

Mr McNarry claimed that his party had received an apology from the BBC but said that “no retraction or apology has been received from Alliance”.

The MLA accused Alliance of “inflammatory and scurrilous remarks” and made clear that his party was opposed to racism, adding: “We do not want a ban on immigration. Rather, we encourage immigration in areas where skilled workers are needed.”

A BBC spokeswoman said it had spoken to UKIP and added that on Friday Inside Politics would “carry a clarification...on the Anna Lo”.