Sending sharply divided politicians to represent Northern Ireland in Brussels has an economic impact on the Province, NI21’s European candidate has said.
Launching her party’s European manifesto just seven days before next week’s election, Tina McKenzie said that the new pro-Union party was “standing on a platform of radically reforming politics in Northern Ireland”.
She said: “If you want people to come and invest in Northern Ireland, I don’t think we should send divided politics to the heart of Europe because that impacts what investment we get.”
The manifesto stresses the party’s pro-EU stance and argues that Northern Ireland needs an MEP from a party outside of the Executive to hold Stormont ministers to account.
There have been rumours of internal tensions within NI21 and there were only a handful of the party’s members at yesterday’s launch, from which deputy leader John McCallister was noticeably absent.
However, when asked about Mr McCallister, Ms McKenzie said that he was at the Balmoral Show. She explained the absence of most other NI21 members by saying that the party was made up of ordinary people, most of whom have jobs and are not “professional politicians” able to attend daytime events.
When asked if she was confident she could perform better than some of the other smaller parties such as the Greens, UKIP or the TUV, Ms McKenzie said: “I’m confident, number one, that the message is right; I’m confident, number two, in myself, and I’m actually confident that the Northern Irish people are ready for change.
“How that transfers into votes, we’ll see next week.” Ms McKenzie added that she thought it was “an election like no other election”...I don’t think we can use the past to predict the future any more”.
Ms McKenzie said that “I think somebody did tell Basil that he was going to get the second preference after they were going to vote eirigi, which surprised Basil
NI21 leader Basil McCrea said that he was seeing “a whole new generation getting involved in politics” because of the party.