MID Ulster’s joint unionist candidate Nigel Lutton took reader questions in the last in our series of webchats with Mid Ulster by-election candidates.
The son of a murdered RUC reservist, he has been selected as the single unionist candidate to contest the Mid Ulster by-election. Mr Lutton’s father Frederick ‘Eric’ Lutton was killed by the IRA in 1979.
Sinn Fein has selected Francie Molloy to stand for the seat. In 2007 DUP MP David Simpson used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mr Molloy of being involved in the killing, which Mr Molloy denies.
Eric Bullick of the Alliance party confirmed on Friday that he will be unable to take part in a webchat, due to ongoing campaign commitments.
Patsy McGlone spoke to readers on Wednesday, while a day earlier Francie Molloy of Sinn Fein took reader questions.
Below is Mr Lutton’s webchat in full:
Nigel Lutton: Folks,
Thank you for all your questions. It has been my first webchat and I have thoroughly enjoyed it and meeting a lot of the Johnston Press staff in their Craigavon office.
Back to the campaign trail now. If you live in Maghera hopefully I’ll see you around this afternoon.
Nigel Lutton: David, as we are part of the UK the Treasury set our rates of taxation. Fuel duty for one issue is massive in rural Mid Ulster. Fuel prices are going through the roof yet for the last 16 years the Mid Ulster MP has not raised the matter on the floor of the House of Commons.
Our elderly are being failed as Mid Ulster has not had an MP to question the Government on the House of Common’s floor about pensions. I have already mentioned the issue of welfare reform.
Defence and provision for the folks from Mid Ulster who serve in our Armed Forces, again Mid Ulster has not had an MP to speak out for them in the House of Commons.
Comment From David
Nigel, what benefits do you believe you would be able to bring to the people of Mid-Ulster as a representative who would actually take his seat in the House of Commons?
Nigel Lutton: John, it was certainly the first time I’ve had to canvass with a torch. Thankfully my iPhone has a torch facility. However, it gave me an opportunity represent those affected by the power-cut by getting on the iPhone to NIE. As for the second part of your question, SF should take their seats at Westminster and stop failing to represent their constituents.
Comment From John MidU
Mr Lutton, I met some of your canvassing team during the power cut in Tullyhogue on Wednesday night, and they were very enthuiastic despite the pitch black! If Sinn Fein were to take their seats in Westminister, would you work alongside them?
Nigel Lutton: I am not surprised that this has came up a lot on this web-chat. It is the main issue on the doors. People have the opportunity next Thursday to do something about it. Vote Lutton for representation.
Comment From Paul
Question for Nigel Lutton: how important do you think it is that the people of Mid Ulster have representation at Westminster following years of SF not taking their seats?
Nigel Lutton: Yes, anyone who seeks help from me will get my full attention.
Comment From Sam
Hi Nigel, will you work for all sections of the community in Mid Ulster if elected?
Nigel Lutton: My work with victims was cross community and gave me vital experience in being a voice for those who did not have the confidence to speak for themselves.
Comment From John
Nigel - how do you think your work with victims will help you if elected?
Nigel Lutton: They have a clear choice between someone who will go to Parliament and represent them or elect a SF MP who will take the pay but not their seat in the House of Commons.
Comment From William
What are the main reasons to motivate people to vote next Thursday?
Nigel Lutton: William, there has been a tremendous reception. People are crying out for representation in the House of Commons. I have been encouraged by the cross-community support for this message and this theme. People are fed up with having an MP who doesn’t vote in Parliament for them.
Comment From William
What has been the reaction to your campaign on the doors?
Nigel Lutton: Simon, sorry you are misguided. I have been on the campaign trail for two weeks. I have been knocking doors and attending events in the constituency. Due to the short campaign timetable I have been devoting my time to being on the doorsteps.
Comment From Simon
Why will you not speak to the people who you want to vote for you?
Nigel Lutton: I have grave difficulties with some people in government but as a democrat I have to accept they have a mandate and continue to get re-elected at each election.
Comment From L.Gordon
Mr Lutton what is your opinion on people who organised terrorist attacks on the people of Northern Ireland and are responsible for the massacre of hundreds of innocent victims and members of the security forces, holding seat within the Assembly. ?
Nigel Lutton: Regardless of the debate around deployment, we should all unite in support of our troops when they are on operation. This includes welcoming them back home when they complete their duties. Our Armed Forces come from all sections of our community and should be supported.
Comment From Sam McBride
Do you support the deployment of British troops (including the Royal Irish) to Mali in support roles; should the UK engage in overseas military operations against Islamic extremists?
Nigel Lutton: If I had been the MP for Mid Ulster I would have opposed the Welfare Reform legislation. Unfortunately for my constituency their MP whilst talking about his opposition was not there to actually cast his vote.
Comment From Sam McBride
Do you support the welfare reforms being brought in by the Government or should Northern Ireland consider breaking the principle of parity with the rest of the UK to set up its own more generous welfare system?
Nigel Lutton: All forms of terrorism were and are wrong. I condemn all acts of terror including those of recent days where families have been targeted with crude devices.
Comment From John
Nigel has clearly come through tragic personal circumstances in the loss of his father. The area around the Moy, Canary and wider south tyrone suffered many deaths at the hands of the UVF. Will Nigel openly condemn those directly involved in those murders and recognise that victims come from all sides of the community, including republican families.
Nigel Lutton: Everyone has the right to peaceful and lawful protest. It is unfortunate that the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Coalition continue to refuse to engage with anyone to resolve this matter.
Comment From Andrew
Do you support the continued weekly Orange Order protest at Drumcree?
Nigel Lutton: Cllr Brush was cruelly targeted as he served his community just the same as my father.
The motion was understandably very upsetting for Sammy. Those who supported the motion, whilst wanting Gerry McGeough out for Christmas, seemed to forget that if Sammy had not been wearing his bulletproof vest his family would not have had him for the last 30 Christmases. The motion should never have been tabled.
Comment From Ruth
Do you welcome Patsy McGlone’s comment in his Newsletter webchat that the SDLP Councillors on Dungannon Council may have got it wrong on the vote to support the release of Gerry McGeough and that the party may look into this.
Nigel Lutton: Everyone has a right to peacefully protest within the law.
Many will find it ironic that it is SF’s Gerry Kelly lecturing about law and order on this matter. I have ALWAYS believed that everyone should be equal under the law and equally subject to the law.
Comment From Ian
Do you support Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson’s right to peacefully protest?
Nigel Lutton: The HET is dealing with the case. The investigation is ongoing and I have full confidence in their ability to investigate the matter.
Comment From Bill
Would you like the Historical Enquiries Team to investigate David Simpson’s allegations made in Parliament concerning Francie Molloy?
Nigel Lutton: It made me want to ensure no one ever had to go through what my family went through again. That’s why I have dedicated a large part of my life to working with victims. I worked for the WAVE Trauma Centre for several years which deals with victims from all sections of our community.
I have always said that hatred can destroy a victim. I don’t seek revenge. I seek justice. There is a big difference. I want to play my part in the healing process which needs to take place in our country on all sides of the community.
Victims should not just be part of our past they should be part of the future.
Comment From Sandy Bingham
How did the IRA murder of your dad affect your life?
Nigel Lutton: I have been up lane-ways, across fields and up -and-down streets every day since I was selected canvassing in Mid Ulster. Anyone wanting to help out on the campaign trail should get in touch with their local unionist MLA. I will be out all day tomorrow and next week as well. Thankfully, I will have a rest from the campaign trail on Sunday.
Indeed, last Saturday I even took to the football field in search of votes. A big hello to the folks at Coagh United. Unfortunately, it was a difficult game for the boys from Coagh.
Comment From Archie Leetch
How many villages/towns have you been canvassing in over the last few weeks?
Nigel Lutton: This is an outrage which should be brought to an end. I know the unionist parties have been lobbying the Government on this matter. I had hoped the NI Bill recently published would have included legislation to end this scandalous use of public money. If elected, I will be taking the oath and my seat and will be a voice for Mid Ulster in the House of Commons.
Comment From David Williamson
If elected to Parliament, what will you do end the scandal of Sinn Fein MPs claiming allowances for doing no work?
Nigel Lutton: I am the candidate in this election and I am concentrating on this campaign. Future elections are a matter for those parties. Any unionist worth their salt should want to see more unionist MPs in Westminster.
Comment From Albert Smyth
Your candidature has been seen as a bridge between the two unionist parties. Do you think that unionists should combine in places like South Belfast and Fermanagh-South Tyrone?
Nigel Lutton: No, I support us staying with sterling and the UK retaining its sovereignty. If we look at the economy in some eurozone countries at the moment it is further support for my argument.
Comment From Laurence Dinsmore
Alliance have said they are in favour of joining the Euro. Do you agree with this?
Nigel Lutton: As someone who is pro-life, I believe there should be proper regulation of abortions in Northern Ireland. Whilst it is illegal to carry out an abortion in the Province there are legal defences where a mother’s life is at risk or her long-term mental health. I support the amendment tabled by Paul Givan, Alban Maginness and Tom Elliott in the Assembly. This would bring greater regulation. The NHS provides this service free of charge and has proper accountability. SF should reconsider their opposition to the amendment but it is a matter for the electorate to decide upon. The SF candidate in Mid Ulster should make his position clear on this matter.
Comment From Mid Ulster Catholic
Do you think Sinn Fein is out of step with many of their rural Catholic voters in opposing the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill regarding abortion?
Nigel Lutton: Yes, I want to see cooperation within unionism as do many grassroots unionists. I was delighted to have been able to gain the support of all unionist parties in this election. As I travel across Mid Ulster and go from door-to-door it is clear that unionists are delighted to have an agreed unionist candidate.
Comment From Adrian Smith
Do you think Unionist cooperation is something that should be built on for the future?
Nigel Lutton: Folks, sorry for being late.
I was with a suicide support group this morning. Incredibly moving stories which demonstrate the importance of providing proper support to those who have been affected by this matter.
As for the question asked,
mid ulster is very rural community. The agri-food sector is vital to the local economy. unfortunately for the last 16 years there has been no voice for that sector in the House of Commons. I want to put that right. I have already met with Diane Dodds and Jim Nicholson as many matters relating to our rural communities have their origins in Europe.
As was demonstrated at my meeting this morning, we must also ensure rural communities continue to have adequate provision in terms of health service and transport infrastructure as well.
Comment From Anon
Mid Ulster is a rural constituency. How would you work to help rural communities?