DUP leader slams ‘outrageous’ BBC decision to omit party

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson

DUP leader Peter Robinson has said it is “outrageous” that Northern Ireland parties have been omitted from the latest UK TV election debate plan.

He spoke out on Twitter last night after after weeks of controversy over the format of the debates.

UK broadcasters, who announced a deal has reached on a series of pre-election broadcasts. said the deal will see Prime Minister David Cameron taking part in a single live TV debate with seven UK party leaders.

But the DUP, the fourth largest party at Westminster, is not among the seven.

On Twitter Mr Robinson posted: “Outrageous that BBC has excluded NI from debates whilst including smaller parties from Wales & Scotland. Will be speaking with BBC on Mon”.

The DUP have previously threatened legal action over the omission, as the DUP has more MPs than four of the seven parties invited to debate, including the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

The final line-up of televised election debates and programmes as announced by the broadcasters are:

:: March 26

A live 90-minute question and answer session with David Cameron and Ed Miliband on Channel 4 and Sky News.

The Tory and Labour leaders will be interviewed separately by former Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman, before Sky News anchor Kay Burley moderates questions from the audience. Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband will not, however, debate with each other.

:: April 2

Seven party leaders - Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband, Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, Ukip’s Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, Natalie Bennett of the Greens and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood - will take part in a live two-hour debate. The programme on ITV will be presented by Julie Etchingham.

:: April 16

The leaders of Labour, Ukip, the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru in a BBC debate moderated by David Dimbleby.

:: April 30

Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg to be quizzed separately by the audience in a Question Time special on BBC1, hosted by Mr Dimbleby.