Leaders’ TV debate lacked NI voice: Dodds

DUP MP Nigel Dodds
DUP MP Nigel Dodds

The DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds says that a national BBC televised debate by the five opposition leaders missed “a voice from Northern Ireland”.

The five opposition leaders who took part on Thursday night were from Ukip, SNP, Labour, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru.

The DUP had been engaged in a lengthy public row with the BBC over their exclusion from televised national election debates.

Asked after the debate what he would have contributed, Mr Dodds said there were two things missing from the stage – the Prime Minister and “a voice from Northern Ireland”.

The DUP “can make a difference to the next parliament”, he said. The DUP’s eight to 10 seats – more than some of the opposition parties included in the debate, he said – could be used to put either Labour or the Conservatives into government depending on which offers the best deal for Northern Ireland and the UK.

He said two nationalist parties on stage “want to break up the United kingdom but we want to strengthen the United Kingdom”. The DUP also wants 2 per cent spend on defence, an EU referendum and stronger immigration controls.

“Twenty per cent of our [United Kingdom] reserve forces come from Northern Ireland voluntarily although we only make up 3 per cent of the population,” he noted.