Live blogging the North Antrim debate

Bear with me, for this is the first time I’ve done this live blogging. UTV is running a live debate between the five main contenders in North Antrim, moderated by Jim Dougal.

Right, Dougal asks about Ballymena being Asbo and drug capital of north. Ian Jr mentions transient people coming to Ballymena and bringing drug problems with them. Jim Allister talks about running down of police and Ian Jr sitting on policing board, also area needs fulltime MP. Daithi McKay: majority of crime in Ballymena drug related, resources needed for area. Declan O’Loan praises police interventions with youth. Irwin Armstrong: invest in teenagers, keep them away from drugs, Asbos having no impact as no backup.

Dougal on cuts in pipeline. Ian Jr: constituency turned round in last 40 years by Papa Doc, cuts must not affect North Antrim disproportionately. McKay: not cut public sector but increase private sector, concentrate on small and medium enterprises, we achieve more outside Westminster than others in it. O’Loan: people on doorsteps telling politicians to get in and make it work, being on floor of Westminster hugely important. Armstrong: resent N Antrim being called a backwater, neither Paisley lives in constituency. Allister: rising unemployment especially in Ballymoney, need to build new employment base through encouraging small industry, Invest NI far too focused on getting in call centres rather than helping local business.

Dougal asks about bitter battle between DUP and TUV. Ian Jr tries to take moral high ground – I run on local issues and delivery for constituency, Allister spends all his time slinging mud at me and Dad. Allister: only weapon I have and need against Junior is the truth, people don’t want overbearing dynasty passing on to flawed second generation, Junior approved PSNI training Gaddafi’s militia, Junior lobbied for developers at St Andrews. Junior: Jim filled with hatred against me and Dad, can’t work with anybody. Allister: constituency needs someone who had 96% attendance record in Europe, a worker not a smart alec. Armstrong: people want to know about jobs not history, I have run businesses and know about creating jobs. O’Loan: people want to hear delivery on jobs agenda, transfer test, frontline health care and I can bring that to Westminster. McKay: we need to kickstart economy, pressure banks to lend to small businesses, lower corporation tax, take economic levers out of London and into the Assembly. McKay and O’Loan talking over each other on abstentionism.

Allister: we need end to mandatory coalition, people in despair over 11+ thanks to SF in government, will share power with anyone but SF. Ian Jr: I want to go to Westminster and be a voice over issues like pensions, not to give off about peace process. Allister: I live in North Antrim (ouch!), there is appetite for change from people who don’t want this dynasty to carry on, Big Ian wouldn’t even turn up to vote on abortion, we don’t need flawed second generation, you chuckled with terrorists in government. Armstrong: I am only candidate campaigning to be in UK government.

And, er, that’s it. Allister, as ever, snapping away like a wee terrier with a bone it won’t let go of. Junior starting out trying to do the laid-back, moral-high-ground, patronising thing that Adams does so well, but quickly getting quite snappy. You could almost feel the hatred flowing out of the screen. The other three getting their points across – I’d forgotten how much I enjoy Declan O’Loan’s waspish delivery – but strictly there for the purposes of the Representation of the People Act. The marquee clash was always Allister vs Paisley Jr, and it was just as bad-tempered as one would have hoped.


  1. John Meehan said,

    April 30, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Action Replay :

    No wonder Ballymena is the asbo capital of the 6 counties.

  2. slug said,

    April 30, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I thought it badly chaired by UTV once again.

    I also think that its wrong to set up these things as “two horse race”. Its a debate.

    I think the chair was weak and stirred up animosity deliberately between IPJ and Allister.

    The exchange between the unionists showed unionist infighting at its very worst.

    I find Paisley Jnr too full of himself – you are right he is like Adams.

    Allister was rude- so was IPJ.

  3. harry monro said,

    April 30, 2010 at 8:53 am

    “transient people coming to Ballymena and bringing drug problems”
    can someone translate Baby Doc’s code for me, is there a particular group he is thinking of or is just an – our kids don’t do drugs – theme
    thanks in advance for thoughts

  4. April 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I thought it was entertaining, There is really some hatred between Allister and IPJ. IPJs snipe at Allister along the lines of ‘The Good Lord in his wisdom gave you two ears and a mouth…’ had me laughing.
    I was impressed by O’Loan too.

  5. Cuchlar said,

    April 30, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I thought both Allister and Paisley jr strangely low key, was expecting a top of the bill bout. Of the others, only McKay did it for me in that he actually had some points and didn’t lose his cool. Armstrong staring down camera was downright disconcerting and it was woefully chaired.

  6. April 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Better off using something like Scribble Live and embedding the box, so people cvan interact with you as the debate goes on. Kind of like a virtual living-room

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      April 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Now there’s a thought. Isn’t technology grand?

  7. Garibaldy said,

    May 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I didn’t see this debate, but did you see Jim Allister sitting beside Gerry Kelly on the Politics Show? I thought neither looked very comfortable. I liked Sammy’s gibe about them not being able to find candidates where they didn;t stand.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      May 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      That was a good one. It’s not often I’ve seen Allister looking uncomfortable – he didn’t seem to have any problem sitting next to Daithi McKay – but then, I might feel a bit uncomfortable if Gerry K was sat next to me. He smiles more than he used to, but he’s never shook off that air of menace.

      • Garibaldy said,

        May 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm

        I thought the thing was very badly chaired, with far too much Jim Allister shouting at , and over, the DUP and the Provos. If I were Kelly, Durkan and Long, I would have been interrupting and demandind more time.

        I note that the voters panel had two businessmen, but no representatives from the trade unions for example. So much for the stakeholders.

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        May 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm

        True enough. Also noticed that Sammy handled Allister much better than Ian Jr did – much as I have reservations about Sammy, the experience tells.

  8. Garibaldy said,

    May 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    I thought Sammy did well myself, concentrating on the future etc. Allister reminded me a lot of Paisley in the past in style and tone. Hopefully the Paisley of 1998 rather than the Paisley of 2005.

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