Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Reality may bite for newcomer Nigel Farage

Ukip leader Nigel Farage
Ukip leader Nigel Farage

For a country where political debate revolves around whether to stay a part of the UK, let alone Europe, you have to wonder where exactly Ukip fits into things.

EU issues are not top of the agenda here. Just over 40% of people bothered to vote in the last European election four years ago – well down on Assembly and Westminster polls recently.

The sense is that people here don't really understand Europe, and therefore aren't going to be persuaded by arguments calling for UK independence. Nigel Farage is also entering a somewhat crowded political field with the TUV and NI21 adding to the already high number of parties.

Whether another new entrant can really capture the electorate's imagination is doubtful.

Currently Ukip has only one MLA in the 108-Member Assembly: David McNarry, who was elected as an Ulster Unionist.

It also holds just one council seat: Henry Reilly, who serves on Newry and Mourne.

Mr McNarry points out how membership has trebled in the last year, but the party still has just 300 in its ranks.

Nigel Farage claims the appetite is there for Ukip in Northern Ireland.

With elections scheduled in each of the next three years, that claim is about to be put to the test,

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