Belfast Telegraph

UTV Euro debate: The verdict on how European election candidates performed

UTV hosted a European Election Debate on Monday night - how did Northern Ireland’s political candidates perform?

JIM ALLISTER:TUV

A big fish in a small party, Jim Allister is a barrister with one term in Europe already under his belt. In the Assembly he has shown you can still make a noise as a one-man band. Allister displays a razor wit and polished presentational skills.

Verdict: He’s bright — and he knows it

MARTINA ANDERSON: SINN FEIN

She got co-opted mid-term, learned fast and is likely to be the poll topper. But she needs a voice coach and tends to speak in a monotone. An exception was with Wendy Austin on Talkback when she sparkled. On UTV she sounded dreary.

Verdict: Stop mumbling, Ms Anderson

ALEX ATTWOOD: SDLP

Alex Attwood is one of the major strategists in the SDLP. The experienced former Stormont Environment Minister is on its Labour wing and an able contender for a seat. He can appear a little intense and that can hold him back in debate, but he speaks with conviction.

Verdict: A possible contender

MARK BROTHERSTON: CONSERVATIVE PARTY

Each time Mark Brotherston appears on the media he improves — and he looks the part. He did well in the second debate among smaller parties, mixing it up with Henry Reilly of Ukip (“Listen to me — you'll learn from it Henry.”)

Verdict: Showing steady progress

DIANE DODDS: DUP

She worked hard in her first term, and Diane Dodds is rated one of the top five MEPs in the UK and top in Northern Ireland by a European ratings website. She is also active on the ground. Like Ms Anderson, her delivery can still be a little wooden.

Verdict: An able candidate who keeps improving

ANNA LO: ALLIANCE PARTY

With a bubbly personality, an infectious laugh and a friendly manner, Anna Lo is known internationally as the first ethnic Chinese person to be elected in the United Kingdom. She didn't score in the UTV debate but radiated sincerity.

Verdict: Good people skills — but may struggle

ROSS BROWN: GREEN PARTY

Ross Brown offered DJ mixes to anyone who donated money to his campaign and is probably the youngest candidate. He is well on top of environmental issues and has learnt to put his points across with more assurance since the start of this |campaign.

Verdict: A promising start

TINA MCKENZIE: NI21

Her broadcast was the best in the campaign. As a Catholic businesswoman from a working-class background, Tina McKenzie shook up preconceptions by joining a pro-Union party. In the debate, she confidently side-stepped tough questions.

Verdict: She could go far — next time around

JIM NICHOLSON: ULSTER UNIONISTS

Jim Nicholson is our longest serving MEP and he knows the ropes. This year is his silver anniversary in that gold-plated job and he will be 70 next January. He appears relaxed and knowledgeable, but may struggle for the last seat.

Verdict: This could be the UUP veteran’s last hurrah

HENRY REILLY: UKIP

With a background in the Department of Agriculture, Henry Reilly is undoubtedly on top of some major European issues affecting Northern Ireland — but he plodded along in the debate. He will be counting on the Ukip surge across the UK to carry him over the line.

Verdict: Could do better

 

Further reading:

European candidates up for the fight in TV debate, but no knock-out blows were landed  

EU's role as cash cow to subsidise Northern Ireland's farmers goes unchallenged in pre-election TV debate 

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