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SDLP Remain backer Claire Hanna struggles to name EU Commissioner when quizzed on radio interview

MLA blames 'senior moment for forgetting name' during live interview on Stephen Nolan show

By Jonny Bell

Remain campaigner Claire Hanna struggled to name one of the EU commissioners in an radio interview.

The SDLP South Belfast MLA was on the BBC's Stephen Nolan show arguing for people to vote for the UK to remain within the European Union.

Asked if she could name an EU commissioner - policy makers for the European Union - she replied: "Yeah"

"What is it about knowing names, I'm not going to start."

When asked to name one, she added: "My mind has gone blank now.

"But does it matter?"

Even when help came, it was of no use to the MLA.

"I've gone completely blank. Someone texted me a name which is wrong," she told Nolan.

"Is that what it is about, it's about knowing the names of people? If people don't know the name of the health minister does that mean they can't go in and use the the health services?"

Asked if she knew the British Commissioner, she responded: "Well I know the Agricultural Commissioner and that's Phil Hogan.

"I don't remember, I'll hold my hands up.

"Some thing in my mind says Britain doesn't have one at the moment and I've named the Ireland commissioner, Phil Hogan, the Agricultural Commissioner which is one of the crucial things.

She added: "They are not faceless bureaucrats, it's not a personality contest, it doesn't mean things are not being done.

"On the relevance, that's our fault we need to make it relevant in the same way as we need to do civics education in schools.

"Do people know how legislation is made at Westminster, I would argue that they don't."

Later the MLA tweeted to say she had a "senior moment" during the live radio interview but noted how her critics had not challenged any of her arguments made during the debate.

This is not the first time an SDLP representative has struggled on Stephen Nolan's show. In the run-up to the election the party's spending plans faced a barrage of criticism after Gerard Diver's appearance on the radio programme.

More: SDLP ridiculed over Gerard Diver funding gaffe

The EU Commission is composed of a College of Commissioners of 28 members - one for each member state. They include the President and Vice-Presidents and serve a five year term. Each Commissioner is assigned responsibility for specific policy areas by the President. Commissioners are nominated by their respective countries.

The president is proposed to the European Parliament by the European Commission and is voted on by the 751 MEPs.

The Commission as a whole needs the Parliament's consent.

Commissioners cover a number of briefs from agricultural, business, climate action, energy and transport. The current crop will serve until 2019.

Jonathan Hill is the UK's nominated commissioner. His responsibilities include financial stability, financial services and capital markets union.

The EU Commission

President: Jean-Claude Juncker

Vice Presidents:

  • Frans Timmermans
  • Ferderica Mogherini
  • Kristalina Georgieva
  • Andrus Ansip
  • Maroš Šefčovič
  • Valdis Dombrovskis
  • Jyrki Katainen


  • Günther H. Oettinger
  • Johannes Hahn
  • Cecilia Malmström
  • Neven Mimica
  • Miguel Arias Cañete
  • Karmenu Vella
  • Vytenis Andriukaitis
  • Dimitris Avramopoulos
  • Marianne Thyssen
  • Pierre Moscovici
  • Christos Stylianides
  • Phil Hogan
  • Jonathan Hill
  • Violeta Bulc
  • Elżbieta Bieńkowska
  • Věra Jourová
  • Tibor Navracsics
  • Corina Crețu
  • Margrethe Vestager
  • Carlos Moedas

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