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Election briefing: From more poster drama to an SDLP newsflash to Greens vs the BBC


Another of Doug Beattie's posters was defaced this week

Another of Doug Beattie's posters was defaced this week

Another of Doug Beattie's posters was defaced this week

If you thought things on the poster wars front would calm down a bit as we inch closer to polling day, you’re sorely mistaken.

More poster drama

After opponents placed a noose around Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie’s neck on one of his election posters prior to an anti-NI Protocol rally earlier this month — an act that was widely condemned — it appears they have tried again.

This time they used black spray paint to daub a noose on to another of his posters in Upper Bann, along with the word ‘tramp’ at the bottom. On another, they drew a target, along with the word ‘clown’.

To me, this is just getting desperately pathetic. Perhaps those behind the threatening vandalism didn’t get the reaction they were hoping for last time round?

The UUP leader reacted exactly the way you would expect him to: “So we can also add Clown to Tramp, Lundy & Traitor,” he tweeted, adding a yawning emoji.

An SDLP newsflash for Allister

It was the SDLP’s turn on Thursday morning to face a grilling on the BBC’s Nolan Show.

In the hot seat was the party’s South Belfast candidate Matthew O’Toole, who was asked about the cost-of-living crisis, gender identity issues and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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The SDLP’s manifesto pledges to press the UK Government to introduce a one-year VAT holiday for domestic energy charges. It was put to him that London cannot actually do this, because of the protocol.

“VAT is covered by the protocol, so, yes, there would need to be a discussion with the EU Commission. There wouldn’t necessarily need to be a change to the protocol. Spain and other EU countries have taken action on VAT and domestic energy and there haven’t been any issues,” he said.

“The British Government are still responsible for tax-making powers for Northern Ireland. Despite what Jim Allister and others would like to make out, the UK is still the sovereign government of Northern Ireland. I’m one who aspires, in the long term, for constitutional change, but Northern Ireland is still in the UK.”

I’m not sure who is going to have the unlucky job of telling that to Mr Allister and co.

Greens remain defiant in BBC row

A bit of wind was taken out of the Green Party’s sails on Thursday when Ofcom published its ruling following a complaint made by the party over the BBC’s pre-election coverage.

Party leader Clare Bailey had previously taken issue with the amount of airtime given to some parties — like the TUV, for example, who have less elected representation than the Greens — compared to her party.

In a statement, Ofcom said its election committee rejected the complaint, stating that it was satisfied, among other things, that the weight placed by the BBC on opinion poll evidence — which the corporation cited in its defence, as the TUV is ahead of the Greens in the latest opinion polls — was reasonable.

In response, Ms Bailey remained defiant on the issue.

“In no other democracy would the main opposition party be excluded from election debates and other election coverage,” she said.

“We’re glad that, following public pressure, the BBC reversed its decision to only grant the Green Party NI one party election broadcast slot. But we’re disappointed that UTV has refused to do the same.

“Despite Ofcom’s decision not to uphold our complaint relating to other election coverage by the BBC, the Green Party NI will continue to make our case for our positive and hopeful vision for Northern Ireland.

“It’s time to move beyond the traditional politics of division and to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.”

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