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Mrs Dodds runs away

25 April 2009

Statement by Jim Allister MEP:

“Recently the leadership of the Stormont regime demonstrated their intolerance of free speech by their audacious letter of complaint to the proprietor of the Belfast Telegraph. Now, the DUP is running away from debate in the European election.

Recognising that the Euro poll will be the first opportunity for all the voters of Northern Ireland to give their verdict on terrorist-inclusive government at Stormont, I wrote on 20th March 2009 to both the other Unionist candidates, inviting their participation in a publicly organised, independently chaired debate. The terms of the letter were as follows:-

“The upcoming European election, as well as addressing key EU issues, will undoubtedly embrace many local issues of importance to the Unionist community.
Victims' issues, the return of terrorist-inclusive government, the Sinn Fein agenda, the worth, or otherwise, of the present form of devolution and alternatives thereto, and many other pertinent matters.  You have already spoken on some of these issues. With choices to make, within the confines of maximising the unionist vote through full use of transfers, which I have long supported, an informed debate is necessary.
Accordingly, I would invite you to agree in principle to the staging of such a public debate between the three Unionist candidates. If agreeable, the details as to venue, date, chairman, distribution of tickets (maybe sold in aid of a suitable charity) etc could be discussed between our respective staff.  I am writing in similar terms to Jim Nicholson MEP.
I trust you will respond positively.”

Mr Nicholson promptly responded positively, saying that if Mrs Dodds agreed, then he would participate.  Five weeks on Mrs Dodds has not even been able to reply. Clearly, she is running scared of debate. Unionist voters will draw their own conclusions as to the fear which debate holds for the DUP.

Surely, if Mrs Dodds now believes in terrorists in government, she should be willing to come into the open and debate the issues. Having the scribes in DUP Headquarters pen press releases is no substitute for real and meaningful debate.

How does she hope, if she were elected, to debate against hard left and other hostile forces in the European Parliament, if she is scared of discussion at home with fellow Unionists?”

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