N. Ireland Politics

Jim Allister says NI party leaders debate was 'limp'

Traditional Unionist Voice party leader Jim Allister
Image caption Jim Allister said all the five main party leaders have to offer NI, is "four more years of the same"

The Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister has described the leaders debate on BBC NI on Tuesday as "limp, ill-focused and uninspiring".

The five main party leaders made a final pitch for votes ahead of polling on Thursday.

"There was no challenge whatsoever to the collective failure of the executive over the last four years," he said.

Mr Allister said all the five main party leaders have to offer NI, is "four more years of the same".

"Indeed one of the most striking features of last night was the cosy DUP / Sinn Fein bond where Peter Robinson, in awe of Martin McGuinness was making it very clear that just as in the last Assembly when they rolled over on policing and justice, when they gave whatever it took to Sinn Fein to keep Sinn Fein happy, that he intends four more years of the same," he said.

Mr Allister said he took issue with the "whole system of government" in Northern Ireland.

"Remember on Thursday, people in Scotland and Wales go to vote. They have the right which we are denied to change our government," he said.

"They have the right which we are denied to have an opposition and we therefore will get further none-functioning, unworkable government because you don't have to agree anything to be in this government."

'Vision'

The TUV leader said it was "little wonder then when they are in government that they can't agree anything like education".

"My vision is that those after the election, no party being big enough to form a government on their own, those who can agree what to do about education, about the economy, about health, they who ever they might be form the government," he said.

"Those who can't form the opposition. Now that is democracy and yet never once last night was there a single challenge as to why we are second class citizens denied the fundamentals of democracy."

On education tuition fees, Mr Allister said he favours pegging fees for indigenous students at local universities at the present level.

He said this would help stem the brain drain from NI.

"Giving an encouragement for students to be educated, stay in NI, and therefore more likely to keep their talents here and to work in NI, but this executive doesn't even have the vision for that."