Threat to deport over parking fine ‘ludicrous’ - NI Ukip chief
Politician concedes threatening to kick foreigners out for traffic offences was mistake
David McNarry, the Ukip leader in Northern Ireland, initially said he supported a draconian crackdown on people with minor offences as he was grilled on his party’s manifesto on live radio. File photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Ukip’s leader in Northern Ireland held up his hands on Monday and said his threat to deport doctors for parking fines was “ludicrous”.
David McNarry initially said he supported a draconian crackdown on people with minor offences as he was grilled on his party’s manifesto on live radio.
After reflecting on the supposed policy, the politician said threatening to kick foreigners out of the country for as little as speeding or traffic convictions was a mistake.
“Perhaps I didn’t handle it too well,” he said.
“But it’s absolutely ludicrous of anybody to be deported because of a parking fine.”
Mr McNarry was challenged over his hard-line deportation policy in an interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, where he was given the scenario of a Polish surgeon who overstays his half-hour parking and gets a ticket.
The host said deporting a paediatrician could mean a child’s life is lost.
“It’s a crime,” Mr McNarry initially said. “He has broken the law.”
Several hours later, Mr McNarry retracted his comments but criticised presenter Stephen Nolan’s line of questioning.
‘I don’t want to dodge it’
“To be quite honest I don’t want to dodge it but I just couldn’t believe the type of stuff Stephen Nolan was asking me in terms of deporting people for parking fines,” he said.
“I just didn’t know where he was going with it.”
Mr McNarry said the deportation issue is in the Ukip manifesto to show voters that things can be done to tackle criminals moving from one country to another in Europe.
“But there’s no way that should affect a Polish doctor who has a parking fine,” he said.
“It was my mistake in terms of going along with Stephen.
“I don’t think anyone would take seriously that anyone should be deported for a parking fine.
“That’s not what I meant by talking about it. I should have pulled it back.
“I have a lower level of tolerance sometimes when people are asking me stupid questions.
“I take my hat off to Stephen Nolan. He’s made a career out of it for entertainment.”
Mr McNarry said he felt he had to clarify his remarks after listeners phoned in to the show.
He said deportation should only be for very serious offences after a conviction in court.
“This morning’s remarks were part of what I considered a silly line of questioning, taking an extreme example and blowing it out of all proportion,” he said.
“I wanted Stephen Nolan to consider Ukip’s deportation policy seriously and not in an extreme light as he did, geared more to entertainment rather than public information.
“Let me make the position absolutely crystal clear - Ukip would not deport anyone for anything other than a serious offence followed by due process and conviction in the courts.”
Mr McNarry is leading Ukip’s campaign for 13 seats in the Stormont Assembly elections in May, although he is not standing himself.
The 67-year-old former Ulster Unionist has led the party in Northern Ireland since 2013.