Cameron calling for debates role for Northern Ireland parties

Mention of Northern Ireland parties seen as tactic to keep broadcasters on defensive

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron: “I am delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again . . . although I don’t quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out.” Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron: “I am delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again . . . although I don’t quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out.” Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

 

British prime minister David Cameron has said that he cannot see why Northern Ireland’s political parties should be excluded from proposed television debates with party leaders in the run-up to the May general election.

Mr Cameron, who does not want the debates to take place because he believes the 2010 series cost the Conservatives votes, initially refused to participate in them if the Green Party was excluded.

However, his mentioning of Northern Ireland parties is being seen as a negotiating tactic to keep broadcasters on the defensive, rather than a real desire to have them in.

Outmanoeuvred

Mr Cameron said: “I was told it was appalling and outrageous that I had suggested you couldn’t have one minor party without having the other minor party.

“I am delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again; they have actually come up with rather more minor parties than I had in mind . . . although I don’t quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out.”