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Vincent Browne checks his watch during the debate. Brendan Ogle
that's all folks

Not Tonight: Vincent Browne ended an EU debate early because he wasn't happy with the answers

“What has this got to do with European politics?”

A DEBATE BETWEEN independent European election candidates in Dublin ended early after moderator Vincent Browne decided he wasn’t getting proper answers to his questions.

The answers he’d been getting up to that point covered everything from funding for drug and mental health services to taxes for corporations. 

One question remained on the tongue of Browne throughout the night: “What has this all got to do with European politics?”

The event, which started at 8pm last night, was hosted in the School of Nursing in Dublin City University and organised by independent candidate Brendan Ogle.

Eamonn Murphy, a long-time pro-life campaigner, was the first on the chopping block as the former TV3 host asked how the issue of abortion at all applicable in European politics?

The Dublin candidate, who had an unexplained bottle of table salt on the desk in front of him throughout, launched into a long speech on the topic and then began posing questions to Browne about his own stance on abortion.

After Browne refused to answer any of his questions, Murphy continued his speech, which eventually ended after he became involved in a debate with a member of the audience. Several attendees ended up telling Murphy his allowed time was up. 

Once the broadcaster had regained control of the room, he asked Ogle how he proposed to improve the living standards of people in Dublin at the European Parliament – a plan that forms a cornerstone of his campaign.

Ogle said that while he believes the European Union is “anti-democratic” and used as a “mechanism for moving wealth up to the super rich”, he still is proud to call himself a European citizen.

He continued: “Housing has been mentioned here. I do agree that housing is a massive issue in this country. In cities such as Vienna, such as Antwerp, such as Berlin and other cities across Europe, genuine public housing …”

Before finishing his point, Browne cut across and asked: “What’s it got to do with the European Parliament?”

Ogle said: “[Irish MEPs] don’t go back and tell the Irish people: ‘There is a solution in Vienna to your housing problem. There is a solution in Portugal to your drugs problem. There’s a solution in Helsinki to your homelessness problem’.”

Browne interrupted again and asked: “What has that got to do with the European Parliament?”

Ogle acknowledged that there was not much MEPs could do towards improving public housing within individual members states but said he believes the current incumbents do not represent the domestic issues at EU level.

Scientist Stephen O’Rourke, who works in the pharmaceutical industry in Germany, claimed that he wanted to represent the working class in Europe and tackle key issues impacting the cohort, such as drug abuse and mental health difficulties.

IMG_3173 (L-R) Eamonn Murphy, Malachy Steenson, Stephen O'Rourke, Vincent Browne, Robin Cafolla and Brendan Ogle. Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal Muiris O'Cearbhaill / The Journal / The Journal

Browne said: “What has this got to do with Europe?”

“It’s got lots to do with Europe,” O’Rourke insisted. 

Robin Cafolla of Rabharta Glas – the only candidate who was a member of a political party – was heckled once the discussion shifted to the topic of immigration.

Cafolla claimed “migrants built this country” and attempted to make the point that it was necessary for Ireland to keep accepting immigrants in order to maintain public health services. 

The candidate was interrupted a number of times from the floor by backers of Malachy Steenson, who had spoken before Cafolla.

Steenson had said that the asylum process in Ireland was flawed and that the system had been established so that landlords and charity controllers could generate wealth.

Towards the end of the debate, as Browne was growing visibly more frustrated with interruptions from the audience and question-dodging from candidates, Ogle claimed for an increase in taxes on landlords who have a large housing stock.

“We’ve got to stop selling our housing to vulture funds abroad and get empty properties into use, and the way that they’d be put into use – with respect – tax the fuck out of them,” he added, to applause from other candidates and from the floor. 

Browne, presumably recognising that the debate was never going to discuss the European Parliament again at this rate, shut down candidates who wanted to make additional remarks and told them all they had “less than a minute” to make their final speeches.

The event was supposed to conclude at 9.30pm. Browne called it quits at 9.10.

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

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