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UTV’s Election Debate: NI leaders go head-to-head

Watch UTV’s election debate with the leaders of Northern Ireland’s five biggest political parties, hosted by Marc Mallett.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt and the Alliance Party's Naomi Long go head-to-head on key issues.

It comes as voters prepare to go the polls on 2 March.

  • Watch and then have your say by voting for the leader you think performed best

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UTV Election: Stormont’s future at stake

  • WATCH: The leaders on what happens post-election

With so many issues tangled up in the collapse of Stormont, whether any of the parties can form a partnership in government again remains a pressing question.

The party leaders themselves addressed that point during UTV’s election debate.

The DUP’s Arlene Foster is adamant she is not going anywhere, despite Sinn Féin’s calls for her to step aside to allow for the RHI investigation.

Michelle O’Neill agrees it is not her place to say who should lead the DUP – but insists it is for Sinn Féin to decide who they will or will not partner in government.

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties are waiting in the wings – ready, they say, to step up if voters back change …

UTV Election: Brexit or bust?

  • WATCH: The leaders tackle the issue of Brexit

While Northern Ireland prepares for an election, the UK is still dealing with the fallout from the last time voters went to the polls – in the EU referendum which resulted in the decision to leave the EU.

The political parties are divided on the issue, with the DUP having backed the Leave campaign, while the others have expressed a concerns on a range of issues including the implications for the border.

But what can they do in the face of a UK-wide majority Brexit vote – especially one which was not backed by the majority in Northern Ireland?

With no devolved government in place, voters may wonder who can represent their views in any negotiations …

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TUV launches its Assembly election manifesto

The TUV launched its election manifesto on Thursday. Credit: Pacemaker

The TUV has launched its election manifesto ahead of the Assembly election.

The long-time critic of Stormont is calling for a new system of voluntary coalition to replace mandatory coalition - and said failing that, direct rule from Westminster should be re-imposed with local accountability.

"At least that would give us government,” said leader Jim Allister. "We can't go on as we are - stuttering from crisis to crisis, stuttering from scandal to scandal."

Mr Allister also predicts a glorious future for the UK outside of Europe post-Brexit and said the Republic of Ireland should also leave the EU.

Green Party launches Assembly election manifesto

The Green Party launched its manifesto in south Belfast. Credit: Pacemaker

The Green Party has launched its election manifesto ahead of the Assembly election.

Last time around they doubled their representation at Stormont to two MLAs and this time they are standing in every constituency.

At Thursday's launch in south Belfast - their leader insisted a "green surge" is on and the party is particularly targeting the east of the city.

Steven Agnew said: "Whilst we didn't want to see an election - we want to see stability in governance in Northern Ireland - as a party we welcome this election because it gives us another opportunity to show the sort of politics we are offering is what people actually want to see."

Party leaders to clash in UTV election debate

The leaders of the five larger parties at Stormont will debate the issues. Credit: Pacemaker

The countdown is on to the first televised leaders' debate of the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly election campaign.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance leader Naomi Long will each set out their stall, as the public prepares to go to the polls on 2 March.

The debate between the leaders of the five larger parties at Stormont will cover a host of issues, including everything from the RHI scandal through to Brexit.

Viewers can watch it in full at 9pm on UTV.

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