Two European election candidates paid a visit to Lisburn this week and pressed the flesh in the market.
Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson and TUV leader Jim Allister met voters in the city centre and both agreed they had received a very warm welcome from Lisburn residents.
Mr Nicholson, who has been an MEP since 1989, has said he has seen many changes in the EU over the past 25 years.
“When I started there were twelve member states and now there are 28,” he said.
“There is a view that Europe is ‘way over there’ but it does make a difference. This election isn’t a referendum about EU membership, it’s about having representation in Europe.
“Europe has provided over £2 billion to Northern Ireland from peace funds, which has played a substantial role in our development.”
Mr Nicholson is also encouraging local people to make the most of EU membership and accessing the funds available to the community.
“We still have a long way to go to match what other people draw down from Europe,” continued Mr Nicholson. “We are getting better at how we do it.
“As part of Horizon 2020, €80 billion will be available and we need to get our share of that.
“As long as the UK is in the EU then Northern Ireland needs to have strong representation and the MEPs need to work together for the benefit of everyone.”
TUV leader Jim Allister was also in Lisburn for market day and said the reception he had received was “very gratifying.”
Mr Allister said people in Lisburn had been queuing up to shake his hand and wish him well in next week’s European election.
“I feel there’s an appetite to shake things up and the TUV are seen as the best way to do that with our distinctive stand in Stormont and that’s appreciated.
“There is considerable unease about misrule at Stormont and people are anxious to have their voice heard.”
Mr Allister said local people had the same feeling about the upcoming local council election and added that the TUV in Lisburn had a “totally new slate of candidates.”
The TUV leader said it was important that people turned out to vote during next Thursday’s European election.
“It is very important to vote as Europe is a massive drain on our resources. We would be better off out of Europe and should join the nationwide campaign to force a referendum and a vote for the TUV will send that out as a very clear message.”