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Martina Anderson's Tobacco Products Directive claims are false - Nicholson

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has refuted claims that he voted in favour of amendments which put 200-300 jobs in jeopardy at the JTI factory in Ballymena.

The accusation was made by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson during a discussion on the Tobacco Products Directive on The Nolan Show on Wednesday morning.

Responding to the debate, Jim said: "I completely reject the false representation of my position that Martina Anderson has broadcast over the airwaves today and call on her to withdraw her incorrect comment.

"Throughout the entire process of the Tobacco Products Directive I have actively campaigned for a maximum of 20 grams for RYO tobacco, a position which I am convinced will protect jobs in Northern Ireland.  While the negative health implications of smoking are irrefutable, there is little evidence to demonstrate that increasing pack sizes will be the most effective method in reducing levels of smoking. 

"It is a matter of public record that I proposed amendments for 20 grams pack size during the first round of negotiations, and I have remained consistently in support of this position.  It is my intention to submit additional amendments to this effect when the legislative report on the Tobacco Products Directive comes up for a final vote in February 2014.

"In the full understanding that my vote would support the production line in the JTI factory in Ballymena and a 20 grams pack size, I did vote for the final legislative package as amended. 

"I am therefore particularly aggrieved that the democratic majority position that was agreed by Parliament has been undermined in the subsequent trilogue negotiations where the arbitrary 30 grams figure was conjured up by MEPs including Martina Anderson.   

"It is wholly misleading for Martina Anderson to falsely represent my position as she has done this morning.”

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