DUP asks unionists to vote for UUP candidate in Fermanagh-South Tyrone

DUP leader Gavin Robinson has said the party is endorsing the UUP’s candidate Diana Armstrong in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency.

The DUP had previously suggested fielding a pro-union unity candidate in the constituency, which UUP leader Doug Beattie dismissed saying they would not have a unified message.

He cited the return of Stormont and the deal the DUP struck with the UK Government on post-Brexit trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as one such challenge.

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Read more: Doug Beattie addresses suggestion of electoral pact in Fermanagh South Tyrone

Mr Robinson said that he met with Mr Beattie, TUV leader Jim Allister and independent unionist MLA Alex Easton on Tuesday.

“In truth, the DUP is the largest unionist party in North Down and Fermanagh South Tyrone, having outpolled other parties in both the Assembly and local Government elections in 2022 and 2023.

“We recognise that in the interests of working collectively to secure pro-union Members of Parliament we want to lead by example and as the leaders of unionism we are unilaterally announcing the following:

“In North Down we will not field a Democratic Unionist and we endorse Alex Easton, who is in our view a candidate with a strong and dedicated zeal for North Down, and who has a track record of being best placed to unite pro-union voters in the cause of winning in North Down.

“In Fermanagh/South Tyrone whilst again we are the first choice of unionist voters in the area, we have not fielded a candidate at a general election since 2005.

“We previously supported the non-party aligned campaign of Rodney Connor and we supported, campaigned and helped elect Tom Elliot in 2015 and supported his re-election campaign in 2017 and subsequent attempt in 2019.

“It is our strong view that the best chance of maximising the election of a pro-union candidate to give parliamentary representation to the most westerly constituency in the United Kingdom would have been through a process of agreement between the unionist parties. For our part we were engaged in such a process last year.

“However, the Ulster Unionist Party selected Erne North Councillor Diana Armstrong as their candidate and they have made clear that they do not intend to withdraw their candidate from the election.

“On that basis and in the interests of trying to win the seat for a unionist candidate, we have decided not to field a DUP candidate for this election only and we would encourage all unionists in the constituency to set aside internal unionist debate and vote for the Ulster Unionist candidate in the interests of returning a pro-union member of parliament.”

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