DUP ‘confident’ South Down candidate will win after top party officers quit

DUP MLA Paul Givan said unionist people in South Down will recognise their candidate Diane Forsythe as the “best” for the area.
DUP ‘confident’ South Down candidate will win after top party officers quit

By Cate McCurry, PA

The former Northern Ireland first minister said he is confident the DUP candidate in South Down will get elected – despite some of the party’s officers resigning to back a rival in the TUV.

DUP MLA Paul Givan said unionist people in South Down will recognise their candidate Diane Forsythe as the “best” for the area.

It comes as DUP officers in South Down quit the party to back the TUV’s Assembly election candidate running in the constituency.

Seven officers resigned to oppose Ms Forsythe. They are now backing Harold McKee.

General Election 2017 declaration
DUP candidate for South Down Diane Forsythe. Photo: PA

It comes weeks after veteran DUP representative Jim Wells resigned from the party and declared his support for Mr McKee.

Mr Wells, who was the DUP’s Assembly representative in South Down since 1998 and a former health minister, called on voters to give their first preference to Mr McKee on May 5th.

Mr Givan said he was “sorry” to lose the party officers.

“I am confident, though, in South Down, the unionist community where they know there’s only one unionist seat. They know the risks of splitting their vote in that constituency and I believe that Diane Forsythe will get elected,” Mr Givan told BBC Radio Ulster.

“Because every vote for the DUP is going to matter, not just in South Down but it’s going to matter right across Northern Ireland so that we can pursue our progressive agenda whenever it comes to delivering at Stormont.


“I know a lot of the individuals and I count them as friends and indeed some of them that are in that photograph are Lagan Valley constituents, and I’ve been speaking to them in the run up to this announcement and they are giving me their number one vote.

“So, I think, in other constituencies, individuals will be supporting the DUP and that’s what’s happening with some of those folks in South Down. But I am confident that the unionist people will recognise in South Down that Diane Forsythe is our best candidate to win for unionism.”

The entire officer team quit to support Mr McKee, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The resigning members reportedly include former DUP councillors and two founding members.

Chairman Roland Wilson told the newspaper local members had been “treated with disdain”.

May elections
From left to right: TUV leader Jim Allister, TUV South Down candidate Harold McKee and DUP representative Jim Wells (TUV/PA)

“Not once in the entire selection process was I or any other member of the DUP South Down Association consulted about this crucial decision (to nominate Mrs Forsythe),” he said.

“Every letter, email and text message that was sent to party headquarters about this issue was totally ignored.

“The party asks our members to raise money to fund their central activities, pay election expenses, put up posters and knock on doors and the least we can expect in return is that one of our communications about such an important issue is answered.”

The six others include current vice-chairman David Herron, former councillor and association chairman Garth Craig, association secretary William Burns, and youth wing activist Clifford Wilson.

Fergus Bingham, who joined the party when it was formed in 1971, and Olive Craig, a member for more than 40 years, also quit.

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