DUP ‘willing to step aside’ in Fermanagh-South Tyrone for pro-union candidate

Dup ‘Willing To Step Aside’ In Fermanagh-South Tyrone For Pro-Union Candidate
Gavin Robinson said in a statement that the DUP would stand aside for a non-party pro-union candidate.
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By Rebecca Black, PA

The DUP would be “willing to stand aside” in Fermanagh-South Tyrone for a non-party pro-union candidate, interim leader Gavin Robinson has said.

There were phone calls between unionist leaders on Friday evening around the potential of an agreed candidate for the seat which Sinn Féin won by just 57 votes at the last general election in 2019.


On Sunday, TUV leader Jim Allister said he would back a non-party candidate who could embrace the support of all unionists.

Later Mr Robinson said in a statement that the DUP would stand aside for a non-party pro-union candidate.

UUP leader Doug Beattie previously indicated he is not in favour of unionist electoral pacts, and said his party has already selected local councillor Dianne Armstrong to stand in Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

Sinn Fein MPs at Westminster
Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew narrowly defeated then agreed candidate, the former UUP leader, Tom Elliott in 2019.

In the 2015 poll, Mr Elliott became the first unionist to hold the constituency since 1983, before Ms Gildernew won it back for Sinn Féin two years later.

Ms Gildernew has ruled herself out of defending the seat because she is standing in the European elections for the Irish Midlands-North West constituency instead.


Sinn Féin has not yet announced its candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone.

Last week, the DUP and the TUV announced they would not run candidates in the North Down constituency in favour of independent unionist Alex Easton who is challenging the incumbent Stephen Farry (Alliance), and where former military leader Tim Collins is the UUP candidate.

Stormont Assembly
TUV Leader Jim Allister. Photo: PA.


Mr Robinson said his party “believe in cooperation across the unionist family and maximising the pro-Union vote”.

“We’ve been speaking to all shades of unionism about more than one seat,” he said.

“The DUP would step aside in Fermanagh-South Tyrone if there was a non-party pro-union candidate.

“We have not contested this seat in a Westminster election since 2005.


“Sinn Féin has held the seat for all but two of the last 23 years yet many across the constituency question what their absentee MP has delivered for the area.”

He added: “The DUP can point to more than 15,000 homes now receiving fibre broadband in Fermanagh & South Tyrone due to funding delivered through our Westminster Confidence & Supply Agreement yet what has Sinn Féin delivered in 20 years?”

Stormont Assembly
UUP Leader Doug Beattie. Photo: PA.

Mr Beattie told the PA news agency on Sunday: “The UUP came within 57 votes of beating Sinn Féin at the last Westminster election and therefore represent the best chance of returning an MP who will show up and represent constituents.”

Mr Allister told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme: “I think the best idea would be a non-party candidate who could embrace the support of all unionists.

“If that can be achieved, well and good, but that’s the vision and the mission at present.

“Whether or not it is obtainable remains to be seen because it only takes one of the three parties to say no.”

Mr Allister, has not indicated yet whether he will be standing in this General Election, also said his party will not support any candidates who back the Windsor Framework deal.

The North Antrim MLA said decisions are being made around candidate selections for the TUV and are set to be announced within the next week.

The TUV has also recently announced an electoral link-up with Reform UK.

The Richard Tice-lead party did not have enough time to register to run in Northern Ireland constituencies, but has pledged to fully support TUV candidates in the campaign, including with financial backing.

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