Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

DUP is out to bamboozle you over Euro elections, Jim Allister warns the Ulster Unionists

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister claimed the DUP are out to  'bluff, bluster and bamboozle'
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister claimed the DUP are out to 'bluff, bluster and bamboozle'

The DUP has been accused of attempting to "bluff, bluster and bamboozle" the Ulster Unionists into an electoral arrangement for the European election.

The claim came from Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister who predicted the DUP will not run two candidates in the Euro race as it has suggested.

Mr Allister also told his annual conference at the weekend that UUP candidate Jim Nicholson gained the first seat last time ahead of the DUP's Diane Dodds on the basis of transfers from the TUV, rather than the DUP.

The former MEP said Mrs Dodds, wife of DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, had crept into third place below the quota – and had "hardly been heard of since".

"I am sure they (the UUP) will not be so foolish as to fall for that particular ploy, though perhaps they will," he added.

Mr Allister, however, refused to reveal whether he will run a candidate for Europe – while indicating he does know what his intentions are.

The DUP has said it will wait until January to weigh up whether

it will run a second candidate alongside Mrs Dodds, referring to falling support for the UUP in polls since the last Euro race.

Around 200 people – about half of the claimed membership, which is said to have slightly grown in the last year – attended the one-day event on Saturday.

Mr Allister also referred to the multi-party negotiations on flags, parades and dealing with the past being chaired by American diplomat Richard Haass and forecast that "once again, unionist backs will be put to the wall".

With the deadline of the end of this month for a deal, Mr Allister said the pressure for more compromise would come "from the great and the good".

But he said he and his team had told Dr Haass just some days ago that "innocent victims and the unionist community have nothing left to give".

A major focus of the one-day gathering in Cookstown was victims and guests included Ann Travers, who Mr Allister's legislation preventing the appointment of special advisers (Spads) with criminal convictions involving sentences of more than five years is now named after.

Ms Travers' sister Mary was killed and her Resident Magistrate father Tom injured in an attack by an IRA gang that included Mary McArdle as they left Sunday Mass in south Belfast in April 1984.

It was the appointment of Ms McArdle as a Spad to Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin which led Mr Allister to bring forward his Private Member's Bill.

One of the victims of another Spad – Sinn Fein's Paul Kavanagh – deposed by 'Ann's Law' was also present at the party conference in Cookstown.

John Radley was a 21-year-old lance corporal in the Irish Guards when he almost died in the 1981 Chelsea Barracks bombing which killed two people, including a 59-year-old widow.

Mr Radley, who was among 23 soldiers injured by the nail bomb, said: "Paul Kavanagh was convicted of planting the bomb and then was a special adviser to Martin McGuinness until Ann's Law removed him from the post.

"Along with other brave people, I will fight the violent men of terrorism through peaceful means," he added.

Ms Travers, who watched as her sister Mary was gunned down by the IRA, added: "Now no other victim will be retraumatised in that way, and at least moral, common good has prevailed."

Mr Kavanagh served 14 years in jail.

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