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Majority of UUP voters will back me, says DUP's Gavin Robinson

By Noel McAdam

Published 01/04/2015

DUP's Gavin Robinson
DUP's Gavin Robinson

Private polling has indicated that three-quarters of Ulster Unionists are prepared to back DUP candidate Gavin Robinson in East Belfast.

Mr Robinson released the DUP's survey results after the sitting MP, Alliance's Naomi Long, claimed disgruntled unionists angry over the DUP/UUP deal to run a single agreed candidate intend to vote for her party.

Mr Robinson - who is fighting to win the seat sensationally lost by First Minister Peter Robinson in 2010 - accused Alliance of spin and insulting the electorate.

His attack followed Mrs Long's assertion the campaign had come to a contest between her and the 'pact' unionists.

Mr Robinson declared: "Whilst others deal in spin I will deal in fact.

"The most recent poll carried out for the DUP in East Belfast now shows that natural UUP voters are backing the DUP at a ratio of 3:1.

"Far from there being evidence supporting the Alliance claim that they are catching up, the evidence is that they are falling further behind.

"Unionists are responding to their parties working together and the historic agreement between the UUP and DUP."

Mr Robinson agreed with his opponent, however, that the key issue on the doorsteps was who will be the best representative in the House of Commons.

"For the Alliance Party to suggest that unionists are disgruntled because of the pact between the DUP and UUP is another demonstration of how out of touch the party is with grassroots people in East Belfast and beyond," he claimed.

"It doesn't matter whether it's Dundonald or Dungannon, pro-Union voters want to see unionists working together. Unionists across Northern Ireland see that division only allows non-unionists to sneak in by the back door," Mr Robinson, who is no relation to his party leader, went on.

"People are not making that decision because they are sectarian.

"They are backing my campaign because they want a unionist with conviction being their voice in the House of Commons.

"It is an insult to the electorate for Alliance to suggest that because there is a pact people will be herded into one camp or the other.

"People will have choice in East Belfast as in other Westminster constituencies."

Ms Long had said: "Most people in the constituency would like the opportunity to register their vote for the party they feel best represents them - not to have that decision taken out of their hands and that choice taken away from them.

"What we are finding on the doorsteps as we go round talking with people is actually there is a lot of people in East Belfast who may not be natural Alliance Party voters but who absolutely resent being told which brand of unionism they can cast their vote for.

"Some of those people will not turn out but many have already told us they will be turning and voting for Alliance." Mrs Long had said of her opponents that "it would make it a much easier campaign for some people if they could just wrap themselves in the flag and that was all that mattered, but I think the electorate are more sophisticated than that."

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