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DUP rapped over use of London bus

Published 22/04/2015

The Democratic Unionist Party used a red London bus at its manifesto launch without permission (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
The Democratic Unionist Party used a red London bus at its manifesto launch without permission (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The DUP has used a red London bus as part of its General Election manifesto launch without permission.

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said it was not aware of the event staged at the Northern Ireland manufacturer of the distinctive vehicle.

He said: "We were not aware of yesterday's event and, had we been asked, we would not have given permission for the bus to be used given pre-election rules for public bodies.

"We are, of course, very proud of our association with Wrightbus and the work we do with them in Northern Ireland and look forward to future collaborations with them."

Wrightbus won the lucrative contract to build the new London buses.

Yesterday's event was held at the company's Antrim premises.

On Tuesday DUP candidates for Westminster posed beside a London double decker bus at the Wrightbus plant.

The firm, based in Ballymena, is supplying 600 of the hybrid-engine vehicles to London in a contract worth more than £200 million.

The new bus has a design similar to the old Routemaster. Route 24, which passes Parliament and Trafalgar Square, now uses the new vehicles exclusively.

Transport for London (TfL), the public body that manages transport in the capital, has said the new bus is the greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world.

Since the ceasefires of 1994 the DUP has outstripped the Ulster Unionists to become the largest member of the powersharing Executive at Stormont, governing alongside Sinn Fein, and its focus has turned increasingly to economic matters like control over corporation tax imposed on businesses.

It launched its manifesto at the factory of one of Northern Ireland's most successful companies, Wrightbus, which has exported its distinctive double deckers around the world.

Seeking real increases in health and education spending over the next five years and the protection of other key public services were among the DUP's promises.

A DUP spokesman said: "Wrightbus is an excellent example of Northern Ireland engineering success. Our number one priority in the Northern Ireland Plan for a hung parliament is to make Northern Ireland an economic powerhouse.

"If we are pivotal in the next Parliament, we will use our influence to bring more jobs like those in Wrightbus to the province. Yesterday showcased a great company right across the UK."

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