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Jamie Bryson leads Ruth Patterson election campaign

By Suzanne Breen

Published 12/01/2016

Jamie Bryson
Jamie Bryson
Ruth Patterson

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson is to run the Assembly election campaign of expelled DUP councillor, Ruth Patterson.

Ms Patterson is standing as an independent against DUP junior minister Emma Pengelly in the South Belfast constituency.

The Belfast Telegraph has been told that Mr Bryson, who last year made sensational allegations to the Stormont Finance Committee that Peter Robinson was set to benefit from the Nama deal, has been asked by Ms Patterson to run her campaign.

Mr Robinson strongly denied the loyalist activist's claims about Northern Ireland's biggest ever property deal.

A source said: "Jamie Bryson was Ruth's first choice as campaign manager and he has accepted.

"He will be spending a lot of time in South Belfast and they are planning to run a very robust campaign to win the seat."

If Ms Patterson is elected to Stormont in May, it is understood that Mr Bryson could then be co-opted into her seat on Belfast City Council.

The former DUP councillor was expelled from the party in November over an interview in this newspaper in which she lambasted the party leadership for parachuting Emma Pengelly into the Assembly seat vacated by Jimmy Spratt.

Ms Patterson, who had narrowly failed to get elected to Stormont as Mr Spratt's running- mate in the 2011 Assembly elections, described Ms Pengelly as "a very well-paid blow-in".

Last night, Ms Patterson confirmed that she was running as an independent against the DUP in South Belfast.

"I am definitely standing and I will be launching my campaign next month," she said.

"Details about my election team will be revealed in due course.

"I'm currently preparing my literature and posters and I'm building a strong team around me.

"I believe that as a councillor of 14 years standing, I already have a solid base in the constituency.

"Many people thought I was treated very badly by the DUP and it's the ordinary man and woman on the street who have encouraged me to run for Stormont."

Ms Patterson said she was looking forward to the campaign.

"There is nothing I love more than knocking on doors and meeting people.

"Last time, I secured 3,800 first preference votes in the Assembly election in South Belfast.

"I was the highest polling candidate in Northern Ireland not to get elected.

"I am entering this election very hopeful of a successful outcome," the outspoken councillor added.

The independent loyalist politician was approached by several political parties after she fell out with the DUP.

"UKIP, the Ulster Unionists and the TUV all made overtures," she revealed.

"The TUV was the only one I seriously considered joining as I regard Jim Allister very highly.

"But, in the end, I decided that I wanted to be my own woman and have the freedom that being an independent brings," she said.

South Belfast will be one of the most fascinating election contests.

The DUP has not yet announced who will be Emma Pengelly's running-mate.

Belfast city councillor Christopher Stalford and Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Luke Poots are among those seeking the nomination.

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