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Pets help broker truce between poll rivals Little Pengelly and Patterson

By Suzanne Breen

Published 11/05/2016

Ruth Patterson
Ruth Patterson
Emma Little Pengelly
Emma Little Pengelly and Ruth Patterson's Twitter remarks

Peace has been declared between unionist rivals, Ruth Patterson and Emma Little Pengelly, after a bitter political battle in the Assembly elections.

Ms Little Pengelly, who emerged victorious in the South Belfast contest, extended the hand of friendship to her former party comrade on social media.

"Genuinely wishing @RuthMLA2016 all the very best for the next chapter," she tweeted, along with a quote declaring: "Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings."

Ms Patterson accepted the gesture of reconciliation.

"Thank you Emma. It was never personal. You have secured a strong mandate from the electorate. Good luck," she replied.

The newly elected DUP MLA then tweeted a photograph of her little female terrier dog.

"Poppy says hello to Paisley," she wrote.

Ms Patterson has a male terrier, Paisley, who was born on the Twelfth of July.

The friendly Twitter exchange was the first direct communication between the two women who did not come face-to-face at the South Belfast count on Friday which the firebrand loyalist councillor Ms Patterson failed to attend.

Ms Little Pengelly trounced Ms Patterson in last week's election, securing 4,511 first preference votes in comparison to Ms Patterson's 475.

Ms Patterson admitted she was "bitterly disappointed" by the result.

"But the people have spoken and I accept their decision without reservation," she said.

She added that she would not be running again for council when her term of office expires.

Ms Patterson was expelled from the DUP after branding Ms Little Pengelly "a well paid blow-in" during a Belfast Telegraph interview last year.

The DUP accused her of "bringing the party into disrepute".

The DUP leadership had snubbed Ms Patterson, a councillor of 14 years, by selecting Ms Little Pengelly, a former special advisor to Peter Robinson, to replace retired MLA Jimmy Spratt in Stormont.

Former Union flag protester Ms Patterson said she had worked hard for the party for almost two decades, "and not for £92,000 a year like Emma".

Ms Little Pengelly did not respond to Ms Patterson's criticism during the election campaign. Ms Patterson's campaign manager, Jamie Bryson, last night said: "We threw everything at Emma during the election.

"Our criticism was that she had gained her position without ever having fought an election but she has now done that.

"She won fair and square and we wish her the best of luck as an MLA."

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