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Allister and the DUP square up as EU poll looms

The DUP is to announce its candidate for the European election this month — but it is already launching salvos in the direction of its main opponent.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister split from the DUP after it entered government with Sinn Fein but he plans to defend the European seat he first won on a DUP ticket.

It was rumoured Peter Robinson was having difficulty persuading one of his party’s big names to fight the June election.

This fuelled claims the DUP might ask a leading figure to contest the seat, on the understanding they could hand the unglamorous posting to an underling at a later date.

But in one fell swoop Mr Robinson denied the notion and took a swipe at his nemesis.

“Of course not,” he said of the conspiracy theories.

“Put it this way, the Democratic Unionist Party when they put Jim Allister forward were putting somebody who was virtually unknown, because we have a party vote.

“It was certainly no Jim Allister personality vote. In the absence of a personality it would be hard to have a personality vote. It was a party vote that got him elected.”

But this week Mr Allister was in buoyant mood.

He said he gave the DUP a bloody nose in the Dromore by-election by snatching hundreds of votes, thereby helping to unseat Ian Paisley as DUP leader and ending his reign as First Minister alongside Martin McGuinness.

Having broken-up what he called the “Chuckle Coalition”, Mr Allister added: “Think what tens of thousands of such votes in 2009 could do.”

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