Northern Ireland’s moribund election campaign emerged from an Easter break yesterday with sharp exchanges between the two biggest unionist parties.
Ulster Unionist candidate Adrian Watson warned the “cosy” relationship between First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has become “unbelievably toxic and dangerous”.
“Robinson is clearly in McGuinness’s pocket. His position as First Minister depends on Sinn Fein support and is based on the negotiations which led up to the Hillsborough Castle agreement,” the South Antrim candidate declared.
“The re-emergence of the IRA as an active force changes everything.
“If these are former comrades of McGuinness he must shop them to the police now, and not just tell others to go to the PSNI if they know anything while he claims to know nothing.”
The DUP, meanwhile, claimed divisions within the UUP are increasing.
DUP spokesman Simon Hamilton said: “In almost every constituency where the Ulster Unionist Party is running more than one candidate, there are divisions and disputes.
“If they can’t work together, how are they going work for the good of the community?
“The Ulster Unionist Party is more riddled with division now than at any other time in its history, with candidates adopting an ‘every man for himself’ attitude.”
TUV leader Jim Allister also had the DUP in his sights.
He said: “The DUP sold its anti-Sinn Fein credentials a long time ago ... those wanting to hurt Sinn Fein the most will vote TUV, rather than for those committed to keeping IRA/Sinn Fein in government.”