Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has urged Northern Ireland voters to support Alliance candidates — and backed the chances of its deputy leader Naomi Long claiming a shock win in East Belfast.
Mr Clegg has been credited with reviving his party’s fortunes through his performances in TV debates with Gordon Brown and David Cameron. His party has fraternal links with Alliance.
Mr Clegg said: “Politics is at a crossroads in Northern Ireland, there is the potential for a significant shift away from tribal politics on May 6. This is the best chance in a generation to elect positive, non-tribal voices for Northern Ireland and people should not miss this opportunity.
“Naomi Long can win in East Belfast and I believe she would be a strong, independent and dynamic voice for the constituency and for Northern Ireland.
“For too long, the public in Northern Ireland has only had tribal MPs who have failed to address the real issues, and only Alliance offers the alternative that will deliver for everyone.”
He added: “Alliance has had two major achievements in the past few months with the appointment of David Ford as the first Northern Ireland Justice Minister in 38 years and their delivery of agreement on a new community relations strategy. I would urge voters to continue this success, vote Alliance and bring Northern Ireland forward to a new era of delivery.”
Ms Long is seeking to defeat DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson, who has held the seat for 31 years and has a majority of slightly under 6,000.