Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

TUV nominates solicitor to contest Lagan Valley seat

Jim Allister's TUV is hoping the name of a Co Down lawyer will come back to haunt the DUP.

Mr Allister's party has chosen Dromore solicitor Keith Harbinson as its Lagan Valley candidate in the forthcoming General Election.

He will be taking on sitting DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, with Daphne Trimble aiming to run for the UUP, the party formerly led by her husband.

Mr Harbinson (26) stood for the TUV in its first electoral outing in a Banbridge Council by-election in February 2008. While unsuccessful, he helped to seriously jolt the local political scene.

The lawyer surprised many observers by gaining 739 first preference votes, providing the first clear sign that a section of the DUP's base was not happy with its power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein.

DUP MLA Ian Paisley jnr resigned as a Junior Minister within a few days of the Dromore result. His father announced the following month that he was stepping down as First Minister.

Mr Donaldson retained his Lagan Valley Westminster seat last time around in 2005 with a majority of some 14,000. Commenting on his nomination, Mr Harbinson yesterday attacked the sitting MP for his double-jobbing as an Assembly Member.

“It will be a significant challenge to overturning one of the biggest majorities in the kingdom, but I believe the solid traditional unionist principles and policies that our party stands for will be a rallying point for all who seek a better, stronger Northern Ireland,” he added.

Mr Donaldson's candidacy was confirmed earlier this week, with DUP Association chairman Roy Young saying: “Jeffrey has proven himself time and time again as a principled unionist who stands up for his constituents.

“He has fought for and secured much needed investment, helped people on bread and butter issues and stood up for sound principled unionism in Westminster.”

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