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DUP labeled rivals 'Tory boys' over electoral pact, says Kennedy

By Noel McAdam

The DUP "verbally abused" Ulster Unionists over their electoral tie-up with the Conservatives five years ago, a former MLA has revealed.

Former UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said the DUP had lambasted his party as "Tory boys" over their ill-fated formation of the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists New Force (UCUNF) in 2009 and 2010.

"We were pilloried," Mr Kennedy, who lost his Newry and Armagh seat in the March Assembly election, said.

"But now there are challenges for the DUP."

After his party lost both its MPs in the General Election - with the South Antrim seat being lost to the DUP - he said Arlene Foster's party had a difficult balance to strike in supporting the Conservative government and not being blamed for its unpopular decisions.

Other parties involved in the Stormont talks would have to "wake up and accept the situation", he commented.

"The Secretary of State and indeed the Prime Minister have made no secret of their own unionist views," Mr Kennedy said.

"They support the Union and we welcome that."

Following the general election results, the UUP would have to work to regain the confidence of more voters who loaned their support to the DUP in this election, former Executive Minister Mr Kennedy added. His comments came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sounded a warning over the "price" Theresa May would have to pay to keep the DUP on board.

And he insisted the social policies of the DUP - including opposition to gay marriage rights - would have to be challenged.

After weeks of intense scrutiny over his associations with republicans in the past, Mr Corbyn also made clear he does not expect his party to be assisted by the seven newly-elected Sinn Fein MPs.

Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr show yesterday, Mr Corbyn said he did not expect Sinn Fein to give up its policy of refusing to take up its Westminster seats.

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