Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Foster 'quite sure' that Gavin Robinson will hold East Belfast after UUP throws hat in ring

By Noel McAdam

The DUP leader says she is confident Gavin Robinson will retain his East Belfast seat despite a decision by the Ulster Unionists to stand in the constituency.

Mr Robinson won back the seat for the party in the 2015 election from Alliance's Naomi Long, who unseated former First Minister Peter Robinson in 2010.

The Ulster Unionists stood aside to help Mr Robinson in 2015, but this time it has selected Hazel Legge, a Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor.

Yesterday Arlene Foster said she was not concerned about the lack of a unionist electoral pact in the constituency.

"If you want a unionist candidate in East Belfast then you have to vote for Gavin," the DUP leader said.

"The Alliance candidate is not a unionist, and she has said so herself. I am quite sure he will be returned."

The UUP has withdrawn from the contests in North Belfast, Foyle and West Belfast.

Its standard-bearers will be: Sam Nicholson (Newry & Armagh); Michael Henderson (South Belfast); John Stewart (East Antrim); Richard Holme (East Londonderry); Robbie Butler (Lagan Valley); Mark Glasgow (Mid Ulster); Jackson Minford (North Antrim); Alan Chambers (North Down); Harold McKee (South Down); Mike Nesbitt (Strangford), Doug Beattie (Upper Bann) and Alicia Clarke (West Tyrone).

Outgoing MPs Tom Elliott and Danny Kinahan will be running in Fermanagh-South Tyrone and South Antrim respectively.

Yesterday the DUP announced that Emma Little-Pengelly, who lost her Assembly seat in March, will attempt to take the South Belfast seat from Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP.

There had been speculation a single unionist would contest the constituency, as Dr McDonnell would be vulnerable to such a challenge.

However, Mrs Little-Pengelly faces a tougher challenge after the Ulster Unionists said that Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Michael Henderson would run in South Belfast.

Mr Henderson said: "This is an extremely important election given the uncertainty which we face, both due to the as yet unknown impact of Brexit, and the ongoing impasse at Stormont.

"The lack of agreement to restore a functioning Executive and Assembly is already being felt in our public services, not least education and health.

"I believe it is more important than ever that Northern Ireland should have a strong and effective voice in Westminster."

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Steven Agnew announced it was running seven candidates.

"We can build on the steady growth of the Green vote across Northern Ireland and indeed tap into the surge in Green support that is taking place across these islands and into mainland Europe," Mr Agnew said.

"Green Party candidates will put people first - that means securing a referendum on the final Brexit deal, protecting public services and advancing equality for all of our citizens."

The list of Green candidates is: Mr Agnew (North Down); Clare Bailey (South Belfast); Georgina Milne (East Belfast); Tanya Jones (Fermanagh and South Tyrone); Ricky Bamford (Strangford), Malachi O'Hara (North Belfast) and Ciaran McClean (West Tyrone).

Belfast Telegraph

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