Belfast Telegraph

Diane Dodds to replace Lockhart as DUP MLA in Upper Bann

Switch: Diane Dodds
Switch: Diane Dodds

By David Young

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has been selected to fill the party's vacant Assembly seat in Upper Bann.

Mrs Dodds will replace Carla Lockhart, who was elected as an MP for the constituency at the general election.

The Brexiteer MEP will lose her seat in the European Parliament when the UK leaves the EU next month.

The moves ended speculation on who might replace the Westminster-bound Ms Lockhart.

Mrs Dodds' husband and DUP deputy leader Nigel, who recently lost his North Belfast parliamentary seat, had been seen as another potential replacement, as had Emma Little-Pengelly, who lost her South Belfast seat.

The switch was confirmed as talks to restore the devolved institutions at Stormont were paused for Christmas. Negotiations broke up last week without a breakthrough.

The UK and Irish Governments both singled out the DUP as the party preventing a deal. The party insisted it would not be "bounced" into an agreement it did not consider fair and balanced.

Mrs Dodds said: "I look forward to taking up my duties representing the people of Upper Bann in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"Carla has been a first class advocate for the constituency. I will be working with the DUP team in Upper Bann to build on her reputation for delivery.

"The immediate priority must be the restoration of the Executive and Assembly so that decisions can be made about our schools and hospitals.

"It is unforgivable that one party has been able to hold the whole of Northern Ireland to ransom for three years."

DUP leader Arlene Foster added: "Having served in council, the Assembly and then for two terms as an MEP, Diane has a proven record of delivering for the people she represents."

Last week, the Alliance Party selected councillor Andrew Muir to replace deputy leader Stephen Farry as North Down Assembly member. The move came after Mr Farry won the North Down parliamentary seat.

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