| 12.3°C Belfast

Profile: DUP South Down assembly candidate Diane Forsythe

Close

Stock Image Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th May 2017 - Democratic Unionist Party launch of its campaign for the 2017 General Election Campaign at Castlereagh Hills Golf Club, Belfast. South Down candidate Diane Forsythe pictured at the launch. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Stock Image Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th May 2017 - Democratic Unionist Party launch of its campaign for the 2017 General Election Campaign at Castlereagh Hills Golf Club, Belfast. South Down candidate Diane Forsythe pictured at the launch. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th May 2017 - Democratic Unionist Party launch of its campaign for the 2017 General Election Campaign at Castlereagh Hills Golf Club, Belfast. South Down candidate Diane Forsythe pictured at the launch. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th May 2017 - Democratic Unionist Party launch of its campaign for the 2017 General Election Campaign at Castlereagh Hills Golf Club, Belfast. South Down candidate Diane Forsythe pictured at the launch. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

DUP candidate for South Down Diane Forsythe

DUP candidate for South Down Diane Forsythe

Jim Wells

Jim Wells

/

Stock Image Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th May 2017 - Democratic Unionist Party launch of its campaign for the 2017 General Election Campaign at Castlereagh Hills Golf Club, Belfast. South Down candidate Diane Forsythe pictured at the launch. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Diane Forsythe is 38, a mother of three and a keen runner who plays in a pipe band.

She’s also an accountant by trade.

What she’s not, however, is a seasoned politician.

When she stood for a Westminster seat in the 2017 General Election, it was as a candidate with no previous political experience whatsoever.

Nevertheless, she polled very well in South Down, increasing the DUP’s share of the vote in that area by 9.3%.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

With just under 9,000 votes (17.4% of those cast), she was never going to be in a position to challenge the ultimate winner, Chris Hazzard of Sinn Fein.

His 20,000-plus votes were enough to oust the sitting candidate, former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie.

But Ms Forsythe, the daughter of well-known DUP councillor Glyn Hanna, certainly did enough for her party to keep her in mind for future elections.

That didn’t seem a likely scenario in 2021, when she quit the party over concerns about bullying and sexism.

Referring to unacceptable remarks made about her, Ms Forsythe said she’d faced “disrespectful attitudes” within the DUP including “shameful sexism, ageism and the underlying tone of bullying”.

She said the bullying was now in “plain sight”, with members’ families “bullied and smeared” during the leadership contest.

“I can no longer be a part of this party in its journey to derail my precious country of Northern Ireland in this its centenary year,” she said.

The Kilkeel native later returned to the fold, along with her father and another DUP councillor, Katherine Owen, when Sir Jeffrey Donaldson took over as party leader following Edwin Poots’ brief spell in charge.

When she ran for a Commons seat five years ago, Ms Forsythe outlined what she stood for in a pre-election statement.

“I will work to get best deal for our farmers, fishing industry, tourism, health services and education services as well as negotiating the best deals for operation of our border with the Republic of Ireland,” she said.

“As a young mother, I have so many worries about the future of my family.

“There are many challenges which face us and which many would like to see resolved. Like the lack of pre-school places, uncertainty on school funding, childcare, reduced provisions in rural healthcare and more and better jobs.”

Ironically, one of her biggest supporters in 2017 was Jim Wells, who described her as “an excellent candidate in every respect”.


Top Videos



Privacy