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Double-jobbing U-turn as DUP picks runners

By Liam Clarke

Two DUP MPs will fight the Stormont elections despite a party pledge to end double-jobbing.

Gregory Campbell, MP and MLA for East Londonderry, and Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim and Minister for Finance and Personnel, were among 44 DUP candidates for the May 5 poll unveiled by the party.

A DUP spokesman said that six of the party’s MPs had already stood down from the Assembly but the move had not been matched by Sinn Fein or the SDLP.

He said: “The Secretary of State says he will bring forward legislation to deal with this issue. If that is what it will take to make other parties move, we will wait for it.

“In the meantime we are not prepared to put ourselves at any further electoral disadvantage,” he added.

The DUP currently holds 36 seats at Stormont. Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, said his party would be seeking an increased mandate to maintain unionist leadership and keep taxes low.

He said: “Voters will have a choice to make. We can move forward and build on the progress |of recent years or we can be dragged backwards to instability and conflict.”

Mr Robinson said his candidates “all have very strong roots in their communities and a capacity to really influence things for the better”.

Interest will centre on two new names in particular — Brenda Hale in Lagan Valley and Sammy

Douglas in East Belfast. Mr Douglas is a cross-community activist from the Lower Newtownards Road area.

He is a founder of the Belfast Interface Group and seven years ago was awarded an MBE for services to the community.

His surprise selection will be seen as a move to plug the gap |in loyalist working-class support, which contributed to Mr |Robinson’s defeat in the last |Westminster election.

Ms Hale is the widow of Captain Mark Hale, a Hillsborough soldier who was killed by a roadside device in Afghanistan in 2009.

The DUP have three seats in Lagan Valley. They believe she can attract new votes, including some from Army families, and take a fourth at the expense of Sinn Fein’s Paul Butler.

Belfast Telegraph


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