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Frontrunners in the race to succeed outgoing Reg Empey


Sir Reg Empey lost his seat to the DUP's William McCrea

Sir Reg Empey lost his seat to the DUP's William McCrea

Sir Reg Empey lost his seat to the DUP's William McCrea


Danny Kennedy

The current UUP deputy leader would be a front runner to take over from Sir Reg. He has been a party member since 1974 and an MLA for Newry and Armagh since 1998.

He will have enhanced his chances by outpolling the DUP in his constituency last week. That was one of the few plus marks for the UUP from a bruising election.

Tom Elliott

The Fermanagh man would be a dark horse for the leadership, but may appeal to the same wing of the party as Danny Kennedy.

A part-time farmer, he served in the UDR and RIR and was elected to Stormont in 2003.

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He was to the fore in the efforts to secure a unionist unity candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the General Election.

Michael McGimpsey

As a long-standing senior UUP figure and a Stormont Minister, Mr McGimpsey could certainly not be ruled out as a leadership contender.

From Donaghadee in Co Down, he had a business background before becoming an MLA in 1998, with interests in construction and the hospitality industry.

He is the current Health Minister and previously held the Culture post.

Basil McCrea

The Lagan Valley MLA would be seen as more of a wild card entry in any leadership race. He has been an MLA since 2007, having unsuccessfully challenged the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson in the 2005 General Election. Mr McCrea has floated the idea of the UUP pulling out of the Stormont Executive and taking on an Opposition role.

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