Belfast Telegraph

General Election: Independent Orange Order in plea to voters

A polling station sign (Yui Mok/PA)
A polling station sign (Yui Mok/PA)
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Unionists have been warned by a loyal order that the Westminster election is about "more than Brexit" and to think carefully when voting next month.

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In a message ahead of the December 12 poll, imperial grand master of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution James Anderson told the unionist electorate "this is no time for complacency".

He said: "Sinn Fein will use the results of this election, just like every other one, to further their 'united Ireland' strategy.

"Their claims that the electorate view Westminster as an irrelevance and are looking to Dublin and Brussels post-Brexit referendum clearly back this up."

He also accused the SDLP of double standards for pulling out of North Belfast to support Sinn Fein candidate John Finucane.

"They have claimed many times that abstentionism is a flawed policy yet in the same breath are now endorsing it by stepping aside to increase the chance of a stay-at-home Sinn Fein MP being elected.

"Sinn Fein's reciprocal goodwill gesture is to stand aside in three constituencies that they have no chance of winning," he added, referring to their withdrawal from South and East Belfast and North Down.

"While Northern Ireland's political position within the UK is guaranteed by the principle of consent, any gains by nationalist parties will be used to agitate and push for a border poll," Mr Anderson added.

"This will only breed further instability at a time when there are many social issues that deserve the priority of focus of our political institutions.

"We recommend that voters in marginal constituencies should carefully consider which unionist candidate has the best chance of winning the seat.

"If there is no danger of vote splitting, votes for all unionist candidates help to maintain the overall unionist vote."

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