A singer-songwriter from a nationalist background has voiced her support for the DUP’s Paul Frew in the election.
Audrey Gallagher said she admired the former MLA’s stance on Covid rules and his opposition to lockdowns.
The Moneyglass woman told her 17,000 Twitter followers she couldn’t support Sinn Fein or the SDLP on Thursday.
“I am finding it difficult as a nationalist to square the circle but we need @paulfrewDUP and he’s standing in my constituency,” she tweeted.
“No more lockdowns, no more school closures, no more any of it.”
Former Ulster Unionist Health Minister Robin Swann and TUV leader Jim Allister are among the other candidates standing in North Antrim.
Mr Frew, who is seeking re-election along with party colleague Mervyn Storey, was believed to be the more vulnerable of the DUP’s candidates.
But sources in several parties report that his anti-lockdown stance is proving popular on the doorstep.
Responding to Ms Gallagher’s support for the DUP candidate, one of her followers replied: “Sorry under no circumstances would a nationalist even consider voting for the DUP.”
Ms Gallagher replied: “Which is why as I said I’m finding it difficult but no nationalist parties represent me any longer and none responded when I reached out for help.
“My local DUP councillor was the only one who did, TWICE. That’s literally what they’re paid to do.”
In another post she wrote: “Election looming and as a nationalist I can’t support those party’s (sic) who supported discriminatory #vaxpassports #vaxmandates and #lockdowns. Very beginning of lockdown I emailed all my local reps when my work contract was terminated @ianpaisleyuk was the only one to respond.”
Ms Gallagher said the North Antrim MP wrote to Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy on her behalf.
“#Radiosilence from everyone else ... @paulfrewDUP is the only politician who has represented people like me through this.”
Mr Frew responded: “Audrey, thank you for your kind words and your support. It really means a lot to me.
“Next time you are in Ballymena, call into my Mill Street office and say hello, even if I’m not there my staff would be delighted to meet you.”
One of Ms Gallagher’s followers thought the DUP candidate did not realise the singer’s standing.
“Paul, you do realise this is the Irish queen of vocal trance?” he asked.
“You should be honoured if she enters your office. Selfies are a must. BTW, I’m jealous of this fact.”
Mr Frew was the most vocal opponent of lockdown at Stormont.
He denounced the Covid restrictions his party helped devise as a “shame” and “disgrace”.
He argued that forcing businesses to remain closed was preventing people from earning a living.
In October 2020 he told the Assembly: “The Health Minister talked in biblical terms at the start of this crisis. Let me talk in biblical terms, Mr Speaker.
“It is a God-given right for a person to endeavour to earn a living to provide for his or her family. And the Executive have removed that right from these people without having any idea of the support mechanisms going to be in place.”