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Parties rally support for Fermanagh election

By Steven McCaffery

DUP leader Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams were both in Co Fermanagh yesterday rallying supporters for an election that sees voters go to the polls next week.

The campaign for a seat on Fermanagh District Council has taken on greater significance than might be expected because Economy Minister Arlene Foster has opted to fight the election for the DUP.

But the polling day comes as the parties are involved in talks to secure the future of the Northern Ireland power-sharing government.

Voters in Enniskillen will cast their votes on Wednesday September 17, while a crucial Executive meeting is planned at Stormont for September 18. Sinn Fein and the DUP are divided over a series of issues including the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Assembly.

Republicans have blocked cabinet meetings since June and are demanding movement from the DUP, but Mr Robinson has threatened serious consequences if the Executive meeting planned for next week does not happen.

In Enniskillen yesterday Mr Robinson expressed concerns Sinn Fein could seize the seat formerly held by his party colleague Joe Dodds, the late father of Finance Minister Nigel Dodds.

Mr Robinson called on unionists to unite behind Mrs Foster: “I know that unionists in the west of the province have always appreciated the need for unionists to stand together.

“This by-election gives the unionists of Enniskillen a great opportunity to demonstrate to the whole of Northern Ireland how effective unionism is when we work together for a cause we all believe in.”

Mr Adams said his party was receiving good support for Sinn Fein candidate Debbie Coyle.

“Every vote will count but the feedback thus far on the canvas is very good,” he said.

“Debbie Coyle is an excellent candidate with a strong track record of work in the community and voluntary sectors.”

The other candidates are the SDLP’s Rosemary Flanagan, Dr Kumar Kamble for Alliance, Ulster Unionist Basil Johnston and independent Karen McHugh.

The DUP and Sinn Fein held talks last week and pledged to hold further discussions this week.

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