The Ulster Unionists have accused the DUP of “gutter politics” after the widespread distribution of a leaflet which suggests that if voters do not support the DUP then Northern Ireland could go “back to the bad old days”.
The flyer, which is in the style of a letter from First Minister Arlene Foster, has been distributed in North Belfast and repeats the constant DUP claim during the election campaign that “there’s a real risk of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister”.
It goes on to say that “a vote for any party other than the DUP will split the pro-Union vote and could result in Sinn Fein winning the election and Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister”.
However, one line in the leaflet has enraged the UUP.
Mrs Foster said: “How you vote next Thursday will determine if we continue down the path to prosperity, or go back to the bad old days.”
A similar ‘letter from Arlene’ distributed in middle-class parts of South Belfast is substantially different and has no mention of “the bad old days”.
An Ulster Unionist spokesman said: “The people of North Belfast deserve better than this. Families were left devastated during the Troubles and for the DUP to now imply that unless you vote for them or it could ‘go back to the bad old days’ is gutter politics.
“They have had nine years to make a difference for North Belfast and they have failed. The DUP are so desperate that they will resort to any tactic. The people of North Belfast will have a clear choice on 5th May. Vote for change or more of the same.”
East Antrim DUP candidate Alastair Ross said: “We thank the UUP press office for publicising our election material.
“The ‘bad old days’ in the letter were when the UUP were in the lead but SF set the agenda.
“Arlene Foster has a plan to deliver a stable and secure Northern Ireland. If the DUP is not the largest party on 6 May then the next Executive will have a nationalist majority and a SF First Minister.
“That will take NI in the wrong direction. Unionists are right to be fearful of Martin McGuinness’s vision for NI’s future.”
Politicians are universally unpopular, aren’t they?
Well, not quite. One firm has gone out of its way to show appreciation for a Lagan Valley DUP candidate.
While an MLA in the last Assembly, Brenda Hale helped get a grid connection for Plastec, which is based in Lisburn but has factories in Australia and China. Mrs Hale enlisted then DETI Minister Arlene Foster who called on the regulator to look at the unprecedented delays which have now been resolved.
In response, the firm has erected a large poster at the site highlighting Mrs Hale’s efforts.
Staff ‘taking sick days after partying’
The leader of Northern Ireland’s new Common Sense Party has vowed to get tough with the public sector workers who he says phone in sick because they have been out partying.
Tom Burns, who is his party’s sole candidate in North Belfast, said: “The health service, civil service, education, police service and fire service all need a thorough shake up, including staff sick days. How much money is wasted every year with staff taking sick leave due to partying the night before, or their children being ill, or going to an appointment, or worse still going on holiday? These people are bleeding the system dry and should be sacked.”
Mr Burns also said that some of his posters had been removed in unionist areas but left up in nationalist areas.