DUP South Down Assembly candidate Jim Wells has said that he is “delighted” to have been given the backing of independent unionist councillor Henry Reilly for the forthcoming election.
Mr Wells said the councillor has “a huge personal following” in South Down, having polled almost 3,000 votes at last year’s Assembly election.
“I am very pleased to announce that Henry is giving me his full support during this election and is now a crucial member of our campaign team,” Mr Wells said.
“Our canvassers have already knocked over 4,000 doors in South Down and have received a very positive response. Henry’s decision to join the DUP election team will give the campaign a huge boost.”
Mr Reilly was a long term UUP councillor on Newry and Mourne District Council but went on to join UKIP and later the TUV, before becoming an independent.
Explaining his decision, Mr Reilly said he had examined “all the possible outcomes” relating to the election decided to “lend” his first preference vote to the DUP.
“I have in the past been critical of the DUP using the prospect of there being a Sinn Fein First Minister as a scare tactic to attract unionist votes, but it is clear to me that returning the DUP as the biggest party really does matter in this election.
“I have found the constant demands being made by Sinn Fein that we dump Arlene Foster deeply offensive. It is up to the people to make up their own minds and vote accordingly. The fact that Sinn Fein brought down the Assembly because Arlene Foster did not surrender to Republican demands on a range of issues has proved decisive for me in voting DUP number one.
“It is also a fact that the DUP is the only pro-union party that is standing enough candidates to actually become the biggest party and the other unionist parties can only ever be part of an opposition.”
On the controversial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) row, he said the scheme had gone through a number of Stormont committees and that “all the Assembly parties consented to it and actually promoted it”.
As a result, he said RHI is therefore “just an excuse for Sinn Fein to be revert to their destructive agenda”.