TUV contesting just one of NI’s 18 constituencies

Timothy Gaston (right) is standing in Jim Allisters North Antrim heartland

Timothy Gaston (right) is standing in Jim Allisters North Antrim heartland

The TUV is to stand in just one of Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies, the party has confirmed.

In an implicit acceptance of both its poor performance in recent elections and also of the cost of fighting three elections in little more than a year, the anti-Agreement party is only going to contest its strongest seat – leader Jim Allister’s heartland of North Antrim.

However, Mr Allister will not himself be standing. Instead, it will be Ballymena councillor Timothy Gaston who will go up against the outgoing DUP MP Ian Paisley.

The party was deeply disappointed to poll just 20,523 votes across Northern Ireland in March’s Assembly election.

A TUV spokesman said that the party’s decision to just stand in one seat – the least ambitious electoral stance which the party has adopted before any election since it was founded almost a decade ago – was for financial reasons and also due to the belief that the Province could be facing another Assembly election in the autumn.

Even many of the big parties have struggled with the cost of standing in so many elections over such a short space of time, with cash needed for candidate deposits, literature, TV broadcasts and posters.

In a statement today the TUV said that it had made a “strategic decision” to preserve its resources in this election by just standing in one constituency. Mr Allister said: “Happily North Antrim will be won by a unionist. So, voters can be safely afforded a choice.

“In this election Ian Paisley’s eulogising of the late IRA commander McGuinness will be an issue as many unionists recoil from his description of him as someone who ‘not only saved lives but made the lives of countless people better’. TUV disagrees. We say the life savers were our gallant security forces who faced down terrorism.”