A simmering DUP dispute has led to unusual posters appearing in Mid Ulster which do not contain the faces of the candidates, nor advise people of which order to vote for the candidates.
Last month the DUP announced that it was standing two candidates in the constituency – despite the fact that in last year’s general election its vote was less than the quota required for one MLA.
Sources have since indicated that the local association deselected the sitting MLA, Ian McCrea, in favour of Keith Buchanan. The DUP leadership then reintroduced Mr McCrea as a candidate, but did not remove Mr Buchanan.
Now posters have appeared across the constituency which contain a tiny image of DUP leader Arlene Foster. But, unlike DUP posters in other parts of the Province, they do not contain the candidates’ names, photographs or advice on which should receive first preference votes.
If anything, the posters appear to undermine the standing of the outgoing MLA, stating: “Vote DUP I,2 in order of YOUR choice”.
Neither Mr McCrea nor Mr Buchanan returned calls from the News Letter yesterday.
TUV leader Jim Allister seized upon the apparent disharmony of his unionist rivals, during a visit to the constituency with his candidate, Hannah Loughrin.
“With one of the parties which currently holds one of Mid Ulster’s two unionist seats clearly divided TUV is pleased to be able to offer the electorate the opportunity to vote for an able candidate to represent them in the next Assembly,” he said.
The Labour party has yet to substantively comment on the decision of local members to disregard its ban on candidates in Northern Ireland.
However, the Labour website LabourList quotes a party source as saying that both the eight candidates and those signing their nomination papers could face expulsion.
Upcoming hustings events
lGP and Primary Care Hustings: Clayton Hotel (Ormeau Avenue, Belfast). April 21, 7pm. Aimed at current and prospective medical professionals. (Organised by the Royal College of GPs).
lNorth Down: First Holywood Presbyterian Church, April 21, 7.30pm. (Evangelical Alliance/CARE).
lEast Antrim: Town Hall, Larne, April 21, 7.30pm (Organised by trade union Unite, focused on employment, chaired by Jamie Delargy).
lNorth Belfast: Girdwood Community Hub, April 21, 7pm. (Organised by local clergy, chaired by William Crawley)
lEnvironmental Hustings: Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island, April 22, 10am. (NI Environment Link).
lLagan Valley: Vineyard Church (Altona Business Park), April 26, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).
lNorth Antrim: The Braid, April 27, Ballymena, 7.30pm (Organised by trade union Unite, focused on employment).
lSouth Belfast: Agape Centre (238 Lisburn Road), April 27, 7.30pm. (Organised by ‘Challenges’, chaired by William Crawley).
lNorth Down: Kings Church Bangor (Seacliff Road), April 28, 7pm.