The Alliance leader David Ford has said that remarks by Trevor Ringland about the East Belfast contest have backed what Alliance has been saying in opposition to the unionist pact.
Mr Ford was reacting to comments to the News Letter by Mr Ringland, the Ulster Unionist and Tory candidate in the constituency in 2010, that he could not support a DUP candidate if he had to choose between Alliance’s Naomi Long and the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in a two-way contest.
Mr Ringland said on Saturday that he was still involved in the NI Conservatives, but when pressed about his preference between the two leading candidates for the seat, he replied: “Taking the NI Conservatives out of it, and taking my desire to see normal politics out of it completely, I could not vote for the DUP.”
Mr Ford said on Sunday: “The remarks by Trevor Ringland have supported Alliance claims about the opposition that we are hearing on the doors from Ulster Unionists to the pact in East Belfast.
“The DUP have taken the voters in East Belfast for granted and assumed that Ulster Unionists would automatically transfer to them. Alliance believes that votes have to be earned through hard work, trust and experience.”
Mr Ford added: “It is clear that the momentum is with Naomi in this contest as more people back her following her achievements over the past five years as well as the vision she has to build on the progress that has already been made.
“On May 7th, the public have a choice between Naomi who wants to take East Belfast forward or the DUP who want to take it back.”