McCune named as UUP candidate as Nesbitt warns of ‘bitter’ South Belfast fight

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The Ulster Unionists have selected Rodney McCune as their Assembly candidate for what they predict will be a ”bitter” fight in South Belfast.

Mr McCune, who ran unsuccessfully for Westminster last year, has been selected to run in place of long-time MLA Michael McGimpsey, who is standing down.

Mike Nesbitt and Michael McGimpsey are backing Rodney McCune as UUP candidate

Mike Nesbitt and Michael McGimpsey are backing Rodney McCune as UUP candidate

Mr McCune is a qualified barrister who worked as a special advisor to former DRD Minister Danny Kennedy.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt predicted that the campaign in South Belfast could descend into “bitter in-fighting between unionist foes who were former friends”.

“Rodney McCune is a more than worthy successor to Michael McGimpsey as an Ulster Unionist representative in South Belfast and I commend him wholeheartedly to the voters of the constituency.

“Rodney’s commitment is beyond question. He gave up a very successful legal career in London to return to his native Northern Ireland to pursue a career in politics. He and his wife chose South Belfast for what has become a family home and in recent times, he has developed a firm grasp of the issues and needs of the people.

“In what some fear will be a South Belfast Assembly campaign that descends into bitter in-fighting between unionist foes who were former friends, Rodney represents a common sense, moderate, progressive voice capable of representing the full range of voters in a very mixed, diverse constituency.”

Mr McCune said: “I am naturally delighted to have been selected to contest South Belfast at the forthcoming Assembly elections. Given Michael McGimpsey’s excellent representation over so many years, following him is both a privilege and a huge challenge.”

“I will be on the doorsteps in the coming weeks offering change and outlining my positive vision for South Belfast. I will be offering forward thinking Unionism and representation that will be attractive to the many not just the few.

“Most importantly of all however, I will be offering voters hard work. I have over a decade of experience representing people and their interests outside politics, and I intend to take that grounding and experience with me into frontline politics.

“South Belfast is going to be quite a contest at this election and I am very much looking forward to it.”

Mr McGimpsey has given Mr McCune his backing as his successor. He said: “I am delighted that Rodney McCune has been selected. Rodney is the right man for South Belfast. He is a professional and will work hard for all the people. He`s energetic, bright and articulate and if elected, the people will have a hard working MLA who will be a major asset to the constituency of South Belfast and the Ulster Unionist Party.”