Chance for voters to do a Jeremy Clarkson on Sinn Fein and Alliance

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

How often have I heard irate unionists expressing their frustration and anger at the sectarian wrecking tactics of Sinn Fein and the anti-unionist bigotry of the Alliance party.

They want to hit back but are exasperated that there is no immediate way to express their outrage.

Gerry Kelly

Gerry Kelly

However, in a democracy, elections give that opportunity and on May 7 the unionist population in Northern Ireland will have a chance to do a Jeremy Clarkson on both Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party.

The knockout blow is more likely to be effective due to the electoral pact agreed between the DUP and the UUP. It makes good political sense and is hopefully an indication of wider co-operation in the future.

Sinn Fein are hanging on to a majority of four in Fermanagh South Tyrone so it made sense to have one unionist candidate to challenge her.

The DUP would have preferred a non-party affiliated unionist to maximise the unionist vote but since that was not achievable have agreed to stand aside for the UUP candidate. Similarly in Newry and Armagh where the high profile Conor Murphy is standing down there is a chance that a single unionist could unseat Sinn Fein and the DUP agreed to stand aside in favour of the UUP candidate.

In return the UUP has agreed to give Nigel Dodds a free run in his North Belfast constituency where because of population change, Land Rover head-butting, Orange Order-hating Gerry Kelly had a chance of achieving a Sinn Fein gain.

The decision by the UUP to stand aside in East Belfast may not have been as necessary but it does send out a strong signal to the Alliance Party that they will not be allowed to pander to republicans by pulling down the union flag, with impunity.

Naomi Long who sees her days at Westminster numbered complains that UUP supporters in East Belfast are being left without a choice.

She wasn’t all that concerned about unionists when she was siding with Sinn Fein to remove the union flag from Belfast City Hall bringing strife and destruction on to the streets of her constituency.

May 7 is payback day and she shouldn’t be surprised that unionists have combined to ensure that she is paid in full for the treachery of her party and to ensure that a true unionist, who is proud of the flag of their country, is elected.

Others have argued that this pact just panders to sectarianism. I find that most offensive. Being a unionist is not being sectarian. Indeed many Catholics now vote unionist.

I am proud of that fact that in my own constituency so many from the Roman Catholic community are openly prepared to support me whilst in turn I trust that I defend their values.

It’s disappointing that this electoral pact did not extend to other constituencies where seats could be won by a unionist.

Especially Upper Bann where at the last Assembly election Sinn Fein were marginally above the DUP and there is now a real chance that a split unionist vote could let Sinn Fein scrape through and win the seat from David Simpson who is an excellent unionist MP.

Another is South Belfast where an agreed unionist candidate had a strong chance of taking the seat from the SDLP. Given the split in the anti-unionist vote in that constituency if unionists coalesced around the DUP’s Jonathan Bell, the only unionist with a chance of winning the seat, there could still be an upset.

If the parliamentary arithmetic is as close as some commentators are predicting then the electoral pact which has been agreed will give heart to unionists in Northern Ireland and make Northern Ireland representatives more relevant in the next Westminster Parliament.