General election: UUP candidate vows not to pull out of South Belfast contest
An Ulster Unionist standing in the marginal South Belfast constituency has vowed to face down calls for him to step aside.
Michael Henderson said he would not be deterred by negativity from other unionists critical of his party’s decision to run.
The UUP has already stepped aside in North Belfast to give DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds a better chance of fending off a challenge from Sinn Fein. The DUP had already announced that it would not challenge the UUP in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
The UUP had faced calls from some loyalists and unionists to also sit out the South Belfast race after Sinn Fein and the Greens stood aside to strengthen the SDLP’s bid to unseat the DUP’s Emma Little Pengelly.
Mr Henderson, a councillor on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council, was joined by veteran UUP member Jeff Dudgeon as he handed in his nomination papers at the Electoral Office in Belfast city centre today.
“There has been some negative comments on Facebook and social media but you’d expect that as well,” he said.
“But there has been positives as well.”
Mr Henderson insisted he would not be deterred.
“Definitely not, I am here to give people a choice and hope people will accept that choice,” he said.
The UUP decision in North Belfast proved controversial, as it came only a week after incoming leader Steve Aiken had pledged, in an interview with the News Letter, to run in all 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland.