Jim Wells and Sammy Wilson in tension with DUP over election and Covid

DUP MLA Jim Wells has been challenged about his claims that his South Down constituency association has given him firm backing to stand in the 2021 Assembly election.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the DUP MLA said he received a “public endorsement” from officers of the association at a meeting held in Rathfriland earlier that day.

However, a long-standing member of the association has claimed those in attendance were a “select few” supporters of Mr Wells, with all dissenting voices excluded.

In his statement on Thursday, Mr Wells said the meeting was the first stage of a process he hopes will end with his name on the ballot paper.

Long before Covid disagreement: Jeffrey Donaldson and Sammy Wilson celebrate an election result in 2010. Photo by Stephen Hamilton Presseye

He said: “I felt that it was important that before I submitted my name to party HQ that I consulted the members of the South Down Association of the DUP. I was delighted when they decided to give me their unanimous support”.

Meanwhile, East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson has stuck to his guns over a flippant tweet he sent on Coronavirus, just before the Commons passed legislation for new restrictions this week in a bid to tackle the Omicron variant.

Asked about Mr Wilson’s tweet, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said on Thursday: “Covid is no joking matter. and I think it is incumbent upon all public representatives to support public health messaging...”.

But Mr Wilson responded last night that he “could have said it in a boring way” but that it was “no joking matter” the impact Covid restrictions have had on businesses, cancer death rates, visiting relatives, mental health and education.

DUP MLA Jim Wells said he received a “public endorsement” from officers of the association at a meeting held in Rathfriland

He said 34 Tory MPs also voted against the new regulations.


Jim Wells ‘unanimous’ support claim disputed

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