Party has decision to make in former DUP stronghold

In December, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he hoped to run for an Assembly seat in Lagan Valley.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 7:31 am

With the government’s sudden U-turn yesterday taking the prospect of dual mandates off the table, it is not yet clear if the DUP will alter its election strategy in Lagan Valley – where First Minister Paul Givan and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots represent the area at Stormont.

If Sir Jeffrey is selected by the DUP to run in Lagan Valley – and wins a seat in the five-seat constituency – it could come at the expense of one of his party colleagues or the Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance or the SDLP.

“We haven’t yet selected our candidates, we’re in the process of doing so,” Sir Jeffrey said.

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First Minister Paul Givan, in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings at Stormont

“I have put my name forward as a candidate for Lagan Valley. I have had the privilege and the honour of representing the Lagan Valley constituency now for over 25 years and it is my intention to continue representing that fine constituency.”

Despite a strong, but declining, vote for the DUP leader in recent Westminster elections, his name on the Assembly ballot paper, along with two other sitting DUP MLAs, might not be enough to reverse the party’s fortunes in the former DUP stronghold.

Between 2011 and 2016 the DUP held four of the six Assembly seats in the constituency – the other two being safe seats for the UUP and Alliance.

The 2016 poll resulted in the DUP’s Jonathan Craig losing his seat while Jenny Palmer picked up a second seat for the Ulster Unionists.

The DUP suffered a further setback in 2017 when Brenda Hale narrowly missed out – when each constituency was reduced from six seats to five. Pat Catney also picked up a seat for the SDLP at the expense of Jenny Palmer in 2017.

With Sorcha Eastwood for Alliance, Robbie Butler for the UUP and Pat Catney all expected to poll well in May, many pundits are predicting the DUP’s toughest battle yet in the constituency.