‘Splintered unionism’ to blame for lost seats, insists DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has called on all unionists to admit that it wasn’t nationalists who caused a number of pro-Union seats to be lost at the Assembly election in May.

By Henry McDonald
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 4:00 am
Updated Saturday, 18th June 2022, 8:22 am

Instead, the DUP leader stressed last night that “splintered unionism” resulted in three lost Assembly seats.

Speaking at the Newry and Armagh DUP annual summer BBQ, Sir Jeffrey said the lost unionist seats in Strangford, North Antrim and East Antrim were the product of a split in the pro-Union vote.

He said: “Each of these constituencies had four unionist quotas yet each constituency only elected three unionists. That is not sustainable.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson speaks in the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Sir Jeffrey continued: ”It is no good talking about the theory that you cannot split the vote in a PR election when the real world evidence shows pro-Union representation weakened because of those splinters and divisions. I know that delivering a more cohesive unionism cannot be achieved by one party alone. It requires co-operation and effort from all of us who want to strengthen our place within the Union.”

On moves towards stronger pan-unionist co-operation, the DUP leader added: “What I can guarantee, however, is that the DUP will not be found wanting in that process and I will do everything in my power to facilitate that across unionism.”

One of the biggest casualties of the three, sometimes four, way split in the unionist vote took place in North Antrim where Mervyn Storey lost his seat which the former Stormont Minister had held in the DUP heartland for 19 years. The final seat ended up being won by Alliance’s Patricia O’Lynn.

Another former unionist minister, Peter Weir, lost his seat in Strangford, while Assembly veteran the UUP’s Roy Beggs lost in East Antrim.

Mervyn Storey lost his seat in North Antrim at the last Assembly election