Ukip held its official election candidate launch in Belfast, sending a broadside at “non-delivering” established parties in Northern Ireland.
However, the party also promised to work closely with the DUP at Westminster – an offer which was publicly welcomed by the local unionist party.
Ukip’s launch took place in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, with three of the party’s MEPs – deputy leader Paul Nuttall MEP, its leader in Wales, Nathan Gill MEP and its leader in Scotland, David Coburn MEP.
Ukip is running in 10 out of 18 constituencies across Northern Ireland.
Local party leader David McNarry MLA said: “Our message is that Northern Ireland voters have a chance to be part of a great nationwide movement for change, for national renewal and a rebirth of national pride and patriotism.
“It gives voters the chance to use their vote to reject the old, tired, non-delivering parties, both in the UK and in Northern Ireland, and to vote for real change in politics.”
The party intends to appoint its own Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, he said.
“A vote for Ukip is a vote for Ukip, not for sham pacts.”
Mr Nuttall said later that he had met DUP leader Peter Robinson.
Ukip was keen to join with the DUP in securing an early referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, he said.
“Let’s not forget, ourselves and the DUP combined may well have more seats than the Liberal Democrats which then could change the dynamic in Westminster altogether,” he said.
The party’s 10 Westminster candidates are;
l Bob Stoker – South Belfast
l Brian Higginson – West Belfast
l Noel Jordan – East Antrim
l Alan Love – Lagan Valley
l Alan Day – Mid Ulster
l Kyle Thompson – Foyle
l Joe Jordan – Strangford
l Robert Hill – North Antrim
l Jonny Lavery – North Down
l Henry Reilly – South Down
DUP MP William McCrea welcomed Ukip deputy leader Paul Nuttall’s comments outlining its desire to work with the DUP in the next parliament.
The South Antrim MP said: “We have always been clear about our desire to work with other unionist parties and that includes Ukip. There are many issues where the DUP and Ukip share a common focus, including on the demand to hold a referendum on our membership of the European Union and control over our borders.
“The DUP has the strongest team to deliver for Northern Ireland and it is clear that other parties recognise this. We want to see the maximum number of unionist MPs returned from Northern Ireland and the strongest team wielding influence in Parliament.” There is no benefit to anyone from returning absentee MPs, he added.