The leader of Ukip in Northern Ireland has said he may stand for election in west Belfast.
David McNarry was speaking after the News Letter questioned why his name was not on a list of 15 candidates which the party intends to field in the upcoming Assembly election.
The Strangford MLA and regional party leader said that, although they have chosen candidates for those 15 seats (including his current one, which will be contested by Stephen Crosby), there are still a number they have not yet decided upon.
He told the News Letter that they are mulling over the potential candidates for South Down, Belfast West, Foyle, and Fermanagh & South Tyrone.
While none have a majority of unionist MLAs, Belfast West has none at all – five out of the six seats are Sinn Fein’s, with the SDLP occupying one.
“We’re having a close look at those [four] vacancies for selection and my name is in the hat for selection,” he said.
Asked which of the four outstanding seats he had in mind, he said: “There’s one of those seats that I’d remind everybody could be won if we had a single unionist candidate, and it’s the most obvious one – west Belfast – for anybody to see and look at...
“West Belfast and the pro-union people have for far too long been disenfranchised. They can’t be represented by Sinn Fein or the SDLP, who control that seat. Our stats show us that there is every probability that a single unionist candidate would win that seat, and give representation to the unionist people in west Belfast.”
Asked outright if that candidate may be him, he said: “Could be, yes.”
The list of Ukip candidates chosen so far was unveiled at the party’s conference on Saturday (which took place at the same time as the DUP’s).
In his speech to party members, Mr McNarry had voiced concern about possible Islamic extremism in Northern Ireland and the Republic, and said: “We simply cannot afford to import murderers from migrant communities who pretend to be asylum seekers and refugees.”
His remarks drew criticism from the Alliance’s Stewart Dickson (East Antrim) who said it was “inflammatory” language which risked “stirring up anti-immigrant feelings”.
Mr McNarry said normally he would not responded to such comments, but added: “His remarks are just typical Alliance mealy-mouthed, trying to cheat their way in with a cheap publicity stunt.”
Asked about the claim that he had tried to stir up racial tensions, he said: “Absolutely not. I am a professional politician and it is my duty to protect the security of my people, all the people of Northern Ireland, if I think it’s at risk.
“There is no-one telling me there isn’t a city in the UK not at risk because of ISIS.”