Unionist election unity a ‘platform’, says DUP leader

Gavin Robinson
Gavin Robinson

Unionist co-operation ahead of the general election has provided a platform that can be built on in the future, Peter Robinson has said.

Speaking on the final day of the Balmoral Show, the DUP leader and first minister said there is strong public support for more shows of unity.

“I have been approached by hundreds of people over the three days of the show urging us to build on the electoral pact.

“The proof of its value told by the election results has encouraged the unionist community,” he said.

“The results demonstrated the benefits of unionism working together. The limited pact was successful in three out of the four constituencies that were agreed. That resulted in two extra unionist MPs returning to Westminster and Jonathan Bell missed out by only 900 votes.

“Had the DUP been given a free run instead of the unionist vote being split three ways Northern Ireland would have returned 12 unionist MPs.”

Following the May 7 poll, the DUP returned eight MPs to Westminster and the Ulster Unionists two. Former UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon was re-elected as an independent for North Down.

Mr Robinson attended the show on all three days and said he met thousands of people – many who were keen to share their views.

“When talking to them, a huge proportion of those people have recognised the success that has been delivered from unionist co-operation and they are clear in their desire to see it continue.

“The unionist community do not want to see agreement end at 10pm on polling day, but instead they want to see it as a continual process working for the benefit of Northern Ireland. I would hope that comments from the Ulster Unionist Party that agreements have now come to an end do not accurately reflect their position, but were comments clouded by the election results.”

Mr Robinson added: “Agreement between unionist parties is good for unionism and they have the support of the unionist community. That must present a platform on which to build for the future rather than walking away from something which has a proven record of success. Unionist voters will not forgive those that walk away.”

On Thursday, enterprise minister Jonathan Bell used the show to announce a new £6.7million investment in the Province’s agri-food sector.