Unsuccessful UUP Fermanagh MLA candidate thanks backers

Kenny Donaldson topped the poll with local party members but was not selected to replace Tom Elliott as MLA
Kenny Donaldson topped the poll with local party members but was not selected to replace Tom Elliott as MLA

The man who topped the poll with Fermanagh and South Tyrone UUP members but was not selected by the party leadership to go to Stormont has thanked those who supported him.

Victims’ campaigner Kenny Donaldson lost out to Neil Somerville in the battle to replace Tom Elliott as MLA – despite the fact that a meeting of more than 200 UUP members in Fermanagh had been told that Mr Somerville had not made it through to the final selection process.

The party blamed that on a failure to properly count the votes at the meeting, something it said was only discovered after the meeting had dispersed.

Some local UUP members are furious at what has happened and believe that a fresh meeting should have been called.

The party officers then selected Mr Somerville over Rosemary Barton and Mr Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson said in a statement: “I would like to thank all those grassroots members across Fermanagh and South Tyrone who offered their support to me on Monday night, I am deeply humbled by the confidence they put in me.

“I also thank all other members who attended and offered support to the other candidates and I commiserate with fellow candidates who have been unsuccessful.

“I wish the successful candidate every good wish in the role he has been chosen to undertake by the party.

“I will continue to serve people as best I can in whatever role our Lord determines.”

Meanwhile, South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan has welcomed the selection of Adrian Cochrane-Watson who will be co-opted to replace him as an MLA.

He said: “Adrian has been a long serving member of the party and of the council in Antrim and I look forward to working with him as he steps into his new role as an MLA.”