Simpson issues fresh warning over split

DUP candidate for the Upper Bann Constituency, David Simpson, right, and election agent Stephen Moutray, MLA, pictured outside the Electoral Office in Banbridge on Tuesday before handing in nomination papers for the upcoming general election.
DUP candidate for the Upper Bann Constituency, David Simpson, right, and election agent Stephen Moutray, MLA, pictured outside the Electoral Office in Banbridge on Tuesday before handing in nomination papers for the upcoming general election.

The DUP’s David Simpson has repeated his “warning” that a unionist split could lead to Upper Bann “being without a sitting MP for the first time in its history”.

Mr Simpson said that while canvassing people were concerned about the possibility of a split unionist vote handing the seat to Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley.

He claimed there is anger that the Ulster Unionists had put forward a candidate (Jo-Anne Dobson) “in a constituency that is becoming more vulnerable and into which they are pouring vast resources”.

“They came within 400 votes of the UUP who were in second spot in the 2010 election,” he added. “They are projecting Catherine Seeley for all they are worth, with the Ulster Unionists having elevated her to Deputy Mayor of Craigavon last June and then her own party making her Deputy Lord Mayor of ABC in April.”

He added that the dangers were real, “in a scenario where the unionist vote is split, and the vote of Dolores Kelly (SDLP) continues to evaporate. But the main danger is contained in the fact that Sinn Fein’s total in the 2011 Assembly election was 29 more votes than the DUP-UUP total combined.

“Their second candidate just failed to gain a second seat, although the DUP and UUP took two each through the PR system.” Mrs Kelly won the sixth seat.

However, there were UKIP and TUV candidates in the fight, and their 1,300 votes were transferred to the unionists.

Mr Simpson insisted, “It’s getting tighter and there will soon have to be an agreed candidate in Upper Bann.

“I hope we don’t miss the boat this time. If Catherine Seeley slips in, she will follow her party’s policy of not taking her seat, and this constituency will not be represented.”

It is known, though, that Sinn Fein have an office in the Palace of Westminster, and they go to London on a regular basis to deal with matters outside the debating chamber.