Upper Bann MP David Simpson has urged people in the constituency to back the numerical strength of the DUP at next month’s General Election.
The DUP man, who has held the seat since beating Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble back in 2005, is defending a majority in excess of 3,000.
His most likely challenge is set to come from Jo-Anne Dobson, the Banbridge woman and UUP candidate with Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley more of an outsider.
As he handed in his nomination papers in Banbridge last week, Mr Simpson said the DUP would wield a significant influence at Westminster in the years to come because of the likelihood of a hung parliament.
The party remains comfortably the largest parliamentary party in Northern Ireland and that probably won’t change after the May 8 poll.
“All the pollsters and commentators are agreed that following the General Election we will be under the control of a hung Parliament,” said Mr Simpson.
“The prediction is clear that neither Cameron nor Milliband will command a majority in Parliament. This is a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland’s voice to be heard in Parliament.
“Electing an MP who will not take their seat means that opportunity is wasted. Electing an MP who is tied to only ever supporting one of the main parties at Westminster is a wasted opportunity.
“Electing an MP from a party too small to make a difference is a wasted opportunity. However, a strong team of DUP MPs will be able to wield their influence to get the best deal for Northern Ireland.”
Mr Simpson pointed out that Ms Seeley wouldn’t take her seat if elected.
He added, “It stands to reason that a larger group of MPs will have a stronger hand with the big parties. The larger the team the greater the influence. However, to vote for a party that doesn’t turn up in the Parliament is the equivalent to squandering this opportunity to get a better deal for people of Upper Bann.”
See Catherine Seeley’s campaign launch on page 12.