The DUP candidate in Mid Ulster Ian McCrea has hit out at ‘misinformation’ which he says has been ‘deliberately spread’ as he battles for re-election along with a second DUP candidate Keith Buchanan.
In a statement to the Mid Ulster Mail, Mr McCrea said he wanted to clarify why his party had chosen two candidates for the Assembly election on May 5, which has sparked speculation of bitter division within the ranks of the DUP in Mid Ulster.
He also stated that his father Rev Willie McCrea faced a similar challenge in 2003.
“I am proud to be a DUP candidate in this election and in accordance with the electoral rules of our party, if a constituency association has not a certain number of members then the local association does not and cannot chose any candidate,” he said, “instead that is done by the central officers of the party.
“As mis-reported, the DUP Mid Ulster Association did not select any candidate but rather the party officers decided to maximise the DUP vote by running two candidates.
“It is our desire to be the primary unionist voice in Mid Ulster, defending unionism from the attacks of republicanism, in all of its disguises.”
The party’s decision to run two candidates is clearly being welcomed by Unionists on the doorsPaul McLean
Mr McCrea also took the opportunity to respond to the TUV claims that they would mop up votes from confused DUP voters.
Last week Jim Allister backed his candidate Hannah Loughrin, pointing to the DUP election posters, which carry no photographs and the instruction to vote 1,2 of their choice.
“It is a sad reality that the TUV see fellow unionists, namely the DUP, as the enemy in this election.
“It seems republicans can rest easy from such attacks in Mid Ulster as they were not mentioned in Hannah Loughrin’s statement.”
With just a week to go before polling day, Ian McCrea made a pledge to continue to serve his constituents and said he should be judged on how he has reacted to adversity.
Meanwhile, the DUP’s group leader in Mid Ulster, Councillor Paul McLean is calling on the electorate to support the party’s “new guy on the block” Keith Buchanan.
“The party’s decision to run two candidates is clearly being welcomed by Unionists on the doors,” said the Magherafelt councillor, “with many of them welcoming Arlene Foster’s leadership of vision for change”.
Mr McLean strongly denied TUV leader Jim Allister’s claim that there was a split within the DUP and described his comments as “only speculation.”
“The DUP in Mid Ulster is running two candidates in the persons of Keith Buchanan and Ian McCrea giving the electorate of Mid Ulster a positive and dynamic choice.” He said he was “hanging his hat” in the Buchanan camp.