Unionists ‘confident’ in bid to unseat Gildernew

Tom Elliott of the UUP, with Rodney Connor, the agreed unionist candidate, leave the High Court in Belfast following a legal challenge to the result of the Fermanagh South Tyrone election
Tom Elliott of the UUP, with Rodney Connor, the agreed unionist candidate, leave the High Court in Belfast following a legal challenge to the result of the Fermanagh South Tyrone election

The sitting MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, says she hopes a “sectarian pact” by the DUP and UUP will not work.

Michelle Gildernew made the comment after it was announced that Tom Elliott of the Ulster Unionists would be the single unionist candidate in the Westminster election for the hotly contested seat.

Speaking to the TIMES ahead of officially launching her own election campaign at the Ryandale Hotel in Moy on Sunday, Ms Gildernew said: “The sectarian pact didn’t work in 2010 and I am hoping that it won’t work this time.”

At the last Westminster election, Michelle Gildernew won her seat by four votes, narrowly defeating the agreed unionist candidate Rodney Connor.

This time around, the Sinn Fein woman insisted the announcement by Tom Elliott “doesn’t change anything” and promised to continue fighting “for every single vote”.

“We knew that the DUP, the UUP and the Orange Order were frantically looking for a candidate to try and win back the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat... Our campaign has begun anyway and we are working very hard in the constituency so there will be no change in that - we never take our electorate for granted.”

Tom Elliott, meanwhile, said he was “confident” that the UUP and “unionism in general” can win at the forthcoming polls.

Speaking about the electoral pact, Mr Elliott said: “Obviously they want to maximise the opportunity to have a representation in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

“As always it will be an interesting competition; it will be an interesting election. It always is in Fermanagh South Tyrone. But again I’m looking forward to it.”

Mr Elliott and Ms Gildernew will be joined in the election battle by John Coyle of the SDLP and Tanya Jones of the Green Party.

Mr Coyle said he will “stand on my own ideas”, adding : “Calls for electoral pacts should offend every person in Northern Ireland. They only further polarize communities and serve party interests.”