Unique opportunity for unionism to consolidate - McLean

Magherafelt Council chairman Paul McLean.mm24-249ar.
Magherafelt Council chairman Paul McLean.mm24-249ar.

A CALL for unionist unity in Mid-Ulster has come from the DUP Chairman of Magherafelt District Council.

Following the announcement by Martin McGuinness that he was stepping down as MP for the constituency, Councillor Paul McLean confirmed talks have been going on about the possibility of fielding a joint unionist candidate in the forthcoming by election.

Mr McLean said it was important for the unionist people in the area that an agreed unionist candidate is put forward.

The candidate will probably either be the DUP’s Ian McCrea or Sandra Overend from the Ulster Unionist Party, both of whom have expressed an interest in running.

Only controversial victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer has indicated that he will run on an ‘anti-terrorist’ agenda.

Mr McLean told the MAIL that he has written to his party leader Peter Robinson requesting a united unionist candidate.

“Now that Martin McGuinness has resigned his seat this has created an opportunity for a joint unionist candidate to be considered to advance unionism within the Mid-Ulster area,” he said.

“We only have to tally the electoral registers and we will clearly see that a united candidate is the best option available for the unionist cause within Mid-Ulster.”

The DUP politician said that he has spoken with various unionist “groups and individuals” within the constituency.

“The message of unity has been coming more and more to the fore,” he continued. “Furthermore this by-election offers a unique opportunity for unionism to consolidate and show what unity can achieve.

“I am fully committed to my party and its endeavours but I firmly believe that pro-unionist parties should be taking every opportunity when possible to advance and benefit the unionist cause.”