Irish Republican News · November 5, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Pro-Agreement `dissident' challenges UUP hardliner

One of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's allies in the last assembly is to run against the party as an independent candidate in the November 26 election.

The independent candidacy of Ivan Davis was one of few surprise candidates when the full list of 256 candidates was published last night. There are 108 seats available in total in the new Assembly, spread among 18 constituencies.

The Ulster Unionists form the largest party fielding 43 candidates while their unionist rivals the DUP are running 40. Sinn Féin will run 38 candidates with the SDLP has 36 people standing. Other parties and groups include the Alliance Party, the Progressive Unionists and the Women's Coalition.

It has emerged that the UUP's chief whip at the Belfast Assembly and a supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, Davis will challenge the party's most strident anti-Agreement voice, Jeffrey Donaldson, in the Lagan Valley constituency.

Despite being among Mr Trimble's staunchest supporters and one of the UUP's leading backers of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Davis was deselected by the Lagan Valley constituency association last September.

Last night Mr Davis said he believed that he had been ``shabbily treated'' by the party when it deselected him.

``I've decided to run because I believe the pro-Agreement electorate in Lagan Valley deserve a choice,'' he said.

``I'm all for building for the future and I will not be supporting the wreckers (anti-Agreement candidates).''

As well as Mr Donaldson, Mr Davis will run against UUP candidates Billy Bell, Jim Kirkpatrick and Nora Beare.

``I believe there should have been five UUP candidates running in the first place, to fully represent the range of views,'' he said.

``I want to maximise the vote from a pro-Agreement point of view.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News