Election battle looms as Paisley steps down
Election battle looms as Paisley steps down

Ian Paisley announced he is stepping down as MP this week, leaving his namesake son to battle Jim Allister, leder of the extreme unionist TUV party, in the upcoming British general election for north Antrim.

After months of speculation, the 83-year-old told his local newspaper that he would not fight to retain his 40-year hold in North Antrim.

His son Ian Paisley jnr confirmed he had put his name forward lor nomination and is now expected to be selected at a meeting of the constituency association on Monday,

“The polls don’t close until Friday so anyone is entitled to put their name in between now and Friday but I will be putting my name in the hat,” he said.

The North Antrim seat has been firmly held by lan Paisley since 1970 - he retained it in every election since and is the longest serving MP in the Six Counties.

During the 2005 Westminster elections he received 54.8 percent of the vote -a majority of 17,965 on the second-placed candidate, Sinn Fein’s Philip McGuigan.

It is expected to be a bitter two-way fight in the unionist-dominated seat between Ian Paisley jnr and Jim Allister, the former DUP MEP.

Mr AIIister launched his first attack yesterday on his likely opponent by saying: “If lan Paisley jnr is a candidate then the capacity for sound judgment will be a particular Issue.”

In January 2OO8 Allister made public a letter showing how his rival had lobbied during the St Andrew’s Agreement negotiations on behalf of a local property developer.

A month later, Mr Paisley jnr resigned as junior minister, apologising for causing his party embarrassment following a series of media stories.

He was later cleared of breaking assembly rules over the purchase of a holiday home from the developer.

Mr Paisley jnr res ponded by telling journalists that there were many “pygmies” waiting to fill his father’s “giant footsteps”.

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