Beattie praises ‘selfless’ Upper Bann election rival ... then calls for change

Doug Beattie of the UUP.
Doug Beattie of the UUP.

The first move by the UUP’s parlimentary candidate for Upper Bann was to pay tribute to his DUP rival who has held the Westminster seat for more than a decade.

Doug Beattie was one of 12 general election candidates announced by the Ulster Unionists yesterday, and his battle with David Simpson in the unionist stronghold is likely to be tightly fought.

Mr Simpson has been the MP for Upper Bann for 12 years and yesterday Mr Beattie chose to butter up the senior DUP man, before calling for change.

Speaking as he announced his candidacy for Upper Bann, he commented: “In doing so I must pay tribute to the present sitting MP David Simpson who has served this constituency selflessly for the last 12 years.

“But like anything in life there comes a time when we need to refresh our approach, address the issues through a new set of eyes and a different mind-set. That can only be brought about through change.”

The Ulster Unionist Party has selected “a range of candidates from different backgrounds and experience” for the forthcoming general election, according to leader Robin Swann.

Mr Swann MLA said the candidates “demonstrate the depth and talent of the membership of the Ulster Unionist Party across Northern Ireland”.

As expected Tom Elliott and Danny Kinahan will attempt to retain their MP status in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and South Antrim, respectively.

Five of the candidates are already MLAs who are hoping to build on their recent Stormont success to gain a Westminster seat. Mr Beattie is joined by Robbie Butler who will contest Lagan Valley, John Stewart who will do battle in East Antrim and Alan Chambers who will take to the polls in North Down.

Meanwhile, former leader Mike Nesbitt will stand in Strangford – ending speculation he could stand in South Belfast – and is hoping to banish the spectre of the last election by taking the Westminister seat held by Jim Shannon of the DUP.

Two UUP councillors are stepping up for the election campaign in the shape of Mark Glasgow, who will contest Mid Ulster, and Richard Holmes who is aiming for the East Londonderry seat.

Harold McKee, who lost his MLA status in South Down, will fight for the MP’s seat there while Alicia Clarke who ran in March’s Assembly election will contest West Tyrone.

Finally, the party have said that the relatively unknown Jackson Minford has been selected as their candidate in North Antrim.

The UUP had already announced they are not running in North Belfast, West Belfast and Foyle.