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Unionist parties reveal electoral pact for Newry and Armagh

Armagh and Newry MLA Danny Kennedy

The Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP have agreed an electoral pact for Newry and Armagh in a bid to take the seat from Sinn Fein.

The parties announced tonight (Tuesday) that both would be lending their support to Ulster Unionist candidate Danny Kennedy.

Newry and Armagh is one of four constituencies that the two parties have agreed to do a deal on.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy is not standing again in the Westminster election on May 7, but is being replaced at the polls by Newry and Armagh MLA Mickey Brady.

The SDLP, meanwhile, recently announced they are fielding 2002 All-Ireland winner Justin McNulty.

The DUP had selected current Newry and Armagh MLA William Irwin as its representative.

But the unionists are hoping tonight’s agreement will take back a seat which was last under unionist control in the 1980s.

Commenting on the agreement Ulster Unionist Party Leader Mike Nesbitt MLA said: “The Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP have reached an understanding regarding the General Election.

“The Ulster Unionist Party will have the support of the DUP for Tom Elliott in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and Danny Kennedy in Newry & Armagh.

“In return the Ulster Unionist Party will support Nigel Dodds in North Belfast and Gavin Robinson in East Belfast.

“We began these discussions in October proposing an anti-abstentionist arrangement for Fermanagh & South Tyrone and North Belfast.

“Since then it has become clear that there is potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity to take back Newry & Armagh, albeit this will be extremely difficult to achieve.

“Our support for the DUP in East Belfast should ensure an additional pro-Union MP for the City of Belfast in the next mandate.

“I acknowledge there will be those who feel disappointed that no understanding was possible in South Belfast. The key now is to get the pro-Union vote out on the 7th of May, not just in South Belfast but across Northern Ireland.”

DUP Leader Peter Robinson said: “I want to see unionists cooperating. Too often divisions are manufactured to create difference.  Grassroots unionists want to see us working together to maximise the unionist vote.

“Such an approach is not just desirable, but it has been proven to be effective in increasing turnout amongst unionists.

“I commend the constituency associations from both parties who have considered the bigger picture and accepted they should stand aside in the greater interests of unionism.

“Their sacrifice and efforts to strengthen unionism will undoubtedly be recognised in subsequent elections.

“With a predicted hung parliament, I am calling on all unionists to unite behind these agreed candidates and maximise the pro-union voice in the House of Commons. Sinn Fein MPs fail to take their seats.  They leave their constituents without a voice in Parliament.

“Others do not represent unionism. All shades of unionism can lend their vote to these agreed candidates in the knowledge that their action could increase the number of unionists in the House of Commons and reduce the number of non-unionists returned.

“There will be those who while rejoicing that a four-constituency deal has been reached would have liked to see Upper Bann and South Belfast also included.

“This has not been possible but we will work extremely hard to bring home a unionist in both these constituencies.”

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