Ulster Unionist Party wants reform of the European Union
Candidate Jim Nicholson under some threat from SDLP and TUV
Jim Allister said the TUV is hoping to trigger a ‘political earthquake’ in the European elections. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Jim Nicholson is campaigning to hold the European seat he has held for the past 25 years, conscious that he is under some threat from SDLP candidate Alex Attwood and from anti-Belfast Agreement Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister.
The UUP is also standing 116 candidates in the elections to 11 new “super-councils”. It had 96 councillors on the North’s 26 councils.
There are six unionist candidates in the European election compared to two nationalists, outgoing MEP Martina Anderson for Sinn Féin and Mr Attwood, with a consequent unionist concern that splitting the unionist vote could hand a seat to Mr Attwood.
In such circumstances, it would be at the expense of outgoing DUP Diane Dodds or Mr Nicholson, with the UUP man the more vulnerable of the two unionists. Speaking at the launch of his party’s European and local election manifestos, Mr Nesbitt said he was more concerned with unionist apathy than vote-splitting.
He said the North was failing to take advantage of grants from the European Union for business development.
He said that the North had sought €35 of support per head of population compared to the Republic seeking €590.
“That to me is a measure of the ambition of the Republic and the lack of ambition coming out of Northern Ireland for these funds.”
At his party’s manifesto launch in Belfast, Mr Allister said the TUV is hoping to trigger a “political earthquake” in the European elections and rejected complaints by DUP First Minister Peter Robinson that it was “shredding” the unionist vote.
“We are fighting this election to win,” he said.
The TUV is standing 50 candidates in the local elections and is aiming to increase its number of seats from its current six.