Former senator Ian Marshall is to stand as the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) candidate in West Tyrone in the forthcoming Assembly election in Northern Ireland.
In a statement following his selection he said he “strongly disagreed” Irish unity was inevitable and said instead that a changing Northern Ireland must be embraced and supported. “Change can strengthen the union,” he said.
A former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Mr Marshall was elected as an independent senator in 2018 and was the first Northern unionist to sit in the Seanad.
He joined the UUP earlier this year and was one of a number of high-profile recruits to the party under the leadership of new party leader Doug Beattie, which included the former DUP councillor Ryan McCready and former Progessive Unionist Party councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnstone.
He is currently a business development manager with Queen's University Belfast's Institute for Global Food Security.
Mr Marshall said he believed in politics “grounded in integrity, respect, inclusivity and working with everyone to build a better brighter future” which were virtues “exemplified by Doug Beattie, as he leads the Ulster Unionist Party back to being the number one voice for unionism”.
He said that “for too long we have lived under the cloud of ‘bogeyman politics’” and it was “now time to be proud of who we are” and to build “an inclusive, prosperous Northern Ireland for all.”
“As we see change, some commentators have moved into the language of ‘inevitability politics’ where they would suggest that because of Brexit, Covid and changing demographics Irish unity has become an inevitability.
“I strongly disagree, especially based on any credible information available to date.
“The union is strong and has withstood many ‘shocks’ throughout the last century. The union still presents as many opportunities for everyone,” he said.