Edwin Poots fails in bid switch constituencies for Assembly elections

Former DUP leader sought nomination for South Down but was overlooked

Former DUP leader Edwin Poots has failed in a bid to switch constituencies in the forthcoming Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

Mr Poots, a current Lagan Valley MLA, had tried to secure a nomination for the South Down constituency and was interviewed by party officers as part of the selection process on Friday evening, along with another candidate, Diane Forsythe.

In a statement following the interview process, a DUP spokesperson confirmed that Ms Forsythe would go forward as the party’s preferred candidate.

They said: "The Democratic Unionist Party this evening selected Diane Forsythe to stand as the candidate for the party in the South Down constituency in the forthcoming Assembly election in May.


“The party is continuing with its selection processes and all selected candidates are subject to ratification by the Party Executive.”

Ms Forsythe is a former Westminster election candidate for the DUP and the daughter of a party councillor, Glyn Hanna.

Mr Poots arrived at Dundela House, the DUP party headquarters in east Belfast, just before 6pm.

Mr Poots left shortly before 8pm without speaking to the media.

The decision not to select him as a candidate is the latest major blow to the political career of Mr Poots, who endured a brief and fractious spell as party leader last year following a move against Arlene Foster.

Mr Poots was forced to quit last summer after only a matter of weeks as leader, when faced with a revolt from within his own party.

While he remains as Minister for Agriculture, the decision by DUP headquarters creates fresh questions about the direction of his political career.

The party currently holds two seats in the Lagan Valley constituency, belonging to Mr Poots and Stormont First Minister Paul Givan.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has signalled his intention to return to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is also expected to be a candidate in Lagan Valley.

Ms Foster was quick to send her congratulations to Ms Forsythe on Friday.

The former party leader tweeted: “So delighted for and proud of this woman.

“Now for hard yards for which you are more than capable.” – PA