Traybake fight in Fermanagh over ‘an agreed unionist candidate’…

It’s all kicking off in Choyaa’s stomping ground of Fermanagh. From Kurtis Reid in the BelTel:

A row over fielding a single unionist candidate in Northern Ireland’s most marginal constituency continues to brew.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist Association endorsed the UUP’s Diana Armstrong as candidate, days after a DUP-UUP spat.

The seat is currently held by Sinn Fein with a majority of just 57.

On Monday, UUP leader Doug Beattie said an agreed unionist candidate in the constituency “cannot work”, claiming last minute discussions over the idea with parties only took place on Friday.

However, DUP interim leader Gavin Robinson later called for a single unionist candidate to run there, and claimed talks had actually taken place last year “long before any election was called”.

“Contrary to the UUP statement, the DUP engaged in discussions about an agreed unionist candidate in Fermanagh-South Tyrone last year, long before any election was called,” Mr Robinson said.

“Indeed, we even challenged the UUP leadership about publicly announcing a candidate before those talks had concluded.”

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone UUP Association has now endorsed Ms Armstrong, claiming she can “unite the constituency, can stand on strong principles and a proven foundation of hard work” alongside promoting “the benefits of the Union.”

They also said Ms Armstrong “opposes any barriers that impede the strength of the entire United Kingdom and is certainly a good unionist with a positive perspective for Fermanagh-South Tyrone.”

Ms Armstrong, a local councillor, is the daughter of Harry West, a former UUP leader and MP.

“There are those who, election after election, shout that unity candidates are the only way forward to preserve the union. Normally the political parties who champion this do so for seats where they believe their party can never win,” the association said.

It’s hard to know what to make of these ‘unity candidates’. They are basically admitting that they can’t win, and all they do is put pressure on the Nationalist side to retaliate with a unity candidate of their own.

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