Page last updated at 22:13 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Diane Dodds to fight Euro poll

Diane Dodds
Diane Dodds is to contest the European Parliamentary elections in June

Belfast City Councillor and former MLA Diane Dodds has been selected as the DUP's candidate for the European Parliamentary elections in June.

The announcement was made at a party meeting on Tuesday evening.

Mrs Dodds will be running against former DUP member and sitting MEP Jim Allister.

He took the seat when Ian Paisley retired in 2004. He later quit the party when it decided to enter power sharing with Sinn Fein.

Mrs Dodds said the forthcoming European elections would produce a "battle unlike any before".

"As a party dedicated to the union, we must ensure that the voice of Ulster is a unionist one," she said.

"Let us not be side-tracked, the top priority for us all at this election must be to stop Sinn Fein topping the poll.

"The only party that can give unionism the victory is the DUP."

DUP leader and NI First Minister Peter Robinson congratulated Mrs Dodds on her selection and said she had a proven track record in elections.

"Not only has she the highest first preference vote of any councillor in Northern Ireland, but in 2003 she stole a seat from Sinn Fein to become the first unionist elected by the West Belfast constituency in over 20 years.

"Diane won that seat by 87 votes. This too will be a closely contested battle between the DUP and Sinn Fein."

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