Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Ian Paisley jnr picked to fight father's seat

Ian Paisley jnr
Ian Paisley jnr said his selection was a great honour

Ian Paisley jnr will contest his father's North Antrim seat in the general election after being selected by the DUP on Monday night.

Earlier this month, his 83-year-old father confirmed he would not stand at the next general election. Mr Paisley, has been MP for the area since 1970.

Mr Paisley jnr has been an assembly member for North Antrim since 1998.

Speaking after he was unanimously selected, he said it was a great honour "to contest this important election".

"I am looking forward to this election and will be asking the people of North Antrim for their continuing support and friendship," he said.

"My campaign will be a positive one. I am seeking to make a further positive and meaningful contribution to the North Antrim constituency."

DUP leader Peter Robinson said it was never going to be easy to pick someone to follow an iconic political figure like Ian Paisley.

"But in selecting Ian, I believe the members in North Antrim have picked someone with a strong track record of hard work for his constituents," he said.

Mr Paisley jnr will be standing against his former party colleague, Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister in the poll.

At the last general election in 2005, Mr Paisley polled 25,156 votes in North Antrim, giving him a majority of nearly 18,000.

However, at the last European election, the TUV - which opposes sharing power with Sinn Fein - received just over 70,000 votes across Northern Ireland, most of them at the expense of the DUP and it could pose a real threat to a seat its rival has held for 40 years.

The two candidates already seem to be in campaign mode, having traded criticisms and accusations before an election date has been set.

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