Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 11:46 UK

Profile: Jim Allister

Jim Allister
Jim Allister is the leader of the TUV

From DUP stalwart to arch critic, that has been the political journey of the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice, Jim Allister.

He began his career with the DUP in 1971 but left to return to a career as a barrister after falling out over party policy.

Mr Allister famously fell out with Dr Ian Paisley in 1987 when he was not allowed to stand in the General Election in East Antrim because of a unionist electoral pact.

It looked like a masterstroke when Peter Robinson brought Jim Allister out of self-imposed political exile to contest the European election for the DUP in 2004.

Even more so when he topped the poll, exceeding even Ian Paisley's vote.

After all, the younger DUP generation may not have remembered him but Mr Robinson did.

But just as he did in 1987 Mr Allister was to quit the DUP again in 2007, this time over his dislike of power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

Twenty years on, however, one crucial part of history did not repeat itself - this time Mr Allister did not quit politics and return to his other job at the Bar.

He held onto the European seat and formed a new party, the Traditional Unionist Voice, as a vehicle to drive his opposition to the Stormont Executive.

TUV support

From it, he has launched a series of attacks on his former party - some of which have landed.

Undoubtedly his finest moment, until then, came in the Dromore council by-election in February 2008 when his party made its electoral debut gathering 739 votes and effectively depriving the DUP of the seat.

The former MEP in a series of speeches, media appearances and press releases has continued to make outspoken attacks on the party.

The TUV's first party conference drew a sizeable crowd but relatively few DUP elected representatives have defected.

The European election was the really big test of TUV support and despite losing his seat, he has badly damaged the DUP.

Mr Allister billed himself as the only candidate who did not endorse "terrorists in government."

He was eliminated at the second stage with a total of 70,481 votes but is standing in North Antrim in the next general election.

Ian Paisley jnr will also contest the seat, which was held his father after being selected by the DUP.



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