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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
DUP man is backed by UUP figures
Mr Smyth (left) and Lord Molyneaux backed Mr Spratt (centre)
Mr Smyth (left) and Lord Molyneaux with Mr Spratt (centre)
Two of the most senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party have apparently given their support to the DUP's general election candidate in South Belfast.

Former leader Lord Molyneaux and past president Martin Smyth were photographed with Jimmy Spratt.

Lord Molyneaux also endorsed his former personal assistant, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who left the Ulster Unionists to join the DUP.

In January, Mr Smyth, 73, said he would

not be standing at the next election.

He is currently the MP for South Belfast. The UUP candidate for South Belfast is Michael McGimpsey, a pro-Agreement unionist and former Stormont minister.

It was Mr Molyneaux who famously declared that the IRA cessation was the most destabilising event to happen since partition.
Pat Doherty
Sinn Fein

Mr Spratt said he was "delighted" both Mr Smyth and Lord Molyneaux had been photographed with him for his campaign material.

"The photograph speaks for itself - both gentlemen have made comments on the literature... I have got other support from within the Official Unionist Party (UUP)," he said.

"The two gentlemen came to back me voluntarily - I didn't have any contact with them myself before last Friday."

Mr Spratt said he was "happy to take support from any quarter" and believed he was the only candidate in the constituency who could "unite unionism".

Wide open

But the Ulster Unionst candidate, Michael McGimpsey, hit back at his rival. "A photograph itself is not an endorsement, despite DUP spin," he said.

"The Queen has been pictured with Ian Paisley. This does not mean that the House of Windsor supports the DUP.

"What today's news underlines is the DUP's scorched earth policy towards Unionism.

"The DUP know they cannot win South Belfast, just as they know that they cannot win Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Jimmy Spratt and Ian Paisley of the DUP
Mr Spratt (left) is standing in South Belfast

"But they will try and ensure that no Unionist can win if they can't."

SDLP South Belfast candidate Alasdair McDonnell said the unionists' intervention "has further opened up the constituency".

"This is a three-horse race. The views of these two gentlemen are settled and well-known and can hardly come as any surprise. They have consistently opposed change," he said.

"Open hostility"

Sinn Fein's director of elections, Pat Doherty, said Lord Molyneaux's support for Mr Spratt was hardly surprising.

"Jimmy Spratt was for many years the spokesperson for the rank and file RUC members.

"He has always demonstrated an open hostility to the development of the peace process," he said.

"It was Mr Molyneaux who famously declared that the IRA cessation was the most destabilising event to happen since partition.

"Given these realities it will not come as much of a surprise to nationalists and republicans that Mr Molyneaux should identify himself with Jimmy Spratt at this time."





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