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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 20:14 GMT 21:14 UK
UUP branch folds to back DUP man
Mr Smyth (left) and Lord Molyneaux backed Mr Spratt (centre)
Mr Smyth (left) and Lord Molyneaux with Mr Spratt (centre)
A South Belfast branch of the Ulster Unionist Party has disbanded because its members want to back the DUP's Westminster candidate Jimmy Spratt.

According to the branch president, Margaret Clarke, the 15 members of the Willowfield branch did not support the party's candidate Michael McGimpsey.

Mrs Clarke works for the outgoing UUP MP Martin Smyth.

Mr McGimpsey said the move "would only bolster" a bid by the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell to win the seat.

"I think it's unfortunate not to accept the democratic will of the constituency association," he said.

"But I presume and suppose if you are not prepared to back the democratic process then I suppose the DUP is the best place to be.

"After all, their candidate in South Belfast did not have the benefit of selection, but was simply imposed on the local association."

Mr Spratt said unionists "across the spectrum" had been coming out to work for him.

Last week two of the most senior members of the UUP apparently gave their support to Mr Spratt.

Former leader Lord Molyneaux and past president Martin Smyth, the current MP for South Belfast who is not contesting the seat, were photographed with Mr Spratt.

Mr McGimpsey dismissed this, saying a photograph in itself was not an endorsement.





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