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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 09:49 GMT
UUP opt for Lady Hermon
Lady Sylvia Hermon
Lady Sylvia Hermon is pro-Agreement
The Ulster Unionist Party has chosen Lady Sylvia Hermon as their candidate for the controversial North Down seat.

Lady Hermon won Wednesday night's poll with 112 votes. Her opponent Reverend Eric Culbertson took 29 votes.

There was a surprise withdrawal from the field at the last minute when Councillor Leslie Cree announced that he was pulling out of the contest for personal reasons.

There has been a long-running wrangle within the party over who should fight the general election seat.

Peter Weir
Peter Weir was deselected by the UUP
The original choice was Peter Weir but he was deselected after an internal disciplinary hearing suspended him from the party.

As a strong opponent of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Weir had been accused of consistently voting against the UUP line at Stormont.

The issue has been an embarrassment for David Trimble illustrating the deep rifts between anti and pro-Agreement unionists in the party.

In all, 20 people applied to become the new North Down candidate.

A short-list of five was drawn up last week but it was reduced to three.

'Silent majority'

Lady Sylvia Hermon, the wife of former RUC chief constable Sir Jack Hermon, was runner up to Mr Weir when he was originally selected.

She is pro-Agreement. Reverend Culbertson comes from the anti-Agreement wing of the party.

After her selection she said: "I think I will be able to bring out the silent majority in North Down."

"I have made no secret of the fact that I am pro-Agreement. North Down is pro-Agreement."

Lady Hermon will be challenging the sitting MP Bob McCartney from the UK Unionist Party.

The SDLP candidate Marietta Farrell and Stephen Farry from the Alliance Party are also contesting the seat.

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Related stories:

23 Mar 01 |  Northern Ireland
Court defeat for candidate
22 Mar 01 |  Northern Ireland
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31 Mar 00 |  Northern Ireland
Anti-agreement unionist runs for MP
23 Jun 00 |  Northern Ireland
'No' man put out of UUP meeting
24 Feb 01 |  Northern Ireland
Weir supporters to fight suspension

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