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 A/V REPORTS
BBC NI political correspondent Mark Simpson reports:
"The DUP are pinning their hopes on Jim Dixon winning the seat"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 20:00 GMT
DUP withdraws from Fermanagh seat
Aftermath of the Enniskillen bomb
Mr Dixon was injured in the 1987 poppy day bombing
The Democratic Unionist Party has announced it is withdrawing from contesting the Fermanagh South Tyrone seat.

Its candidate Maurice Morrow announced on Wednesday afternoon he was pulling out in favour of anti-Agreement candidate Jim Dixon.

Mr Dixon was injured in the IRA Enniskillen bomb in 1987 which killed 11 people.

Mr Morrow said: "The general election on 7 June will allow people to pass a verdict on David Trimble's handling of the Belfast Agreement.

Maurice Morrow
Maurice Morrow of the DUP
"In order to send the strongest anti-Trimble message it is important to do what is most important for the cause of the union.''

Mr Morrow then called on the Ulster Unionist candidate James Cooper to withdraw in favour of a unity candidate.

But reacting to the news Mr Cooper said he was not surprised by Mr Morrow's decision to withdraw.

"The reality is that the DUP knew it had no chance of winning Fermanagh and South Tyrone."

'Political cowardice'

Mr Cooper said he expected the "sensible unionist population" of the constituency would reject the DUP minister's advice and back him.

The constituency has not had more than one unionist fighting for the Westminster seat since 1979.

But the prospect of a split unionist vote has boosted the hopes of nationalists.

Jim Dixon
Jim Dixon is fighting the seat as an anti-Agreement candidate
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew described Mr Morrow's withdrawal as "an act of political cowardice".

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA insisted her party remained well placed to take the seat.

Tommy Gallagher of the SDLP said the nationalist comunity was not surprised by Mr Morrow's withdrawal.

He added: "Despite all the bluster we hear from the DUP about taking on the pro-Agreement parties, now in a high profile constituency, they quite clearly haven't the stomach for the contest."

The sitting MP Ken Maginnis who holds the seat for the UUP had a 13,688 UUP majority over Sinn Fein at the last election.

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