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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 10:23 GMT

DUP blasts rivals in manifesto

The Democratic Unionist Party has launched its manifesto for the general and local elections with another attack on its rival, the pro-Agreement Ulster Unionists.

The anti-Agreement DUP, which draws its support from the Protestant community, is fielding 14 candidates for Westminster, its highest number ever.

Party leader Ian Paisley repeatedly attacked the UUP leader, David Trimble, during the manifesto launch.

He spoke of his "betrayals" and of the "atrocious falsehood called the peace agreement" and said Mr Trimble's party was the one that kept "Sinn Fein IRA" in the executive.

War on poverty

"The chickens are coming home to roost," he said about the coming election and his party's chances against the UUP.

As well as the peace proces, Mr Paisley criticised the Ulster Unionists for supporting the Sinn Fein Education Minister, Martin McGuinness, in office.

" We want a healthy society, that is the first priority "
Ian Paisley

He said: "They gave their vote for a man who plundered the money from the treasury in order to hand a great cadge of the money to the Roman Catholic schools and to do down the schools to which the majority of Protestant children are sent."

The issue of free transport for the elderly also resurfaced. The DUP has claimed credit for the move to provide subsidies for pensioners' travel and has accused other parties of claiming the credit for the move.

Mr Paisley listed other policies to which his party was committed including: "equality for people with disabilities, preserving our environment, the fishing community who are being cast adrift, the whole position concerning the farming community."

He added that his party was working on "meeting housing needs and waging war on poverty".

Eight seat target

He also criticised the state of the NHS: "We want a healthy society, that is the first priority and we are not having that.

"Every councillor and every MP each day has complaints about the slowness of operations in the hospitals."

Mr Paisley delivered his message at a podium emblazoned with the DUP's slogan for the election: "Leadership to put things right".

The DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has predicted his party can significantly increase its vote at this election.

The party believes it could boost the number of seats it holds at Westminster from three to eight.

The five extra seats being particularly targeted by it are understood to be East Londonderry, East Antrim, Strangford, West Tyrone and North Belfast.

These seats are currently held by the Ulster Unionists.

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