27/09/2002

UUP anti-agreement faction gain selection ground

In a surprise move the Ulster Unionist Party assembly chief whip has been de-selected for the next Stormont elections.

Assembly member for Lagan Valley, Ivan Davis, was dropped from the party's ticket at a meeting of the Lagan Valley constituency association on Wednesday night.

The UUP candidates for the next election, which are currently scheduled to take place in May 2003, will be local MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who has received special permission from the party to stand, sitting member Billy Bell, Nora Beare and Jim Kirkpatrick.

This is a three-to-one majority in favour of the anti-agreement faction within the UUP.

Viewed as a strong supporter of UUP leader David Trimble, Mr Davis said he was "not surprised by the outcome" and had suffered at the hands of the anti-agreement camp.

Party colleague Fred Cobain said that he thought Mr Davis should have had sufficient credentials to be re-selected.

Formerly a member of the DUP, Mr Davis joined the UUP several years ago and topped the polls at the last election. He currently sits on the Business Committee at Stormont.

Recently, another sitting member Dr Ian Adamson was de-selected in East Belfast.

As the selection process gets under way number of Unionist MLAs have declared that they are not seeking re-election.

Sam Foster, Joan Carson (Fermanagh & South Tyrone), Sir John Gorman (North Down) and Duncan Shipley Dalton (South Antrim) have all confirmed they will not seek re-election.

(SP)

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