Northern Ireland

Jim Allister: Unionists must 'do their duty' in EU poll

Jim Allister
Image caption TUV leader Jim Allister was an MEP for the DUP from 2004 until 2009

Unionists must "do their duty" and vote to ensure two pro-union candidates are returned as MEPs in the European election, Jim Allister has said.

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader was speaking during canvassing ahead of this Thursday's poll.

In 2014, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ulster Unionists (UUP) and Sinn Féin secured a seat each but the UUP's Jim Nicholson is not running this time.

Danny Kennedy will instead contest the poll for the Ulster Unionists.

Mr Allister said unionists needed to they show are "not throwing away a seat".

The North Antrim MLA is one of 11 candidates vying for one of the three seats allocated to Northern Ireland.

In the 2014 European election, Mr Allister secured just over 75,000 first preference votes but failed to win a seat.

He had previously been a DUP MEP - taking the seat in 2004 - but failed to retain it in 2009.

'Self-inflicted failure'

The barrister had quit the DUP in 2007 in protest at the party's decision to go into government with Sinn Féin.

Mr Allister is staunchly pro-Brexit and has advocated for the UK to leave the EU without a deal, as he opposes the government's withdrawal deal.

Image caption Jim Allister was canvassing for votes in Belfast on Monday afternoon

He rejected criticism that he was being hypocritical by standing for election to Brussels when he disagrees with the UK remaining tied to the EU.

He said voters wanted him to "carry the Brexit message" to EU officials.

"They want me to say to the pharaohs of Brussels: 'Let my people go,'" he said.

"I'm not going for any other purpose other than furthering the cause of Brexit.

"I'm unequivocal about Brexit - I believe in it passionately.

"I've been clear from day one - those who are Brexiteers want a clear clarion call that we voted to leave, we must leave and the people's mandate must be respected."

Mr Allister added that if two unionist MEPs were not returned for Northern Ireland, then it would be a "self-inflicted failure".

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