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Nesbitt doesn't rule out more election pacts

Published 18/02/2013

ULSTER Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has refused to rule out more pacts with the DUP in future elections.

Last Thursday's agreement of a Unionist Unity candidate for next month's Westminster by-election in Mid Ulster resulted in the resignation of high-profile UUP members Basil McCrea and John McCallister.

Nigel Lutton, pictured, was endorsed following DUP and UUP constituency meetings.

Speaking yesterday on the BBC's Sunday Politics show, Mr Nesbitt said any future decisions on joint candidates would be judged on the election results.

"It would be foolish to rule anything out at this stage," the former UTV anchorman said.

"We've just started a process which to some extent I certainly view as an experiment. Let's see how well it works for the benefit of the unionist people."

Nigel Lutton's father Frederick 'Eric' Lutton was killed by the IRA in May 1979.

The by-election on March 7 was called to replace Martin McGuinness who resigned the seat.

Sinn Fein's candidate will be Francie Molloy and the SDLP candidate will be Patsy McGlone.

Eric Bullick is standing for the Alliance Party.

Following his resignation, Mr McCrea told The Irish News last week that fielding joint candidates was a "step backwards".

"The big danger in Mid Ulster is the way the election is descending into a bitter sectarian battle that will drag Northern Ireland back to the 1970s."

Mr Nesbitt defended the move last week, however, saying it was "not sectarian" but "just politics".