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Ulster Unionist jumps to Lady Hermon's defence

Lady Sylvia Hermon said she was 'not in the pocket' of the Republic's government

A North Down MLA has defended Lady Sylvia Hermon after the DUP's Nigel Dodds claimed the independent unionist MP was on the "side of the Dublin government".

Ulster Unionist Alan Chambers said the DUP deputy leader's comments were "reminiscent of the type of politics which has done unionism no favours".

The North Belfast MP criticised Lady Hermon on Thursday during a Westminster debate on Brexit.

"Many in Northern Ireland now view (Lady Hermon) as being on the side of the Dublin government on these issues," he said.

Lady Hermon said she was "not in the pocket" of the Republic's government and had not spoken to Dublin about the Brexit talks.

At last month's DUP annual conference, the party's director of elections Simon Hamilton said North Down was "our number one target seat for the next general election".

Mr Chambers said he was "extremely disappointed" by Mr Dodds's remarks and praised Lady Hermon for her "typically forthright" response.

"The Brexit process presents major challenges but what we must not lose sight of is the need to be respectful of the opinions of all sides," he said.

“As Peter Robinson himself once said – ‘unionism should stop looking for Lundys and start looking for converts'."

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