Northern Ireland

DUP blames TUV members for putting up ‘sellout’ posters in ‘intimidation’ attempt

Posters appeared overnight as DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson accuses ‘cowards’ seeking to ‘undermine their fellow unionists’

A poster erected outside the Lisburn office of DUP leader and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Jeffrey Donaldson/X

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has said his party will not be intimidated by “shadowy behaviour” and has blamed the TUV after posters accusing the party of a “sellout” were put up outside constituency offices.

The posters were put up overnight between Saturday and Sunday, with one appearing outside Mr Donaldson’s Lagan Valley office in Lisburn.

Another was placed outside the office of South Down MLA Diane Forsythe in Kilkeel, Co Down.

Mr Donaldson blamed “TUV members” for the posters, accusing Jim Allister’s party of attempting to “undermine their fellow unionists”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (right) and deputy leader Gavin Robinson. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

The TUV has said posters “aren’t intimidation” and said: “We look forward to the warning they contain being heeded.”

It follows speculation that the DUP are close to agreeing a deal on the return of power-sharing at Stormont after the party’s 22-month boycott of the Executive over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Donaldson hit out at those behind the posters, claiming “like cowards they arrived in the middle of the night and tried in vain to hide their identity but they are known to us”.

“I will not be intimidated or distracted by such shadowy behaviour any more than similar behaviour I have faced in the past by republicans,” the Lagan Valley MP said.

“So much for the TUV wanting unionists to stand together. Their mission is to divide, vote split and undermine their fellow unionists. They were rejected in Lagan Valley in all recent elections.

“In contrast, I have a strong mandate to negotiate the restoration of our place in the UK and its internal market. I will continue in that task until I have made the progress needed to protect our place in the Union and restore Stormont.”

He added: “These cowards will not deter me from doing my job.”

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DUP deputy leader Gavin Robinson said: “Whilst these political posters have no details indicating who has published or printed them, we were aware from last week of them being in production.”

He added of TUV leader Jim Allister: “Can Jim indicate whether the erection of these posters attacking fellow unionists is an initiative directed and organised by his party or whether individual members of his party are acting unilaterally and without party endorsement?”

Mr Robinson said DUP negotiations with the British government over the Irish Sea border were ongoing.

“Whilst progress has been made there remains some further work to be completed,” he said.

“For those who would dismiss the outcome of a process that is still underway, is further proof that their primary goal is to get rid of Stormont and hand all power back under direct rule to the very people who sold us all out.”

Diane Forsythe posted a CCTV image to the X platform of two men erecting the poster outside her office, and said: “This woman won’t be intimidated,” adding: “The people of South Down are not impressed by these shadowy and cowardly actions.”

CCTV footage captures two men erecting a poster outside the office of DUP South Don MLA Diane Forsythe in Kilkeel. Picture: Diane Forsythe/X

UUP leader Doug Beattie said of the posters in a X post: “I have my differences with the DUP on the issue of entering an Executive - but this is an attempt to intimidate. We stand in solidarity with DUP MPs who have been targeted in this way.”

A TUV spokesperson said the DUP had no mandate for any deal that falls short of the party’s published ‘seven tests’ for returning to Stormont.

“With all the spin in the media and pressure from the powers that be, the concerns of ordinary loyalists are being overlooked.

“It is not surprising, therefore that unionists have found an outlet to make their feelings clear,” they said, adding the TUV “has always seen it as its role to apply the brakes on any sellout of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland”.

The spokesperson added of elected DUP members: “Many of those in council chambers and in the Assembly owe their seats to TUV transfers so the DUP should be cautious about being disparaging about those whose transfers they were grateful for a few months ago.

“Unionism, not just TUV, expects the DUP to hold fast to their election promises. Posters aren’t intimidation and we look forward to the warning they contain being heeded.”