Northern Ireland

Peter Robinson criticises ‘politically blinkered’ unionist vote-splitters

Former East Belfast MP takes a swipe at rivals of DUP ‘who can’t win’

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson said nationalists and republicans take a strategic approach
Former DUP leader Peter Robinson

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson has condemned “vote-splitting” unionists ahead of this week’s general election, and said they “should be rejected and despised”.

The ex-East Belfast MP issued a statement on social media on Sunday, and attacked those he called “feckless, reckless, and politically blinkered”.

Mr Robinson, who was the north’s first minister between 2008 and 2016, took aim at the DUP’s rivals within unionism, and labelled those standing in constituencies “who can’t win, and they know it” as “spoilers”.

The DUP is facing a tight race to win seats in East Belfast and Lagan Valley, where the both the UUP and TUV are also fielding candidates.

Mr Robinson highlighted Sinn Féin standing aside in Lagan Valley, saying it will benefit the Alliance Party, and in South Belfast and Mid Down, which he suggested will benefit the SDLP. He also mentioned how his former party is not standing candidates in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and in North Down, in order to boost support for unionist candidates.

“There are some constituencies where the involvement of an alternative unionist candidate will not cost unionism the seat, therefore voting for the unionist candidate of your choice will do no violence to the unionist cause,” he said

“But then there are the spoilers. They are the intentional vote-splitting candidates who can’t win, and they know it.

“But winning is not their aspiration or objective. They are contesting the seat with the deliberate intention of impeding and hindering the main unionist candidate from winning even though they know they are, at one and the same time, helping Sinn Féin and its allies to win.

“When their hatred of another unionist is greater than their love of the Union they should be rejected and despised. They are feckless, reckless, and politically blinkered.

“Whatever we may think of them, the dye has been cast, and nominations have closed and the ballot papers printed. But that is not the end of the story.”

Mr Robinson said unionist voters “can display a sense of wisdom that these self-serving egocentric candidates have not”.

“Those who want to knock the pan-nationalism back on its heels, who value the Union and want to see unionism bouncing back have the power to make the difference,” he said.