Northern Ireland

Ulster Unionists stand firm on Lagan Valley ad which claims party is far ahead of DUP

Robbie Butler social media ad uses data from just four constituencies - including one where the DUP isn’t running

The UUP ad that its electoral rival has asked to be removed

The Ulster Unionists are refusing to heed DUP calls for the removal of a social media advertisement that shows Doug Beattie’s party significantly ahead of its rival.

The graphic urging support for UUP Lagan Valley candidate Robbie Butler is based on a recent LucidTalk poll and uses data from just four constituencies – including one where the DUP isn’t running.

DUP director of elections Gordon Lyons claimed the ad was “misleading” and reflected the “increasingly desperate attempts by the UUP candidate to breathe life into his flagging campaign” in the constituency.

Communities Minister Gordon Lyons met fellow ministers Caoimhe Archibald and Andrew Muir about the Victoria Square apartments
The DUP's Gordon Lyons

Under the strapline “Ulster Unionists Winning in ‘the East – According to Poll”, the ad uses LucidTalk data from South Antrim, East Antrim, Lagan Valley and North Down, where the DUP is supporting independent Alex Easton.

It show the UUP approximately seven points ahead of the DUP, and more than 10 points ahead of Alliance. The poll published last week showed the DUP on 21% overall and the UUP on 12%.

LucidTalk’s Bill White said the figures were accurate but warned that they could not necessarily be taken at face value when used selectively.

“Subsamples from any cross-breaks or drill-downs into the data results, will be subject to a higher margin of error, and conclusions drawn from cross-breaks with very small sub-samples should be treated with caution,” he told The Irish News.

A UUP spokesperson said the party was “simply replicating” the poll data in a group of constituencies.

“We have made this clear in our advertisement and find it unusual that the DUP would take such offence to a statement of fact,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Lyons said the electorate in Lagan Valley know that DUP candidate Jonathan Buckley is the only unionist who can win the seat.

“It is deeply disappointing that to resuscitate his increasingly lifeless campaign, Robbie Butler is using grossly misleading polling statistics,” he said.