Northern Ireland news

Gregory Campbell, Paul Frew and Paula Bradley vie to be DUP deputy leader

DUP MP Gregory Campbell is the most senior of the deputy leadership contenders, having served as MP for East Derry since 2001 and spent 18 years as an assembly member.. Picture by Press Eye

VETERAN MP Gregory Campbell and assembly members Paul Frew and Paula Bradley have put themselves forward to be deputy leader of the DUP.

Nominations closed yesterday for both the positions of leader and deputy leader to succeed Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds.

Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson remain the only candidates for the leadership role.

The ballot will take place a week today, with voting restricted to the party's 28 MLAs and eight MPs.

Mr Campbell is the most senior of the deputy leadership contenders, having served as MP for East Derry since 2001 and spent 18 years as an assembly member.

The nomination of Mr Frew, a native of Broughshane and MLA for North Antrim since 2010, is notable because he is acting as campaign manager for Mr Poots in the leadership election.

The nomination of Paul Frew, a native of Broughshane and MLA for North Antrim since 2010, is notable because he is acting as campaign manager for Mr Poots in the leadership election.

Paula Bradley, meanwhile, has represented North Belfast in the assembly since 2011.

She was one of five DUP MLAs - including Mrs Foster - who abstained when a motion calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy was put to a vote in the assembly last month.

Paula Bradley has represented North Belfast in the assembly since 2011.

Meanwhile, Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will not be giving media interviews about their leadership bids ahead of the internal party vote.

A "guidance note" issued through the DUP press office said its officers had ruled that “no candidate is to be fielded by the party for media appearances/interview during the period of the leadership campaign".

To date, Edwin Poots' public campaign has been conducted on social media, while Sir Jeffrey Donaldson launched his leadership bid on Monday in front of a number of broadcast media and the Press Association.

The agriculture minister has also produced a modest 'manifesto' that has been widely shared on social media.

The diktat from DUP headquarters, which was leaked to the News Letter, applies to candidates in both the race for leader and deputy leader.

"No candidate is to unilaterally give broadcast or print interviews about their candidature,” it states.

However, it said candidates are permitted to speak in their capacity as an MLA, MP or minister.

The note said “other party representatives” may speak to the media but are advised not to respond to questions about the leadership contest.

A statement on the gagging order from the DUP press office said: “The party officers have taken decisions as to the processes for the election campaign, including the fact that candidates will not be fielded by the party for media opportunities during this time."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson launched his leadership bid on Monday. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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