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Donaldson 'desperation' to forge unionist pact ahead of May election

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson penned a joint opinion article with TUV leader Jim Allister. Picture Peter Morrison/PA Wire.

THE DUP is showing an "increasing sense of desperation" as the party attempts to forge a unionist pact ahead of next May's Assembly elections, it has been claimed.

Following a joint Irish Times article by DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson and TUV leader Jim Allister, one commentator said the continued "love-bombing" by Sir Jeffrey towards rival unionist leaders was a desperate attempt to keep Sinn Féin from the top post next year.

"That's likely too late to stop," academic Jon Tonge, who penned a recent book on the DUP, said.

UUP leader Doug Beattie has already ruled out a unionist pact with the DUP.

"Sinn Féin is almost certain to come out as the biggest party next year," Mr Tonge, a professor of politics at Liverpool University said.

"Pact may be too strong a word, but Jeffrey Donaldson is attempting to get stronger discipline within the unionist vote, but there's a section of UUP voters who won't touch the DUP with a bargepole."

"The DUP leader is love-bombing both Mr Allister and Doug Beattie, but the UUP won't take part and there's a sense of desperation now from Sir Jeffrey."

Meanwhile, UUP peer Sir Reg Empey said it was a "huge irony" that the DUP leader was attempting to rally unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"Jeffrey and his colleagues supported the proposal to create the Irish Sea border when it was set out by Boris Johnson's government in October 2019," he said.

"I think his party has a lot to answer for in how we got to this place."

Read more: Donaldson and Allister claim links to UK being 'ripped up' under protocol in joint platform article

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