Northern Ireland

Robin Swann to switch constituencies in bid to unseat DUP MP Paul Girvan

Stormont’s former health minister has put his name forward to be the Ulster Unionist Party’s candidate in South Antrim.

Robin Swann is to seek the nomination to run as the UUP candidate in South Antrim
Robin Swann Robin Swann is to seek the nomination to run as the UUP candidate in South Antrim (Liam McBurney/PA)

Former Stormont health minister Robin Swann has put his name forward to be the Ulster Unionist Party’s (UUP) candidate in South Antrim in the next general election.

Mr Swann, currently an MLA in North Antrim, will attempt to switch constituencies in a bid to unseat the DUP’s Paul Girvan at the election, which is expected to take place later this year.

He will not be formally selected until a meeting of the party’s South Antrim Association, due to be held next week.

Former UUP South Antrim candidate Steve Aiken has confirmed he will not be standing in the Westminster election.

Mr Swann, a former party leader, saw his profile soar when he served as health minister during the Covid-19 pandemic. He topped the poll in North Antrim in the 2022 Assembly elections.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the selection of candidates was ratified by individual party associations.



He added: “Robin Swann has, after structured conversations with myself as the party leader, put his name forward to stand as the candidate for South Antrim.

“He will now go before the association for selection.

“Robin is an exceptional candidate with the depth of knowledge needed to represent South Antrim at Westminster.

Steve Aiken confirmed he would not be standing in the Westminster election
Brexit Steve Aiken confirmed he would not be standing in the Westminster election (Liam McBurney/PA)

“Supported by Steve Aiken, and a cohesive association, they will be in a strong position to get Robin elected as a member of parliament.”

Mr Aiken said: “Over the last few weeks the party leader and I have been in discussion about the forthcoming Westminster election in South Antrim and in dealing with the fraught financial position that Northern Ireland has found itself in.

“Following discussions with Doug, I have decided to step aside from standing for Westminster for the party and to concentrate on the finance and Windsor Framework brief; hopefully in a soon-to-be-restored NI Assembly.

“For the good of wider unionism I have also undertaken to further my existing work in fostering political links across these islands with Parliament, the House of Lords and within the EU.

“I have discussed my decision with both my association chair and the party chairperson, and have withdrawn my nomination.”

He added: “I am also delighted that Robin Swann has agreed to put himself forward for ratification to South Antrim UUP Association next week.

Doug Beattie said the nomination would be decided at a party constituency meeting next week
Stormont Assembly Doug Beattie said the nomination would be decided at a party constituency meeting next week (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I fully endorse Robin’s candidacy and I encourage the association to fully support him in our party’s endeavours to restore South Antrim to the UUP fold.”

Chair of the South Antrim Ulster Unionist Association Jim Montgomery said: “South Antrim was for many years a stronghold for the Ulster Unionist Party and we as an association and party are confident and determined to regain the seat for the benefit of the people of the constituency.

“Robin showed as health minister during Covid his ability to deliver a great service for people and as MP for South Antrim he would give that same high level of performance and commitment in Westminster.”

The Ulster Unionists last held the South Antrim Westminster seat when Danny Kinahan was elected in 2015, but he lost it to Mr Girvan in 2017.

The UUP move follows the announcement earlier this week that retired Colonel Tim Collins will run as their candidate in North Down.