The DUP says the unionist vote in Londonderry is in danger of being shredded in next week’s local government elections.
The party says smaller parties are doing real damage to the unionist cause - particularly in the city because of the overall nationalist majority.
In a joint statement DUP candidates Drew Thompson, Niree McMorris, David Ramsey, and Hilary McClintock, Maurice Devenney and Gary Middleton said it was hard ot undestand the motivation of a number of smaller unionist parties.
“While canvassing the Waterside and Faughan areas during the campaign many constituents have raised concerns over the number of unionist candidates contesting the forthcoming council election in the Waterside and Faughan areas. As a result the DUP have been extremely busy right up until the deadline helping people to register and secure postal and proxy votes to try and ensure the maximum turnout possible. However, without a massively increased turnout, there is no evidence that it is possible for unionists to secure any more than four seats that they have held in the Waterside in recent years.
“We agree with those in the local community who fear that with so many unionist candidates there is actually a greater chance of shredding the unionist vote and reducing unionist representation in the constituency. We have been accused of scaremongering but constituents don’t agree as it is them on the doors that have been expressing the fear.
“We support the right for anyone to put themselves forward for election, but it is hard to understand the motivation of those smaller unionist parties who have been absent on the ground in our community until recently, and think now is the time to field a record number of unionist candidates in the area to risk splitting the vote and handing seats to nationalists or republicans.
“We believe that these smaller parties and their candidates should seriously reflect on the damage that splits are doing to the unionist cause especially in Londonderry were nationalists and republicans hold the vast majority.
“The DUP are always in favour of greater cooperation between unionist parties and having spent over 30 years serving in local council, the DUP know that unionists must work together to benefit the unionist electorate.
“Experience in this city over decades has shown the importance of the unionist community uniting behind those who can win and deliver the most seats.
“We therefore call on all unionists to turn out and use their vote to maximise unionist representation in the Waterside.”
“With the creation of a new super council with increased power, it would be a disaster for the unionist people in Londonderry to hand a seat over to nationalists and republicans through strategic mistakes of smaller unionist parties who cannot win in the area.”