Independent Unionist Maurice Devenney has attacked his former DUP colleagues’ election campaign, accusing them of arrogance and inept negotiating.
Mr Devenney, who left the party earlier this year, said his former party colleagues “only have themselves to blame” for the situation in which they now find themselves.
“Recent statements in support of the DUP candidate in the Foyle Assembly election seemed to have raised more questions that have been answered,” he said.
“The level of arrogance of the DUP seems to know no bounds suggesting that their candidate is the only candidate that can maintain the seat for Unionism in the Assembly election.
“This is a most unusual assumption given the fact that none of the Unionist candidates, similar to the situation in South Belfast, have been tested at this level before.
“It is surely taking the electorate for granted to make suggestions along these lines and could even be classed as an insult to the intelligence of the Foyle electorate.
“I am more than happy to allow the electorate to make the decision without resorting to scaremongering which seems to have become an epidemic within the DUP in recent times.
“The level of paranoia around exactly who is to be First Minister seems to be out of control.
“The DUP have sat in Government with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister for many years since 2007 under successive leaderships of Dr Paisley, Mr Robinson and now Mrs Foster.
“Mr McGuinness is highly unlikely to become First Minister, however, one must be sceptical of the motivations behind the scare tactics.
“It is clearly a tactic for self-preservation however the potential for this self-preservation tactic should never have arisen given the fact that under the 1998 Belfast Agreement Unionism would always have retained the position of First Minister.
“The DUP attacked David Trimble for inapt negotiations however it was those great negotiators of the DUP that have diluted what was previously agreed and allowed the likes of Martin McGuinness and his cohorts the potential of being First Minister if Sinn Fein are returned as the largest party after the election.
“It is time the DUP owned up to their own inapt negotiating, told the truth and admitted they got it wrong.
“Their own incompetence has facilitated the potential of this scenario developing. It almost seems as if the scare tactics are being used to hide their complete incompetence of negotiation.
Quoting Mr Middleton’s election leaflet, ‘the party with the most seats will nominate the next First Minister and have the choice of departments to control. If that is Sinn Fein Martin McGuinness will become your First Minister and that will be bad for Northern Ireland and take us down the wrong road’ Mr Devenney went on to call on Mr Middleton to outline exactly what is meant by ‘the wrong road’.
“Does he mean a return to violence?” he asked.
“If it is bad for Northern Ireland to have Mr McGuinness as First Minister then it must be equally as bad to have him as Deputy First Minister given that both posts are inextricably linked.
“Maybe Mr Middleton could offer some clarification as to whether, in the unlikely event that Mr McGuinness is First Minister, the DUP would forgo Ministerial salaries and decline to nominate for Deputy First Minister.”