AN ENNISKILLEN bomb survivor has said he has no plans to stand in May’s Fermanagh and South Tyrone election battle unless he has the full backing of the two main unionist parties.
Confusion still lies over an agreed unionist unity candidate this week after Stephen Gault said he has not received any direction from either the UUP or DUP after he was tipped to stand as an agreed candidate in an attempt to unseat Sinn Fein.
However, UUP candidate Tom Elliott said he was not aware Mr Gault had been approached by smaller unionist parties Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) and UKIP about standing in the Westminster election and that any changes would be a matter for his party.
He accused the TUV of “duplicity” after they criticised the UUP for selecting Mr Elliott without discussing a possible joint candidate.
The MLA did not rule out any further discussions surrounding an agreed candidate but that the final decision lies with his party.
When asked if he would be happy to stand aside for Mr Gault, he said: “I won’t be making any comment on that. That’s a matter for the party and the association.
“I know Stephen very well and have done for many years. It’s quite unusual because the TUV in particular had been making a major issue over the last couple of weeks in December of us going ahead and choosing a candidate without discussing things with them and they seem to have been going on and doing their own thing.
“There’s a difficulty with a unity candidate because they don’t belong to any party and I will not go any further than saying it’s not an easy campaign to run if there are a number of parties involved trying to run one candidate.
“There was an approach made by our party to them some time ago, there was a bit of back and forwards at that stage, obviously that has potential to continue but I am not aware of anything recently.”
Current MP Michelle Gildernew won the last election when she beat unionist unity candidate Rodney Connor by just four votes.
Mr Gault, whose father Samuel was killed in the 1987 bombing, said that Fermanagh was lacking representation at Westminster.
“For the past 14 years Fermanagh and South Tyrone has had no representation with the non-sitting MP and our issues are not being dealt with in that capacity,” he added.
“I got a phone call from Fred Parkinson at the end of November. He asked me about it. I was taken aback and was very honoured to have been considered.
“The main thing I said was until I have the backing of all the parties I won’t be taking it further. I thought that was the end of it. I have not received any confirmation from the DUP and UUP and I would not consider standing if Tom or anyone else was standing, I would not split the vote, there’s no point.
“If I got the backing I will consider taking it further but until I get that, it’s still in limbo.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition