Diane Forsythe has DUP leader's support for South Down, says Sammy Wilson

Diane Forsythe

By James McNaney

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said Diane Forsythe has the party leader's backing to run in South Down in the forthcoming Assembly election.

Ms Forsythe was chosen by party officers to be put forward as candidate for the South Down constituency over Edwin Poots.

That decision is to go to the party executive for ratification. Current MLA Jim Wells - who was deselected by the party - has appealed to the party to select Mr Poots.

Mr Poots has announced his decision to contest his non-selection at this event.

Sammy Wilson, however, said Diane Forsythe was "by far the best candidate," describing Edwin Poots' decision to contest the selection as "disappointing".

The East Antrim MP was one of those party officers who back Ms Forsythe.

“Her track record speaks for itself,” he said in a statement. “As someone who is well connected locally and is passionate about her home area, we were delighted to endorse a candidate of Diane’s calibre.” Sources close to Mr Poots told UTV’s Political Editor Tracey Magee that they believed he had enough votes in the party executive to overturn the decision not to select him in South Down.

“Any executive challenge will not result in Edwin replacing Diane as the candidate in South Down,” Mr Wilson added.

“The matter would simply be deferred to those officers and the leader, who have already displayed their view on the best candidate.” Earlier this year, Mr Wilson was strongly critical of Mr Poots' short leadership of the party. He declared himself as, “astounded and appalled” at some of the decisions made around the NI protocol.