TUV'S HARBINSON SETS OUT HIS STALL

DROMORE solicitor and TUV Westminster election candidate for Lagan Valley, Keith Harbinson, has signalled what he called "a strong start" to the party's campaign locally by criticising Jeffrey Donaldson's record as sitting MP.

Traditional Unionist Voice vice-chairman Mr. Harbinson, whose last run-out at the polls brought defeat in 2008's Dromore by-election, also panned the current Labour government and outlined his own election commitments.

His comments came at a Lagan Valley TUV public meeting in Lisburn, with "well over 100 people" said to have attended.

Mr. Harbinson condemned the 2005-2010 Westminster Parliament for what he called its "self-servitude and overwhelming lack of integrity", this before turning on the DUP's Mr. Donaldson, whose voting record at Westminster was "simply not good enough" he said.

"He will cite his commitments to the political structures in Northern Ireland as justification," he said, "for having attended just 30% of votes in The House of Commons since being returned there in 2005.

"Let us not forget however that the current farce at Stormont was only created in 2007, some two years into his current Westminster term.

"If Mr Donaldson so strenuously believes in the merits of the Stormont Assembly that he chooses to be there almost exclusively and to the detriment of his duties at Westminster, then let him be honest enough to declare so and to decline his selection as a Westminster candidate."

Of his own election commitments, he said, "I undertake here and now that, if elected, I will work honestly and earnestly on your behalf every day for the duration of the next parliament, representing your interests nationally and being your voice on all and every issue.

"I promise to work towards strengthening our links with the United Kingdom and harnessing the obvious benefits that will bring; to improve Lagan Valley for all citizens, whether in the city, towns or surrounding countryside; to work hard to cure the ever increasing situation of unemployment, where under the current MP's watch unemployment has risen 52% in the last 12 months alone."

Mr. Harbinson cited his professional record as proof that age was no bar to ability, and that he was committed to hard work and diligent service to the public.

He said too the TUV was not about sectarianism and bigotry, adding, "The most sectarian thing we have in this country is the very system of government we operate, Mandatory Coalition."

He concluded, "Through this election campaign and when elected I will endeavour to offer an alternative for those who believe in the values and standards of our democracy and an opportunity to re-energise the political process and restore confidence and public pride in the institutions of our constitutional democracy at Westminster, as a full-time and accountable member of parliament."