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North set for December 12 election

Voters in the north will be heading to the ballot box in the festive season Voters in the north will be heading to the ballot box in the festive season
By Conor McParland

POLITICAL parties in the north have put their general election machines in gear after MPs voted for a December 12 poll.

The legislation is expected to be approved by the end of the week when it goes through the House of Lords. MPs voted for the election by a mammoth margin of 438 votes to 20.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is ready to fight a “tough” election while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the snap poll is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to transform the country.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster said it is right the people of Northern Ireland have their say through the ballot box.

“The DUP will use this opportunity to campaign strongly to send a message that Northern Ireland is better in the Union of the United Kingdom and we cannot be separated economically from Great Britain,” she said.

“We have a record of speaking up for Northern Ireland in Westminster and delivering for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“At a time of great uncertainty as to who will form the next government how Northern Ireland votes will matter as never before.
“Unionists need their strongest team returned to so that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected in the next Parliament. That team is the DUP.

“This election will matter and we will be campaigning for every vote as we take our message to the people.”

Reacting to news of a pre-Christmas election, Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said it is an opportunity to reject the DUP, reject the Tories and reject the destructive role of Westminster on the north.

“It is a welcome opportunity for the people of the north to have their say on the looming disaster of Brexit,” she said.

“It is a chance to reject the DUP and the Tories, to reject Brexit and the Westminster chaos and its destructive influence on the north of Ireland.

“Sinn Féin has strong candidates who work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents, and we stand ready to fight this election.

“Sinn Féin has successfully made the case to the Irish government and Europe that the north’s special circumstances needed to be recognised to protect our economy against the Brexit catastrophe, to avoid any hardening of the border and to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

“The DUP have ignored the democratic wishes of the people of the north, of business, of farmers, of retailers. The people of the north did not consent to Brexit.

“There is no good Brexit for Ireland.

“Westminster is in chaos. It has no answers and no solutions.

“The Brexit debacle has shown that Westminster cannot, has not and will never act in the interests of the people of the north.

“Your interests in this election are best served by voting Sinn Féin for a different future by sending a clear message to the British government that we want control of our own future through a referendum on Irish unity.”
Alliance Leader Naomi Long said her party is best-placed to unite Remain voices.

“This election will be mainly focused around Brexit and Alliance has always been clear there is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit,” she said.

“Therefore it will be an opportunity for people to have their say and elect MPs who want to avoid a hard border, protect the Good Friday Agreement and attend Westminster to represent their interests.

“We are uniquely placed to do that, as the Alliance surge seen in May’s local government and European Elections showed the party could reach across all sections of our community and gain support from everywhere.

“We have been preparing for an election for some time, as it is clear this Parliament is hopelessly divided and the Government has no legitimacy. Northern Ireland voted to Remain.

“If people vote for Alliance candidates, we can increase the representation of progressive, pro-Remain MPs and articulate that voice loudly at Westminster.”

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