DUP MLA Arlene Foster has launched her unity campaign to keep the Enniskillen council seat in Unionist hands. Below is an extract of her address delivered to supporters and well-wishers in Enniskillen District Hall on Thursday evening. Mrs. Foster said:
“We were all deeply saddened by the passing of Joe Dodds. Joe was a dedicated public servant held in high regard by people across the political spectrum and his death has caused a great deal of sadness throughout our community. What has compounded that sense of hurt in the Unionist community is the behaviour of Bertie Kerr who objected to a co-option to fill Joe’s seat and has forced us into the position where Sinn Fein could steal a seat they otherwise wouldn’t win in a full election. I am contesting this poll to keep the seat held by Joe Dodds for many years in Unionist hands.
Many Ulster Unionist voters who I have been speaking to have told me that they are deeply offended by what Mr. Kerr has done. In this election people will be suspending their traditional party allegiances. Enniskillen people know that we all need to pull together in order to retain Joe’s seat and stop it from falling to a Republican.
In the last election I polled more than 2,000 votes: the Ulster Unionist candidate came in with roughly 500 and failed to be elected. Only 49% of the votes cast in the last election were for Unionist candidates and it will take close co-operation to win. The figures show that it is only the DUP that can keep this seat in Unionist hands.
Our forebears had a famous motto – United We Stand – I know that the Unionist community in Enniskillen want unity in the face of our Republican opponents. My campaign is designed to bring people together in order to stop Republicanism from capitalising on Bertie Kerr’s divisive actions.
I have been pleased that people are rallying to the theme of our unity campaign and I hope that we will be able to retain Joe Dodds seat in Unionist hands. That would be a fitting tribute to our dear friend.”