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Unionist parties field single candidate

Nigel Lutton with Unionist leaders Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson.

The son of a murdered RUC reservist is to stand as a single agreed Unionist candidate in the Mid Ulster parliamentary by-election next month.

Thursday, 14 February 2013
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Nigel Lutton will run on behalf of both the Ulster Unionist and Democratic Unionist parties against Sinn Féin's candidate Francie Molloy, the SDLP's Patsy McGlone and Alliance's Eric Bullick.

The Unionist parties said their unanimous decision to field a joint candidate was a result of strong desire by the electorate to see the constituency represented at Westminster.

Mr Lutton's father Frederick was a former RUC reservist who was killed in Moy in 1979, just months after he resigned from the force.

Mr Lutton, a member of the Orange Order, sat on the Victims' Forum, where he worked alongside UUP leader Mike Nesbitt.

"I have known Nigel Lutton since my days with the Commission for Victims and Survivors and recognise in him a man of total integrity, who was robbed of a father in a cruel and senseless murder," said Mr Nesbitt.

"While the past will inevitably be a feature of this campaign, Nigel is also focused on the need to build a better, fairer future for all."

First Minister Peter Robinson described the decision to put forward Mr Lutton as a "common sense response to the demand to see unionists cooperating together".

"Nigel is ideally placed, given his particular circumstances, to be a voice for those who want to see Mid-Ulster represented by a strong Unionist advocate," the DUP leader added.

Mr Lutton said being the agreed unionist candidate is a positive move for unionism in Mid Ulster.

"For too long the people of Mid-Ulster have not had representation in the House of Commons during key debates and votes. The people of this constituency deserve representation and a voice in Parliament," he said.

"In Parliament I will be a voice for victims and will stand for law and order. Whilst some try to justify terrorism, it was always wrong."

The election will take place on Thursday 7 March, after the outgoing MP Martin McGuinness resigned in December.

The seat has been a nationalist stronghold since 1997 when Mr McGuinness was first voted in as MP.

Following the announcement, South Down MLA and former leadership candidate John McCallister resigned from the UUP.