Trimble's wife plans election bid

The wife of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble today confirmed she would try to unseat rival Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson at the next General Election.

The wife of Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble today confirmed she would try to unseat rival Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson at the next General Election.

Daphne Trimble said she would seek her party’s nomination to contest Mr Donaldson’s Lagan Valley constituency.

And she said she had no fear about following her husband into Northern Ireland’s bruising political arena.

“I do not think the DUP speaks for the people of Lagan Valley,” she said.

“It is traditionally an Ulster Unionist seat and the people have always been represented by Ulster Unionists.

“Jeffrey’s vote has always been an Ulster Unionist vote. It was Ulster Unionist voters who elected him and I think they deserve to have a representative at Westminster.”

Mr Donaldson defected from the Ulster Unionists in January to the Reverend Ian Paisley’s DUP after years of feuding with Mr Trimble over party policy.

If chosen as an Ulster Unionist candidate, Mrs Trimble will be running in the constituency where she and her husband live.

Lagan Valley is also the neighbouring constituency to Mr Trimble’s Westminster seat of Upper Bann.

In the 2001 General Election, Mr Donaldson secured 25,966 votes as an Ulster Unionist candidate, which was the best performance of any MP in Northern Ireland.

He had a majority of 18,342 over the cross-community Alliance Party’s Seamus Close and attracted more than 56.5% of the poll.

In November’s Assembly election, Mr Donaldson also secured 14,104 votes in a proportional representation election, where the party’s four candidates achieved a total of 19,069 votes.

However, since defecting to the DUP, the Lagan Valley MP would hope to take most of his Assembly election votes and those of his colleague Norah Beare, who also joined the Rev Paisley’s party in January.

At the last Assembly election, the DUP’s Edwin Poots and Basingstoke MP Andrew Hunter together polled 8,475 votes for the party.

Mrs Trimble said today it was now up to Ulster Unionists in the constituency to decide who they wanted to contest Mr Donaldson’s seat.

“I am putting my name forward to the party if they want to have me as their candidate, “ she said.

Nominations are expected to close on October 15.

Mrs Trimble said she was quite prepared for the rough and tumble of Northern Ireland politics, having witnessed it at close hand during her husband's career.

She acknowledged that there was obviously a DUP vote in the constituency.

“Nevertheless, this is a seat that has always been represented by Ulster Unionists and Jeffrey’s vote has always been an Ulster Unionist vote,” she said.

“I have voted for him as an Ulster Unionist.

“While there is obviously a DUP vote in Lagan Valley, I feel quite confident that I can take it on.”

Mrs Trimble has been constantly at her husband’s side during some of the hardest times in his political career.

At the last General Election, she and her husband were jostled after he survived a recount in his Upper Bann constituency.

She has served as a director of the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund for victims of violence and was appointed by Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy as a member of the Equality Commission.

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