Palmer to stand for UUP in Assembly poll

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Former Lisburn DUP Councillor Jenny Palmer will contest the Assembly elections for the UUP in Lagan Valley.

Mrs Palmer is one of three Ulster Unionist candidates in the constituency, standing alongside fellow Lisburn Councillor Robbie Butler and former Banbridge Councillor Olive Mercer.

Hailing the three as high calibre candidates, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt noted the strength of the party’s Lagan Valley association meant “other very capable candidates” were “left in supporting roles” this time around.

In that respect, notably absent was another Lisburn Councillor, Alexander Redpath, understood back in October to have been one of the local association’s three candidate choices, along with Mr Butler and Mrs Mercer.

Hot on the heels of the candidacy announcement Mr Redpath took to Twitter to congratulate his colleagues and offer them his support.

“Congratulations to Robbie, Jenny and Olive,” he tweeted. “I’ll be 100% behind them. Looking forward to a hard fought campaign.”

Mrs Palmer, who left the Ulster Unionists to join the DUP in 2003, more recently found herself embroiled in controversy over claims of bullying.

She and her husband, fellow Lisburn City councillor John Palmer, resigned from the DUP as it pursued disciplinary action against her for allegedly ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ and the two soon thereafter joined the UUP.

Having indicated in recent months that if asked to contest the Assembly elections she would grasp the opportunity, Mrs Palmer said this week: “I am delighted to have been chosen to represent the Ulster Unionist Party in Lagan Valley at the forthcoming Assembly elections.

“Nobody can doubt my track record of putting the needs of the electorate first. As they say in the Ulster Unionist Party, it`s country first, party second.

“The electorate are fed up with under-achieving on the issues that matter. I am looking forward to the challenge within Lagan Valley. Time for change.”

Councillor Butler said: “I am very honoured to have been selected by the Ulster Unionist Party to contest the next Assembly election for a seat in Lagan Valley.

“I firmly believe the Ulster Unionist Party is the best placed unionist party to deliver for the people of the constituency, particularly on the core services – health, housing, education, the economy and jobs.

“I will be taking this opportunity to build on my record as a Councillor in Lisburn and Castlereagh.”

And Mrs Mercer said: “It’s an honour to have been selected as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party team in Lagan Valley at the forthcoming Assembly Elections. I’m looking forward to engaging with the electorate, promoting our message alongside Robbie and Jenny, and delivering the Ulster Unionist Party’s vision for a better Northern Ireland for all.”

Mr Nesbitt, meanwhile, said the upcoming elections offered the opportunity for dramatic change after what he called “eight long years of failure by the DUP/Sinn Fein-dominated Executive”.

He added: “The Ulster Unionist Party is determined to build on recent electoral successes by returning a fresh, energised team of MLAs, committed to taking the difficult decisions and delivering positive outcomes for all the people.”