The TUV has named Lyle Rea as its Lagan Valley candidate for the May 5 Assembly election.
It’s Mr Rea’s second outing for the party in the constituency, where he failed to win election in 2011.
Described as “a lifelong unionist” Mr Rea is a former chief-executive of the UUP, whose ranks he left in favour of the DUP, in the belief at the time, he said, that they would not enter government with Sinn Fein.
Vice-chair of the DUP’s Dromore branch, Mr Rea served as election agent for its chosen candidate in the 2008 Dromore by-election, having himself unsuccessfully sought selection to contest the Banbridge District Council seat.
Citing policy reasons, he soon thereafter joined the TUV, having come to realise the benefits of its message, he said.
Mr Rea’s working life began in land and property valuation but he has worked mostly in the agri-food sector.
A past chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board Shearing Committee and the Golden Shears World Council, he served on the then agriculture minister’s industry advisory committee and has spent 20 years in senior Royal Ulster Agricultural Society positions.
He was also involved with the pig sector, the Guild of Agricultural Journalists and the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster.
Married to Hilda, with three adult children, he lives in the constituency and is an elder in his local presbyterian church.
“I am honoured to be the TUV candidate and determined that the voice of Traditional Unionism will be heard loud and clear,” he said. “Many in this constituency feel badly let down, both by the DUP somersaulting on key political issues and the utter failure of the DUP/Sinn Fein joint coalition to deliver for ordinary people.
“One of my priorities if elected would be job creation and inner city regeneration.
“Other priorities would be fighting to retain existing services at Lagan Valley Hospital and an enhancement to those services to better serve the needs of the constituents of Lagan Valley.”
Mr Rea said too he wanted to address educational under-achievement in Protestant working-class areas.
“TUV has a positive vision for Northern Ireland,” he said, “ and once elected as a MLA to serve in the Lagan Valley constituency, I pledge to put the interests of the residents of Lagan Valley at the top of Stormont’s agenda.
“Importantly, however, TUV is the only party in this election which will be standing unambiguously on a platform which says it is wrong to have a party in government – Sinn Fein – which is controlled by an active IRA which, as the Government report told us at the end of last year, retains weapons and has been engaged in serious criminality up to and including murder.”
TUV Leader Jim Allister is asking voters to strengthen his hand by getting behind Mr Rea and “ensuring that Lagan Valley has a strong voice in Stormont which you know will stand against the appeasement of Republicanism.”