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The Conservatives and Unionists may hold up to ten seats in Northern Ireland after the General Election

Screen shot 2010-01-10 at 14.04.40 On Radio 4's The World This Weekend, former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and now Tory peer has said that it is increasingly unlikely that Peter Robinson will survive the week as Stormont's most senior politician. He noted that he had not receiving the backing of any of his senior Democratic Unionist Party colleagues. If there are fresh elections for the NI Assembly Baron Trimble predicted that Conservatives and Unionists could emerge as the leading party. The DUP is almost certain not to agree to the devolution of policing and that, alongside the turmoil in the DUP could lead to fresh elections or direct rule on a temporary basis.

It is possible that the events in Northern Ireland could have a major impact on the outcome of the UK General Election. The serious tensions in the DUP could produce defections to the new Conservative and Unionist alliance and/or aid the prospects of our candidates in the province.  David Cameron is a big supporter of the alliance and has promised to campaign for Tory and Unionist candidates during the General Election campaign. Last April the Conservative leader said that he wanted "MPs from Northern Ireland serving in a Conservative Government at Westminster."

PATERSON OWEN 2009 Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson spends huge amounts of time across the Irish Sea building the alliance. I happen to know he's been in Belfast for four of the last six days (unlike Shaun Woodward who spent a lot of time in London, shoring up support for Gordon Brown).

The investment that Cameron and Paterson have put into building relations with the UUP may turn out to be much more than a principled commitment to the integrity of the United Kingdom. Ten seats would be at the upper end of possibilities but the investment may pay big political dividends on polling day.

Tim Montgomerie

The precarious nature of the situation in Northern Ireland was illustrated horrifically on Friday with the attempted murder of a policeman by a dissident nationalist terror group. Constable Peadar Heffron remains critically ill and my thoughts and prayers are with him.


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