Mixed reactions to DUP party re-election broadcast as focus on criticized Sinn Fein

The DUP party’s new election broadcast has received a mixed reaction, with many on social media criticizing Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s focus on Sinn Fein.

The clip, which is two minutes and 40 seconds long, shows the DUP leader walking up a mountain outside the Mournes to watch the sunrise with some of his party colleagues, including Joanne Bunting, a candidate for the Assembly of East Belfast, and Diane Forsythe, the mother of- three who replaced veteran MP Jim Wells as candidate for South Down assembly.

Notably, one person not featured is Edwin Poots, who replaced Christopher Stalford as party MP in south Belfast after his sudden death. Mr Poots is now running for the DUP in the constituency in the next election.

Diane Forsythe was chosen over Mr Poots to be the South Down party’s candidate in what was widely seen as a snub to the man who was, for a brief period, the leader of the party.

In the new broadcast, Mr Donaldson explains to the camera his five-point plan to ‘build a better future for Northern Ireland within the union’.

His proposals include ‘fixing the NHS, helping working families, keeping our world-class schools going, growing the economy and scrapping Northern Ireland Protocol’.

He goes on to explain some of the measures intended to achieve this, which include “creating 20,000 new jobs to keep our young people at home” and providing “30 hours of free childcare every week for parents”.

“The Protocol remains a threat to our place in the UK,” Mr Donaldson continued.

“Sinn Fein want to win this election so they can implement their plans for a border ballot, which means Northern Ireland will face months, if not years, of wrangling and fighting, rather than fix our health service and focus on rebuilding and growing our economy Now is not the time for more division and uncertainty.

“That’s why this election is so important. Your vote will decide whether the future of Northern Ireland is all about fixing our health service, tackling the cost of living crisis and replacing the protocol , or focused on a divisive border ballot.

“The DUP is the only party that can stop Sinn Fein’s border ballot plans. A first preference vote for any party other than the DUP will divide and weaken the Unionist cause and help Sinn Fein carry out its ballot plan border.”

The video was first shown at the DUP Assembly election campaign launch at a cinema in Dundonald on Monday. It has since also been shared on the party’s social media accounts and aired on Northern Ireland TV channels, such as BBC NI and UTV.

One user responded to the clip on social media, writing, “You will be extremely lucky to come even remotely close to achieving one of the points in your plan. You have been arrogant and ignored your loyal constituents for years.

Another person said: ‘You would need to return to Stormont to carry out this plan’, criticizing the resignation of former DUP Premier Paul Givan in February which led to the collapse of the executive.

Several people accused the party broadcast of having a “keep them out” mantra, with one Twitter user posting, “I just saw the DUP party election broadcast. Gaslighting in action, with a heavy dose of “keep them out!” They really have nothing to offer society in 2022. Northern Ireland deserves better than reactionaries like the DUP.

“I listened to their party’s election broadcast earlier, same old SF SF SF SF drivel and a tiny bit of important stuff,” another wrote.

However, some members of the public showed their support for the clip, with one commenting, “I will be voting DUP this election.”

“Britain is stronger first with Ulster in Northern Ireland…support the DUP 100%,” said another.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has also since responded to Sir Jeffrey’s claims on the show that only his party can win the upcoming Assembly elections and prevent Sinn Fein from calling for a vote for an Ireland united.

Mr Beattie said: “Given that Sinn Fein have repeatedly called for an unsuccessful border ballot – even going so far as to predict a united Ireland by 2016 – I do not accept the DUP’s analysis according to which a vote for them will stop Sinn Fein calling for what they have always demanded.

“That’s what Sinn Fein is doing. Let’s not elevate these calls with the DUP’s ill-judged comments.”

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