A newly-announced DUP candidate says he is confident Sinn Fein will be “removed from the mists of East Antrim” in the upcoming Assembly election.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Stephen Ross was speaking after being named with outgoing MLAs Gordon Lyons and Davy Hilditch on the party ticket for East Antrim.
While Mr Lyons and Mr Hilditch are seeking re-election, it is the first time that Mr Ross has made a bid to represent the DUP at Assembly level.
The announcement came shortly after party colleague and outgoing MLA Alastair Ross revealed he would not be running again, having represented the constituency since 2007.
Looking ahead to the March 2 poll, Stephen Ross predicted that unionist candidates would sweep the board in East Antrim.
It will be the first time that each constituency returns five MLAs instead of the previous six.
“I’m confident that the people of East Antrim will return at least four unionists, there will be a full quota of unionist MLAs for East Antrim,” he stated.
“I think it’s the only way forward for the people of East Antrim. I think the DUP will return three MLAs, the UUP will get at least one, and if UKIP stands they should retain another.
“I’m not confident for the nationalist parties and if the voting is done correctly through the unionist family it should remove the nationalist Sinn Fein from the mists of East Antrim.”
Mr Ross said he was “confident” in his ability to “work with the community and residents of East Antrim”.
“I will stand up for their rights, education, employment, people with disabilities, right across the board from the youngest to the oldest,” he stated.
“I will work to combat social exclusion and work with the whole community to make sure no-one feels isolated.”
He also paid tribute to his predecessor Alastair Ross.
“I would like to thank Alastair for the last 10 years of work and time that he gave to the people of East Antrim, he will be sorely missed,” he stated.