|Mike Nesbitt (UUP), Nigel Lutton & Peter Robinson (DUP)|
There is a desire within the pro-union community for greater co-operation between the unionist parties. That is something I hear expressed by unionists time and time again.
The announcement that Nigel Lutton has been selected as an agreed Unionist candidate for the Mid-Ulster by-election on 7 March is therefore one that will receive a warm welcome. He has the support of both the DUP and UUP as well as many other unionists.
It is therefore particularly disappointing that John McCallister MLA has chosen the selection of an agreed Unionist candidate as the issue over which he has resigned from the UUP. On a night when the selection of an agreed candidate should be the main item on the news McCallister has thrown a tantrum and resigned. However that is his choice and in due course the electorate with deal with John McCallister.
Nigel is an ideal candidate for the constituency and for an election in which he will face Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy MLA. According to Lost Lives, his father, Frederick John Lutton, 'was shot by the IRA as he locked the gates of Argory House, a National Trust property near Moy, on 1 May 1979. Two men wearing stocking masks pulled up in a car, jumped out and shot him at close range. He was hit in the stomach and legs and died minutes after being taken to South Tyrone hospital in Dungannon.'
Frederick Lutton was 40 years old and was married with three children. He was a former member of the RUC Reserve and had resigned a few months before he was murdered. He had worked at The Argory for fifteen years and stayed on when it was taken over by the National Trust.
In 2007 David Simpson MP, the DUP member for Upper Bann, used parliamentary privilege to name Francie Molloy, now the Sinn Fein candidate, as being suspected of involvement in the murder.
Nigel Lutton is therefore not only the standard-bearer for unionists but the standard-bearer for innocent victims of IRA terrorism. He is the best man to go forward as the standard bearer for unionism in Mid-Ulster, the best man to confront Francie Molloy, and I wish him well.