Delight as DUP hopeful Forsythe secures seat in ‘challenging campaign’

Delight as DUP hopeful Forsythe secures seat in ‘challenging campaign’

11 May 2022

THE DUP’s Diane Forsythe made history by becoming the first woman to be elected to Stormont to represent unionism in South Down.

During what was for her a turbulent and difficult campaign at times, she maintained her dignity, held her head high and was rewarded by DUP voters across the constituency who placed their faith and trust in her.

The mum of three young children is a qualified accountant and while she had two good job offers on the table, she was determined to contest the election and secure an Assembly seat.

Following confirmation that she had polled almost 6,500 first preference votes — 3,617 ahead of the UUP’s Jill Macauley and 3,224 ahead of the TUV’s Harold McKee — a member of the DUP woman’s campaign team declared “the people have spoken”.

The South Down seat had previously been held by Jim Wells who was not endorsed by party officers to defend it, prompting him to back the TUV’s McKee and claiming that Ms Forsythe was an “imposed” candidate.

But the daughter of Mournes councillor Glyn Hanna rose above all the white noise and was delighted with her performance at the polls which followed an impressive performance at the 2017 Westminster general election when she polled 8,867 votes.

Flanked by her father, mum Gillian and members of her campaign team, Ms Forsythe said she was “absolutely delighted” that unionists in South Down had united behind her and transferred to her down the ballot paper.

She said she ran a positive campaign to energise and motivate unionism in South Down and was “so proud of everyone”.

She continued: “Thanks to everyone who reached out to me with support and prayers throughout what has been a challenging campaign. The Lord has carried me through this time. Endurance builds character.

“This was an important election for us and I am delighted that people came out and supported me and I received a really solid unionist transfer.”

Asked how she kept going during the campaign, she said life wasn’t easy for a lot of people and she was not going to pretend she was any different than anyone else.

“If you are strong, you just keep going and believe in what you’re are doing. The hard work starts now and strategically, we need to be uniting unionism in South Down. That is what I will be focusing on, reaching out immediately within our community to learn the lessons of what we have come through in this election.

“As a new MLA I want to build relationships and focus on issues like health, roads infrastructure and plan to have an office in the constituency and have a good staff to help people. Having been on the doors for about six weeks, people have been bringing up issues and I want to be able to support them as best I can.”

Ms Forsythe said that as unionists were in a minority in South Down, they had to “fight  for everything” and highlighted the need for them to stay united and that she was dedicated to leading “unionism forward, united for South Down”.

She said issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol are a concern for people, alongside many other concerning issues that they want to see politicians working on.

“The DUP team will get together on Monday and plan our strategy moving forward and I am delighted that the people of South Down rallied behind me. Unionism needs to unite and move forward with a common purpose.

“We are stronger together and a lot of work needs to be done to remove the Protocol and the issues around it before moving forward and deal with all the issues people want us to. That is what we heard on the doors.”

Ms Forsythe added: “I want to thank everyone who gave me a first preference and transferred to me. It was an overwhelming vote and I will work really hard for all those who supported me and those who didn’t. My door will be open to everyone and I’ll represent everyone in South Down.”