TUV

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) is the newest of the unionist political parties. It was formed in 2007 by members of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) who split from the DUP in protest at its decision to enter into the Northern Irish power sharing executive with Sinn Fein.

The TUV says it stands for those who reject the idea of working with Sinn Fein who it calls "unrepentant terrorists at the heart of government". It also considers the Good Friday agreement a betrayal by the British government of the unionist cause.

The party sits firmly to the right of the Unionist cause - an area once occupied by the DUP until the collapse of the Ulster Unionists under David Trimble in 20003 when the DUP became the largest party in Northern Ireland.

On its website the TUV says it occupies "the ground forsaken by those who for the sake of office [the Ulster Unionist and subsequently the DUP] sacrificed their principles. We hold that 'nothing which is morally wrong can be politically right.'"

The TUV oppose mandatory power sharing with Sinn Fein and the joint offices of first minister and deputy first minister as well as the joint executive bodies created by the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

It says the Belfast Agreement's design is to ease Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into an all-Ireland "solution" and it says it believe the future of the province lies with the UK.

The party is led by Jim Allister who until May 2009 had been a DUP MEP. He resigned the whip in 2007 and remained in the European parliament as an independent until the European elections in May 2009 when he lost his seat.

The election campaign turned out to be a hotly contested run in which the unionist vote was split three ways. Sinn Fein's sitting MEP Bairbre de Brún topped the poll, a first for any nationalist or republican candidate, while the Ulster Conservative and Unionist party's Jim Nicholson took the second seat with Diane Dodds of the DUP coming in third place.

The TUV polled 66,000 votes. Jim Allister called the results a victory for unionism and indicated his intention to stand TUV candidates in future Stormont Assembly elections as well as at the general election.

The party has not been without controversy however, referring on November 4th 2009 to the Irish language as "Leprechaun language" on its website. The party later removed the content.

In December 2009, TUV member Trevor Collins launched a petition to release UFF man Torrens Knight from prison. Knight was imprisoned for taking part in the 'Greysteel massacre' and 'Castlerock killings' in 1993. He was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, but in 2009 was sent back to prison for beating two women in a bar. Party leader Jim Allister refused to take action against Collins.

TUV has suffered electoral setbacks in recent years. It acknowledged its 2010 general election results were "disappointing", as it failed to win a single MP. It won one seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections of 2011 – after attracting less votes than it had got one year earlier.

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