Frustrated at the lack of a unionist pact for Mid Ulster’s Westminster seat, DUP candidate Ian McCrea said he doesn’t think a lone unionist could rival Sinn Fein’s 21,000 votes, never mind a four-way race.
But, determined to provide a voice for those who look to the DUP for representation, the self-proclaimed “optimist” said the outcome of any election is not definite.
And that he is willing to - once again - stick his head above the parapet in the hope of strengthening the DUP’s position in the House of Commons, so they might be ‘King makers’ in the event of a hung parliament.
“What do the people of Mid Ulster truly want?” He asked the Mail.
“Do they want an MP who’s going to turn up for a picture, or an MP that’s going to go over to Westminster and take their place on the green benches and do the job that they’re elected to do?”
Passionate to the last, he said he is determined to fight for the position of Mid Ulster MP, as along with a possible 17 other seats, if the DUP win, they will get “a once in a life-time opportunity” to fight for Northern Ireland’s “best interests”.
“I never take an election for granted - I never take the people for granted,”he said.
“This isn’t about DUP votes, or DUP voters,” he went on, “this is about giving the people of Mid Ulster an opportunity to elect someone who they want to go over and represent them in Westminster.”
And as for who the DUP would like to win the election, he said: “We have not set our stall with one or the other. We will decide on the outcome of the election and we will, as we have always done, fight to ensure that the best interests of Northern Ireland are the heart of any decision.
“If we get the seats that we are targeting, and that includes the seats that we currently hold, it does open up an opportunity and that could to some extent be a once in a life-time opportunity.”
But will they ask for more money?
“It would be wrong of me to say that we are going to ask for a certain amount of money, but what we will do is ensure that any additional money there is, that Northern Ireland gets its fair share of it,” he added.
When asked what, as a public representative, he brings to the table, he said: “I’m a firm believer in being available to the people. I have two full time constituency offices.
“We deal with numerous issues day-in-daily [and] to me it’s about representation.
“Welfare reform is a major issue... we have worked to try to get a Northern Ireland Welfare Reform package and unfortunately Sinn Fein have blocked that.”
And as for the DUP’s plan, should they hold the UK’s fate in their hands come May, he said they have five points to bring to the table.
1. Making Northern Ireland an economic powerhouse
2. Deliver world class public services for our people
3. Create a society based on fairness and opportunity for everyone
4. Make politics and government work better here in Northern Ireland.
5. Strengthen the United Kingdom and protect and enhance everybody’s identity