Alan Lawther, who lives in the constituency, said: “You really get the feeling that Reg Empey is now in last chance saloon. This could be Reg’s last throw of the dice as UUP Leader, and it could be very embarrassing for him.
“It appears he did not want to face Naomi Long again in East Belfast after she beat him in the last Assembly election.
Reg’s turning up in South Antrim is bizarre and requires some explanation. He is supposed to previously have expressed an interest in North Down and South Belfast. Why and how has he suddenly found a connection to South Antrim?
“Of the four main parties in the constituency, I am the only local candidate. The DUP’s Trevor Clarke said Reg needed a map but that’s a bit rich coming from another party whose candidate doesn’t live in South Antrim.
“I have been working with David Ford for many years and have been a member of Antrim Council for five years. I believe I am much more in touch with the issues than Reg is.”