Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Election profile: Jim Allister, TUV leader

Jim Allister Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Jim Allister's Traditional Unionist Voice party opposes the Stormont power-sharing executive

The political journey of the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice has been from a stalwart of the Democratic Unionist Party to that party's arch critic.

Jim Allister began his career with the DUP in 1971 but left to return to a career as a barrister after falling out over party policy.

Mr Allister famously fell out with the then DUP leader Ian Paisley in 1987 when he was not allowed to stand in the General Election in East Antrim because of a unionist electoral pact.

Peter Robinson subsequently brought Mr Allister out of self-imposed political exile to contest the European election for the DUP in 2004.

He topped the poll, exceeding even Ian Paisley's percentage share of the vote, if not the number of votes cast.

But Mr Allister quit the DUP again in 2007, this time over his dislike of power-sharing with Sinn Féin.

Verbal attacks

However, he did not return to his other job at the Bar.

He held onto his European seat and formed a new party, the Traditional Unionist Voice, as a vehicle to drive his opposition to the Stormont Executive.

Born in Crossgar, County Down, in 1953 into a farming family, Mr Allister studied at Regent House, Newtownards, and Queen's University Belfast, where he first engaged in politics.

He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1976 and in 2001 was elevated to the Senior Bar.

Key priorities

TUV

Main pledges

  • Voters in NI should have same rights as other parts of UK - right to vote a party out of government and have an opposition
  • TUV demands early referendum on EU membership
  • TUV believes in reducing the waste which has "typified misrule" in Northern Ireland
  • It wants to see the abolition of the Parades Commission

Politically, one of his finest moments came in the Dromore council by-election in February 2008 when his party made its electoral debut, gathering 739 votes and effectively depriving the DUP of the seat.

He lost his European seat in the 2009 election but, as a North Antrim assembly member, has continued to make outspoken attacks on the DUP and Sinn Féin.

In 2013 Mr Allister, a father of three, succeeded in getting a private members' bill passed preventing anyone with a serious criminal conviction being appointed as a Stormont Special Adviser.

In October 2014, Mr Allister was barred from speaking in the assembly for a month due to a clash with a deputy speaker.

The TUV leader was told his behaviour towards Roy Beggs was "among the worst the assembly had seen".

Mr Allister is not standing in the 2015 general election.