Northern Ireland

DUP and UUP deny election pact talks breakdown

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Media captionMr Robinson said the DUP was concentrating on trying to get some agreement on key seats

Unionists have denied that talks have broken down over electoral pacts in the forthcoming general election on 7 May.

The DUP and Ulster Unionists said they were still working towards agreements over candidates in constituencies, including East Belfast.

The seat was won in the 2010 Westminster election by Alliance's Naomi Long.

It had previously been held by the DUP leader Peter Robinson.

The DUP is determined to try to win the seat this time around.

'Talking'

Mr Robinson is not a candidate this time, but he acknowledged that time was running out to agree a pact with Ulster Unionists.

"It's never over until it's over and we're still talking, so I think we concentrate on trying to get some agreement on key seats," he said.

"I think we need to remember that there are 18 seats in Northern Ireland but a number of those seats, it wouldn't matter if unionists got together or not.

"Seats like West Belfast are not going to be won by a unionist."

The DUP leader said there were some constituencies where it would not matter if both the DUP and UUP were to contest them as they would still be won by a unionist candidate.

"That leaves about six constituencies and I think there could be a fairly fair deal between those six constituencies with the two parties, but we have to reach agreement.

Image caption Mr Kennedy said he hoped party interests would not make it impossible to achieve agreement

"I think we are running out of time on this issue to try and get the matter resolved."

'Arrangements'

The Ulster Unionists have said they are still looking for a deal in East Belfast and in a number of other constituencies.

"I think what's important and the point that Mike Nesbitt has continued to make is that in the better interests of unionism, it would be better that arrangements could be put in place for certain constituencies," Danny Kennedy said.

"I hope that party interests will not overtake that or make that impossible to achieve and I hope even at this late stage that agreement can be found."

In 2010, the DUP won in eight out of Northern Ireland's 18 constituencies. The UUP did not win any seats.

The two parties fielded unity candidate Rodney Connor in the Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency, which the DUP's Arlene Foster represents in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Connor lost by four votes to Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Féin, which abstains from taking its Westminster seats.

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