Sunday, May 19, 2024

Colonel Tim Collins to stand for UUP in North Down

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By Julie Waters

THE Ulster Unionist Party has made a surprise announcement that Iraqi war veteran Colonel Tim Collins is to stand as the party’s North Down candidate in the forthcoming general election.

Announcing his candidacy, the 63 year-old Sandhurst graduate said he had been approached ‘by Unionists of several types’ but he had decided to stand as a UUP candidate. 

Boasting a distinguished military career spanning 23 years, he is best known for his inspirational eve of battle speech given to the troops under his command shortly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Now a successful businessman, Mr Collins said he would be stepping back from his role as chairman of his intelligence based security company to ‘follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, most notably the long and distinguished service to the constituency of Lady Sylvia Hermon’.

Paying tribute to the former North Down MP who held the seat for nearly two decades, he said: “I can only hope to emulate a small part of the great success that she brought to the role.”

However, the UUP candidate pledged to use his ‘influence and powers of persuasion’ to ensure that the constituency would receive ‘the best opportunities that Westminster can offer’ should he be elected.  

“Whilst I do see the risk of the erosion of Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, a union that I cherish, that the hastily agreed Protocol and Windsor Framework poses, I also see hard working families suffering, with wages stagnant and services curtailed by the suspension of the devolved assembly.

“Additionally, as a businessman, I understand that delivering more opportunities for business in the constituency are crucial to providing meaningful, well-paid and sustainable jobs that will provide the wages and salaries that will make lives better.”

Stressing his close links to the constituency, Mr Collins said: “North Down is close to where I grew up on the Holywood Road in Belfast. It is the place that I spent my teens and early twenties socialising and it is where my parents are buried.  My sister taught for decades in Ballyholme Primary and is where many friends still live; it is a place I know well. 

“I look forward to working with the local politicians of North Down and beyond as well as the churches, communities, business leaders and influencers of the constituency.  I have spent much of my adult life working across the world in both my military service and as a wealth creator on five continents. 

“But for my wife and I Northern Ireland has always been home, and I relish the opportunity to put something back as the Member of Parliament for North Down, should I have the great honour and privilege of being selected by the electorate in the next election.”

During his army career, Mr Collins served across the world with the Royal Irish Rangers, later the Royal Irish Regiment, and special forces, and he was based at Holywood’s Palace Barracks for a time. 

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