DUP outlines plan to secure 10 Westminster seats
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) today set a target of returning 10 MPs to Westminster in the hope of holding the balance of power.
Launching his party's manifesto, leader Peter Robinson sought to shake-off months of negative headlines over his wife's involvement in a sex scandal to insist that returning a strengthened DUP was vital to unionist interests.
But he also underlined hopes that his party could yet be kingmakers in a hung parliament.
"The determination of the DUP has helped deliver a present-day infinitely better than our recent past with the prospects of a future, brighter still," he told supporters in the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
"And in the next Parliament, a strong united DUP team will continue that progress. The ever-growing potential for a hung Parliament offers unprecedented opportunities for a focused cohesive unionist bloc in the House of Commons."
He added: "It is the DUP that is the only party who are free to act in such circumstances.
"This means a strong unfettered and united team is what is best for Northern Ireland and it is the DUP which offers this.
"So build the DUP team to 10 MPs to ensure the strongest voice for Northern Ireland in our national parliament "
The party won nine seats in 2005, but he underlined his hopes of seizing an additional seat in South Belfast.
Mr Robinson launched a party manifesto which also majored on strengthening the economy and securing political stability in the North.
The DUP leader said he would seek to have the North designated a Special Economic Zone within the UK to attract investment, and he billed the May 6 poll as an historic election.