Conservative Party leader David Cameron has made a flying visit to Northern Ireland in the run-up to the UK general election.

Mr Cameron highlighted a pact between his party and the Ulster Unionists, which he claims can deliver progress in Northern Ireland.

He told supporters at a rally that if he became prime minister he would bolster the union that binds the UK.

He said: 'Our two parties have created a new dynamic force for Northern Ireland.

'We are not just saying that we are the party of the union, we are showing that we are the party of the union, the party of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England - with candidates standing in every part of the United Kingdom.

'We passionately believe that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are stronger together, weaker apart - and the union of our two parties strengthens those bonds.'

The Conservative leader's visit was almost halted because of the danger to aviation posed by fresh clouds of volcanic ash from Iceland.

Mr Cameron insisted he was not fighting against Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg in Thursday's general election but fighting for all the people of the UK.

He also sought to reassure Northern Irish voters that a Tory administration would not target the country for cuts.

Flanked by Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey and general election candidates, Mr Cameron promised moves to create jobs in Northern Ireland.

Mr Cameron's decision to campaign in Northern Ireland is highly unusual for the leader of one of the main parties, which have previously left the fight for votes there largely to the local parties.

His flying visit forms part of a 36-hour non-stop whirlwind tour taking in all corners of the UK, which will see him campaign through the night, meeting bakers, fishermen and others who work through the early hours.

UUP/Tories behind in the polls

An opinion poll published in today's Belfast Telegraph newspaper suggests the Ulster Unionist Party/Conservative alliance may not win any of the 18 Northern Ireland Westminster seats in Thursday's elections.

The poll suggests the UUP/Tory Alliance will fail to capture any of the nine seats currently held by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Their best chance is in South Antrim, but there the poll shows outgoing DUP MP Willie McCrea on 36%, six points ahead of UUP leader Reg Empey.

The Belfast Telegraph figures predict Sylvia Hermon, who left the UUP over the pact with the Tories, will comfortably retain her North Down seat.

In North Antrim, the Telegraph has Ian Paisley Jnr on course to hold the Westminster seat vacated by his father.

Jim Allister, leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice organisation, is predicted to take 3% of the vote, compared to Mr Paisley's 39%.

In Fermanagh/South Tyrone, the poll puts Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew at 44%, just one point ahead of Rodney Connor, the Independent who has the support of the different shades of unionism.

A total of 3,200 adults were interviewed for the survey by the Inform Communications company.