Cllr Aaron Callan defects to the DUP

Limavady Councillor, Aaron Callan has defected from the UUP to the DUP.  He cites what he claims as the UUP ignoring his constituency and lack of confidence in his former leader as the main reasons.

Speaking about his decision to leave he says;

Some people may be asking why I have decided to leave the Ulster Unionist Party to join the Democratic Unionist Party.  I have thought long and hard about this decision.  It has become clear over the last twelve months that the DUP is now the mainstream unionist party.  I have felt uncomfortable within the UUP, and its leader, for some time now given its drift further from what I believe are Unionist values and principles.

First and foremost my interest is in best representing my constituents and my local area.  The reason I stood for election in 2011 and 2014 was my love and passion for my local area of Limavady and the wider East Londonderry area.  I have been concerned for some time that East Londonderry was becoming irrelevant to the members of the Ulster Unionist Assembly group. This has disheartened me greatly particularly at a time when so many other rank and file unionists are joining the DUP at grassroots level. 

His new leader, Arlene Foster says this is evidence of the DUP becoming the mainstream unionist party;

I commend Aaron for making this move at this time and I assure him that he will have a full role to play as we build a stronger Northern Ireland.  Aaron’s move is yet another indication that the DUP is now the only unionist party that is capable of commanding support across the Province.  Many from an Ulster Unionist background are uniting around the DUP and have already joined with us since the Assembly election and I know Aaron will not be the last.

When news broke of Cllr Callan’s departure yesterday the UUP issued a short statement saying;

We have built our success in recent years on teamwork. On that basis Councillor Callan is unlikely to be missed.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    So is this perhaps the first DUPper who is on public record supporting a woman’s right to choose?

  • Gaygael

    Where is that then?

    Will the party of ‘conscience’ finally allow it of it’s members?

  • mickfealty

    Ouch! [Unnecessarily ungraceful].

    This is interesting, and not just because Callan has written for Slugger in the past. For those who don’t know he’s one of a small group who came up through the Young Unionists (none of whom were big fans of the historic DUP), and he has now made the leap to the DUP.

    In spite of the statement it’s not wholly clear what the trigger for the move was, but despite standing in one of those Unionist areas which voted for Remain (and in line with the UUP official position) it has been increasing obvious that some younger UUPers (indeed, like their old hero David Trimble) favoured the harder DUP Leave position.

    The bit about Limavady is probably serious. He’s likely figured that he will only succeed the current Minister for Justice (and some of her Executive colleagues like the Minister for Finance seem to be working on that already) as MLA, or displace one of the longer running DUP incumbents next time out from within the DUP.

    Better to join the winners.

    And he gives them another smarter, younger but local face. Something the UUP have been much less than successful at doing.

  • chrisjones2

    Only certain types of conscience are permitted

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    They say he’s open to the debate but I’m pretty sure I read something yesterday where he said that broadly he felt it should be the woman’s choice.

  • mickfealty

    Open to the debate? Not quite the same BB?

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    “In relation to abortion in cases of sexual crime, he told the group: “As a man, I can’t put myself in this situation. It would be a very difficult circumstance to be put in but ultimately women should have the right to decide what to do.”

    Read more at:

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    See the above post:

    “In relation to abortion in cases of sexual crime, he told the group: “As a man, I can’t put myself in this situation. It would be a very difficult circumstance to be put in but ultimately women should have the right to decide what to do.”

    Read more at:

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    If this is the case and he’s essentially carpet bagging by means of party, then he should be roundly laughed out of Dodge.

  • Kevin Breslin
  • chrisjones2

    You mean its self interest …..I am surprised ………..nay shocked!

    But he is only following the example of his new Party Leader and it worked alright for her

  • Kevin Breslin
  • 1729torus

    In the long run, It’s the manifestation of a fairly long running prediction that the UUP would be absorbed into the DUP in some guise as time went by and the Unionist base shrunk.

    In the medium term, the UUP’s problem is that Nesbitt is trying to ride two horse at the same time – on the one hand trying to be conciliatory/rational/liberal like Alliance/NI21 and hoping nationalists assimilate into Northern Ireland, whilst simultaneously trying to stand up for Ulster and engage in romanticism

    On a shorter and more tactical timescale, Nesbitt seems to have alienated the grassroots somewhat. I suspect his opposition to Brexit was partially at the root of it.

    The UUP apparently haven’t managed to solve their problems as described by Dr. Mc Cann in this article from a few years ago:

    This does not bode well for the “opposition”.

  • If the recent Boundary Commission’s blueprint gets the go ahead, there’ll likely be a DUP-UUP pact for future Westminster elections in Callan’s prospective Glenshane constituency.

    I look forward to him explaining away his party’s co-operation with those he sees as drifters from “unionist values and principles”, whatever they’re supposed to be.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Politics is all about riding multiple horses at the same time, Political leadership is simply about ensuring as few as possible bolt.

    We’ve seen the UUP nick a few DUP ones like Jenny Palmer and her husband.

    On the grand scale of things, Councillor Aaron Callan of the Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council does not seem to show anything to really offer the DUP at the moment but tribal bitterness.

    How long can the DUP rely on that “Trump card” until things “Go South”?

  • 1729torus

    2025 is when the non-unionists start to substantially enter the electorate.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Provisional DUP stance (ha ha) is that they usually demand Top Dog billing for Pact Politics.

    Maybe the UUP should offer Sinn Féin a pact where they will have no more Unionist pacts if Sinn Féin take their seats in Westminster.

    It won’t work of course, but there would be a principle in trying, unfortunately they were afraid of the prospect of Naomi Long winning a seat in East Belfast, but this “Can’t Beat Them, Join Them” mentality within the UUP to the DUP.

    Perhaps the UUP should just give up on East Belfast and tell their voters the truth …

    Dear East Belfast Voter…

    We’re not in this contest, we’re afraid to split the vote, we’re afraid to even try to grow our own vote here in a Westminster election for fears of selling out unionism, even though we may split the Alliance vote with a bit of realpolitik on constituency issues their candidate may overlook. At an Assembly election we will inspire to make our cause different from being a middle ground to the two parties in front of us here, but right now feel free to vote for the lesser of two evils, whatever you consider it to be, though probably the DUP.

    Yours The Ulster Unionists.

    The self-deprecating humour may be lost on some though.

  • chrisjones2

    “Brexit risks flushing the NI economy down the toilet”

    Yeah ….just like it flushed the Sunderland economy down the drain today as well. Then there was the prediction that we would collapse into recession.

    You really do not have the slightest idea whaty you are talking about

  • chrisjones2

    Which non-unionists are those?

    So after 2016 its now a UI in 2025 or 2035 or 2045?

  • chrisjones2

    As was Arlene as I recall …but thats not mentioned these days

  • chrisjones2

    Arlene says NO NO NO

    And it appears all that guff about restricting Petitions of Concern was …well gufff. The issue of the Harlots and the Gays is so important to the DUP that they will block them

  • 1729torus

    The younger cohorts that are mostly Catholic start reaching adulthood in the early 2020s.

    UI will not happen before 2040. South has an incentive to drag it out so PUL die off and the British keep pumping money into the place; thus NI is in a more manageable condition when they do finally get ahold of it, and they have to concede less to Unionist sentiment.

  • Karl

    Nissan worked out that a tanking sterling would offset tariffs when Brexit does actually happen and so they would continue to make money.
    Just see what happens to petrol prices, import driven inflation and the movement of key groups of finance, legal pharma and tech in the next 6 months and this before the EU make sure there is no brexit contagion.
    It’s not even lunch time on the Titanic.

  • Old Mortality

    South has an incentive to drag it out until the multitude of DLA recipients die off?