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