Balmoral Councillor Jim Kirkpatrick has announced he is switching sides to join the Ulster Unionist and Conservatives’ ‘new force’.
The long-serving south Belfast councillor said he had become increasingly disillusioned with the direction his party was taking and felt the DUP had “lost touch” with its grass roots.
Mr Kirkpatrick said: “I believe the DUP has lost touch with what was once its core vote, particularly in estates and rural areas.”
In response, Laganbank DUP councillor Christopher Stalford said he was “surprised Mr Kirkpatrick knows what the DUP’s grassroots support wanted” as he had been “virtually anonymous on the ground”.
It is not the first time Mr Kirkpatrick has switched his political allegiance. He was first elected under the UUP banner in 1982 when he took a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and three years later he was elected to represent Balmoral ward at Belfast City Council. In 1996 he moved to the DUP camp but lost his Belfast City Council seat a year later.
Then in 2003 he re-joined the UUP in the Assembly election but was eliminated early after a poor polling performance. In 2004 he moved to the DUP.