Callan UUP defection shows DUP only unionist party for Northern Ireland, claims Arlene Foster
First Minister Arlene Foster said the defection of UUP councillor Aaron Callan to her party shows it is the only unionist party for Northern Ireland.
Limavady Councillor Callan quit the UUP yesterday saying he was "uncomfortable" with the direction of the leadership and felt the party was moving away from its core principles and his constituency of East Londonderry was becoming "irrelevant" to members of the 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," he said.
"I am firmly of the view that the DUP is taking Northern Ireland forward in a positive way.
"The DUP, under the leadership of Arlene Foster, is providing a confident vision for Northern Ireland underpinned by a plan that has widespread support."
The UUP said Mr Callan was "unlikely to be missed".
DUP Leader and First Minister Arlene Foster - who herself was a member of the UUP - welcomed Mr Callan to her party ranks.
"He is a talented and enthusiastic public representative who cares deeply about his local area," she said.
"As a councillor on the Causeway Coast and Glens Council Aaron will fit in well with our strong team in East Londonderry led by Gregory Campbell MP.
"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.”
MP Gregory Campbell added: “I look forward to working with Aaron and he is very welcome to our East Londonderry team.
"I know he will enjoy working as part of a team dedicated to Limavady and East Londonderry.
"The Democratic Unionist Party is long established as the main unionist party in the area as well as across Northern Ireland, this is not about the UUP now not having any elected representation in the Limavady area but it is about building for the future and Aaron’s decision to join with us is further vindication of the stance we are taking.”