Deputy Speaker splits from UUP
Stormont's Deputy Speaker, David McClarty, has resigned from the Ulster Unionist Party after he was prevented from defending his seat in May's Assembly election.
The East Londonderry MLA confirmed he had sent a letter of resignation and would formally split from the party on Saturday, in what he said was one of the most depressing episodes of his life.
Despite his high profile at Stormont, he was de-selected by party members in his local area, a move which he said had now forced him to cut ties with the UUP.
Mr McClarty said he had been with the party since 1989 and held an Assembly seat since 1998.
"This is one of the saddest days of my life," he said. "It is tearing me apart."
He added: "The de-selection was at the beginning of September, so there was no knee-jerk reaction from me. I was going to take stock."
He said his treatment by his party locally had "grieved" him.
"I hold no ill feeling towards the party generally, but if I am going to work with the party, I have to be able to do it locally too," he said.
Mr McClarty said he had received a positive reaction from people in his constituency who, he said, were shocked at the decision to drop him as a party candidate.
"Since the news of the de-selection I have had nothing but tremendous support," he said. "I hoped that under a new leadership - and I don't blame the new leadership - I had hoped we were going places."