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DUP fall-out councillor Maurice Devenney joins Ulster Unionists

By Donna Deeney and Noel McAdam

Published 27/02/2016

Decision: Maurice Devenney
Decision: Maurice Devenney

The Ulster Unionist Party has claimed its biggest DUP defector yet after former Foyle MLA Maurice Devenney joined the ranks.

Less than 48 hours after declaring himself an independent, Mr Devenney signed up for Mike Nesbitt's party as part of its grouping on Derry City and Strabane District Council.

His is the most high-profile defection from the DUP since Lisburn councillor Jenny Palmer, whose disclosures to a Stormont committee led to a DUP disciplinary threat for bringing the party into disrepute.

Mr Devenney was suspended from the DUP earlier this month after 11 years following accusations of bringing the party into disrepute - an allegation he denied.

The former Londonderry mayor was accused of asking voters during last year's general election to support the SDLP's Mark Durkan ahead of his own party's candidate Gary Middleton to prevent Sinn Fein winning the Westminster seat.

He resigned a week after his suspension, sparking speculation about what direction his future in politics would take.

He was also approached by Ukip.

Mr Devenney confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that he had been approached by both parties, but after a period of "prayerful reflection" he had taken up the offer from the UUP.

Former DUP councillor Palmer's husband John - they are both Lisburn councillors - also joined the UUP, along with former TUV representatives David Arthurs from Ballyclare and William Cudworth from Bangor, previous Ukip candidate in Strangford Joe Jordan and Heather Fee from Mallusk, who had been a member of NI21, which was set up by the former Ulster Unionist MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister before self-imploding.

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