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Ulster Unionist defects to DUP: Alastair Patterson backs Arlene Foster as 'leader of unionism'

By John Mulgrew

Published 18/06/2016

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Alastair Patterson
DUP leader Arlene Foster and Alastair Patterson

A former Ulster Unionist MLA has defected to the DUP, it has emerged.

Alastair Patterson, who ran as a candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has announced his decision to join the DUP.

Mr Patterson was co-opted to replace Neil Somerville back in January, but missed out on an Assembly seat during May's election.

But he's the latest politician to jump ship and join Arlene Foster's DUP.

Speaking about the move, he said it was "a step I needed to make".

"At the Assembly election in May the people of Northern Ireland delivered a clear and resounding message of endorsement of Arlene Foster as their First Minister and the leader of unionism.

"Unionism in Northern Ireland is in an extremely strong position and will get even stronger if more people like myself make the right decision and get behind Arlene and support her as their leader of unionism.

"Under her leadership the DUP can and will dominate Northern Ireland politics for many years to come.  Being a unionist with very traditional core values as a churchman, an Orangeman, and a bandsman I feel that the DUP clearly and articulately represent these values.  Consequently, this is the right time for me to join the party."

He said that "recent decisions by the Ulster Unionist Party, both locally and nationally, have disappointed me and did leave me feeling let down".

"For many weeks I knocked thousands of doors across Fermanagh and South Tyrone telling people that it was the UUP who brought about the two-week negotiation for the Programme for Government and that the Ulster Unionist Party would go into these negotiations and work hard for their people only for Mike Nesbitt to withdraw without even trying to negotiate leaving me feeling let down and disappointed."

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