More defectors on way, claims Arlene Foster as Daniel Allen joins DUP ranks
Foster and Allen are singing with one voice after a former Ulster Unionist found a new home in the DUP.
Daniel Allen quit his party ahead of the Assembly elections in May and has now signed up to join Arlene Foster's DUP, it has been revealed.
In a sideswipe at his former leader Mike Nesbitt, Ards and North Down councillor Mr Allen said he believed unionism would be stronger under the current DUP First Minister.
Mrs Foster, meanwhile, hinted at further recruits to come "in due course". There was no immediate response from the UUP.
The DUP leader made the same prediction when former UUP Fermanagh councillor Raymond Farrell became the first defector to the DUP less than a month after the May elections.
A former Ulster Unionist herself, Mrs Foster said: "Daniel is an excellent public representative and I am delighted that he has decided to join the Democratic Unionist Party.
"Daniel already works closely with our party group on the council and I know he will make a very valuable contribution and find himself at home in the DUP.
"As I speak to people right across Northern Ireland, I am heartened by their support and this is not the last such announcement that I will have the pleasure of making.
"Announcements relating to further recruits will be made in due course."
Mr Allen, who has represented the Holywood and Clandeboye area since 2014, said: "Under the leadership of Arlene Foster, I believe unionism will be stronger and will dominate the political landscape in Northern Ireland for many years ahead.
"The DUP has assembled a strong and united group which was endorsed by the electorate in the recent May elections.
"The next five years will be a testing time and I look forward to help take on the challenge with my new party."
Mr Allen was selected as a UUP Assembly candidate for North Down last December, along with fellow councillor Alan Chambers and party activist Carl McClean, and he was described by Mr Nesbitt as an "excellent candidate".
But three months later, as the party accepted his resignation, the UUP said: "Mr Allen was keen to run for the party in the Assembly elections, and a number of senior party officials went to great lengths to try to accommodate his demands, but ultimately those efforts were unsuccessful."
At the time, Mr Allen said he did not wish to discuss the details of the fall-out.
When Raymond Farrell jumped ship in June, Mrs Foster claimed: "People are uniting around our leadership."
He left the UUP last October after falling out with Mr Nesbitt over gay marriage and the party's decision to withdraw from the Executive over IRA activity.
The Ballinamallard man was soon approached by the DUP and appeared at the party's spring conference, sitting beside Mrs Foster, who described him as "an incredible asset".
The UUP accused Mr Farrell at the time of a "litany of failures" including not attending meetings of the Ulster Unionist Councillors' Association or the party's annual conference "and failing to contact the party leader about his concerns".