UUP councillor Beryl McKnight defects to DUP
Fresh blow for Mike Nesbitt's party as Carrick representative jumps ship
An Ulster Unionist councillor who has jumped ship to the DUP has said she didn't feel part of a team with the UUP.
Beryl McKnight, a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council, claimed she was joining "a strong and united party" after complaining of a lack of unity within Mike Nesbitt's UUP.
Mrs McKnight was elected to the council in 2011. Her defection strengthens the DUP's position, with the party now holding nine of the 17 seats. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs McKnight said it was a difficult but necessary decision to leave the UUP.
"I felt I wasn't in a team," she said.
"I came in to help out, but after a while I felt I didn't seem to be part of this team.
"To me you should work in a team, no matter what you're at. You should work well together.
"I noticed with the DUP that they work closely together. In some parts that didn't happen to me, but that's all I want to say on that matter.
"It was a really hard decision, I didn't take it lightly."
However, East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs said he was surprised by her comments.
"I am sad and disappointed at Beryl's defection as she wasn't just an Ulster Unionist colleague, she is a personal friend," he said.
"I'm also surprised at her comments, especially as they come a few days after not being successful in the Ulster Unionist selection process for the new super-council. It may well be a contributing factor to her decision."
DUP leader Peter Robinson said: "The DUP is the party for Northern Ireland and I would encourage anyone who wants to strengthen unionism and build a better future to join with us in making that happen," he said.
Beryl McKnight was elected to Carrickfergus Borough Council in May 2011. She moved to Carrickfergus from Londonderry in the Seventies when her late husband was transferred to Belfast to work as an engineer in the Post Office. She has two daughters and a son and her hobbies are painting, crochet and sewing. She sits on different committees such as road safety and DPP.