Drysdale joins DUP
Ulster Unionist councillor and Castlereagh deputy mayor David Drysdale has defected from the UUP and joined the DUP.
He said the move was warranted because of “concerns over policy” and “internal bickering” in the UUP. Of his concerns over policy, Mr Drysdale said: “The straw that broke the camel’s back was the water rates issue. I had concerns about policy, but I was told to hang on and give the new leader a chance.”
Councillor Drysdale was also disenchanted after popular Castlereagh councillor Michael Copeland was passed over by the party’s selectors to fight the Assembly election in favour of Tim Lemon, despite Mr Copeland being endorsed by the local grouping.
“Michael Copeland and Reg Empey came out on top, with Tim Lemon coming third. It seems nonsense to me to vote on something, then get to the selection process and turn everything on its head.”
Serving on Castlereagh Borough Council, Mr Drysdale said he was already used to working with the DUP. “I've been used to working on the ground with the DUP, which has made the move all the more easy. We've always worked well together.
“I came into politics to help the people of east Belfast, I feel I can better represent them with the DUP. DUP policy and strategy suit me to the ground,” he added.
A UUP spokesperson said: “We are sad that David has decided to leave the party. The news came as a particular surprise after his warm tribute to Sir Reg Empey and councillor Michael Henderson at our party conference.”
Councillor Drysdale is the latest in a series of high-profile defections from the UUP, including east Belfast Westminster candidate Trevor Ringland, south Belfast hopeful Paula Bradshaw and Harry Hamilton.
The news that Mr Copeland would not be running in the Assembly elections was greeted with disbelief in Castlereagh, with some residents’ groups gathering petitions to protest the move.
Mr Copeland declined to comment on the outcome of the selection process.