DUP defector Patterson's 'hurt' at nasty messages from ex-UUP colleagues
Former Ulster Unionist MLA Alastair Patterson has spoken about the abusive messages that he has received from ex-colleagues following his decision to quit the party last month.
Mr Patterson defected to the DUP only weeks after standing for the UUP in the Assembly election - but the move has sparked a bitter response from some of his former colleagues.
In a frank interview Mr Patterson has:
- Spoken of how some UUP members sent him messages in recent days questioning his role as a parish reader in his church following his decision.
- Claimed his former party is in "disarray" and has "lost its way".
- Revealed that it was the "actions and behaviour" of certain UUP members during the election campaign that prompted his decision to quit.
Mr Patterson has described the backlash from former colleagues as "disappointing, unfair and unjustified."
"I understand their annoyance at my decision but I feel that their targeting of myself is simply a diversion over their real disappointment and disarray that exists within the UUP at present and my decision has simply given them someone that they can hurl stones and abuse at," he said.
"It will be me this week and someone else in the very near future. Online attacks have been of poor taste.
"Their tactics of bullying will not succeed," he told the Impartial Reporter.
Mr Patterson has claimed that one of the messages questioned how he could now remain in his church.
"The tone of messages questioning my role within the church have probably been the most hurtful," he said.
"Some people have questioned my role as a parish reader within the Church of Ireland because of my decision to join the DUP and because I didn't agree to meet with senior UUP officials to discuss my decision," he said.
In the Assembly election, Mr Patterson narrowly lost out.
"Certain actions and behaviour during the election campaign certainly helped in my decision-making process but these are in the past and my focus now is on the future," he said.
Mr Patterson opposed the DUP continually throughout the election campaign and as a result was described on Facebook as a "hypocrite" by one elected representative in the Ulster Unionists.
"Sadly the charge of hypocrisy could be pointed at others who want to criticise my decision because they are still struggling to come to terms with their own disappointment at the results of the recent election and the current state of play within the UUP," he said.
Mr Patterson, who says he has not been offered a role in the DUP, stands by his decision and said he has received many positive messages from current UUP members, too.
"Trust me, it wasn't for 30 pieces of silver, not for any glory seeking positions and not because I didn't get elected," he said. I made the decision because in my heart I felt that the UUP are no longer the party who represent me as a person.
"Many more people are saying the same thing, that the UUP have lost their way and are becoming more unrecognisable as a unionist party and I'm sure my defection to the DUP won't be the last."
Speaking to the Impartial Reporter, First Minister and Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster defended Mr Patterson.
"I am disappointed, but certainly not surprised by the abuse and nasty commentary that has been hurled at him from a small element within the Ulster Unionist Party in Fermanagh in particular," she said.
"Instead of attacking Alastair some Ulster Unionists need to take a long look at themselves and remember that it is the electorate who have reduced them to the state they now find themselves in," she added.