Belfast Telegraph

Maurice Devenney going solo following rethink on UUP offer

By Steven Alexander

Former DUP Assembly Member Maurice Devenney has changed his mind about joining the Ulster Unionists.

Mr Devenney had also been approached by Ukip, but after a period of "prayerful reflection" he said on Friday that he had taken up the offer from the UUP.

However, the high-profile defection was shortlived after he met with UUP officials over the weekend.

He told the Londonderry Sentinel that "a result of those discussions there were a number of issues that I felt we could not find agreement on".

The former Derry City mayor - still listed as a DUP councillor on the party website - will remain an independent unionist on Derry City and Strabane District Council.

"I have now had the opportunity to consult with a number of individuals in the broad unionist family and, while appreciating the friendly engagement with the UUP, have decided that I will remain as an independent in the local council going forward," he told the newspaper.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt expressed surprise at the news.

"I met Maurice Devenney at his request some weeks ago. At that time he was clear in what he wanted. When we met again on Saturday I sensed he was less sure. I note he makes reference to a number of unresolved issues but that is news to me," he said.

The comments stand in stark contrast to a statement by Mr Nesbitt on Friday in which he had warmly welcomed Mr Devenney into the UUP fold, where he said he would "bring a new dynamic and energy to our operation in the Foyle constituency".

Foyle UUP chairman William Jamieson said there had been "an amicable parting of the ways".

Mr Devenney was suspended from the DUP earlier this month after 11 years following accusations of bringing the party into disrepute - an allegation he denies. He was accused of asking voters during last year's general election to support the SDLP's Mark Durkan ahead of his own party's candidate Gary Middleton, to prevent Sinn Fein winning the Westminster seat.

He resigned a week after his suspension.

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