Ulster Unionists hit by third defection to DUP in just a week
A former Ulster Unionist election candidate has resigned from the party and joined the DUP.
Andrew Wright is believed to have quit the UUP over its stance on abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.
The party allows a free vote on the issue among its elected representatives.
Reacting to the resignation of Mr Wright, a party spokesman said: "Abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality is a matter of conscience within the Ulster Unionist Party and at no time was Andrew asked or expected to change his view.
"If his conscience drives him to join a party that takes a different position, we respect that decision."
Mr Wright was announced as a member of the DUP at its conference at the weekend.
North Antrim DUP MLA Paul Frew tweeted: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Andrew Wright to the DUP team in North Antrim. Party growing day by day."
Mr Wright ran unsuccessfully as an Assembly candidate for the UUP in North Antrim earlier this year.
He previously stood for council. He farms between Rasharkin and Cullybackey and is currently a member of the Cullybackey Development Association.
Within the last week Limavady councillor Aaron Callan and Belfast councillor Graham Craig both resigned from the UUP and joined Arlene Foster's party.