A FORMER Irish senator who joined the UUP has said he is “overwhelmed” by the support he has received on entering Northern Ireland politics.
Ian Marshall said: “I’ve been hugely heartened by the messages that have come in from right across the political spectrum, and from both sides of the border.
"It shows that my decision to join the Ulster Unionists was totally the right one. Unionists, nationalists and republicans have all been in contact to wish me well.”
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “Good luck to Ian Marshall joining @uuponline. He’s a very impressive politician – intelligent and full of integrity.
"He’s a strong unionist who understands the different perspectives on this island. I look forward to working with him.”
Former Sinn Fein special adviser at Stormont, Derry and Strabane councillor Conor Heaney, tweeted: “Ian, obviously I would have political differences with the UUP, but I really wish you well and it’s great to see more progressive voices in political unionism.”
UUP deputy leader Robbie Butler said: “We are delighted to welcome Ian Marshall into the party.
"His decision to join us is further proof that there is an energy embodied in the leadership of Doug Beattie.
"The party’s ambition is to see more new faces come forward in the not too distant future.”
Former PUP councillor, Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, who joined the UUP last month, said: “I’m really excited that Ian Marshall has become involved as well. He will be a tremendous asset to the party.
"Rural communities are often excluded from decision-making, and Ian’s voice will help ensure that they are heard.”
Former UUP leader Steve Aiken said that Mr Marshall was very welcome in the party’s ranks, adding: “I’ve known Ian many years. He has been a strong advocate for the Union and for progressive unionism for a long time.
"As a senator, he helped try to explain the unionist position in the Irish Republic, and did a great job in difficult circumstances.
"Ian has much to offer, and there is no better place for him than the Ulster Unionist Party”.