Ex-UUP candidate Flash Harry defects to Alliance
Former Ulster Unionist Harry Hamilton, who attracted major support in the general election, has defected to the Alliance Party.
The would-be politician, previously better known as a Freddie Mercury impersonator, secured widespread media attention when he swapped the stage for the political platform.
He scored well with the electorate and won more than 10,500 votes in Upper Bann, despite failing to seize the area's Westminster seat.
Given his relatively strong polling he had been expected to be selected as an Ulster Unionist candidate for May's Assembly elections, but was overlooked by the party.
The UUP, which failed to win any seats in the Westminster poll despite its electoral alliance with the Conservative Party, has suffered a series of high-profile resignations.
Alliance leader David Ford has now confirmed his party has recruited Mr Hamilton.
"I am very pleased to welcome Harry into the Alliance Party. He is a highly regarded and very popular representative in Upper Bann," said Mr Ford.
"In recent times we have attracted people who were previously involved in the SDLP and now Harry is joining us. This clearly demonstrates that Alliance is leading change and that more and more people from across the community believe in our goal of a truly shared future.
"It speaks volumes that Harry was the person who polled highest out of all of the Ulster Unionist Party candidates in the general election, and the fact that he has decided to come to us demonstrates the current momentum of the Alliance Party."
Mr Ford said: "He believes Alliance is the party which best engages with the public on real-life issues and this shows that people believe in positive politics instead of the politics of the past."
Mr Hamilton said the public wanted to see political parties working to improve the lives of citizens.
"I believe that Alliance has shown it is prepared to engage with the growing section of our community who feel disillusioned and disappointed with the blinkered political parties that continue to distil political debate here into a tribal headcount," he said.
The 45-year-old, who is married with three daughters and is from the Lurgan area of Co Armagh, is a business development manager, although he also built a successful career as an entertainer.
Mr Hamilton said: "It's time for people to stop choosing their politicians on the basis of historical differences and start looking to the future. I believe that Alliance holds the key to better, shared future in Northern Ireland.
"Alliance reaches out to all sections of our community. It has shown itself able to listen and not preach, to lead and not simply follow, to deliver change and be unafraid of progress.
"I believe in the need for politicians to show leadership and the need to build a united community. These are the principles I entered politics to promote and I believe they can be best achieved through the Alliance Party."