Lisburn Councillors Jenny and John Palmer, who left the DUP after a row last year have joined the Ulster Unionist Party.
In a joint statement Councillors Jenny and John Palmer said: “We have considered our options over the past few months and we have decided to join the Ulster Unionist Party.
“It has been like returning to the family home again. I would like to thank all our family, friends and supporters for their words of encouragement over the past year or more. It meant a lot and we will be forever grateful.
“We are re-energised, just like the Ulster Unionist Party, and we are looking forward to this new beginning in politics.
“Something that was an important factor in our decision was the courage shown by the Ulster Unionist Party. They have led by example during what is a shocking state of affairs. We look forward to playing our part in the Ulster Unionist team.
Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, welcomed the couple to the party. “The integrity of Jenny and John Palmer has been clear to see in recent months and I am delighted they have made their decision to join the Ulster Unionist Party,” said Mr Nesbitt.
“Elected representatives have to deal with the rough and tumble of politics on a daily basis, but people like Sammy Wilson went way beyond the pale during the Social Development Committee evidence sessions. I have a great admiration for how Jenny and John stood their ground during what was clearly a deeply difficult and testing time for them.
“We have gained two very capable councillors today. We are in growth mode and this is an exciting time for the Ulster Unionist Party. Let’s see who else makes a move to a Party determined to put the country first and do what’s right for Northern Ireland.”
Lisburn’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alexander Redpath said he was “delighted” to welcome Mr and Mrs Palmer to the Party. “Jenny took a courageous stand against appalling behaviour by her DUP colleagues who attempted to inappropriately influence the awarding of Housing Executive contracts,” said Mr Redpath.
“The UUP has enormous respect for Jenny’s integrity and courage. I have worked with John for some time as a fellow councillor in my district of Downshire West. John is hard working and diligent councillor and I look forward to working with him ever more closely.
“John’s decision to join the Ulster Unionist group increases our tally of councillors in this district to three out of five, which will allow us to represent this district all the more effectively from a comanding position of strength.”
Veteran Ulster Unionist Councillor Alderman Jim Dillon, added: “I am absolutely delighted that John and Jenny are joining the Ulster Unionist group on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. They`re Ulster Unionists and will be a great addition to the team. I am looking forward to working with both of them. They have a considerable contribution to make to the people of the Lisburn and Castlereagh Council area.”