A Lisburn councillor has resigned from the DUP, claiming he felt uncomfortable at what he described as “a shift” in the party locally.
At the monthly meeting of Lisburn City Council on Tuesday night, Roy Young suddenly announced he was resigning.
Mr Young has been a councillor in Lisburn since 2010, and involved in politics for almost four decades.
He said he would continue as an independent until April, when he will step down from politics. Mr Young said he had sent a formal letter of resignation to DUP headquarters.
He insisted he was happy with Peter Robinson’s leadership, but felt uncomfortable at what he described as “a shift” in the DUP in Lisburn.
“Over the past 18 months I have noticed a change within the Lagan Valley constituency association and the DUP group on Lisburn City Council,” he said.
“There seems to be a desire to go back to the Paisleyite DUP and I was not comfortable with that.”
Mr Young said he had submitted a complaint about DUP councillor Luke Poots to party headquarters following the ‘super council’ elections last year.
Mr Young and Mr Poots had run in the same area, but only Mr Poots, son of former health minister Edwin Poots, was elected. Mr Young had concerns about how the local campaign had been run.
He said since submitting his complaint, he believed he had been shunned by colleagues. “I have been ostracised by the Paisleyites and I decided that I needed to go,” he said. “To be honest I feel a lot better now that I have resigned from the party.”
At time of going to press Mr Poots was unavailable for comment. Mr Young has been involved in politics for almost 40 years. He was initially an Ulster Unionist, but followed Jeffrey Donaldson and Arlene Foster to the DUP in 2003.
“Things were good then, there was a possibility that the DUP could have been the vehicle to unite unionism,” he said.
“I was optimistic. There was a softening of attitudes, things were going well. But now it seems like the DUP in Lagan Valley has taken a hard line and I didn’t like it so I am getting out.”
A DUP spokesman said it regretted Mr Young’s decision to leave. “Roy served the party in many roles and we thank him for his work and dedicated support even in recent weeks,” he said.