New DUP councillor receives handshake of approval from Arlene Foster

As former Limavady Ulster Unionist councillor Aaron Callan received a handshake of approval from his new leader, Arlene Foster, his former colleagues described his switch to the DUP as 'regrettable'.

Thursday, 27th October 2016, 12:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th October 2016, 5:21 pm
Aaron Callan with party leader Arlene Foster. INLS 45-704-CON

Colr. Callan quit the UUP yesterday.

He was elected to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council in 2014, one of the youngest councillors elected to local politics that year.

As recently as Tuesday he attended a full meeting of councillor as a UUP councillor.

Happier times ... Aaron Callan with Ulster Unionist Party party leader Mike Nesbitt, with MEP Jim Nicholson and Raymond Kennedy in Limavady in 2014. INLV2114-201KDR

DUP leader Arlene Foster welcomed her party’s newest member describing him as “a talented and enthusiastic public representative who cares deeply about his local area”.

“I commend Aaron for making this move at this time and I assure him that he will have a full role to play as we build a stronger Northern Ireland,” said Ms Foster.

Colr. Callan said he thought “long and hard” before quitting the UUP, but said he had felt uncomfortable in the party “for some time now given its drift further from what I believe are unionist values and principles”.

The UUP issued a short statement yesterday saying Colr. Callan was “unlikely to be missed”.

Happier times ... Aaron Callan with Ulster Unionist Party party leader Mike Nesbitt, with MEP Jim Nicholson and Raymond Kennedy in Limavady in 2014. INLV2114-201KDR

However, they’ve now issued a further statement describing Colr. Callan’s decision as “regrettable”.

Alderman Norman Hillis, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Group Leader on Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council said it was “very disappointing that the people who voted for Aaron in the local elections in 2014 will not be represented by an Ulster Unionist, espousing the Ulster Unionist principles and policies which they voted for”.

UUP Colr. William McCandless said: “It is always difficult when a colleague decides to leave a company, a team, a church or a political party. New positions can often appear appealing but the DUP will have their own issues which Aaron will doubtless discover in a few months’ time.

“I am disappointed that he is leaving our Party, and our team in Council, but no person is indispensable, and the success of any team is all about teamwork.

“The Ulster Unionist group on Council will regroup, re-plan and refocus - but we will keep moving forward and doing what is best for the people of the Causeway Coast and Glens.”

East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said “Aaron’s decision to join with us is further vindication of the stance we are taking.”