UUP MLA Roy Beggs Jr has spoken of his ‘disappointment’ over news that party colleague councillor Beryl McKnight has switched to the DUP.
Cllr McKnight, who was elected to represent the Carrick Castle ward in 2011, confirmed her move to the council’s main unionist party this week.
The shift gives the DUP an outright majority in the chamber with nine of the 17 seats, and leaves the UUP with three councillors – Deputy Mayor John Stewart, Cllr Eric Ferguson and Cllr Andrew Wilson.
In a statement, East Antrim MLA Mr Beggs said: “I am saddened and disappointed to learn that Cllr Beryl McKnight has joined another political party.
“Beryl was not just an Ulster Unionist colleague but a personal friend and when I was in her home recently she gave no indication that she was thinking of leaving the Ulster Unionist Party. I am also unaware of any policy issue which may have contributed to this decision.
“I was aware that Beryl was disappointed earlier this year when she was overlooked by her colleagues when determining which of them would seek the position of Deputy Mayor of Carrickfergus Council.
“ I can understand that she may also be disappointed not to be re-selected as an Ulster Unionist candidate for next year’s super council elections in which Carrick will be returning only 10 rather than the present 17 local councillors. It is particularly disappointing that she has decided to leave given that she had sought re-selection a few days ago.”
Meanwhile, the news attracted some criticism from with Alliance group leader Noel Williams, who suggested his own party was the ‘main alternative’ for local voters.
“As I have said many times before, if people in Carrick vote for UUP candidates they actually get what the DUP wants as there is a seamless join between the two parties in the borough.
“This defection, which was widely predicted, should leave voters in little doubt that the Alliance Party is the main alternative to the DUP in Carrickfergus.”
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